Jayhawks Claim Nine Titles on Final Day of Kansas Relays

87th Kansas Relays
Rock Chalk Park // Lawrence, Kan.

Freshman Whitney Adams takes the baton for the final leg of the 4×400-meter relay. Adams anchored the Jayhawks to the win in 3:40.76.
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas track & field saw its athletes win nine different event titles as the Jayhawks closed out the 87th Kansas Relays Saturday afternoon at Rock Chalk Park. Junior Michael Stigler was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Male Performer after his NCAA-leading time in the 400-meter hurdles. In all, Jayhawks claimed titles in 13 events, nine of which came on the meet’s final day.
“Our athletes performed really well this weekend and I think that much of that was a product of the great environment we had at Rock Chalk Park,” said head coach Stanley Redwine. “There was a great fan presence all weekend and I think our athletes fed off that and it showed in their results. We had a phenomenal weekend and hopefully this will give our athletes some momentum moving forward.”
Over 6,000 fans in attendance weren’t disappointed as Kansas athletes competed in 19 of the 20 event finals contested on the track. The day kicked off on the right foot as the Jayhawk women picked up their third-straight Kansas Relays victory in the 4×100-meter relay. The quartet of Alisha Keys, Diamond Dixon, Tianna Valentine and Sydney Conley passed the baton around the oval in 45.23.
The group was followed by the men’s 4×100-meter relay squad of Shawn Smith, Jaimie Wilson, Stigler and DeMario Johnson, who helped complete the Jayhawk sweep in the event. Johnson pulled away over the final 100 meters to help the KU men pick up their first win in the event at the Kansas Relays since 1997.
The Jayhawk women then proceeded to win the next three track finals, starting with sophomore Hannah Richardson, who picked up her first career individual Kansas Relays victory, taking the 1,500-meter title in 4:29.68. Junior Lindsay Vollmer was next as she pulled away over the final 20 meters to earn the win in the 100-meter hurdles. The multi-event specialist leaned across the finish in a wind-aided personal best of 13.49, outpacing Allen County’s Vanessa Style by .2 seconds.
Sophomore Tianna Valentine followed Vollmer’s lead by using the strong tailwind to her advantage in a runaway victory in the 100 meters. Valentine, who posted a wind-legal personal best a day earlier, clocking in at 11.66 in the 100-meter prelims, blew away the competition and crossed the finish line more than two strides ahead of the runner-up. The St. Louis native turned in a time of 11.33, which, though wind-aided, was one of the top-10 100-meter dash times run in any condition in Kansas history.
Another KU sophomore, Rhavean King, ran down the homestretch of Rock Chalk Park to thunderous applause as she earned the win in the 800 meters. King took over the lead with 300 meters to go and never looked back as she completed the half-mile race in 2:10.28. King was just in front of freshman teammate Whitney Adams, who clocked in at 2:10.72 for the runner-up finish in her first outdoor 800-meter race of the year.
Stigler then took to the track for his primetime event, the 400-meter hurdles, and the All-American did not disappoint. Forced to compete in difficult wind conditions, Stigler managed to outpace the rest of the field by more than 2.5 seconds after getting over the 10 hurdles and speeding across the finish in 49.35. The winning performance, which was the second-fastest of Stigler’s career, is the No. 1 time in the NCAA this season and puts the Canyon, Texas native at No. 5 in the 2014 world rankings.
While KU was racking up the victories on the track, Conley picked up KU’s only Saturday victory in the field as she won the women’s long jump in career-best form. The Fayetteville, Ark., native only tallied two fair jumps on the day, but her second leap was all she needed after she soared to a mark of 6.50 meters (21’4″). Conley’s jump marked the first time she has surpassed the 21-foot barrier in her career and eventually gave her the win by six inches over the nearest finisher. The sophomore’s leap moved her into third on the NCAA list as well as up to first in the Big 12 standings.
The women’s 4×400-meter relay team then earned the Jayhawks’ final win of the day in come-from-behind fashion as the group picked up its fourth-straight win in the event at the Kansas Relays. The team of Dixon, King, Mercedes Smith and Adams found themselves in a tight battle with the team from Lincoln (Mo.). Trailing by several strides with less than 150 meters to go, the anchor, Adams, upped her effort entering the homestretch, was able to pass the leader and bring home the event title for the Jayhawks in 3:40.76.
Coming of its successful home meet, the Jayhawks will journey to another historic meet next week, the Drake Relays, in Des Moines, Iowa. Kansas will have athletes in action beginning Thursday, April 24 through Saturday, April 26 on the blue track at Drake Stadium. Kansas will also see its throwers compete at the Triton Invitational in San Diego, Calif., on April 26. For updates and results throughout the weekend from both meets, log on to KUAthletics.com and follow on Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack.
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