Jayhawks Return Home to Host Rock Chalk Classic
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas men’s and women’s track & field squads are set to return to Lawrence this weekend when they play host to the first annual Rock Chalk Classic on Saturday, May 2. The Jayhawks will welcome in Sunflower State rivals Kansas State and Wichita State as well as squads from Air Force, Oral Roberts and UMKC. More than 80 Jayhawks are slated to compete in the final home meet of the 2015 campaign. The first events of the day are scheduled to kickoff at 11 a.m., with admission $8 for adults and $5 for youth and seniors.
- This weekend, KU will see over 80 of its athletes compete inside its home facility at the first annual Rock Chalk Classic. The Jayhawks feature 44 student-athletes who hail from the state of Kansas and four Lawrence natives who will be in action in front of family and friends this weekend.
- The Rock Chalk Classic will also serve as the final home meet for the Kansas’ senior athletes. Fourteen KU seniors are scheduled to compete at Rock Chalk Park for the final time.
- Senior Colleen O’Brien is slated to take part in her first high jump competition since her historic performance at the Kansas Relays two weeks ago. O’Brien cleared a career-best 1.85 meters (6’0¾”) to win the event and become just the third Jayhawk ever to tally a six-foot clearance.
- Senior Michael Stigler is still the NCAA and world leader in the 400-meter hurdles after smashing his own school record in the event at the Texas Relays on March 27. His time of 48.44 is the fastest time by a collegian in four years.
- Stigler is the only athlete in the NCAA that has times in the 110-meter hurdles and 400-meter hurdles that both rank among the top-20 in the nation this season.
- Senior Lindsay Vollmer is coming off a stellar performance in her first heptathlon of 2015 with her meet record score of 5,767. Vollmer now owns six of the top-10 best heptathlon scores in school history and currently ranks 10th in the NCAA.
So Long, Seniors
The Rock Chalk Classic will serve as the final home meet for 14 Kansas seniors that are expected to compete Saturday. Among the group are a national champion, two first team All-Americans, three Big 12 champions and 12 All-Big 12 performers.
The group also includes seven Jayhawks who will finish their careers among the top-10 of the all-time Kansas performers lists in their respective events, including school record holders Michael Stigler and Lindsay Vollmer.
Jayhawks Invading Regional Rankings
With less than a month remaining before the NCAA Championships kick off at the West Preliminary, both Kansas teams have made their presences felt on the West Regional rankings. The Jayhawk women currently feature 15 athletes who find themselves among the all-important top-48 of the regional rankings and would qualify for the NCAA West Preliminary meet beginning May 28. Twelve KU men have tallied performances that have also moved them into NCAA Preliminary qualifying position. Senior Michael Stigler remains atop the collegiate rankings after his career performance in the 400-meter hurdles at the Texas Relays on March 27.
Other Jayhawks in the top-10 in the West Region include seniors Nick Giancana (high jump), Colleen O’Brien (high jump) and Lindsay Vollmer (heptathlon), juniors Sydney Conley (long jump), Daina Levy (hammer throw) and Hannah Richardson (1,500m), sophomore Nick Meyer and freshman Cole Ceban (discus).
Welcome to Rock Chalk Park
The Kansas track & field team will compete in its year-old home facility this week when it plays host to the Rock Chalk Classic at Rock Chalk Park. The facility, which completed construction 12 months ago, has already been touted as one of the nation’s top track & field facilities as it has attained the prestigious IAAF Class I status. The $39 million facility houses the Kansas track, soccer and softball teams. The track portion of the facility has just over 6,100 permanent seats with the ability to bring in an additional 4,000 temporary seats for larger events. Rock Chalk Park has already won a bid for one of NCAA track & field’s top events as it will host the 2016 NCAA West Preliminary meet.
The track surface may be considered the crown jewel of the entire complex. The surface at Rock Chalk Park, installed by Beynon Sports Surfaces, underwent in-situ testing for the Class I certification process. With the IAAF’s approval, the track is capable of hosting meets of an international level and is one of only five facilities in the U.S. with Class I status.
In addition to the track, there is approximately 90,000 square feet of locker rooms, offices, official rooms, training room and athletic training facilities located under the east stands.
Last Time Out
Junior Daina Levy claimed the top collegiate finish in a field of some of the top hammer throwers in the nation at the Triton Invitational on April 24. Levy also added a season-best mark in the discus and was joined by six other Jayhawks in top-25 finishes in the event with more than 70 competitors. Levy unleashed a toss of 63.67 meters (208’10”), a mark which, for a short time, put her on top of the 74-woman field. Levy managed to remain as the top collegian by the competition’s end.
Levy, along with junior teammates Anastasiya Muchkayev and Dasha Tsema also earned top-25 finishes in the open division discus. Muchkayev turned in a top mark of 50.47 meters (165’7″) to finish 20th overall, with Tsema not far behind in 21st by way of a throw of 50.41 meters (165’4″). Levy hit a season-best performance in the event on the shoulders of a mark of 50.06 meters (164’3″), good enough for a 23rd-place finish.
Kansas also enjoyed a pair of victories as a small group of Jayhawk sprinters and hurdlers competed at the Bill Williams/Bob Laptad Invitational on April 24. Sophomore Zainab Sanni helped the women’s 4×100-meter relay squad pick up a win before tacking on a victory of her own in the 400-meter dash.
Sanni was on the second leg of the Jayhawk 4×100-meter relay that was competing in its first race of the season. The quartet of Sydney Conley, Sanni, Jasmine Thomas and Lindsay Vollmer passed their baton around in 45.51 to win the event. Sanni returned to the track later in the afternoon for the first 400-meter hurdle race of her career. The Aurora, Colorado product blew away the competition after completing her quarter-mile lap in 55.80, nearly four seconds faster than the next finisher.
After a month of the 2015 outdoor season, the Kansas Jayhawks have already displayed their superiority by way of the Big 12 rankings. The women’s team, which has finished inside the top-four of the Big 12 Conference standings each of the last three years, currently has 11 Jayhawks boasting marks ranking in the top-five of the league’s yearly performance list. That list includes juniors Hannah Richardson and Sydney Conley, who both lead the conference ranks in the 1,500 meters and long jump, respectively.
The Jayhawk men also have several team members who have climbed their way near the top of the early-season conference standings. Kansas has nine athletes among the top-five in their respective events. Senior Michael Stigler has posted the conference’s fastest 400-meter hurdle time at 48.44.
A host of Jayhawks will compete in front of family and friends this week as KU’s Sunflower State natives will be in action in Lawrence. The Jayhawks’ current roster boasts 44 athletes who call Kansas home, 16 of which are newcomers who will compete in the KU singlet in front of their home crowd for the first time. Four Jayhawks who hail from the Lawrence area will be in action this weekend: Trevor Hillis, Austin Hoag, Teri Huslig and Logan Sloan.
Stigler Recognized for Record Run
Following his world-leading time at the Texas Relays, Kansas senior Michael Stigler was named the Athlete of the Week by the Big 12 Conference, U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) and U.S.A Track & Field on April 2.
On March 27, Stigler picked up his third-consecutive Texas Relays 400-meter hurdle title in grand fashion as the hurdler posted a school record and world-leading time in the event. His time of 48.44 smashed his own school record by more than half a second. The clocking marked the fastest 400-meter hurdle time run by a collegian during the NCAA season in nearly four years and was the eighth-fastest 400-meter hurdle time ever run in the month of March.
Stigler’s performance broke his own school record of 49.19 set at the NCAA Championships in 2013, as well as the Mike A. Myers stadium and the Texas Relays meet records. The performance was also fractions of a second from moving the three-time All-American among the NCAA’s all-time fastest 400-meter hurdlers. His mark was a mere .03 seconds from making him the No. 10 performer in collegiate history. Stigler’s time easily moved him to the top of the world rankings for 2015, bettering the previous leader by well over a second. Comparing to recent seasons, the time would have made him the fourth-fastest in the world in 2014 and would have ranked No. 10 in the world in 2013.
Outdoor Record Book Review
Over the last four seasons, the KU athletes have made their presence felt on the school’s all-time top-10 performances chart, especially on the women’s side, many of which are still active this season. The Jayhawk women have at least one current athlete who has posted one or more top-10 all-time performance in 14 events. Lindsay Vollmer is the only active school-record holder in an individual event as she holds the KU mark in the heptathlon, including six of the nine best scores in school history.
Other current KU women who have tallied top-10 performances include Anastasiya Muchkayev (shot put, discus), Colleen, O’Brien, Sydney Conley (long lump), Hannah Richardson (1,500 meters) and Daina Levy (hammer throw).
On the men’s side, junior Michael Stigler has rewritten the KU record book in the 400-meter hurdles several times during over his three-plus seasons in Lawrence. He currently holds nine of the 10 fastest 400-meter hurdle times in school history, including his record time of 48.44, run in his outdoor debut this season at the Texas Relays.
Head coach Stanley Redwine has taken Kansas track & field to a level it hasn’t seen in quite some time during his first 14 years at the helm. Over Redwine’s tenure, he has seen 98 indoor and outdoor Big 12 Champions, 149 First Team All-Americans and 14 NCAA Champions come through his program at KU.
Redwine’s teams have also collected a combined seven top-10 NCAA team finishes, including coaching the 2013 women’s team to the program’s first National Championship at the NCAA outdoor meet.
The Kansas Track & Field teams will take a week off before heading to Ames, Iowa for the Big 12 Outdoor Championships May 15-17. The Jayhawk women will look to finish among the conference’s top-four teams for the fourth-straight year, while the KU men will try to improve upon a seventh-place finish in 2014. Keep track of all the Jayhawk performances by logging on to KUAthletics.com for complete updates and results and follow through Twitter at @KUTrack.
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