KU Track & Field Celebrates Season at Annual Banquet
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas Men’s and Women’s Track & Field and Cross Country teams gathered to celebrate the KU student-athletes accomplishments over the previous year for the annual banquet Sunday evening. Athletic honors and academic awards were handed out to a host of Jayhawks who led their teams on the track and in the classroom.
The program was highlighted with videos as well as a quest speaking appearance by Kansas track and field great Tyke Peacock. Peacock, who was a Big 12 high jump champion during his time at KU as well as an American record holder in the event, spoke to the athletes and their families gathered about the how decision-making and faith has helped him throughout his life.
Then came time for the academic awards. Junior Hayley Francis and senior Kellum Schneider were the top academic performers on the year for KU. Schneider, who attained a perfect 4.0 GPA for the second was also the recipient of the Big 12’s Prentice Gautt Postgraduate scholarship. The scholarship is a $9,000 award given to two student-athletes at each Big 12 institution who have at least a 3.5 GPA and are expected to enroll in a graduate or professional school within 15 months after they graduate.
Athletic Awards were the final item on the agenda for the evening. The young Jayhawks were recognized next as the freshman and newcomer of the year awards were handed out. For the cross country teams, freshmen Nashia Baker and Tyler Yunk garnered the awards. Baker finished inside KU’s top-five in every meet she competed last fall and was the Jayhawks’ second scorer at the Big 12 Championships. Yunk began his KU career on a high note by picking up the individual victory at the season-opening Bob Timmons Classic in August. He then was among the KU men’s top-five finishers in each of the remaining four races on the year.
For the track & field teams, three first-year Jayhawks were honored. On the women’s side sophomore Daina Levy and freshman Whitney Adams took home the Newcomer of the Year hardware. Levy, who transferred to Kansas after a successful freshman year at Auburn in 2013, is rated among the top-15 hammer throwers in the nation this year and already eclipsed the 200-foot barrier on two spate occasions. Adams has also has a stellar first season in Lawrence as she rose to be one of KU’s top long sprinters. The St. Louis native was the Big 12 runner-up in the indoor 600 yards in March and posted the fourth-fastest 800 meters (2:07.84) in school history on May 3 at the Ward Haylett Invitational. Freshman Mitchell Cooper was the men’s team’s Newcomer of the Year after quickly asserting himself as one of the top young discus throwers in the NCAA. His top mark to date of 56.99 meters (187’0″) is the best throw by a collegian under the age of 20 this year and ranks the Australia native inside the top-five of the Big 12 standings.
The Jayhawk of the Year awards were then distributed among the various areas starting with the men’s and women’s cross country squads. Reid Buchanan was the recipient for the men after a stellar junior campaign on the trails. Buchanan was an All-Big 12 and All-Region selection en route to his first appearance in the NCAA Championships in November. Hannah Richardson was the women’s cross country team’s Jayhawk of the Year. The sophomore was Kansas’ top finisher in each meet she competed and added All-Big 12 and All-Region honors with her 11th-place finishes in both the postseason meets.
Four Jayhawk of the Year honors were awarded to the men’s and women’s track & field groups. For the fourth-straight season Diamond Dixon was the recipient for the track athletes on the women’s side. The senior picked up her fifth-career Midwest Track Athlete of the Year Award after an outstanding indoor season, which was topped off with a Big 12 championship in the 200 meters. For the men’s track athletes, junior Michael Stigler was honored for the third-straight year. The Canyon, Texas native claimed the indoor conference title in the 600 yards with his school record time of 1:08.59 and continued to dominate the national scene in the 400-meter hurdles throughout the outdoor campaign. Stigler has yet to lose a 400-meter hurdle race this season and leads the NCAA with his yearly best of 49.35.
Sophomore Sydney Conley was named the Jayhawk of the Year of the field events. The long jump specialist garnered First Team All-America honors for the first time after tallying a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March. Her top jump outdoors (6.50m/21’4″) is the third-best jump by a collegian this season. On the men’s side, senior pole vaulter Alex Bishop claimed the field athlete of the year award for the second straight season. Bishop was the runner-up at the Big 12 Indoor Championships and qualified for the NCAA Championships for the first time, where he went on to earn a spot on the All-America second team.
Head coach Stanley Redwine then took the podium to close out the evening. He first thanked the assistant coaches and support staff as well as the outgoing seniors on their tremendous careers. Redwine then discussed his excitement for the new home of Kansas track & field, Rock Chalk Park, before giving some final words of encouragement to his athletes.
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