Kansas Track to Open 2013-14 with Bob Timmons Challenge
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas men’s and women’s track & field teams are set to kick off the 2013-14 season when they host the Bob Timmons Challenge Saturday, Dec. 7 inside Anschutz Pavilion. The fifth installment of the season-opening meet is slated to begin at noon and is scheduled to conclude with the 4×400-meter relays at approx. 6:15 p.m. Admission is free to the public.
- The Jayhawks kick off the season at the Bob Timmons Challenge and in their home indoor facility for the fifth-straight year dating back to 2009.
- Now in his 14th year as Kansas’ head coach, Stanley Redwine is seeing an average of just over 10 athletes per season earn First Team All-America distinctions.
- The 2013 KU women are looking to replace 70 percent of the scorers which led the 2013 team to the NCAA Outdoor Championship.
- The Kansas men return over 80 percent of the points from a year ago that helped lead the squad to sixth- and fifth-place performances at the indoor and outdoor Big 12 Championships, respectively. The outdoor finish was the best result by a KU men’s team since 2005.
- Combined event specialist Lindsay Vollmer will look to improve upon an outstanding indoor campaign last season. She broke the Anschutz facility pentathlon record with her score of 4,073 points in January before claiming the school record (4,123) en route to the Big 12 title in late February.
- Senior Josh Munsch is looking to become the fourth KU male to run a sub-4:00 indoor mile. Last year he was close, running a personal-best 4:03.09 in a third-place finish, making him the No. 7 performer in school history.
- Senior Alex Bishop added his name to a long list of KU Big 12 indoor pole vault champions at last year’s indoor conference championships. The Phoenix native cleared a height of 5.17 meters (16’111/2“) to become the 32nd Jayhawk male to be crowned pole vault champion at the conference’s indoor meet.
- Three Kansas women will be competing in the same building in which they have broken facility records. Senior Diamond Dixon broke Anschutz’s 400-meter mark in 2012 (53.75), senior Natalia Bartnovskaya took down the Anschutz pole vault record at the Jayhawk Challenge last season (4.29m) and junior Lindsay Vollmer turned in the top pentathlon score in the building’s history at the Jayhawk Classic last January (4,073).
IN REDWINE’S WORDS
His main thoughts heading into this first meet of the 2013-14 season:
“Hopefully the athletes are ready to compete. They’ve been training hard all fall so this will give them the opportunity to see where their fitness is. We’re looking forward to it. For some of them it will be the first time wearing the Kansas singlet and there are a lot of nerves wrapped up into that. It will be a great opportunity to see how they compete and the direction we need to go from there.”
On what the coaches have emphasized most leading up to this first meet and what they’ll be watching for Saturday:
“We’re really looking to see how they react to competition. For the newcomers, it’s totally different from what they saw in high school and for the upperclassmen it’s a good way to get their season going so they can be the best that they can be. They already know what it takes so we’re looking for them to give instruction to the younger athletes so they can get in the right mindset so everyone is on the same page.”
On the large number of newcomers on this year’s team and what he expects out of them in this initial meet of their collegiate careers:
“We really want them to compete well. When they’re challenged in their events, how will they react? Winning becomes a habit and the young athletes need to learn how to win. Those are the things that we’ll look for. We’ll film it; we’ll watch it and let them know the mistakes they make and move forward from there.”
Within its 2014 men’s and women’s rosters, Kansas returns six First Team All-Americans from a season ago, including 2013 NCAA Champions Natalia Bartnovksya and Lindsay Vollmer. Also returning on the women’s side is senior sprinter Diamond Dixon, who has garnered First Team All-America honors 12 times during her first three seasons in Lawrence, including the 2012 indoor 400-meter national championship.
On the men’s side, junior hurdler Michael Stigler is back after an outstanding sophomore season which saw him repeat as the Big 12’s 400-meter hurdle champion and break his own school record in the event. Pole vaulter Alex Bishop also returns for his senior campaign after claiming the Big 12 indoor title a year ago.
Success at the Bob Timmons
In its four years as KU track & field’s season-opening meet, the Bob Timmons Challenge has proven to be one of the more successful meets in terms of individual victories. Since 2009, Jayhawks have won a combined 42 individual competitions at the Bob Timmons Challenge, including 10 at the meet a year ago. KU’s senior sprinter Paris Daniels was the highlight in the season-opener last season, breaking two long-standing Anschutz facility records in the 60 meters (7.32) and the 200 meters (23.62).
National Championship Leftovers
In June, the Kansas women made history when they brought home the program’s first national title at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. Buoyed by Andrea Geubelle’s runner-up finish in the long jump and triple jump as well as Lindsay Vollmer‘s national championship in the heptathlon, the Jayhawks amassed 60 points and topped the rest of the field by 16 points. KU athletes also brought home 17 First Team All-America honors, a program high.
Vollmer’s national title came by way of personal bests in six of the seven heptathlon events which saw her post school-record score of 6,068 points.
With his first national championship trophy in tow, Stanley Redwine was named the Women’s Head Coach of the Year and joined assistant Wayne Pate, who was named Women’s Assistant of the Year, after his athletes accounted for 26 of the team’s 60 points at the NCAA Championships.
This season’s Jayhawk squad has a host of family connections. Sophomore distance specialist Brandon Messerly will team up with his freshman sister, Alexis. Junior Kellum Schneider and his younger sister Kennedy are also both distance specialists. This season, twin sisters Nashia and Malika Baker became Jayhawks and saw stellar freshman campaigns as members of the cross country team.
Senior Brendan Souice also had a sibling inside the Kansas Athletic department. His younger sister, Tayler, is a freshman on the Jayhawk volleyball team and was recently named to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team.
Sophomore sprinter and long jumper Sydney Conley comes from quite the track & field family tree. Her father, Mike Conley, Sr., won the 1992 gold medal in the triple jump and still holds the indoor American record in the event. Her brother, Mike Conley, Jr., the starting point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, was an all-conference player at Ohio State. Conley is also the niece of Kansas head coach Stanley Redwine, who was a four-time All-American while a middle distance runner at Arkansas in the early 1980’s.
Bartnovskaya Back for More
Saturday will mark the first meet senior pole vaulter Natalia Bartnovskaya will see as she looks to defend her indoor NCAA title, which she brought home last March. The Krasnoyarsk, Russia product vaulted to a school record and became the No. 7 performer in indoor pole vault history after she cleared 4.45 meters (14’71/4“) at the national meet held in Fayetteville, Ark. Bartnovskaya went on to notch six of the best 10 vaults in KU history during the outdoor season and nearly leaped to the outdoor title, but settled for a runner-up finish. The senior has some unfinished business in her one remaining indoor season of eligibility as she was unable to claim a Big 12 title during her junior campaign.
The Kansas track & field program will see a major youth resurgence this year, especially on the women’s side. Both teams feature a combined 35 athletes who will don the KU singlet for the first time, which includes almost half (21 of the 48) currently listed on the women’s team roster. Fourteen newcomers comprise the 54-person men’s roster.
Several of those newcomers will make their Kansas debuts Saturday. For the men, Eric Lightfoot, Ryan Fontenette-Mitchell, Paul Golen, Michael Jensen, Kenny Boyer and Nick Meyer are scheduled to suit up in the Crimson and Blue for the first time. The women’s team will see Alexis Messerly, Talia Marquez, Alexis Johnson, Kourtney Keller, Mackenzie Klaver, KayLee Farmer, Dasha Tsema and Grace Pickell all competing in their first meet as Jayhawks.
Both the men’s and women’s teams in 2014 will feature a large batch of home-grown talent as the majority of the athletes on each roster hail from the Sunflower State. Twenty-eight KU men and 19 Jayhawk women call Kansas home, with the next-most prolific state, Missouri, boasting a combined 11 natives.
Kansas also has a handful of international athletes. On the men’s side, sophomore sprinter Jaime Wilson hails from Old Harbour, Jamaica and welcomes fellow internationals in freshmen Alexandre Lavigne (Quebec, Canada) and Cooper Mitchell (Queensland, Australia). For the women, seniors Natalia Bartnovskaya (Krasnoyarsk, Russia) and Anastasiya Muchkayev (Be’er Sheva, Israel) have continued the KU tradition of bringing in some of the top international talent in the NCAA. thrower Johanna Krueger is the latest international addition as she calls Kiel, Germany home.
The men’s team will be chalk full of veteran leadership this season as the 2013 roster features 29 upperclassmen, including eight seniors out of its 54-man roster, this after having 31 freshmen and sophomores make up last year’s roster. On the flip side, the women’s team in the middle of a youth resurgence as the team has only 14 upperclassmen featured on this year’s squad.
Head coach Stanley Redwine has taken Kansas track & field to a level it hasn’t seen in quite some time during his 13 years at the helm. Over Redwine’s tenure, he has seen 92 indoor and outdoor Big 12 Champions, 145 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 last year’s women’s team to the program’s first National Championship at the NCAA outdoor meet in June.
At Home In Anschutz
The 29-year indoor home facility for the Kansas track & field team, Anschutz Pavilion has hosted dozens of collegiate and high school meets since 1984. In August of 2011, the facility got a major facelift when a new six-lane track (eight lanes on the sprint straightaway) was installed, which replaced the original track installed in 1984.
Other improvements included new, reconfigured jump pits and a new pole vault box and runway, all of which greatly improved spectator viewing. A new Daktronics results board, which contains an active area of nearly 18 feet high and 16 feet wide, was also added.
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