Jayhawks See Seven Victories at Season-Opening Bob Timmons Challenge

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Bob Timmons Challenge
Anschutz Pavilion // Lawrence, Kan.

Junior Jonathan Fuller curled over the high jump bar en route to a win at the season-opening Bob Timmons Challenge.

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas men’s and women’s track & field teams kicked off their 2013-14 campaigns with strong outings at the Bob Timmons Challenge Saturday afternoon inside Anschutz Pavilion. Kansas saw wins in seven events, including victories from All-Americans Diamond Dixon and Michael Stigler and both the men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relays.

“Overall, I thought we were pretty competitive today and that’s what I like to see,” said head coach Stanley Redwine. “We know what we need to focus on in training now as we move forward to the bigger meets. The good thing about today was the freshman got the nerves out and learned how to compete. It was good news all around.”

Diamond Dixon was back to her winning ways Saturday afternoon as she ran away from the field in the 60 meter dash. The 12-time first team All-American began her senior campaign strong as she leaned through the finish to post a time of 7.53, bettering the second-place finisher by .04 seconds. Dixon’s time was also just .03 seconds off her career best and is the tenth-fastest time in the NCAA thus far in the young season.

Dixon was joined by sophomore teammate Tianna Valentine, who sprinted through the finish in sixth with the help of her time of 7.65. A pair of newcomers were next as freshmen Alexis Johnson (7.85) and Adriana Newell (8.00) turned in 11th and 20th-place finishes, respectively.

Kansas saw a successful day in the high jump pits with both the men and women notching top finishes. For the men, junior Jonathan Fuller defended his Bob Timmons Challenge title with a clearance of 2.08 meters (6’9¾”). He outdueled senior teammate Nick Giancana, who was also able to get over 2.08 meters, but posted more fouls throughout the competition, which gave the tie-breaker edge to Fuller. Junior Austin Hoag saw a career day with top leap of 2.03 meters (6’8″), his highest indoor clearance as a Jayhawk. Sophomore Kevin Jones rounded out the KU men’s high jump finishers, placing fourth with his mark of 1.98 meters, which tied his career best.

Back in the high jump pit later in the day the women took center stage. Junior Colleen O’Brien and freshman Grace Pickell were the Kansas representatives and both got their seasons started on a good note. O’Brien managed to clear 1.68 meters (5’6″) to claim second, while Pickell topped 1.58 meters (5’2½”) to finish third in her Kansas debut.

The other half of the vertical jumps group saw just as much success as the Jayhawk pole vaulters dominated on the runway. Five Kansas vaulters finished inside the top-nine of the final standings. Junior Greg Lupton and senior Alex Bishop led the way, both tallying top clearances of 5.15 meters (16’10¾”) to place second and third, respectively. The KU duo could not keep up with fellow Jayhawk Casey Bowen, who was competing unattached. The junior won the event after he was able to clear 5.25 meters (17’2¾”). Freshman Nick Meyer posted a fifth-place finish in his Kansas debut, hitting a mark of 4.90 meters (16’0¾”). Sophomore Nick Maestretti was seventh after also clearing 4.90 meters, and junior Aaron Blevins placed ninth with his vault of 4.75 meters (15’7¾”).

All-American Michael Stigler kicked his junior campaign off on a good note, taking a win in the 600 yards with relative ease. Stigler ran past the rest of the field by nearly 2.5 seconds and crossed the finish in a time of 1:10.95, just a second off of his career best. Stigler saw three of his teammates also tally finishes in the top five. Senior Dominique Manley took third (1:14.15), senior Teddy Oteba came in fourth (1:14.53) and sophomore Nick Ucherek posted a fifth-place finish (1:14.61).

Sophomore Rhavean King picked up her first-career indoor victory, following Stigler’s lead by taking gold in the 600 yards. King completed the 2½ laps in 1:24.59, a new personal best and currently a top-10 time in the NCAA standings. King was followed by teammates Kourtney Keller in fourth (1:30.09), Timmie Morris in fifth (1:30.40) and Mackenzie Klaver in sixth (1:30.60).

Senior Dalen Fink was also a victorious Jayhawk Saturday afternoon, he ran to an easy win in the 1,000 meters with his personal-best time of 2:31.66. The race marked the fourth individual win of Fink’s Kansas career.

The reigning NCAA indoor pole vault champion Natalia Bartnovskaya returned to action Saturday to begin defense of her national title. The senior posted three-straight clearances without a miss, her top vault over the 3.95 meter (12’9½”) bar. Bartnovskaya came close but couldn’t find a way over the next height, which ended her day with a second-place finish. Junior Jamie House joined her teammate on the vault runway. She turned in a mark of 3.65 meters (11’11¾”) to place sixth overall.

Jessica Maroszek turned some heads with a career performance in the weight throw. The senior, who is a two-time first team All-American and Big 12 Champion in the discus, hit a mark of 16.98 meters (55’8½”) on her first attempt of the day, which erased her previous personal best by more than four feet. Maroszek saw throws over 54 feet on each of her three remaining attempts, but was unable to top the first mark, ending her day with a runner-up finish in the event.

Kansas ended the day strong with wins in both the men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relays. For the women junior Alisha Keys, Dixon, King and freshman Whitney Adams passed the baton around in 3:49.02 to beat the rest of the field by nearly three seconds.

On the men’s side, the team of seniors DeMario Johnson and Dominique Manley, Stigler and junior Kenneth McCuin was never challenged as the group amassed a 50-meter lead midway through the race. The anchor, McCuin, ran through the finish to clock in at 3:16.72 and won the race by more than six seconds.

The Jayhawks will now have a month off to prepare for their next meet, the Bill Easton Classic, which will again take place inside the friendly confines of Anschutz Pavilion. Kansas will again play host to the event to be held on Jan. 10 starting at 1 p.m.

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