Five Jayhawks advance to Eugene on opening day of NCAA West Prelim
AUSTIN, Texas – Kansas track & field got off to an impressive start on the first day of the 2017 NCAA West Preliminary Thursday at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus. Five Jayhawks secured their spots at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in their respective events, while an additional three KU athletes extended their weekends in Austin by moving on to quarterfinal races on the track. Freshman Gleb Dudarev remained the nation’s top-seeded hammer thrower after he turned in the top qualifying mark in the event. Senior Sydney Conley punched her ticket to her fourth NCAA Outdoor Championship meet after she claimed the top qualifying spot in the long jump.
DUDAREV REMAINS ATOP THE REGION AND THE NATION, CONTINUES MARCH TO EUGENE
The nation’s top hammer thrower will get his opportunity to prove that title at the NCAA Championships as freshman Gleb Dudarev claimed the top qualifying spot out of the West Region Thursday. Each of his three attempts would have been good enough to win the competition, however it was his third and final attempt that secured his trip to Oregon. Dudarev unwound for a throw of 72.66 meters (238-5), a mark that topped the rest of the West Prelim field by more than 12 feet.
Dudarev will enter his first NCAA Outdoor meet as the No. 1 seed, having posted the best throw in the DI ranks, both during the regular season and during regional qualifying. He will attempt to become the first Jayhawk to win an NCAA title in the hammer throw when he hits the throws cage in Eugene on June 7 at 4 p.m. (CT).
CONLEY SOARS TO FOURTH TRIP TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Senior Sydney Conley only needed two jumps to book her ticket to her fourth-straight NCAA Outdoor Championship meet. The Fayetteville, Arkansas native opened her competition with a jump of 6.66 meters (21-10¼), immediately moving her name to No. 1 on the leaderboard. She improved on that effort on her second sprint down the runway when she soared a distance of 6.81 meters (22-4½).
The attempt made Conley the top-seeded long jumper in the DI collegiate ranks, a title she will take with her to Oregon when she competes at Hayward Field in two weeks. The national long jump final will take place on June 8 at 8 p.m. (CT).
LOKEDI TACKLES 10,000 METERS TO ADVANCE TO NATIONALS
Sharon Lokedi made it look easy as the junior earned a bid to the NCAA 10,000-meter final by way of her runner-up finish in the semifinal Thursday night. Lokedi, who entered the race as the region’s eighth-ranked runner in the 10K, never fell lower than fifth during the duration of the 6.2-mile race. The All-American stayed on the shoulders of the leaders for the majority of the final stages of the race before a strong kick over the last 200 meters propelled her to a second-place finish and an automatic trip to the NCAA Championships.
Lokedi clocked in at 34:08.02, a time that ranks as the fourth-fastest 10K in program history. She will look to improve upon her sixth-place finish at the National Championships last year when she toes the start line for the 10,000 meter final at 9:08 p.m. (CT), June 8.
STALLBAUMER SNARES SPOT TO EUGENE ON FINAL ATTEMPT
Sitting on the outside of the all-important top-12 heading into her final attempt of the competition, sophomore Shaylyn Stallbaumer came up big with one of her top throws of the season to secure her first-career trip to the NCAA Championships. In the third round of attempts, Stallbaumer sat 15th overall and was needing to improve by nearly four feet in order to move her name into qualifying position. Not only did she improve on that final throw, but she also slid her name up 11 spots on the leaderboard. The Seneca, Kansas product got the javelin out to a distance of 49.96 meters (163-11), an improvement by nearly 12 feet from her second attempt.
That mark gave Stallbaumer a fourth-place finish and booked her first-career trip to the NCAA Championship meet in two weeks. She will compete for a national title in the event which is slated for 7:45 p.m. (CT), on June 8.
TAYLOR BREAKS THROUGH TO CLAIM FIRST TICKET TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
A year after finishing just two spots shy of qualifying for her first NCAA Championship meet, junior Laura Taylor refused to endure another near miss Thursday as she managed to claim a spot in the national pole vault final in two weeks. The Tualatin, Oregon native was nearly perfect on the day, clearing each of her first four bars on only four attempts. Her one blemish of the afternoon came at her fifth bar, a height of 4.30 meters (14-1¼) as she needed two tries to get over. The clearance on her second vault at that height proved to be the final effort she would need to extend her season by two weeks. Taylor was one of 10 competitors to clear that height, which was a new West Preliminary record.
Taylor will now shift her focus to the NCAA pole vault final, which is slated for 7 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, June 8 inside Hayward Field. She will look to claim All-America status for the first time in her career.
* Senior Whitney Adams advanced past the first round of the 800 meters after claiming an automatic qualifying spot by way of her third-place finish in her preliminary heat. Adams clocked in at 2:08.03, the ninth-fastest time to advance. She will run for a spot in the NCAA semifinals in Oregon when she runs in the quarterfinals set for Friday night at 6:30 p.m.
* Strymar Livingston and Bryce Hoppel followed Adams’ lead by moving on to the 800-meter quarterfinals on the men’s side. Both Jayhawks won their respective heats, with Livingston clocking in at 1:49.14, the fastest time out of the first-round heats, while Hoppel had the sixth-best time at 1:50.16. The quarterfinal heats are set for Friday at 6:45 p.m.
* Junior Barden Adams came brutally close to advancing to nationals in the men’s long jump. Adams posted a top leap of 7.68 meters (25-2½), a mark that earned him a tie for the 12th and final spot to the NCAA Championship. However, with no ties allowed at the Regional meets, Adams came up on the short end of a tie-breaker that saw him drop to the first spot outside those that qualified for Oregon. He will have another opportunity to claim a spot at the national championship when he competes in the triple jump on Saturday night at 6 p.m.
More Jayhawks will look to extend their seasons by two weeks when they hit the track, rings and runways for day two of the NCAA West Preliminary. Action Friday will begin at 12 p.m., with the men’s pole vault while running events will get underway at 4:30 p.m. Follow all the Kansas performances by logging on to KUAthletics.com and following on Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack.
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