| Freshman Ivan Henry ran to a personal best of 46.59 en route to a win in the 400 meters Saturday at the Rock Chalk Classic
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Senior Daina Levy’s season-best toss produced one of 10 Jayhawk victories as Kansas track & field closed out April at the Rock Chalk Classic inside Rock Chalk Park Saturday. Levy posted a facility record mark while, freshman Ivan Henry led the KU men with a pair of career bests on the track.
“Both the men’s and women’s teams looked great today,” said head coach Stanley Redwine. “It was exciting to see Daina throw the way she did and have a lot of personal bests on the track as well. We definitely got what we wanted to out of this meet. We have a lot of people doing well at the right time and that’s what you want to see.”
Levy was once again one of the Jayhawks’ top performers, claiming her second hammer throw win of the 2016 season in grand style. The Jamaican national record holder in the event found her form in the fifth round after Kansas State’s Sara Savatovic displaced her atop the overall leaderboard. Levy regained the lead, rewrote the facility record and jumped up the national rankings all with one attempt when she unwound for a season-best mark of 68.35 meters (224’3″). The throw, which topped the Rock Chalk Park facility record previously held by Savatovic, earned Levy the victory by over 11 feet.
Levy’s mark was the second-farthest of her career and ranks third on KU’s all-time hammer throw list. The performance also moved the senior to No. 2 in the NCAA rankings this season as well as inside the top-30 of the latest world ranks.
Freshman Ivan Henry had a stellar day with personal bests in two events as well as a strong leg on the KU 4×100-meter relay. He began his day as the anchor for the 4×100-meter team that posted a clocking of 40.71 to take second in the first running event of the day. Henry then hit the track again an hour later in the 400 meters, where he sprinted to a dominating win the event with a personal-best time of 46.59. The time moved the Jamaica product inside the top-50 of the latest NCAA rankings.
Before Henry’s day was done though he hit the starting blocks for the 200 meters. The first-year Jayhawk completed his half lap in just over 21 seconds to finish second overall. Henry’s career and team-best time of 21.02 has him among the all-important top-48 in the NCAA’s West Region.
Junior Nick Meyer claimed his second victory in as many weeks on his home runway after taking the men’s pole vault title. Meyer got out to a shaky start, needing all three attempts to clear his first bar of the day at 4.99 meters (16’4½”). After that it was smooth sailing for the Kingman, Kansas native, who needed only four attempts to get over the next three bars. After Meyer cleared 5.34 meters (17’6¼”), a feat no other competitor could match, he secured his second win at Rock Chalk Park this season.
A week removed from breaking the school’s 46-year-old record in the discus, junior Mitch Cooper returned to the Rock Chalk Park throws ring looking to one up his career performance from the KU Relays. Though Cooper was unable to match the record mark, he still managed to claim his second event victory in as many weeks as he finished as the top collegiate in the event. On his fourth attempt of the day, he posted a toss of 58.53 meters (192’0″). The only competitor who turned in a better mark was former KU thrower Mason Finley, who took down his week-old facility record with a throw of 65.28 meters (214’2″). The mark gave Finley the Olympic ‘A’ Standard and moved him into the top-10 of the latest world rankings.
Strymar Livingston also backed up his win from the Kansas Relays with another 800-meter victory Saturday. Livingston broke the 1:50 minute barrier for the third time this outdoor season when he finished the half-mile race in 1:49.91, beating the rest of the field by nearly two seconds.
Sophomore Dorie Dalzell followed Livingston’s win with an impressive 800-meter outing of her own. The Sammamish, Washington product shaved over three seconds off her previous personal best en route to a runner-up finish in the event. Dalzell clocked in at 2:09.43, a mark only eight other Jayhawks in program history have been able to top. Her performance also has her among the top-15 800-meter runs in the Big 12 this season.
It was all Crimson & Blue on the podium for the men’s and women’s 1,500 meter races. On the men’s side, Daniel Koech pulled away from the field over the final 200 meters to tally his first victory of the season. Koech crossed the finish in 3:54.28, less than 0.2 seconds shy of his career best of the event, and led a strong KU contingent that took the next four places. For the women, it was Nashia Baker who outkicked her twin sister Malika over the final 200 meters to garner her first win of 2016. Nashia broke the tape in 4:30.90 and was followed by Malika who tallied a career-best 4:31.63 in her runner-up finish.
In the final race of the day, the KU women’s 4×400-meter relay team posted their fastest time of the season as the claimed second in the event. The team of Whitney Adams, Adriana Newell, Nicole Montgomery and Wumi Omare passed the baton around in 3:37.30 for the runner-up finish. The time moved KU up to 15th on the latest descending order list for the NCAA’s West Region and fifth among Big 12 4×400-meter teams.
Other notable outings Saturday came from sophomore pole vaulter Laura Taylor, who was the top collegiate finisher after she cleared a season-best height of 4.00 meters (13’1½”); sophomore Barden Adams, who surpassed the 50-feet mark in the triple jump for the second-consecutive meet en route to a victory in the event; freshman Emily Downey, who picked up the first win of her collegiate career as she won the 5,000 meters in 17:19.94; junior Alex Wilson who won the 400-meter hurdles by way of a personal-best time of 52.29; and junior Nicolai Ceban who turned in a win in the shot put after posting a mark of 17.97 meters (58’11½”).
The Kansas track & field teams will take a week off before heading to Fort Worth, Texas, for the Big 12 Outdoor Championships May 13-15. The Jayhawk women will look to finish among the conference’s top-four teams for the fifth-straight year, while the KU men will try to improve upon a fifth-place finish in 2015. 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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