Jayhawk Discus Throwers, Relay Punch Tickets to Eugene
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Two pairs of Jayhawk discus throwers as well as the men’s 4×400-meter relay team turned in qualifying performances on the third and final day of the NCAA West Preliminary Saturday inside Rock Chalk Park. Junior Mitch Cooper posted the region’s best qualifying mark in the discus, while the Jayhawk 4×400-meter relay team ran the ninth-fastest time in program history en route to securing its place at the National Championships in two weeks.
“For those who are advancing, I’m really happy,” said head coach Stanley Redwine following the meet. “We had some of our best performances of the year and that’s what it takes in order to get out of a meet like this.”
“I thought our team did okay. There was definitely added pressure because you’re at home and I think that’s going to be a learning experience for when we host more meets of this size in the future. I’ll sum it up: it was a great learning experience for us all.”
Cooper, Ceban Headed Back to Hayward Field
Kansas saw two of its discus specialists book their trips to the NCAA Championships behind impressive outings Saturday on the Rock Chalk Park infield. Cooper, who came into the event as the region’s top discus thrower, lived up to the billing after he posted the competition’s best mark. The junior never strayed outside the top-10 of the overall standings, but jumped to the top of the leaderboard on his final attempt when he hurled the disc 59.44 meters (195’0″).
The mark, which was a foot further than the next closest competitor, pushed Cooper through to the NCAA discus final for the second-straight season.
Cooper was followed closely by sophomore teammate Nicolai Ceban who also earned his second-straight trip to the NCAA Championships in the discus. The Moldova native unleashed a career-best attempt on his final trip into the ring, hitting a mark of 58.77 meters (192’9″). That throw gave Ceban the fourth-place finish and an automatic spot in the discus championship in two weeks.
Cooper and Ceban will hit the throws cage at Hayward Field to compete for a national championship on Friday, June 10 in the event final slated to begin at 7:05 p.m. (CT).
Jayhawk 4×400-Meter Relay Advances with Team’s Top Time of 2016
The KU men’s 4×400-meter relay squad closed the day out on a high note with a qualifying performance. The quartet of Ivan Henry, Jaron Hartley, Tre Daniels and Strymar Livingston combined to post the seventh-fastest time out of the region as well as one of the best times in program history. The Jayhawks never fell further than the fourth position throughout the race, with the help of a 45.65 split from the anchor, Livingston, the Jayhawks brought the baton across in 3:05.11 to finish fourth in their heat and 11th overall. The time, which earned the Jayhawks the first non-automatic qualifying spot out of the region, was the ninth-fastest time in school history and the best time by a Jayhawk 4×400-meter team since 2012.
Kansas will now see a men’s 4×400-meter squad compete at the National Championships for the fourth time in five years. The 4×400-meter semifinal is set for Wednesday, June 8 at 9:48 p.m. (CT).
Two Jayhawks Advance in the Women’s Discus
The KU women also saw a pair of discus hurlers secure their tickets to the NCAA meet earlier in the day. Senior Dasha Tsema qualified for her first NCAA Championships with an 11th-place finish Saturday morning. Tsema turned in a final-throw attempt that measured out to 53.46 meters (175’5″) to claim her position among the top-12 of those advancing. Tsema finished just ahead of teammate Daina Levy. Levy was coming off a disappointing outing a day earlier in the hammer throw, which saw her fail to qualify in that event. The senior didn’t let the letdown faze her as she turned in a season-best toss to claim the 12th and final ticket to nationals. Levy hit a mark of 53.00 meters (175’5″) on her second attempt to move into the field of 24 that will compete in Oregon in two weeks.
Tsema and Levy are set to throw in the NCAA discus final on Saturday, June 11 at 4:05 p.m. (CT).
- Junior Zainab Sanni once again came painfully close to moving on to the NCAA Championships but came up just short in the 200 meters. On Friday, the junior was .02 seconds shy of advancing in the 100 meters and finished 14th overall. In the 200-meter quarterfinal Saturday, Sanni again took 14th with a time of 23.26 for a new personal best. Unfortunately, Sanni’s time was .04 seconds away from a qualifying spot.
- Freshman Kelli McKee PR’d by nearly a foot en route to an 18th-place finish in the triple jump. McKee’s mark moved her to fifth on KU’s all-time triple jump list.
The Kansas men and women will see six entries at the NCAA Outdoor Championships set to be held in Eugene, Oregon June 8-11. Men’s events will be held on Wednesday and Friday of that week, while the women’s events will take place on Thursday and Saturday. Follow all the action from Eugene by logging onto KUAthletics.com and follow @KUTrack on Twitter for updates.
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