| Senior Daina Levy claimed victory in the women’s hammer throw Friday at the Kansas Relays
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Wins by three Jayhawk relay squads highlighted the University of Kansas track & field team’s afternoon Friday at the 89th Kansas Relays Presented by Subway. Senior Daina Levy picked up Kansas’ first victory of the scored quadrangular, claiming her second Kansas Relays hammer throw title, while junior Strymar Livingston got his busy weekend off to an impressive start with one of the best quarter-mile performances in school history.
Kansas continued its past KU Relays dominance in the 4×800-meter and distance medley relays with three victories early in the day. The Jayhawk women’s squad of Lydia Saggau, Malika Baker, Hannah Dimmick and Whitney Adams found itself against a scrappy team from Incarnate Word, facing an early deficit after the first leg. But a strong second leg by Baker put the Jayhawks back on top by the halfway point, where Dimmick and Adams laid to rest any doubts of the Kansas win. Adams brought the baton across the finish in 8:57.16 to give the Jayhawks the victory for the second-straight year at their home event.
The KU men followed the women’s lead, with a strong performance that also made them back-to-back Kansas Relay 4×800-meter relay winners. The grouping of Brandon Bernal, Bryce Richards, Adel Yoonis and Daniel Koech combined for one of the fastest two-mile relay times in recent KU Relays history. Like Baker for the women, it was Yoonis who broke away from the pack to give the Jayhawks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, posting a sub-1:53 split as he handed off to the anchor, Koech.
Koech had little trouble in holding off a late charge from Allen County Community College and broke the tape in 7:35.33 to pick up the win.The Jayhawks’ time was the best at the Kansas Relays since the foursome from Missouri ran 7:32.12 at the 2000 event.
Four hours later four more Jayhawk women took the track hoping to carry on the standard set earlier in the day by the 4×800-meter teams. KU’s distance medley team succeeded with an easy win. The quartet of Kayla Funkenbusch, Dorie Dalzell, Jasmine Edwards and Kelli McKenna led from start to finish with McKenna coming down the final homestretch nearly 15 seconds ahead of the field to earn the Jayhawks their third relay victory of the day, clocking in with a time of 11:52.43. The win marked KU’s fifth distance medley win in the last seven Kansas Relays.
In the first true quadrangular event of the 2016 Kansas Relays, Kansas saw a winner and big points come out of the hammer throw. Levy picked up her second KU Relays victory in three years, and only needed one throw to do it. The First Team All-American unwound for a toss of 64.13 meters (211’1″) on her first attempt of the day, a mark that would be more than enough to give her the win. Levy was unable to connect on another fair attempt on her final five throws, however her first toss topped the field by over 25 feet. The win, paired with KU teammate Dasha Tsema’s fourth-place finish, gave the Jayhawk women’s team 13 points toward the team quadrangular race and put Kansas in the lead heading into the final day of events Saturday.
Another stellar outing from Rock Chalk Park Friday came from Livingston, who took part in the prelims for the college open 400 meters. The 800-meter specialist made a loop that will go down as one of the fastest in program history when he blew away the rest of the field with his time of 46.17. That time bettered his previous best in the event by over 1.5 seconds and made him the No. 7 performer in school history. The time gave Livingston the top qualifying spot into tomorrow’s college division 400-meter final and put his name among the top-15 in the NCAA so far this season.
Livingston’s outing also broke the two-year-old facility record and made him the second-fastest quarter-miler in the Stanley Redwine era (since 2001), behind only the current record holder, Kyle Clemons.
Before the day was done, one more KU relay squad managed to post a first-place finish as the Jayhawk men turned in the fastest qualifying time in the college open 4×400-meter relay. Tre Daniels, Drew Matthews, Ezekiel Welch and Matt Anyiwo passed the baton around in 3:10.76 with the anchor, Anyiwo, holding off a late charge by Emporia State to tally the victory.
The 18-event scored quadrangular now awaits both the men’s and women’s teams as they head into the final day of the 89th Kansas Relays. The first field events kick off at 4 p.m., with action from the track to commence at 4:37 p.m. The quadrangular will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3.com. Log on to KansasRelays.com and follow on twitter at @KU_Relays and @KUTrack for updates throughout the day.
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