Jayhawks primed for strong week at NCAA West Preliminary

NCAA West Preliminary
Date May 25-27, 2017
Location Austin, Texas
Stadium Mike A. Myers Stadium
Video TexasSports.com
Stats Prime Time Timing
Notes Schedule
Notes Start Lists
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AUSTIN, Texas – The Kansas men’s and women’s track & field teams begin their march to the NCAA Championships this week as they compete the 2017 NCAA West Preliminary in Austin, Texas May 25-27. The event, hosted at Mike A. Myers Stadium, is the first of two meets as part of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships that begin this week and conclude in Eugene, Oregon June 7-10.

  • The NCAA West Preliminary meet will feature some of the nation’s finest student-athletes from over 120 Division I schools located west of the Mississippi River. The meet will serve as the qualifying event for the NCAA Outdoor Championships to be held in Eugene, Oregon June 7-10.
  • Texas is hosting the NCAA West Preliminary for the fifth time since the current qualifying format began in 2010. The other half of the nation will trek to Lexington, Kentucky for the NCAA East Preliminary being held at UK Track Complex and hosted by Kentucky. Kansas played host to the West Preliminary a year ago and has been selected to host the event once again in 2020.
  • The Jayhawks boast 38 entries between the men’s and women’s teams that will compete at the West Preliminary. The KU men feature 20 athletes and a relay team earning 24 entries into the meet, while the Jayhawk women boast 12 athletes and two relays earning 14 entries.
  • This week, the Kansas men checked in at No. 10 in the latest NCAA rankings. That marks the highest the Jayhawks have been ranked in the program’s history dating back to 2008 when the current ranking format began.
  • Last week, junior Sharon Lokedi was selected as the 2017 Big 12 Female Outstanding Performer of the Year by the league’s coaches. The honor marked the third time a Jayhawk female has been given the award. Lokedi claimed conference titles in both the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters at the Big 12 Championship two weeks ago, scoring a team-high 20 points.
  • The Jayhawk men claimed a runner-up finish at the Big 12 Outdoor Championship for the second-straight year, scoring a program-record 143 points. Four KU men left Rock Chalk Park with gold medals as well as a pair of new meet records.
  • Kansas placed a league-leading 44 student-athletes on the Academic All-Big 12 teams on May 10. Twenty-three Kansas women and 13 Jayhawk men managed first-team nods with juniors Hannah Dimmick and Laura Taylor as well as sophomore Emily Downey being three of 18 Big 12 women to post a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Individually, both the KU men and women have several members who are among the nation’s best in their respective events. Each team ranks among the nation’s top-40 when it comes to total entries into the event. The Jayhawk men have 24 entries into this year’s preliminary meet, which is ninth out of the 230 teams participating. Among those competing in Austin, five KU men boast marks that sit them inside the top-10 nationally.
Freshman Gleb Dudarev holds the nation’s top hammer throw mark, while senior Mitch Cooper is the owner of the No. 2 discus mark in the NCAA this season. Senior Jake Albright and sophomore Hussain Al Hizam each hold top-10 marks in the pole vault. Junior Barden Adams also recently entered in the NCAA top-10 with his performance in the triple jump at the Big 12 Championship two weeks ago as he enters the weekend sitting ninth in the NCAA.
On the women’s side, Kansas’ 14 entries are the 38th-most in the region. Five individuals are sitting comfortably in the NCAA’s top-25 of their events, including senior Sydney Conley, whose top long jump mark the season (6.76m/22-2¼) has her at No. 3 in the nation.
Kansas junior Sharon Lokedi was named the Big 12 Outstanding Female Performer of the Year it was announced by the league office on May 18. The honor marked the first yearly conference award of Lokedi and the third Outstanding Performer honor claimed by a Jayhawk after Paris Daniels garnered the award in 2013 and Candace Mason did so in 1998.
At the Big 12 Championship, Lokedi ran to victory in both the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters, making her just the seventh female in the league’s history to win both events at a single meet. Lokedi was her team’s high-point scorer, recording 20 of the Jayhawks’ 84 points. The 20-point effort marked the third-most ever posted by a Jayhawk female at a Big 12 meet.
During the outdoor season, Lokedi posted times in both the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters that ranked her among the top-35 in the NCAA in both events. At the Cardinal Classic on April 21, she broke the Kansas 5,000-meter record in a time of 16:00.60, marking the third school record she has claimed in her three-year Jayhawk career. Lokedi opened her year with a 33:37.01 clocking in the 10,000 meters at the Stanford Invitational, the third-fastest 10K in school history and the No. 14 time in the NCAA DI ranks this year.
For the first time in program history, the Kansas men’s track & field squad ranks among the top-10 teams in the nation as the weekly NCAA DI rankings were announced Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The Jayhawks, who checked in at No. 10 this week, have been ranked no lower than 17th during the 2017 outdoor season and, prior to Monday, peaked at No. 11 on two occasions.
Kansas currently features seven athletes who sit among the top-25 in their respective events, which includes four Jayhawks who boast top-five marks. Freshman Gleb Dudarev holds the nation’s top hammer throw mark at 74.20 meters (243-5), which he posted en route to a Big 12 title in the event on May 12 at the league championship meet. Senior Mitch Cooper’s conference title-winning throw of 63.98 meters (209-11) in the discus has him ranked second in the NCAA. Kansas features two pole vaulters, senior Jake Albright and sophomore Hussain Al Hizam, who are tied for fifth in the NCAA DI rankings. Both have cleared a season-best bar of 5.60 meters (18-4½).
Less than a week after claiming a gold medal at the Big 12 Outdoor Championship, Kansas sophomore pole vaulter Hussain Al Hizam snared another gold, this time halfway around the world at the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games Saturday inside Baku Olympic Stadium.
Al Hizam, who currently is ranked fifth among NCAA collegians this year, took advantage of the Jayhawks’ weekend off to travel and compete for his native Saudi Arabia at the fourth installment of the Islamic Solidarity Games, which brings together 6,000 athletes from 56 countries that are members of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation for 10 days of multi-sport competition.
In the pole vault Saturday, Al Hizam quickly vaulted his name to the top of the six-person field, with first-attempt clearances on each of his first three heights. He then needed only five vaults to clear the next three bars, which included a second attempt clearance on what the height that no other athlete could match at 5.35 meters (17-6½). With the gold already in tow, Al Hizam’s day was not finishes as he notched one more clearance, a height of 5.55 meters (18-2½). That vault was just two inches shy of his personal and Saudi Arabian record vault posted earlier this year at the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Arizona.
For the second-straight year, the Kansas men’s and women’s track & field teams boasted the most academic honorees in the conference as a total of 44 Kansas student-athletes were named to the 2017 Academic All-Big 12 Men’s and Women’s Track & Field Teams, the league office announced Tuesday. Both men’s and women’s teams led their respective genders, with the KU women boasting a team-record 26 first and second team selections, and the men adding 18 honorees.
Twenty-three Jayhawk women were placed on the first team, led by juniors Hannah Dimmick and Laura Taylor as well as sophomore Emily Downey, who were three of 18 women to claim spots on the league’s academic list with a perfect 4.0 GPA, Dimmick doing so for the third-straight year. On the men’s side, 13 KU student-athletes earned a spot on the first team, which included sophomore Hussain Al Hizam, who achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA en route to his first Academic All-Big 12 selection.
A league-leading long jump mark last weekend helped senior Sydney Conley collect the Big 12 Track & Field Athlete of the Week award it was announced by the conference Wednesday. The honor was the second of Conley’s career and the first by a Jayhawk female this season.
Conley turned in a pair of career-best performances which led to two victories Saturday at the Ward Haylett Invitational in Manhattan, Kansas. On her sixth and final trip down the runway in the long jump, Conley soared to a mark of 6.62 meters (21-8¾) to not only secure the win, but also insert her name at No. 5 on the most recent NCAA DI long jump rankings and to first in the Big 12.
She returned to the track just an hour later and snared her second gold medal of the day. The senior sprinted across the finish line in 11.49 to win the 100 meters, the fastest non-wind-aided time of her KU career and the seventh-fastest in the Big 12 this season.
The University of Kansas’ state-of-the-art track facility at Rock Chalk Park has once again picked up a major event as it will play host to the 2020 NCAA West Preliminary meet the NCAA announced Tuesday. Kansas is also slated to host the 2020 NCAA Cross Country Midwest Regional, which is to be held at the Jayhawks’ Rim Rock Farm Course.
Rock Chalk Park, which opened in April of 2014, will see Kansas host its second West Preliminary May 28-30, 2020. The regional meet is the considered the first round of the NCAA Championships and is one of two preliminary meets that will be held two weeks prior to the National Championships. The West Region includes every DI track & field program west of the Mississippi River and has produced 13 of the last 16 men’s and women’s national team champions.
At the West Preliminary, the top-48 athletes in each event compete in a bracket-style qualifying format and look to advance through each round. The top-24 athletes in each event and the top-16 relay teams advance to the National Championship meet, which will be held in Eugene, Oregon, in 2020.
Later that year, Kansas will also host its second NCAA Midwest Cross Country Regional at its 42-year-home, Rim Rock Farm. The meet, which is scheduled to be held on Nov. 13, 2020, will feature 30 men’s and women’s cross country teams from across the Midwest vying for spots at the NCAA Championships. The top-two finishing teams, as well as two top individual finishers, will qualify for the national meet to be hosted in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Rim Rock Farm hosted the Midwest Regional in 2015, the NCAA DI and DII Championships in 1998 as well as the Big 12 Championships in 2004 and 2014.
Kansas track & field head coach Stanley Redwine, along with associate head coach Tom Hays, took home Midwest Regional awards for the indoor track season it was announced March 6 by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Redwine was named the region’s men’s head coach of the year, while Hays claimed the Midwest’s men’s assistant coach of the year award.
Redwine saw his Kansas program rise to No. 6 in the USTFCCCA weekly rankings, the highest ranking in KU history. The Jayhawks featured six athletes and one relay team who qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships held in College Station, Texas. The figure marks the most qualifiers of any team in the Midwest region. The regional award is the third for Redwine but his first time being honored for the men’s team. He was named the Midwest’s Head Coach of the Year for the Kansas women’s team following both the 2012 and 2013 outdoor seasons.
Hays saw five of his vaulters finished the season ranked among the top-20 in the national rankings, all clearing 5.45 meters (17-10½) or better, with three of those Jayhawks earning NCAA Championship qualifying spots. It marked just the seventh time in the 52-year history of the indoor championships that more than two vaulters from a single school qualified for the NCAA meet. The Regional honor is the first for Hays since the current Regional Award format began in 2006.
This year’s Kansas track & field roster includes several athletes who come from some impressive track & field family backgrounds:

  • Senior long jump specialist Sydney Conley is the daughter of Mike Conley, who won a gold medal in the triple jump at the 1992 Olympics while also breaking the world record in the event. Conley still holds the indoor American record in the triple jump (58-3¾). Sydney Conley is also the niece of KU track & field head coach Stanley Redwine.
  • Sophomore pole vaulter Paulo Benavides’ father, Paul, held the Mexican national pole vault record for 12 years.
  • Senior pole vaulter Nick Maestretti’s father, Lane, was two-time competitor in the decathlon at the Olympic Trials and at one time held the American record in the decathlon pole vault.
  • Junior Dorie Dalzell is the daughter of Greg Dalzell, who ran track at KU from 1981-86 and was a member of the Big Eight championship team. Dalzell’s grandfather, Art, also ran track and cross country at KU in 1953 where he was a member of the national championship cross country team.
  • Freshman Denzel Harper’s father, Derek, was a member of the Michigan track team and still holds the school’s indoor long jump record at 7.89 meters (25-10¾).
  • Freshman Ethan Donley’s mother, Julie, competed in the 800 meters at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Head coach Stanley Redwine has taken Kansas track & field to a level it hasn’t seen in quite some time during his first 16 years at the helm. Over Redwine’s tenure, he has seen 117 indoor and outdoor Big 12 Champions, 156 First Team All-Americans and 15 NCAA Champions come through his program at KU.
Redwine’s teams have also collected a combined seven top-10 NCAA team finishes, including coaching the 2013 women’s team to the program’s first National Championship at the NCAA outdoor meet.
Those Jayhawks who are able to advance through the first rounds at the West Prelim will punch their tickets to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. The meet, held at historic Hayward Field for the fourth-straight year, is slated for June 7-10. For updates and a complete recap on KU’s performances log on to KUAthletics.com and follow on Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack.
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