Jayhawks Ready for Busy Weekend in Arizona
| Junior Zainab Sanni
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas track & field is set for another busy weekend as the Jayhawks jet to the southwest for a pair of meets in Arizona. The Kansas men and women split time between the Mesa Classic, held in Mesa, Arizona on April 8, as well as the always-competitive Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Arizona April 8-9. Hosted by Arizona State, the Sun Angel Classic, will see nearly 1,000 collegiate and post-collegiate competitors in action inside Sun Angel Stadium Friday and Saturday.
- The Jayhawks are slated to have 63 athletes in action at one or both of the meets in central Arizona this weekend. KU is competing at the Mesa Classic and Sun Angel Classic for the third time in four years.
- After the first weekend of the outdoor season, seven Jayhawks and one relay team rank among the top-25 in the latest NCAA rankings, three of which find themselves in the top-five of their respective events. Thirteen KU tracksters are among the top-five in the Big 12 rankings.
- The Jayhawks’ last journey to the Mesa Classic and Sun Angel Classic produced 20 personal records, 11 event victories and a pair of NCAA top-10 performances.
- The KU men find three of its pole vaulters ranked among the top-25 in the nation after some strong outings at the Texas Relays last weekend, each of whom will be in action in Arizona.
- Senior vaulter Casey Bowen will make his outdoor debut this weekend. In his last outing at the Sun Angel Classic in 2014, Bowen won the premier division vault with a clearance of 5.46 meters (17’11”).
- A week removed from moving to fifth on Kansas all-time discus chart, junior Mitch Cooper will again hit the discus ring at both the Mesa Classic and Sun Angel Classic. Cooper’s personal best toss of 59.34 meters (194’8″) at the Emporia State Relays last weekend has him ranked 10th in the NCAA this season.
SUN ANGEL CLASSIC TO BE STREAMED LIVE ONLINE
Arizona State will offer a free live web stream of both day’s events at the Sun Angel Classic. Fans can log on to www.pac-12.com/live/ to stay up to date on all the Kansas performances from Tempe.
LIVINGSTON SET FOR FIRST HALF-MILE OF OUTDOOR SEASON
Junior Strymar Livingston is slated to compete in his first open 800 meters of the 2016 outdoor campaign. The Brooklyn native posted the fifth-fastest indoor 800-meter race in program history in February with his time of 1:49.19. Livingston came to Kansas after two highly successful seasons at Iowa Western CC, where he ran to the 2015 NJCAA Championship in the 800 meters as well as All-America status seven times in two seasons. Livingston’s first outdoor 800 meters as a Jayhawk is sure to be good one as he is set to go up against a stellar field in Tempe Saturday evening. The starting gun for the half-mile race is slated to go off at 10 p.m. (CT).
LEVY RETURNS TO THE HAMMER RING THIS WEEKEND
Senior Daina Levy will begin her march toward another run at an NCAA hammer throw title as she competes in the event at both the Mesa Classic and Sun Angel Classic. Levy earned first team All-America status in the event last season and finished sixth at the NCAA Championships. The senior came within one centimeter of the school hammer throw record last season and is primed to surpass that mark this year. Levy will have a busy Friday with the hammer throw competitions for both meets beginning within seven hours of each other. The hammer throw in Tempe will begin at noon with the event in Mesa slated to kick off at 7 p.m.
JAYHAWK 4X4 RELAY SET FOR ANOTHER STRONG OUTING AT SUN ANGEL
The Kansas men’s mile relay squad is set to return to the track this weekend just one week removed from a stellar race at the Texas Relays on April 2. The quartet of Ivan Henry, Drew Matthews, Jaime Wilson and Strymar Livingston raced to a third-place finish in Austin in a time of 3:06.48, one of the 10 fastest times by a collegiate 4×400-meter relay team this season. The group’s mark was also the fastest by a KU relay since 2013. That same foursome is expected to be back on the track in Tempe this weekend against another stellar field Saturday night. The premier section of the men’s race is set to go off at 11:22 p.m.
LAST WEEKEND’S HIGHLIGHTS
- For the second time in 2016, sophomore Sharon Lokedi inserted her name into the school record book as she smashed the Kansas 10,000-meter record Friday night at the Stanford Invitational. She completed the 6.2-mile race in a new personal best of 33:10.06 to finish 14th overall and shatter the 37-year-old school record by 77 seconds.
- Lokedi’s time also moved her up to fifth on the early-season NCAA 10K rankings. She now holds school records in the indoor 5,000 meters in addition to the 10,000 meters and is also the No. 2 Jayhawk in the indoor 3,000 meters. Each of those performances have come within the last four months.
- Nearly 60 minutes after Lokedi’s record run, senior Evan Landes toed the start line in the men’s 10,000 meters. Landes also had a career outing coming away from Cobb Track with a personal best and one of the fastest 10K clockings in school history. Landes claimed fourth overall with his time of 28:58.43, a time that was just seven seconds shy of the men’s school record.
- Landes is now just the second Jayhawk to finish a 10K race in under 29 minutes and the first since school record-holder Craig Watcke did so at the 1989 Kansas Relays.
- Several Jayhawks were in action 30 miles north of Palo Alto at the San Francisco State Distance Festival. Senior Kelli McKenna turned in a career outing in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase. The Madison, Wisconsin native finished in a new personal-best clocking of 10:23.28. McKenna’s time made her the second-fastest Jayhawk in the event all-time, with two-time First Team All-American Rebeka Stowe the only other Kansas Steeplechaser to post a faster time.
- At the Texas Relays Saturday afternoon, the Jayhawk men’s 4×400-meter relay squad of Ivan Henry , Drew Matthews , Jaime Wilson and Strymar Livingston turned in the fastest time by a KU mile relay squad in three years. The quartet got the baton around in 3:06.48 to finish third. The time ranks 11th in the latest NCAA rankings.
- A career best from junior pole vaulter Nick Meyer in his first outing of the outdoor season highlighted a solid opening afternoon at the Texas Relays. Meyer only needed two tries to get over a new career best of 5.40 meters (17’8½”). That jump earned the Kingman, Kansas native the best finish by a collegian in the event. His performance moved him to fifth in the early-season outdoor pole vault rankings.
- Eleven Jayhawks picked up top-three finishes as a large Kansas contingent took part in the Emporia State Relays Saturday inside Fran Welch Stadium.
- Junior Mitch Cooper collected a victory in the discus by way of a career-best toss. The Second Team All-American posted a career-best throw of 59.34 meters (194’8″) to claim the victory. The mark, which ranks ninth in the latest NCAA discus rankings, gave Cooper the win by more than five feet over teammate Nicolai Ceban , who claimed the runner-up finish.
- Cooper’s mark has only been topped by four other Jayhawks in the program’s history and is the best toss by a KU discus thrower since 2012.
After a week off the Jayhawks will return to action when they host the 89th Kansas Relays inside Rock Chalk Park April 20-23. Thousands of high school and collegiate athletes are set to compete during the four-day meet, with Saturday’s afternoon session slated to be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3. Log on to KansasRelays.com for a schedule and additional information on one of the nation’s most historic track meets.
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