Jayhawks Set to Host Nation’s Best at NCAA West Prelim
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas men’s and women’s track & field teams will play host to some of the top collegiate athletes in the nation as they welcome the 2016 NCAA West Preliminary held at Rock Chalk Park May 26-28. The event 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 8-11.
- This week, the Kansas track & field teams will play host to the NCAA West Preliminary at Rock Chalk Park May 26-28. The 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 8-11.
- Kansas will host the NCAA Championship West Preliminary for the first time since the current qualifying format began in 2010. The other half of the nation will trek to Jacksonville, Florida, for the NCAA East Preliminary being held at Hodges Stadium and hosted by North Florida.
- The Jayhawk boast 32 entries between the men’s and women’s teams that will compete at the West Preliminary. The KU men feature 16 athletes and a relay team earning 17 entries into the meet, while the Jayhawk women boast 11 athletes and two relays earning 15 entries.
- Last week, head coach Stanley Redwine was selected as the 2016 Men’s Big 12 Coach of the Year by the league’s coaches. The honor marked the fourth Big 12 Coach of the Year honor for Redwine and the third since 2013.
- The two Jayhawk teams’ finishes (men – 2nd, women – 4th) marked the first time since 1995 that both the Kansas men and women notched finishes inside the top-four at a conference meet.
- The Kansas men put an exclamation point on their historic finish at the Big 12 Championship with a victory in the 4×400-meter relay. The squad of Ivan Henry, Jaron Hartley, Tre Daniels and Strymar Livingston posted a season-best 3:05.73 to claim Kansas’ second 4×400-meter win at the league meet in the last four years.
- Junior Mitchell Cooper claimed his first-career conference championship with a victory in the discus at the Big 12 meet. Cooper turned in a winning throw of 58.71 meters (192’7″) to give Kansas its second Big 12 discus champion and first since 2010.
- Senior Daina Levy added yet another accolade to her already impressive Kansas résumé with a conference title in the hammer throw. The senior become the second Kansas female to claim a conference weight throw and hammer throw title in the same year. Levy posted a throw of 66.52 meters (218’3″) on her fifth attempt, a mark no other competitor was able to come within eight feet of.
- Sophomore Sharon Lokedi’s win at the Big 12 meet was the first by a Kansas female in a conference 10,000-meter race since Sarah Heeb won the Big Eight title in the event at the 1996 league championship.
WHAT IS THE NCAA WEST PRELIMINARY?
The NCAA’s West Region for track & field includes the 121 Division I schools located west of the Mississippi River. Athletes from those 121 institutions who rank among the top-48 in their respective events earn berths into the NCAA West Preliminary Round. The best 24 relay teams also advance to NCAA Prelims. Over three days in Lawrence, those 48 athletes and 24 relays will compete in a ‘bracket’-style format to qualify for the NCAA Championships to be held in Eugene, Oregon, June 8-11. The fields of the various events will be whittled down from 48 to 12 by the meet’s end, with those 12 athletes or relays teams earning berths to the NCAA Championships, with the qualifiers from the East Preliminary (hosted in Jacksonville, Florida) completing the field to compete in Eugene.
ROCK CHALK PARK SET TO HOST WEST PRELIM
The KU track & field squads are ready to show off their state-of-the-art track facility at Rock Chalk Park this weekend, as they welcome in more than 120 DI teams for the West Preliminary of the NCAA Championships.
The facility has already been touted as one of the nation’s top track & field facilities as it has attained the prestigious IAAF Class I status. The $39 million facility houses the Kansas track, soccer and softball teams. The track portion of the facility has just over 6,100 permanent seats with the ability to bring in an additional 4,000 temporary seats for larger events. Rock Chalk Park has already won a bid for one of NCAA track & field’s top events as it will host the 2016 NCAA West Preliminary meet.
The track surface may be considered the crown jewel of the entire complex. The surface at Rock Chalk Park, installed by Beynon Sports Surfaces, underwent in-situ testing for the Class I certification process. With the IAAF’s approval, the track is capable of hosting meets of an international level and is one of only five facilities in the U.S. with Class I status.
HOW WE STACK UP IN THE WEST
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-25 when it comes to total entries into the event. The Jayhawk men have 17 entries into this year’s preliminary meet, which is 21st out of the 211 teams participating. Among those competing in Lawrence, three KU women boast marks that sit them inside the top-10 nationally.
Junior Mitch Cooper holds the No. 2 discus mark in the NCAA this season, while juniors Jake Albright and Nick Maestretti each hold top-10 marks in the pole vault within the last month.
On the women’s side, Kansas’ 15 entries are the 35th-most in the region. Four individuals are sitting comfortably in the NCAA’s top-25 of their events, including senior Daina Levy, whose top hammer throw mark of the season (68.35m/224’3″) has her at No. 2 in the nation.
REDWINE NAMED BIG 12 COACH OF THE YEAR
Kansas track & field head coach Stanley Redwine was selected as the 2016 Men’s Big 12 Coach of the Year by the league’s coaches on May 19. The honor marked the fourth Big 12 Coach of the Year honor for Redwine.
The Kansas men’s squad has turned in a stellar season so far in 2016. The team is ranked among the top-25 in the NCAA, checking in this week at 25th. The team features five athletes and a relay team that rank inside the nation’s top-25 in their respective events. Last weekend at the Big 12 Championships, the men’s squad tallied three individual league titles as well as six top-three finishes en route to a second-place team finish. The performance was the team’s highest finish at a conference meet in 33 years. On Thursday, Kansas saw 16 individuals as well as its 4×400-meter relay accepted to the NCAA West Preliminary, which will be hosted at Rock Chalk Park May 26-28.
KU LEADS BIG 12 WITH 30 ACADEMIC HONOREES
A total of 30 Kansas student-athletes were named to the 2016 Academic All-Big 12 Men’s and Women’s Track & Field Teams, the league office announced Tuesday. The Jayhawks and Texas Longhorns led the league with 30 honorees apiece, with the KU men’s and women’s teams each seeing 15 student-athletes honored. Eighty-nine members made up the Big 12 men’s academic team (66 first team and 23 second team), while 133 comprised the women’s squad (117 first team and 16 second team).
Twelve Jayhawk women were placed on the first team, led by sophomore Hannah Dimmick, who was one of 12 women to claim spots on the league’s academic list with a perfect 4.0 GPA, doing so for the second-straight year. On the men’s side, 10 KU student-athletes earned a spot on the first team. Seniors Ben Brownlee and Evan Landes secured first-team Academic All-Big 12 spots for the third time.
JAYHAWK MEN CRACK NCAA TOP-25
For the first time since 2014, the Kansas track & field men’s team found itself ranked inside the top-25 of the latest national rankings. The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) listed the Jayhawks among the top-25 for the first time this year, checking in at No. 23.
Kansas enters the top-25 for the first time since 2014 with the help of four individuals as well as a relay team currently sitting near the top of the national rankings in their respective events. Junior Mitch Cooper holds the NCAA’s No. 2 discus mark after posting a school-record throw of 62.56 meters (205’3″) at the Kansas Relays. Senior Evan Landes still ranks among the top-15 of the NCAA’s 10,000-meter standings after his career-best run of 28:58.43 on April 1 at the Stanford Invitational.
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 8-11. For updates and a complete recap on KU’s performances log on to KUAthletics.com and follow on Twitter, Instagram and Vine at @KUTrack.
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