| Junior Mitch Cooper claimed the discus title Saturday at the Sun Angel Classic.
TEMPE, Ariz. – Kansas saw impressive performances in events covering nearly every one of the track & field disciplines as the Jayhawks took part in the 37th Annual Sun Angel Classic Saturday. Junior Whitney Adams came within fractions of a second of rewriting a school record book in the 800 meters, while the men’s 4×400-meter relay team turned in another solid outing en route to its first victory of the outdoor season.
Junior Whitney Adams came within an eye lash of the school record in the 800 meters as she competed against a stellar field in the women’s premier division 800 meters. The St. Charles, Missouri product shaved almost a second off her previous career best in the event after she completed the half-mile race in 2:05.43, good enough for a fifth-place finish and the second-highest finish by a collegian.
Adams’ performance came painfully close to tying Kristi Kloster’s 22-year-old school record in the event, as Adams was only .01 seconds behind Kloster’s clocking of 2:05.42.
The career run still put Adams inside the top-20 of the latest NCAA 800-meter rankings as well as second in the Big 12. It also has her in prime position to qualify for her second-straight NCAA West Preliminary, which will be hosted at Rock Chalk Park May 26-28.
Strymar Livingston also tallied a career half-mile race Saturday night. In what proved to be one of the fastest 800-meter races in the world this year, Livingston turned in a stellar outing and the best 800-meter performance by a KU male in over a decade. The Brooklyn product posted a final time of 1:49.47, good enough for an eighth-place finish in a field chalk full of All-Americans.
Livingston’s time shaved .06 seconds off his previous personal record, achieved as a sophomore at Iowa Western CC last year, and was the fastest by a Jayhawk since 2005. The junior now sits second in the conference’s yearly standings and among the 15 fastest in the NCAA’s West Region.
Junior Mitch Cooper left Sun Angel Stadium with some hardware after the junior took the premier division discus title. Cooper’s best throw of the day measured out to 57.73 meters (189’5″), a throw that topped the rest of the field by just over a foot. The win marked the third of the young outdoor season for, Cooper he claimed the discus title at the Emporia State Relays last week and was the top collegiate finisher at the Mesa Classic Friday.
Cooper still ranks first among Big 12 discus throwers as well as the top-10 of all collegians as of the latest rankings released Saturday.
Freshman Nicole Montgomery ran her way to the top of the podium earlier in the afternoon with an impressive performance in the 400 meters. Competing in the quarter-mile race outdoors for the first time in her career, Montgomery wasted little time in putting her name among the all-time fastest KU 400-meter specialists. The Monument, Colorado product finished her lap in 54.18 to earn the victory and move her name to seventh on the program’s all-time 400-meter list.
Montgomery is also now among the top-five of Big 12 quarter-milers and in the top-20 of the latest NCAA West Region standings.
The 4×400-meter relays closed out the weekend on a high night for the KU track teams. The men’s squad, comprised of Ivan Henry, Jaron Hartley, Jaime Wilson and Livingston raced to its first win of the 2016 outdoor season in come-from-behind fashion. Heading into the fourth and final leg, Kansas found itself in fourth-place, but a strong closing leg by Livingston moved the Jayhawks ahead of Texas A&M and Arizona State down the homestretch to finish in a winning time of 3:08.12.
The women’s mile-relay squad also had a newsworthy night with a season best in the event. The foursome of Adriana Newell, Montgomery, Zainab Sanni and Adams passed the baton around in 3:38.55 to pick up a third-place finish. The time marked the fastest by a KU women’s 4×400-meter relay squad since 2013 and has the team ranked inside the all-important top-24 of the latest NCAA West Regional standings.
Other notable performance Saturday came from junior Nashia Baker, who tallied a personal best in the 1,500 meters at 4:26.60 to finish 10th overall, sophomore Nicolai Ceban, who surpassed the 60-foot mark for the first time this outdoor season in a fifth-place finish in the shot put with a mark of 18.30 meters (60’0½”), and freshman Bryce Richards, who picked up a runner-up finish in his first collegiate 1,500-meter outing in 3:49.53
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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