Kansas Men Claim Historic Finish at Big 12 Outdoor Championship

Big 12 Outdoor Championships
Lowdon Track Complex // Fort Worth, Texas

Tre Daniels hands off to Strymar Livingston on the final leg of the 4×400-meter relay. Kansas went on to claim victory in 3:05.73.
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FORT WORTH, Texas –Two event victories as well as four top-three finishes on the meet’s final day helped propel the Kansas men’s track & field team to a runner-up finish at the Big 12 Outdoor Championship Sunday inside the Lowdon Track Complex. The Jayhawks amassed 116 points to claim second place and post the program’s highest finish at a conference meet since 1983. The Kansas women tallied their fifth-straight top-four finish at the Big 12 outdoor meet after they claimed a fourth-place finish with 82.4 points.
“I’m obviously very excited with the performance of our men’s team this weekend,” said head coach Stanley Redwine. “We had many different athlete contribute so it was definitely a total team effort. We’ll continue to improve from here and make strides to try and be lifting the trophy at this point next year, but this is definitely a great confidence builder for the program.”
The Kansas men put an exclamation point on their historic finish with a come-from-behind win in the 4×400-meter relay. The squad of Ivan Henry, Jaron Hartley, Tre Daniels and Strymar Livingston gave Kansas its second conference title in the event in four years and cemented their team’s second-place finish.
By the midway point of the race, the Jayhawks had found themselves up against a formidable foe in the Baylor Bears, a team that has claimed 14 of the 19 Big 12 4×400-meter relay titles. After a hard-fought battle through the first half of the race, Daniels managed to pull the Jayhawks ahead just before the final handoff, passing the baton to the anchor, Livingston, who would not relinquish the KU lead. The Bears closed the gap on Livingston down the homestretch, but held off the late charge to bring the Jayhawks’ baton across the finish with a winning time of 3:05.73.
The Jayhawks’ win marked its second 4×400-meter win at the Big 12 Championship in the last four years. The quartet’s time was also a season-best and the fastest posted by a Kansas 4×400-meter squad since 2013.
The Kansas discus throwers kicked off the Jayhawks’ historic day with a stellar outing, producing a conference champion as well as 18 points to the men’s score. Junior Mitch Cooper and sophomore Nicolai Ceban faced relatively little resistance in working their way to the top of the leaderboard. After the first two rounds of throws, the KU duo sat first and second with marks that were 10 feet better than the rest of the field.
Cooper moved into the final three rounds with a comfortable lead following his toss of 58.09 meters (190’7″), while Ceban was not far behind as he notched a throw of 57.49 meters (188’7″). Cooper, who entered the day as the conference’s top-ranked thrower in the event, upped his lead in the fifth round when he got the discus out to a mark of 58.71 meters (192’7″). That throw would end up being more than enough to earn the Queensland, Australia product his first-career conference title.
The win gave Kansas its second Big 12 discus champion and first since 2010, while Ceban added a runner-up finish, his highest at the outdoor conference meet.
Before his strong anchor leg on the Big 12 champion 4×400-meter squad, Livingston turned in one of the best 800-meter outings in Kansas history in the event final. The Brooklyn, New York native punched his ticket to the final by way of his fifth-place finish in the semifinal Saturday, posting a time of 1:50.20. Livingston would improve on that mark by nearly two seconds in the final and secure another top-three finish for the KU men.
In the final, the junior never fell lower than fourth and found himself in a battle with Texas Tech’s Charles Jones and Oklahoma’s Tre’Tez Kinnaird with 300 meters to go. Jones managed to pull ahead of the group but Livingston stuck close behind as the three runners rounded the final curve and headed for home. With 100 meters to go, Jones held a 10 meter lead, but Livingston refused to go down without a fight. The Jayhawk closed the gap on the Red Raider over the final 50 meters but came up just short of the victory, crossing the finish less than .50 seconds behind the winner.
Though Livingston was unable to claim the gold medal, he still managed to tally a personal best and enter the school’s all-time top-10 list. His time of 1:48.42 was the fastest of his career and marked the best 800-meter time by a Jayhawk since 2005. The performance also put Livingston at No. 10 on KU’s all-time 800-meter chart.
Livingston’s time also moved him up the rankings for the NCAA West Regional as he now sits 18th in the region as well as 43rd in the collegiate ranks.
Junior Zainab Sanni had a busy but productive afternoon in Fort Worth, amassing the most points on the women’s squad with strong outings in the 100 meters and 200 meters as well as the 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter relays.
The Aurora, Colorado product began her day by running the third leg on the 4×100-meter relay, helping the Jayhawks to a season-best time and third-place finish in 44.97.
Sanni then turned her attention to the 100 meters. The junior sprinted down the straightaway and leaned across the finish in 11.47, good enough for a second-place finish and eight points for the women’s team. The performance earned Sanni her highest place at a conference meet.
After she claimed fourth in the 200 meters with a clocking of 23.46, she joined teammates Whitney Adams, Nicole Montgomery and Adriana Newell in the 4×400-meter relay. The KU foursome combined for its fastest race of the 2016 campaign en route to a third-place finish. KU completed the mile race in 3:36.80, a time that ranks the group 16th in the West Region.
Sanni ended her day having contributed 16 points to the women’s team’s score.

  • The two Jayhawk team’s finishes marked the first time since 1995 that both the Kansas men and women notched finishes inside the top-four at a conference meet.
  • Senior Evan Landes was the top scorer for the KU men, adding 14 points to the scoring effort. He posted a third-place finish in the 5,000 meters Sunday with a personal-record time of 14:04.97. Landes also claimed second in the 10,000 meters Friday night.
  • Freshman Dylan Hodgson tallied a third-place finish and a personal-record time in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase. His time of 8:50.04 moved him to eighth on KU’s all-time Steeplechase list.
  • Junior Adriana Newell posted a personal-record time of 53.76 en route to a fifth-place finish in the 400 meters. The time moved Newell to No. 5 on KU’s all-time 400-meter list and marked the fastest 400-meter time by a KU female since 2013.
  • Sophomore Sharon Lokedi turned in the fifth-fastest 5,000-meter time in school history as she ran to a seventh-place finish in the event final. She tallied a final time of 16:47.97 and scored in both the 5,000-meters and 10,000 meters at the Big 12 Championship for the second-straight year.

With the final regular-season meet in the books, the Kansas men and women will look toward the preliminary rounds of the NCAA Championships set to begin in less than two weeks. The Jayhawks will host the West Region Preliminary meet May 26-28 inside Rock Chalk Park, which will provide KU athletes the opportunity to advance to the NCAA National Championships in Eugene, Oregon June 8-11. The Jayhawks will wait to see which competitors will compete in Lawrence when the qualifier lists are released Tuesday, May 17. Log on to KUAthletics.com for complete coverage of the Jayhawks’ journey through the rounds of the NCAA Championships and follow on Twitter at @KUTrack.
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