KU Track Stars, Past and Present, Set to Chase Olympic Dream
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the start of the Rio Olympics just five weeks away, the world’s top track & field athletes are ready to flock to their respective National Team Trials to take on their final hurdle to achieving their Olympic dreams. A host of current and former Kansas track & field athletes are included in that group as team trials for the United States, Jamaica and more are set to kick off this weekend.
United States Team Trials
Six former KU track & field legends are expected to lace up their spikes at the U.S. Team Trials to be held in Eugene, Oregon July 1-10 at Hayward Field. The meet is widely considered the most competitive and high level track meet in the world, with seven Americans currently at the top of the world standings and dozens more ranked inside the top-10 of their respective events. NBC and NBCSN are scheduled to broadcast each day of competition from Hayward Field. Visit USATF.com for the complete broadcast schedule.
- Kyle Clemons – One of the top quarter-mile sprinters in Kansas history will try to claim a spot on Team USA’s contingent to Rio as the Rowlett, Texas native is slated to compete in the 400 meters in Eugene. The KU school record holder in both the indoor and outdoor 400 meters, Clemons has established himself as one of the top American quarter-milers since turning professional three years ago. The two-time Big 12 Champion was the U.S. indoor 400-meter champion in 2014 and has twice helped the American 4×400-meter relay to a gold medal at the 2014 and 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Clemons is currently the fourth-ranked American in the 400 meters this year. His meet will kick off in the qualifying heats of the 400 meters on Friday, July 1. The gun is set to go off at 7:15 p.m. (CT).
- Mason Finley – Finley has enjoyed a breakout year in the discus and heads into the 2016 U.S. Team Trials ranked fifth among Americans in the event. An eight-time All-American while donning the Crimson and Blue, Finley will try and join the likes of four-time Olympic gold medalist Al Oerter as former Jayhawks to compete in the discus on the Olympic stage. Earlier this year, Finley smashed the 40-year-old Kansas Relays record in the event with his toss of 64.07 meters (210’2″). He has since improved on the personal-best mark with a throw of 65.63 meters (215’4″) in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on June 4, which ranks him fifth in the U.S. and 21st in the world. The qualifying rounds of the discus competition in Eugene are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, July 7.
- Andrea Geubelle – The most decorated Jayhawk in KU track & field history will return to Eugene next week with hopes to redeem falling just short of her Olympic dream four years ago. Geubelle was the bronze medal triple jump winner at the 2012 American Trials as a KU junior and has since claimed the U.S. title in 2013. The University Place, Washington product claimed three NCAA titles during her days in Lawrence and earned First Team All-America status a program record 12 times. Geubelle will enter the U.S. Championships having already met the all-important Olympic standard in the triple jump with an outdoor personal-best mark of 14.15 meters (46’5¼”). The mark has the 25-year-old ranked second among American triple jumpers. The qualifying rounds of the triple jump will begin at 6:15 p.m. (CT) on Monday, July 4.
- Crystal Manning – Manning is another KU triple jumping legend slated to compete in Eugene next week. The KU alumna is eight years removed from her days as a Jayhawk but has remained on of the top American triple jumpers. Manning ranks fourth in the U.S. this year and has finished among the top-three at the American championships on three occasions. She will join Geubelle in the triple jump qualifying rounds on July 4 at 6:15 p.m. (CT).
- Jessica Maroszek – The top female discus thrower in Kansas history will hit the Hayward Field discus ring this weekend. The school record holder in the event, Maroszek ranks 16th among American discus throwers this year. This won’t be the Seymour, Wisconsin native’s first Olympic Trials experience after she took 20th in the event four years ago. The 2014 Big 12 Champion’s week will kick off in the discus qualifying rounds on Friday, July 1 at 6 p.m. (CT).
- Jordan Scott – The seven-time conference champion during his time at KU, Scott heads to his second American Trials looking to become the fourth KU alumnus to earn an Olympic bid in the pole vault. Last weekend Scott cleared a season-best bar of 5.65 meters (18’6½”) in Lawrence to earn a bid to the event in Eugene. Scott, who won the U.S. indoor pole vault title in 2013, while take the Hayward Field runway at 5:30 p.m. (CT) Monday, July 4.
*** 2015 NCAA 400-meter hurdle Champion, Michael Stigler, was forced to withdraw his name from the Olympic Trials this week due to a hamstring injury. Stigler has moved among the top-five American 400-meter hurdlers over the last five years. He was the runner-up in the event at the 2014 U.S. Championships and, as a KU freshman, finished sixth at the 2012 U.S. Team Trials. This season, his first as a professional, Stigler has posted a top time of 49.68 but will not compete for the rest of the year due to his injury. ***
Jamaican National Championships
Three Jayhawks will be in Kingston this weekend to compete in the always competitive Jamaican National Championship meet to be held in the National Stadium June 30-July 3.
- Ivan Henry – Henry had a stellar freshman season for the KU men in 2016, which included running a leg on the Big 12 Champion 4×400-meter relay squad. Henry has already established himself as one of the top young 400-meter sprinters in Jamaica as he has already competed for his country on the international level. He finished fourth in the 400 meters at the 2015 Junior PanAm Games and also helped the Jamaican 4×400-meter relay squad to a silver medal last summer. Henry heads into Kingston this weekend with a personal-best 46.59 and will hit the starting blocks for the event prelim at 5 p.m. (CT) Friday, July 1.
- Daina Levy – Levy will head into her country’s national championships this weekend having already made Jamaican history. Just last week at a Last Chance Meet in Lawrence, the two-time Big 12 Champion is coming off an outstanding career for the Jayhawks, which came to an end at the beginning of June. The two-time Big 12 Champion smashed her previous career best in the hammer throw with a mark of 71.48 meters (234’6″) to not only break her own Jamaican national record but to top the all-important Olympic A Standard. The performance has clinched Levy’s spot on Team Jamaica’s contingent to Rio and will make her the first Jamaican – male or female – to take part in the Olympic hammer throw. She will try to earn another national title in the event when she competes in Kingston Saturday, July 2 starting at 8:40 a.m. (CT).
- Strymar Livingston – The Kansas junior is coming off an impressive debut season for the Jayhawks, one which saw him move up the school’s all-time 800 meter charts as well as help the KU 4×400-meter relay to the Big 12 outdoor title. Livingston is set to compete in the 800 meters this weekend, which are set to kick off at 6:28 p.m. (CT) on Friday, July 1.
Other International Jayhawks
- Junior Zainab Sanni is set to compete at her native Nigeria’s Olympic qualifier meet. Sanni will take part in the 100 meter and 200 meter sprints. Sanni was the Big 12 runner-up in the 100 meters at the Big 12 Championships in May and went on to help the 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter relays top top-three finishes at the conference meet as well. She also qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary in the 200 meters. The Nigerian Championship 100-meter prelims will be held Thursday, July 7 while the 200-meter races are set to take place Friday, July 8.
Get updates and results from all the current and former Jayhawk track & field athletes as they compete for a trip to Rio by logging on to KUAthletics.com and following on Twitter at @KUTrack.
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