Levy, Lokedi Claim Titles on Day One of Big 12 Championships
| Sophomore Sharon Lokedi topped the field by 15 seconds en route to the league 5,000-meter championship.
AMES, Iowa –Two Jayhawks claimed their first-career league titles as the KU track & field teams competed on day one of the Big 12 Indoor Championships Friday inside the Lied Recreation Center. Senior Daina Levy came within an inch of the meet record on the way to winning the weight throw, while sophomore Sharon Lokedi ran to an dominant victory in the 5,000 meters, winning the event no Jayhawk has been able to attain in over 20 years.
After the first six events the Kansas women sit fourth overall after amassing 28.5 points on day one. The KU men find themselves sixth after five events with 20 points.
Levy Snares Weight Throw Title
Levy continued to put her name among the all-time KU greats after she claimed her first career conference title Friday afternoon. The senior out of Mississauga, Ontario entered the day with two of the league’s top throws on the season and had hopes of ending a two-year stretch of near misses at the conference championships.
The senior legitimized her season-long standing atop the league ranks from start to finish. Her first throw of the day produced a mark of 20.95 meters (68’8¾”), which put her at the top of the overall leaderboard following the first round of throws. On her third attempt, Levy extended her lead and surpassed the 70-feet mark for the second time of her career when she posted a throw of 21.35 meters (70’0½”).
It was Levy’s fourth trip into the ring that put any doubts to rest of her impending victory. She heaved the 20-pound implement to a distance of 21.52 meters (70’7¼”), a new career best and the No. 2 mark in Kansas history. The throw was less than an inch shy of the meet record and gave Levy a comfortable lead heading into the final two rounds.
Levy was unable to post a fair throw on her final two tries but no other competitor could match the Jayhawk’s stellar mark, earning her the league title. The win marked the third time a Jayhawk has taken home the Big 12’s weight throw title since 2010.
“It has been a long time coming,” Levy said following her victory. “I have been working so hard this year. I hate getting second place and I knew this year was going to be tough because there are so many great competitors in this conference. I knew it would take a really good outing to get the top spot so I was happy I threw well today.”
Levy is now in prime position to qualify for her first NCAA Indoor Championship meet. She now sits seventh in the latest national rankings.
Lokedi Unchallenged En Route to 5K Title Run
Three months removed from making school history on the cross country course, Lokedi was at it again Friday night as the sophomore turned in a dominating performance in the 5,000 meters. The sophomore out of Eldoret, Kenya made her way to the start line of the Lied Center track with pleasant memories as just three weeks prior she had shattered the school record in the 5,000 meters at the ISU Classic. Lokedi returned in hopes of posting another impressive time but also having a gold medal to go along with it.
Over the early portions of the race Lokedi and a group of four other runners broke away from the main pack and pushed the pace during the first two kilometers. By the midway point, Lokedi was joined only by Baylor’s Maggie Montoya. The two traded the lead for 500 meters before the Jayhawk turned it to another gear and never looked back. Lokedi put 60 meters between her and the rest of the field still with a mile to go in the race.
With the other competitors well behind her, she made her three laps in stress-free fashion before crossing the finish in 16:05.54, more than 15 seconds faster than the next finisher. Lokedi’s performance earned her the first league title of her career and made the sophomore the first Jayhawk since 1993 to garner a conference championship in the 5,000 meters.
“It feels great to get this medal,” said Lokedi following the race. “I think I executed the race well today. Coach (Whittlesey) kept telling me the splits and telling me I was looking good so I knew I was doing what I wanted to do. It just feels great to come out on top. I’m so happy.”
Though the time was eight seconds slower than Lokedi’s career best and school record from three weeks earlier, it still ranks as the second fastest 5K in KU history.
KU Men Score Big in the Pole Vault (Again)
In what has become somewhat of a tradition at the Big 12 Championship meets, the Kansas men again saw a strong outing from their pole vault contingent as KU placed three Jayhawks among the top-seven finishers in Friday evening’s event. All three of those Jayhawks, Paulo Benavides, Greg Lupton and Casey Bowen, cleared a height of 5.19 meters (17’0¼”) to find themselves among the top eight as the bar was raised to 5.34 meters (17’6¼”), but none managed a clearance at that height. Benavides led the way with his fourth-place finish, while Lupton finished sixth. The defending champion, Bowen, turned in a scoring performance at his fifth-straight conference meet after claiming a tie for seventh.
The KU trio combined for 9.5 points and saw three or more finish among the top-eight for the third-straight Big 12 indoor meet.
Sanni Stellar in Sprint Semifinals
Junior Zainab Sanni had a busy but productive day in the semifinals of the 60 meters and 200 meters. The Aurora, Colorado product begin her afternoon with a career-best clocking in the 60-meter semifinals. Sanni broke the tape in 7.38 to finish second in her heat and fourth overall. The time, which earned her a spot in the event final for the second-straight season, tied for the 10th-fastest in school history and moved Sanni into the top-35 of the latest NCAA rankings.
Two hours later she returned to the starting blocks for the 200 meter semifinals. There she earned the automatic qualifying spot after she won her heat in a time of 23.80. That time gave her the fifth-overall qualifying spot into Saturday’s final.
Sanni will lace up the spikes for the 60 meters at 1:50 p.m. Saturday and will follow in the 200-meter final at 4 p.m.
Poirier Off to Strong Start in Heptathlon
Dylan Poirier got Kansas’ weekend in Ames started as he competed in the first four events of the heptathlon.
The junior got his competition off to a good start with a personal-best clocking in the 60-meter dash. He sprinted through the finish in 7.08 to post the fifth-fastest time among the 14 competitors. The time shaved .01 seconds off his previous best and earned him 854 points to start the day.
Poirier then added another career-best mark in the long jump pit. On his first trip down the runway he flew to a mark of 6.69 meters (21’11½”), to add an additional 741 points to his overall score.
He came three inches shy of his personal best in the shot put with his first attempt toss of 11.20 meters (36’9″) before he finished his day with another solid outing in the high jump. Poirier managed to clear the bar at 1.83 meters (6’0″) to equal his career best in the event.
Poirier concluded day one of the heptathlon festivities in eighth-place after amassing 2,806 points. Day two of the heptathlon will kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday with the 60-meter hurdles. The pole vault and the 1,000 meters will close out the competition later in the day.
- Senior Evan Landes finished fourth in the 5,000 meters with a career-best time of 14:10.75. The finish marked the highest by a Jayhawk in the 5K since Colby Wissel claimed third in the event at the 2007 Big 12 meet.
- Sophomore Brandon Lombardino turned in a career outing in the weight throw after he hit 17.77 meters (58’3¾”) on his final attempt of the competition. The throw earned him a seventh-place finish.
- Kansas saw all three of its entrants in the women’s 600 yard semifinals advance to the final Saturday and all with the help of personal bests. Junior Adriana Newell won her heat and clocked in at 1:21.71 for the fourth qualifying spot, sophomore Dorie Dalzell posted 1:22.98 for seventh, and freshman Wumi Omare claimed the eighth and final spot in the final with her time of 1:23.67.
- Sophomore Laura Taylor tallied her first scoring performance at the Big 12 Indoor meet with her seventh-place finish in the pole vault. She cleared 3.98 meters 13’0¾”, marking the second-straight week she has gotten over 13 feet.
The Jayhawks will return to the Lied Recreation Center to close out the conference meet Saturday, February 27. The final three events of the men’s heptathlon will all kick off the day at 11 a.m., with the finals in the track events beginning at 1:30 p.m. Stay updated on the last day’s action by following on Twitter at @KUTrack and logging on to KUAthletics.com for updates and a recap.
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