Levy, Lokedi Secure All-America Status at NCAA Indoor Championships

Sophomore Sharon Lokedi ran to a sixth-place finish in the 5,000 meters Friday night at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. –Two Jayhawks turned in All-American performances on day one the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships Friday night inside the Birmingham CrossPlex. Senior Daina Levy claimed bronze in the weight throw with a career-best outing, just minutes before sophomore Sharon Lokedi ran to a sixth-place finish in the 5,000 meters to become the first KU female to earn All-America status in the indoor event.
The two Jayhawks’ scoring performances netted the women’s team nine points after the first day’s events and has Kansas sitting ninth overall heading into the second and final day of action Saturday.
It was another stellar outing in the weight throw for Levy, who entered the day as the No. 8 seed in the event. She never fell from the top-five during the duration of the competition and recorded a new personal best for the third time this season. The Mississauga, Ontario product opened her day with a toss of 20.23 meters (66’4½”), which moved her to fourth following the first round of attempts by all 16 competitors. After a foul on her second attempt, Levy unleashed the best throw of her career as she flung the 20-pound implement to a distance of 21.57 meters (70’9¼”). The throw, which ranks as the third-farthest in KU history, moved the senior to third on the leaderboard heading into the final three rounds of attempts.
Levy was unable to improve upon her career mark on her final three trips into the ring, but still managed to maintain her position in third place, where she would eventually end her day.
“I feel really good. This is the best I’ve done at nationals so it was a good night,” said Levy following the event. “I came in ranked eighth and to finish third in a really deep field like this, it’s a big deal. I’m really excited to see where I can go from here as I move into the outdoor season.”
The bronze medal finish marked the highest ever by a KU female in a throwing event at the NCAA Indoor Championships and made Levy a first team All-American for the second time after she garnered first team honors in the hammer throw last season.
Like Levy, Lokedi stepped into Birmingham CrossPlex seeking to make program history. The sophomore had already rewritten the school history books as the first female to qualify for the 5,000 meters at the NCAA indoor meet, but an All-American outing would stamp her place among the all-time greats.
The 3.2-mile race got out to a suicide pace over the first five minutes, with Lokedi one of eight runners to complete her first mile in under 4:55. Despite the quick start, Lokedi kept pace with the lead pack, never straying lower than eighth place. The field began to spread over the next 1,500 meters but the Jayhawk moved her position up to sixth-place. The Eldoret, Kenya native finished her race strong with her last kilometer coming in 3:12 and her last 400 meters in 1:16.
Lokedi crossed the finish in 15:58.61, a time that was less than a second slower than her career best and school record, but came across the finish in sixth-place to achieve All-America status on the track for the first time in her young collegiate career.
“I just can’t believe it,” said Lokedi of her All-American performance, “I’m so thankful for my coach and my teammates rooting me on. It was a tough race and I really had to fight hard at the end but it was great to be able to finish in the top eight. It was a great day and I’m just really happy I ran well.”
Lokedi’s performance made her the first Kansas female to achieve All-America honors in the indoor 5,000 meters and was the highest finish by a Jayhawk in a distance event at the NCAA indoor meet. Her 5K clocking was also the second-fastest in KU history and now makes Lokedi the owner of the three fastest 5K times in the Kansas record book, all of which were achieved in the last month.
Kansas has one more Jayhawk slated to compete this weekend at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Sophomore Nicolai Ceban will suit up for the shot put, set to begin at 2 p.m., Saturday afternoon inside the Birmingham CrossPlex. Get results and updates of the final meet of the indoor season by following on Twitter at @KUTrack and logging on to KUAthletics.com
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