Lokedi, Conley shine on day two of NCAA Outdoor Championships
EUGENE, Ore. – Two bronze medals were claimed by Jayhawks as the Kansas women competed on day two of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships Thursday at Hayward Field. Senior Sydney Conley closed out her collegiate career with a third-place finish in the long jump, while junior Sharon Lokedi also claimed third after a school-record run in the 10,000 meters. The Jayhawk women concluded their first day of competition sitting fourth in the team standings with 12 points.
LOKEDI’S SCHOOL RECORD RUN LANDS 10K BRONZE
For the second time in as many years, Sharon Lokedi finished on the podium following a school record performance in the 10,000 meters. The junior out of Eldoret, Kenya, who claimed sixth in the race a year ago, once again made program history with another stellar showing in the event Thursday.
Lokedi began the 6.2-mile excursion near the back of the 24-woman pack, but didn’t stay there for long as she worked her way up with the leaders by the end of the first 1,600 meters. That is where she would stay for the majority of the race, sticking within two strides of the front runner over the next 18 laps.
After separating themselves with just under 1,200 meters remaining, Lokedi, along with San Francisco’s Charlotte Taylor and New Mexico’s Alice Wright held a 10-second lead over the rest of the field and were picking up the pace. Of the three left in contention it was Taylor that had enough to outkick the other two over the final 800 meters. Lokedi made sure her top-three finish was safe though, turning in 77 and 75-second splits to close out her race.
“I was just trying to hang in there and have a good kick,” Lokedi explained of the final laps of the race. “I wanted to keep getting faster and faster each 100 meters and keep up with the leaders.”
While she wasn’t able to overtake Taylor of Wright over the final 800 meters, Lokedi hung on for a third-place finish and the bronze medal after she crossed the finish in 32:46.10. The time marked the fastest of her collegiate career and a new school record, which topped her clocking from the NCAA Championships a year ago.
“I’m so pleased,” said Lokedi following the race. “It was a personal record, which is what I was hoping for. Even though I wanted to win the race, I’m still happy with the performance.”
The finish gave Lokedi First Team All-America status for the second time in the 10,000 meters and makes her the 15th Jayhawk female to earn All-America honors multiple times in a single event.
CONLEY’S COLLECTS THIRD ALL-AMERICA HONOR IN THE LONG JUMP
Senior Sydney Conley closed out her collegiate career by claiming more hardware with a third-place finish in the long jump. The two-time Big 12 Champion had tallied seventh and fifth-place finishes, respectively, in her last two appearances at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2014 and 2015, but saved her best for last inside Hayward Field Thursday.
Sydney ConleyThe Fayetteville, Arkansas product eased her way through the first three rounds of jumps, posting a mark of 6.45 meters (21-2) on her second attempt to earn the pass for three additional jumps in the finals. Sitting fourth overall and her sixth and final attempt remaining, Conley launched herself to a distance of 6.56 meters (21-6¼) and slid her name up one spot to third on the leaderboard, which is where her day ended.
“I wanted the gold and I know I was capable of getting it, but today just wasn’t the day,” said Conley following the competition. “I’ve come and long way to get third at this meet. It’s my highest finish since I’ve been coming here so I have to look at that as a positive.”
Conley’s outing marked the fifth time since 2012 a Kansas female has posted a top-three finish in the long jump at the NCAA Championship meet. It also made her just the fifth Jayhawk female to earn First Team All-America status in a single event three times.
OTHER JAYHAWKS IN ACTION
* Whitney Adams closed out her stellar 800-meter career with an 11th-place finish in the event semifinals. The senior came from behind over the final 60 meters and out-leaned Middle Tennessee’s Abike Egbeniyi at the tape to finish fourth in her heat with a time of 2:05.74. While the time was not enough to earn her a trip to Saturday’s final, Adams still collected Second Team All-America honors, the first by a Jayhawk in the indoor or outdoor 800 meters since 1996. Her clocking also ranks as the fifth-fastest in run by a KU female and ends her career as the owner of six of the nine fastest times in program history.
* Junior Laura Taylor turned in a solid outing in her first-career appearance at the NCAA Championships, claiming a 14th-place finish in the pole vault. After a first-attempt clearance at the opening height of 4.00 meters (13-1½), the Tualatin, Oregon native needed all three tries to conquer the bar at 4.15 meters (13-7¼), which made her on of the final 14 competitors remaining. Taylor was then unable to get over the height set at 4.30 meters (14-1¼), but still managed to claim a 14th-place finish. The performance earned the junior second team All-American honors for the first time in her collegiate career.
* Sophomore Shaylyn Stallbaumer also reserved herself a spot on the All-America second team following her outing in the javelin. Stallbaumer opened her competition with a heave of 50.53 meters (165-9), the second-farthest toss of her season. She could not improve on the first throw over her final two attempts, but hung on to claim a 15th-place finish in the event. It marked the third time since 2012 a Jayhawk female has finished among the top-15 in the NCAA javelin.
* The Jayhawks saw a quartet in action in the 4×100-meter relay semifinals to begin the day on the track. The team of Tianna Valentine, Nicole Montgomery, Jedah Caldwell and Sydney Conley passed the baton around in 44.92, good for a seventh-place finish in their heat and 20th overall.
* Kansas’ 4×400-meter relay team closed out the day’s festivities in the semifinal heats of the event. Mariah Kuykendoll, Whitney Adams, Adriana Newell and Nicole Montgomery completed their mile race in 3:38.57, earning the foursome a seventh-place finish and 18th overall.
The final day of competition for the men’s team race will be held on Friday with the Jayhawks featuring athletes in a pair of field events. Barden Adams will compete in the triple jump, set to begin at 8 p.m. (CT), while Mitch Cooper and Nicolai Ceban will begin their days in the discus throw at approximately 8 p.m. (CT). Follow the Kansas trio’s performances and results by logging on to KUAthletics.com and following on Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack.
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