Lokedi, Dudarev snare titles Friday at Big 12 Championship

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Another 10,000-meter victory for junior Sharon Lokedi, as well as a school-record performance from freshman Gleb Dudarev, highlighted the opening day of the Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championship Friday inside Rock Chalk Park. Following the first day of competition, the Kansas men hold the lead in the team standings with 22 points, while the Jayhawk women sit third overall with 15 points.
For the first time in seven years, the Big 12 saw an individual claim her second 10,000-meter league title as Lokedi ran to an easy victory in the event Friday night. Competing in her second 10K of the season, the KU junior used her fresh legs to outkick the competition with more than two-thirds to go in the race. Lokedi stuck with a tight lead pack for the first four miles before separating herself. With eight laps to go, she began to distance herself, and established a pace that no other competitor could match.
“I just wanted to keep with the pace and see how it went, wait to see if anything changed during the race,” said Lokedi following the race. “I talked to Coach (Michael Whittlesey) and he said, ‘Just go with them, relax and take it easy as much as you can. If, in the second part, you feel good just go with it.’ It was fine. When people started moving with about two miles to go, I was like, ‘I think it is time for me to go.'”
With less than two laps remaining and her victory no longer in doubt, the All-American was more than 10 seconds ahead of the field. She sprinted down the home stretch and broke the tape in 33:43.28, a clocking that would have earned her the 10K crown at nine of the last 10 Big 12 meets.
“I am so happy,” Lokedi said. “I am so excited. I feel like I missed a lot (redshirting during the indoor season). I’m happy to be back and running well.”
Lokedi’s win made her just the third runner in Big 12 history to claim multiple 10,000-meter championships and the first Jayhawk to do so. She will now turn her attention to the 5,000-meter final on Sunday evening. A victory in that event would make her just the seventh female in league history to win both the 5,000-meter and 10,000 meter races.
Dudarev snagged his second Big 12 title of 2017 as he secured a dominant win in the hammer throw. The freshman, who entered the day as the NCAA and conference leader, further solidified his stance atop those rankings with another impressive outing. After a foul on his opening attempt of the day, Dudarev unleashed a throw of 74.20 meters (243-5) on his next trip into the ring. That markGleb Dudarevsurpassed his own school record by nearly five feet and moved Dudarev into a commanding lead over the rest of the field that he would not relinquish. In fact, he went on to notch three more marks that would have won the competition, but he could not better his second-round mark.
“I felt good,” said Dudarev after the competition. “Thank you to my coach (Andy Kokhanovsky). I thank my teammates very much. Thank you to my roommate (Nicolai Ceban) too. He is good (to me) and he has helped me. I am happy today, of course. I threw a personal best and I am the (Big 12 Conference) champion.”
Dudarev’s win marked the eighth time a Jayhawk has claimed the Big 12 hammer throw title in the 21-year history of the meet. His winning throw was also just two feet shorter than the meet record set by Nick Miller last year and would have won all but two of the first 20 Big 12 hammer throw competitions.
“I feel good,” Dudarev concluded. “I feel more confident after this throw and claiming this title. This throw proves, one more time, the condition (I am in). I’m going to keep working hard with Coach Andy to throw even farther, hopefully, at Regionals and Nationals.”
He remains the NCAA leader in the event, with his school-record mark more than six feet better than the second-ranked thrower.
Senior Dylan Poirier put together an impressive first day of competition as he took part in the first five events of the decathlon. Poirier posted personal bests in four of the five events,which helped him amass a day one total of 3,658 points, his most ever after day one of the decathlon. He sits sixth overall with five events still to come Saturday and is nearly 200 points ahead of his personal-record pace in the event. Poirier claimed a sixth-place finish in the Big 12 decathlon last year.
* The KU men saw big points out of the 10,000 meters with impressive performances from junior Chris Melgares and senior Jacob Morgan. The Jayhawk duo stayed within the top-eight for the entirety of the 6.2-mile race. Melgares used a strong kick over the final 600 meters to move from fourth to third and claim a scoring performance at the Big 12 meet for the second-straight season. He claimed the bronze in a time of 29:42.65 and was followed closely by Morgan, who clocked in at 30:03.42, good for a seventh-place finish. Melgares’ run marked the third-straight year a Jayhawk has claimed one of the top-three spots in the Big 12 10,000 meters.
* Sophomore Shaylyn Stallbaumer tallied a fourth-place finish in the women’s javelin. On her second attempt she hit a mark of 46.64 meters (153-0). It was the second-straight year Stallbaumer scored in the event at the league championship meet after she tallied an eighth-place finish at the conference meet a year ago.
* Senior Mitch Cooper had an impressive first day with personal bests and top-eight finishes in two events. He began his afternoon with a sixth-place finish in the hammer throw by way of a career-best mark of 62.83 meters (206-2). That throw moved him to No. 5 on KU’s all-time hammer throw list. Cooper then made his way to the javelin runway where he came up big on his third attempt to earn his second scoring performance of the day. Cooper hurled the javelin to a personal-best mark of 57.37 meters (188-2) to move from ninth to eighth on the leaderboard and earn himself a spot in the finals. Eighth is where Cooper would end his day as he collected another point toward the team scoring.
The second day of the Big 12 Track & Field Championship will begin at 10 a.m., Saturday as the combined events commence their final days of competition. Field events will get underway at 3 p.m., with the men’s high jump and women’s long jump. Preliminary heats on the track are slated to start at 4 p.m., with the women’s 1,500 meters. Follow all the results from the Jayhawk performances by logging on to KUAthletics.com and following on Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack.

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