Pair of seventh-place finishes highlight Friday at NCAA Indoor Championships
COLLEGE STATION, Texas –The women’s distance medley relay as well as junior thrower Nicolai Ceban each earned spots on the podium Friday as the first day of the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships commenced inside Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium. The Jayhawk DMR tallied a seventh-place finish and earned first team All-America status for the first time since 2010 and was joined by Ceban, who added a seventh-place finish of his own in the shot put and earned first team All-America honors for the first time in his career.
In what was billed one of the toughest distance medley fields ever to take the track at an NCAA Indoor meet, the Jayhawk DMR proved it belonged with a stellar outing that came just seconds shy from toppling the school record for the second time this season.
The quartet of sophomores Riley Cooney and Nicole Montgomery and seniors Whitney Adams and Hannah Richardson combined for the No. 2 time in program history as well as an All-American performance for the first time in their careers.
Cooney started the race with a strong 1,200-meter leg, completing her six laps in 3:27.78 and handing off to Montgomery in the middle of the tightly-packed 12-team field. Montgomery split for 400 meters in 53.87 and put the Jayhawks in solid position before handing off to Adams for the 800 meter leg of the race. Adams kept her team in the race as the field spread heading into the second half of the race. She she rattled of a 2:05.52 half-mile and had the Jayhawks amongst the lead group of squads as she made the final handoff.
The anchor, Richardson, then took over for the 1,600-meter portion. The Kirkwood, Missouri product kept pace with the top-eight teams as they began to make their final kicks for the finish line. She used a strong kick over the final 200 meters to keep her team’s standing in the top-eight, completing her anchor leg in 4:38.19. Richardson was the seventh runner to bring the baton across the finish as the clock read 11:05.35.
The Jayhawks’ performance was the second-fastest in program history, less than four seconds slower than the team’s school record time posted last month.
Nicolai CebanKansas saw a DMR earn first team All-America status for the second time in the history of the women’s program and the first since 2010. The four Jayhawks each see the All-American title by their names for the first time in their collegiate careers.
Moments before the DMR, Ceban also managed to attain first team status for the first time after a strong outing against a collection of the nation’s best in the shot put. The Moldova native saw three of his six throws soar over 63 feet, improving on each as he went through the competition. He saved his best for the sixth and final attempt, getting the 16-pound ball to a mark of 19.37 meters (63-6¾). The throw was good enough to earn him a seventh-place finish, improving on his 15th-place finish from the same meet last year.
Ceban’s outing earned him first team All-America honors for the first time in his career and gave KU its 14th All-American in the event all-time.
A trio of KU pole vaulters took part in their first NCAA Indoor meet, all earning second team All-America status by way of their top-16 finishes. Seniors Jake Albright and Nick Maestretti and sophomore Paulo Benavides each cleared the opening height of 5.25 meters (17-2¾). Albright was the only Jayhawk who could go higher, clearing 5.35 meters (17-6½) on his second attempt. That clearance when on to earn Albright an 11th-place finish, while Maestretti and Benavides claimed 14th and 15th, respectively.
The three Jayhawks’ performance earned them second team All-America honors. It marked the 24th, 25th and 26th times a Kansas vaulter has taken a spot on the first or second team list at the Indoor Championships.
Senior Sydney Conley added second team All-American honors in her final NCA Indoor meet, finishing 11th in the long jump. The Fayetteville, Arkansas native tallied her best leap in the third round, a mark of 6.24 meters (20-5¾). The jump was less than four inches shy of earning her three more attempts, however her final indoor collegiate competition came to an end with an 11th-place finish.
Conley’s second team All-America performance marks the ninth time in KU history a KU female has earned first or second team honors in the indoor long jump and the sixth time since 2012.
Two more individuals and a relay squad will be in action on the second and final day of the NCAA Indoor Championships Saturday. Freshman Gleb Dudarev will start the day in the weight throw, set to begin at 2 p.m., junior Barden Adams will compete in the triple jump which will get underway at 5 p.m., and the Jayhawk 4×400-meter relay team will close out the meet in the final race of the weekend, scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Get updates and results of all the KU performances by following on Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack and logging on to KUAthletics.com.
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