Six more Jayhawks Eugene bound after day two of NCAA West Preliminary
AUSTIN, Texas – Six more Jayhawks added their names to the travel itinerary for the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon after advancing out of the West Preliminary Friday at Mike A. Myers Stadium Friday. Jayhawk sophomore Hussain Al Hizam was the top qualifier to Oregon in the pole vault, while senior Strymar Livingston and junior Nicolai Ceban each turned in runner-up finishes in the 800 meters and the shot put, respectively, to punch their tickets to the national meet.
AL HIZAM, ALBRIGHT VAULT TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Two Jayhawk pole vaulters earned bids to the national championship meet in two weeks. Sophomore Hussain Al Hizam and senior Jake Albright cleared their way through the 48-man field assembled in Austin as both finished among the top-seven in the event’s final standings.
Al Hizam, who was coming off claiming the Big 12 outdoor title two weeks ago, once again had a dominating series with not a single miss on his score sheet. He managed to clear all three of his heights on the first attempt, the final bar measuring at 5.35 meters (17-6½). The blemish-free outing saw the Jayhawk finish in a four-way tie for first place and earn his first-career trip to an NCAA Championship meet.
Albright also had a solid start to his competition, needing only two vaults to get over his first to heights of the afternoon. The senior needed two tries to master the bar measuring 5.35 meters, but was able to clear it on his second attempt and moved to seventh on the standings.
The Kansas duo will now look ahead to the national pole vault final in Eugene. Both will hope to attain First Team All-America status for the first time in their careers. The men’s pole vault will be contested on Wednesday, June 7 at 7 p.m. (CT).
CAREER THROW EARNS CEBAN TRIP TO TRACKTOWN
Junior thrower Nicolai Ceban entered the day as the 33rd-ranked shot putter in the West Region, but left Mike A. Myers Stadium as the No. 2 seed following a career performance in the event Friday afternoon. On his third and final throw of the competition, Ceban launched the 16-pound ball to a distance of 20.24 meters (66-5), the best throw of his career. Only one other competitor in the 48-man field managed to top that toss, the defending NCAA indoor champion and current national leader, Colorado State’s
Nicolai CebanMostafa Hassan.
Ceban’s second-place finish earned him his first trip to the NCAA Outdoor meet in the shot put. His personal-record throw moved him up the school’s all-time list, ranking the junior at No. 4 on the program’s shot put chart. It also marked a new U23 national record for Ceban’s native country of Moldova.
He will look to earn First Team All-America honors for the third time and the first time in the outdoor event when he steps into the throws ring at Hayward Field on Wednesday, June 7 at 8:40 p.m. (CT).
TWO HALF-MILERS SECURE SPOTS AT NATIONALS
A pair of Jayhawk seniors punched their tickets to Oregon for the first time in the 800 meters with the help of career performances in the quarterfinal heats Friday evening. Whitney Adams was the second non-automatic qualifier on the women’s side after she ran to a fourth-place finish in her heat. She completed her two laps in a season-best 2:05.30, but was forced to endure some nervous moments as she had to wait to see if that time would be enough to get her one of three non-automatic. Following the final race, Adams’ time stood up as the eighth-fastest, signaling her first trip to the outdoor National Championships.
Her performance ranks as the No. 2 time in program history, just under a second slower than her school record posted a year ago. The women’s 800 meter semifinals are set for 8:14 p.m. (CT), on Thursday, June 8.
Just minutes after Adams’ qualifying run, senior Strymar Livingston booked his trip to Oregon in slightly more dominant fashion. He took control of his race with 300 meters to go and never looked back, sprinting down the homestretch and through the finish to win his heat in a career-best clocking of 1:46.84. The time made Livingston the No. 2 qualifier out of the West Region and the third seed in the NCAA entering the national meet in two weeks.
His performance also ranked as one of the best in program history, with only three Jayhawks posting faster 800-meter times during their respective KU careers. Livingston will look to become the second 800-meter All-American in KU history when he competes at the NCAA Championships less than two weeks away. The men’s 800-meter semifinal is slated for Wednesday, June 7 at 8:14 p.m. (CT).
JEFFERSON FLIES TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HIGH JUMP BID
LaTyria Jefferson turned in a career performance of her own to confirm her trip to Nationals. The sophomore cleared four bars on the day, with the all-important clearance coming at a height of 1.79 meters (5-10½). The jump was a new career-best for Jefferson, which elevated her to fifth on the school’s all-time high jump list. It also earned her a ninth-place finish in the event and pushed her through to her first NCAA Championships.
Jefferson will hope to become the first Jayhawks to attain All-America honors in the high jump since 1994 when she competes in the event in Eugene, which is slated for 5 p.m. (CT), Saturday, June 10.
* Freshman Bryce Hoppel came within an eyelash of joining his senior teammate, Livingston, in the 800-meter semifinals. The Midland, Texas native finished 13th in the quarterfinals with a personal-best time of 1:48.52, just .06 seconds shy of claiming the 12th and the final spot to Eugene.
* Sophomore Ivan Henry collected an 18th-place finish in the 400 meter quarterfinals. He completed his lap in a new career-best time of 46.36. He was .5 seconds short of earning a bid the NCAA Championships.
* Junior Courtney Coppinger was just over 15 seconds shy of notching her trip to Oregon in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase. She clocked in at 10:35.86 to finish 18th in the 47-person field. Junior Alaina Schroeder to 34th in the event after crossing the finish line in 10:53.91.
* Sophomore Dylan Hodgson ended day two for the Jayhawks with a 21st-place finish in the men’s Steeplechase. The Washington, Kansas native completed the 1.8-mile race in 9:09.88.
The Jayhawks, who have now seen 11 athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships in 10 events, will have nine more opportunities to earn spots in Eugene on the third and final day of the West Preliminary meet. Action Saturday will kick off from Mike A. Myers Stadium at 1 p.m., with three Jayhawks competing in the men’s discus. The men’s 4×400-meter relay will close out the day at 9:45 p.m. Follow all the final day’s events at KUAthletics.com and through Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack.
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