Two top-eight outings push Kansas men to 11th-place finish at NCAA Championships
EUGENE, Ore. – A pair of All-American performances helped propel the Kansas men’s track & field team to an 11th-place finish Friday at the NCAA Outdoor Championships inside Hayward Field. A fifth-place outing in the triple jump by junior Barden Adams, along with a sixth-place effort from senior Mitch Cooper in the discus helped close out the Jayhawks’ highest finish at the NCAA outdoor meet since 2010.
ADAMS POSTS HISTORIC FINISH IN THE TRIPLE JUMP
For the first time in nearly two decades, the Kansas men can boast a First Team All-American in the triple jump following a stellar performance from Barden Adams Friday evening. The West Orange, New Jersey native was an All-American in the event in the indoor season, finishing fifth at the NCAA Indoor meet in March. He was primed to achieve that feat for the second time in one season as he entered the weekend as the No. 3 overall seed.
Adams made his presence felt early in the competition, moving all the way up to third in the standings after his second trip down the runway. He hopped, skipped and jumped to a mark of 16.04 meters (52-7½), an effort that earned him three additional jumps in the finals.
“I didn’t get off to the start that I wanted to after I hit 49 (feet) on my first jump,” said Adams following the competition. “I just had to stay mentally strong and refocus myself and I got a good mark on my second jump, which felt good.”
After he slid down to sixth on the leader board, Adams leap-frogged back up one spot when he notched a jump of 16.08 meters (52-9¼) on his fifth attempt. That is where he would stay, closing out a fifth-place finish and the best performance by a Jayhawk triple jumper at the NCAA Championships since 1980.
“I came into the competition knowing that I had to get All-American again,” concluded Adams. “I’m proud of myself because I fought today. I was able to jump up a spot in finals and finish in the top five. Now I know I’m at the point where I can content for a championship. I have to go for the win next year.”
Adams’ outing marked the fifth time a Kansas male has earned All-America honors in the outdoor triple jump and the first since Lester Smith did so in 1998. The finish was also the highest by a Jayhawks since Sanya Owolabi was the runner-up at the 1980 outdoor championship.
COOPER CLOSES OUT JAYHAWK CAREER AS AN ALL-AMERICAN
In the final outing in his Kansas career, Mitch Cooper tallied his best finish at the national meet after claiming sixth in the discus. The senior entered the day as one of the favorites to claim the title, boasting the nation’s second-farthest mark of the season.
Mitch CooperWhile it didn’t come on his first attempt, the Queensland, Australia native, inserted his name among the leaders in the standings following his second journey into the throws ring. Cooper unwound for a mark of 59.12 meters (193-11) to put himself among the top-five and punch his ticket into the finals.
“My gameplan was to come out and make a statement early with my first throw, but unfortunately that didn’t happen for me,” Cooper explained. “Luckily everyone else had a shaky first round too, so I was happy to get that big throw on my second attempt and get that spot into finals. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to produce in the later rounds. I felt like I set it up well enough early, I just couldn’t finish it.”
Cooper could not improve on that second attempt mark over the final four rounds of the competition, but his name didn’t fall far on the leader board as he concluded the day in sixth place. The finish garnered First Team All-America honors for the first time in Cooper’s career after settling for spots on the second team in his last two seasons. It also marked the 14th time, as well as the fourth time since 2010, a Jayhawk discus thrower has claimed a spot on the first team.
“This is something that, for years, I thought I could achieve but I’ve come up short a few times, so it feels great that it finally happened for me,” Cooper concluded. “It’s definitely sad that this is my last meet as a Jayhawk because this has been such a special time in my life, but I’m happy with the way it ended.”
Nicolai Ceban joined Cooper in the discus competition. The junior posted a throw measuring 56.66 meters (185-11) on his second attempt of the day, a mark that eventually earned him a 13th-place finish, which matched his standings in the event from a year ago. The performance gave Ceban a spot on the All-America Second Team for the second-straight season.
One day of competition remains at the NCAA Outdoor Championships as the women’s events will close out the meet Saturday evening. The lone Jayhawk competing will be sophomore LaTyria Jefferson who is entered in the high jump, set to begin at 5 p.m. (CT). Log on to KUAthletics.com for a complete recap and results of the day’s events.
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