LAWRENCE, Kan. - Janay DeLoach stole the show Thursday night on day two of the 85th Kansas Relays as she took the downtown long jump title in front of an estimated 1,500 Lawrence fans. DeLoach claimed championship honors with a mark of 6.61 meters (21-08.25 ft.), the third-best in the world this year.
For the second night in a row swarms of eager track and field fans gathered in downtown Lawrence to witness one of the more unique events held in on American soil. Eight of the nation's top female long jumpers kicked off their season which will hopefully end with a trip to the Olympic Games in London later this summer.
The competition began as a tight one as the top four jumpers were separated by less than two inches after the first three rounds of jumps with DeLoach nabbing the early lead. Tori Polk promptly claimed the No. 1 spot with her mark that measured out to 6.43 meters (21-01.25 ft.) on her fifth attempt, giving the field a tough task to top. DeLoach was up for the challenge as the Colorado State product launched herself a distance of 6.61 meters (21-08.25 ft.) to take a commanding lead with only one round to go.
No other competitor would be able to come close as DeLoach was crowned champion with a mark seven inches better than the competition. Her jump is the third best in the world this year and gives her a B-provisional mark for the Olympic Trials in June.
While DeLoach was jumping to victory, the crowd favorite was former Kansas jumper Crystal Manning. Manning, a four-time All-American while donning the Crimson and Blue, has been a part of all but one Kansas Relays since she graduated. The triple jump specialist placed seventh Thursday night with a top leap of 5.98 meters (19-07.50 ft.). She will be in action Friday in the women's triple jump at noon.
Earlier in the day, the combined events wrapped up with Nebraska's Bjorn Barrefors claiming the decathlon and unattached competitor Liz Roehrig taking the Candace Mason heptathlon title.
Barrefors led in the point standings from the get-go as he won four of the 10 events during the two-day excursion. The Nebraska junior collected a total of 7,308 points and topped teammate and last year's Relays decathlon champion, Teran Wafford, by 240 points.
Like Barrefors, Roehrig led from start to finish as the former Minnesota star earned her second Kansas Relays heptathlon title. In 2008, Roehrig broke the Relays heptathlon record amassing 5,740 points, a mark that still stands today. Her day wouldn't be quite as successful as her two-day stretch in 2008, however she did enough to win, collecting 5,460 points after winning all but three of the seven events.
A Kansas product was the highlight in the field events Thursday with Alena Krechyk smashing the meet record in the hammer throw. The Grodno, Belarus native set the meet record on four separate occasions throughout the event, finally settling on 66.05 meters (216-08 ft.) on her fifth attempt. The mark is a personal best and the fourth-best collegiate throw this year.
On the men's side, unattached athlete Chris Holly edged Kansas State's Tomaz Bogovic by only six inches to win his first Kansas Relays hammer throw title. Holly hit a mark of 57.73 meters (189-05 ft.) in the first round of finals, posting a mark no other competitor would be able to match.
The distance carnival took center stage in Thursday's night cap, with some of the region's top middle distance and distance athletes going head to head on Hershberger Track. Highlighting the night's events was Nebraska freshman Connor Gibson, who won the unseeded 1,500 meters with a time of 3:51.91. The time ranks the Cornhusker in the top 30 of the Big Ten rankings this year.
Kansas junior Tessa Turcotte claimed her first Relays title on her home turf, winning the 3,000 meters in 10:08.45. For the men, Armando Saldivar was crowned the 10,000-meter champion, making the 25 laps around the 400-yard Memorial Stadium track in 30:49.26.
The 2012 Kansas Relays will continue Friday as the high school portion of the meet will get underway. The boy's javelin and the girl's shot put will kick off the day at 8 a.m. and the collegiate competitions starting just before 9 a.m. with the prelims of the women's 100-meter hurdles and the men's 110-meter hurdles. Tune in to Jayhawk All-Access beginning at 9:30 a.m. to watch complete coverage of the day's events and keep track of results and meet updates through the meet central page at kuathletics.com.
Kansas Relays Champion Quotes April 19, 2012
Downtown Long Jump Winner Janay DeLoach On being downtown: "There's nothing like it; everyone in Kansas are all wonderful. This has been so much fun. Thanks to everyone for the support and thanks for coming out, we all had a lot of fun out here."
On what she is looking forward to this year: "I'm looking forward to the competition; this is an Olympic year, people are here to jump far every single meet they go to. So really, it's about consistency and I know it's going to be tough to go through but I'm going to trudge my way through and try to get to the Olympics."
Kansas Alum Crystal Manning On how she felt she performed today: "I think it was a step in the right direction; you can't really tell as far as distance but it was definitely a step in the right direction. Things are progressing; I just need some meets where I actually get on the board
On if she's ever competed in an event with people on either side: "I have competed in a few; one in Germany and one in Poland but I really like this atmosphere a whole lot because you have people on both sides and you can really get the crowd going."
On if Lawrence has become a home for her: "I like competing here because it pretty much feels like a home court advantage even though I didn't go to school here. My coach is here and I definitely support Kansas track and field."
On returning to Kansas: "It's unexplainable; it's just amazing to be back home where everyone just loves you. Everyone is great here and it's been great to be back in the Rock Chalk atmosphere."
On her training for the Olympics: "Right now I'm currently doing long jump off of my non-dominant foot for triple jump. It's not as good as I want it to be but I don't normally jump off of this leg so I switched legs for triple jump which I'll be competing in this weekend."
Decathlon Champion Bjorn Barrefors (Nebraska) On his performance coming into today's events: "Not super. It was a pretty rough meet, but honestly it's kind of what I expected this early in the season. It was a great meet to just go through a decathlon."
On his performances today: "Much better, these were the events that I practiced. I threw a great discus and solid pole vault, so I am pretty happy about it."
On how the wind affects performance: "It does, but honestly we had the wind behind us almost the whole time. It calmed down before the 1500m, so in this case it was a positive affect."
On switching mindsets between events: "You have to focus on what's ahead, not the next event after. You take about two minutes to think about what you just did and then you leave that behind and move on to the next one."
Heptathlon Champion, Liz Roehrig (Unattached) On her thoughts coming into the second day: "I felt pretty good in hurdles, I have been having really good practices so I have been pretty excited about that and I ran a pretty fast time in that. I have been struggling a bit in high jump so to get 1.75m, that was good. Shot put could have gone better. In the 200 I was expecting to run a lot faster. All my day two events weren't really what I was looking for, but as a first heptathlon opening I'll take it. This is more points (5,460)than I had last year in my first heptathlon. I will do another one in the middle of May at Missouri for the heptathlon and the decathlon, so I have a month here to get everything tuned up and I'm hoping to get 56 or 57 (5600 or 5700 points) at that meet."
On how the wind affected the competition: "Kind of yes, and kind of no. It is nice to have the wind for hurdles when it is a tailwind, but you do have to adjust and run a little bit faster and move your feet quicker. The 800 was definitely hard coming down the stretch against the wind. It always seems like it drops until you are going to run against it. You don't want to admit that it did, because I still could have ran harder, but you have to fight through Mother Nature sometimes."
On her mindset after the different events: "You learn over the years. I think this is my eighth or ninth year doing the heptathlon. When you first start it is pretty hard; if you have a horrible event, it is hard to turn yourself around, move on to the next event,. But I have been doing this for so long that if I have one bad event, I tell myself `I can't change it now' and I just go into the next event and try harder. My mindset has gotten a lot better since then. It is something you have to teach yourself and get help from your coaches to talk you through."
Men's Hammer Throw Champion, Tomaz Bogovic (Kansas State) On competing in the Kansas Relays: "It means a lot, because it is a great meet with great competition. The weather conditions today were a little difficult, but overall it was a good competition and a good result."
On his plan coming into the meet: "My plan was to get ready for the Big 12 Conference Championships. I wanted to step up my form. My plan ended up okay. Like I said weather conditions weren't perfect, but it's a good indicator for the Big 12 Championships."
On how this will help him going into the Big 12 Championships: "It gives me some momentum, it is a good win. We only have a couple more weeks left and then we are getting ready for the Big 12 Championships."
On how the weather affects the throws: "It doesn't affect the flight of the implement itself, it just feels different than normal and throws you off a little. It was a great competition though."
Women's 800 meter unseeded champion Nevada Morrison (Wartburg) On her feelings about her performance: "I thought it was really good. The official before the race told us that if we have any PRs to come tell them. I can tell that they resurfaced lane one and it feels amazing. I think this is the first time I've competed well here at Kansas. It's my senior year and I am just really blessed to come out here and PR on a beautiful Thursday. I'm really thankful for even having an opportunity to run."
On if the moderate humidity affected her performance: "No, actually I run better when it's real nice and humid. When it's raining and cold it's intimidating because you never know what kind of injuries might occur when the weather goes through a dramatic change. The weather is beautiful and I wouldn't change it."
On her first individual victory at the Kansas Relays: "I don't think this is my first win. I think my freshman year we won the 4x400. I'm not 100 percent sure, but individually I'm very proud of myself to have a victory here at Kansas. The level of competition here is difficult. I'm very proud of myself."
On if having Te'shon Adderley (Iowa Central CC) on her heels helped propel her through to the finish: "It does. That's how I've been training. Usually I just let them go like, `Hey, whatever if you want to win a race, go ahead, I'm tried.' My training has been different and I've really been pushing myself to finish strong. I applaud her for pushing me actually."
Men's 800 meter unseeded champion Ryan Hocker (WichitaState) On the race overall: "At the beginning of the race it was kind of packed. From the get-go people were throwing elbows and through the first 200 (meters) it was pretty crowded. It started to spread out at the 400 (meter mark) and around 300 (meters) left I kind of made a move and I think that's what kind of got me the win."
On the conditions today vsz the conditions at his previous outdoor meets this year: "The first week we were at Arkansas and it was perfect. Then we were at New Mexico and it was windy and the altitude had an affect on it. Last week we had a home meet in Wichita and it was tornado weather with 40 mph winds. The times were four seconds slower for everyone. It was nice to be in nice conditions (today) and just get out and race."
On his past experience running at the Kansas Relays: "I went to Olathe East and we used to run here in high school. Last year we came up here and ran a 4x800 which we won and ran a 800 meter distance medley (in) which we got second to KU. I like racing here. It's always pretty good conditions."
On his strategy coming into the race: "I kind of just hung in the front and when I saw an opening I just went for it. I think that's what got me the win."
Women's 1500 meter run unseeded champion Anne Ratermann (TrumanState) On going from fourth place to first place on the final lap of the race:
"I just knew that the pace wasn't what it should have been for my pace. So, I just opened it up the last 250 (meters) and gave it all I had after that. When the race is close to ending, you give it all you've got."
On winning the women's 1500 meter run in her first appearance at the Kansas Relays: "It's very exciting. It's a cool atmosphere to run in and it just kind of gives you the extra adrenaline to just want to go hard."
On her strategy coming into the race: "I just knew that I needed to stick with the other top runners and not let any gaps form. I knew that they would run a good pace, but that if it slowed down, I needed to move up."
On if she knew what time she needed going into the race to win: "I was trying to listen to the splits, but there were so many people cheering I had no idea what the times were."
Men's 1500 meter run unseeded champion Connor Gibson (Nebraska) On if he had any expectations for the race: "I didn't; I came in with really no expectations. I have been coming off a lot of injuries this year. It felt good to get back."
On if this was his first race of the season: "I ran last week at Wichita (State), but it was really windy there and it was more of a workout than it was anything there."
On his experience running at Memorial Stadium: "I'm from Nebraska, but I've run here since I was a sophomore in high school because we would come down here for the Relays."
On if he has to prepare differently for Kansas' shorter track: "You really do. It's a mindset thing, but it's really something you have to prepare for."
On if the weather had any effect on his race: "No. There was no wind and a few sprinkles before, but as long as there is no wind it's fine."
Men's 3000 meter steeplechase unseeded champion Talon Thompson (PittsburgState) On the miscommunication of the finish line location: "They had us corralling off and I thought we had another 200 meters left. I was thinking, `Well, if they are going to give us 200 (meters) off, they are going to finish the race.' I didn't think it was right. Some guy came out from the back of a trailer over here and said, `Go, go. You still have 200 meters left.' I said, `Ok.' Everyone was still with me and they had already put the guards up and something else. I thought, `If we're running a 2800 steeple chase, I guess we'll do that."
On overcoming his early finish to still win the steeplechase: "It's all about getting your focus and your form. As long as you keep those two, you'll be able to do what you need to do."
On how it feels to win his first race at the Kansas Relays: "It feels pretty good. I've never actually been to the Kansas Relays before; not even in high school. This is a really good feeling for me."
On if he prepared differently for Kansas' shorter track: "For me, I don't like to play mind games with myself. I just see the track and I go out and do what I need to do. I just go out and do what my coach says that I need to do."
On how he approached the race: "Our coach beforehand said, `Hey, you guys can take (the race). You're all seeded around the same area. You're ranked two, three and four or two, four and five.' He said, `Go for it. Work as a pack and you can go.' And that's what we did."
Men's 10,000 Meter Champion Armando Saldivar (East Central) On running in an event like the KU relays: "It's amazing. We look forward to it every year. Unfortunately, we don't have a track program so this is like our conference championship and our last race. It is a big deal for us and I was looking forward to having a good time. It was a little windy, but with these guys it is always competitive here. It helped me out a lot, it was a great race."
On the affect of the wind: "I think it is more mentally, but it does affect you a little bit. I was coming here with the goal to break 30 (minutes). Unfortunately that didn't happen. It wasn't too bad."
On whether he thought he could win the race: "I was pretty confident coming in, but I knew it was going to be tough. I knew that if the pace was slow I was going to try and pick it up and not leave it for the kickers. I just went for it at about the four-mile mark."
3,000m Champion Tessa Turcotte (Kansas) On her start and pacing of the run in the 3,000 meters: "I think in the start we went out on a good pace on 78 (seconds) and we were trying to hold 78 to 80 (seconds per lap) the whole way. I think through the end we kind of lost it a little bit, which wasn't good."
On keeping her focus while leading the majority of the race: "I knew there was someone back there and I could like feel here there and hear people cheering for her. And it is hard to have the front by yourself the whole time so in parts I kind of wish we would have switched back and forth but I guess in the end I got the win."
On her thoughts as she neared the finish line: "I was just trying to finish and compete and trying to hit a faster time, so I am a little disappointed that I didn't hit that. But I was just trying to compete as much as I can and push myself."
On posting a time of 10:08.45 to claim first place: "I was hoping to get a 9:50 or around that area or 9:55. But it was a little windy out there today so it wasn't perfect conditions."
Women's 5,000m Champion Twishana Williams (Lincoln University) On getting out to the leading pack early in the race: "My plan was to just get there (to the front) and do my best. Actually it is my personal best so I am very thankful for that."
On her move to take the lead late in the race: "I am just watching my time and I was trying to make moves to better my time; so that was my plan and that is exactly what I did."
Men's 5,000m Champion Adam Volkert (Pittsburg State) On claiming the victory: "It was nice. We were coming through with perfect pace with two pace setters up front running 68 and 69 (seconds). And after we got through the 3K it felt like it started getting windier and we started dropping off. But it was nice to fight it and get the victory.
On his start: "I actually got out slow and almost got boxed in and I just settled in around sixth place. And after the pace setters came off and once I took the lead it was just a fight through the wind and I tried to get as fast of a time as possible."
Men's 5,000m Third Place Josh Baden On finishing the race without his left shoe: "About 100 or 150 meters in someone caught the back of my shoe and I was trying to get it to stay on but after it fell off I just had to make the best of it after that. It ended up falling off and I ran about 12 laps with only one shoe but I feel like I made the most of it. It was kind of a weird experience for me; I have ever had to run without a shoe before."
On staying up near the leaders: "Zach Zarda and James Wilson set us up for a really good pace but after they came off after the 3K I just wasn't feeling as well. I was hoping for a better time but I think I made the most of it."