Four Champions Lead KU on Day One of Big 12 Championships
Feb. 23, 2013
Ames, Iowa - Four Jayhawks claimed conference titles as the Kansas men's and women's track & field teams competed on day one of the 2013 Big 12 Indoor Track & Field Championships Saturday inside the Lied Recreation Center. The women sit in first place with 67 points while the men are in 2nd with 30.5 points following the completion of Saturday's events.
Lindsay Vollmer was first up for the KU women as she and teammate Rebecca Neville took part in the pentathlon. Both Vollmer and Neville began the day with a bang, each recording new personal bests in the 60-meter hurdles. Vollmer lunged over the finish in 8.51 to finish first overall, while Neville finished just behind, clocking in at 8.52 to place second. Their performances in the first of have five events set the tone for a successful day for the KU duo.
After tying her PR in the high jump and solid marks in both the shot put and the long jump, Vollmer needed to overcome a 14 point deficit with a solid run in the 800 meters to take home her first league title. The sophomore completed the race in 2:23.16, adding 781 points to her final total of 4,123, enough to give her the conference championship. Vollmer's win marks the first conference title in the pentathlon for a Jayhawk since Candance Mason won the event in 1998. Vollmer's mark also breaks her own school record in the event and moves her up to No. 5 in the NCAA standings this year. Neville went on to finish 6th overall with 3,778 points as her and Vollmer posted an impressive 13 points for the KU women in the team scoring.
Senior Francine Simpson entered the day looking to continue her conference dominance in the long jump after winning both the indoor and outdoor league titles a year ago. It was no easy task though as she would be up against the current NCAA leader in the event, teammate and fellow senior Andrea Geubelle. Geubelle started strong, hitting a mark of 6.51 meters (21-4.25 ft.) on her second jump of the day, propelling her to the final round of jumps along with Simpson and their freshman teammate Sydney Conley. On Simpson's second attempt of finals she flew to a mark of 6.59 meters (21-7.5 ft.) to not only give herself a new personal best, but also break the Big 12 meet record. No other competitor would be able to best Simpon's mark, giving the Chapelton, Jamaica native her second-straight indoor long jump conference title. Geubelle went on to finish second with Conley taking fifth. With Simpson's personal best, Kansas now has the No. 1 (Geubelle) and No. 2 ranked long jumpers in the NCAA this year. The KU long jumpers collected a total of 22 points for the team total, the most by a Jayhawk event group on the day.
Alena Krechyk was the favorite heading into the conference's weight throw championship and the senior didn't disappoint Saturday. On just her second throw of the afternoon, the Grodno, Belarus product heaved the weight to 21.38 meters (70-1.75 ft.). None of the other 18 competitors would be able to come within 2.5 feet of Krechyk's mark, earning the senior her second Big 12 weight throw title in three seasons. Krechyk is the first Jayhawk to win two conference championships in the throws at both the indoor and outdoor league events.
The KU pole vaulters led the way on the men's side with four of the five Jayhawks claiming a top-eight finish. It was a career day for Alex Bishop who went on to claim the overall title, outdueling teammates Casey Bowen and Regan Gilbert and Texas' Reese Watson for the win. All four athletes were able to clear 5.17 meters (16-11.5 ft.), however Bishop's fewer fouls on the previous heights vaulted him to the winner's stand. Bishop's win marks the fifth time in the last seven years the indoor Big 12 Championship has gone to a Jayhawk and brings KU's overall indoor pole vault league championship tally to 32 titles, the most of any event Kansas event group. Bowen went on to finish second, while Gilbert finished in a tie for third. Sophomore Greg Lupton also put forth a scoring effort, clearing 5.02 meters (16-5.50 ft.) to finish eighth. The men's pole vaulters gave their team 24.5 points toward the overall total to propel KU near the top of the team standings.
The women's distance medley relay of junior Natalie Becker, senior Taylor Washington and freshman Kelli McKenna and Hannah Richardson closed out the night for the KU women. The four passed the baton around in a season-best 11:31.35 to snag fourth and six more points toward the team total.
It was a busy day on the track as athletes attempted to extend their weekend by qualifying for Sunday finals. On the women's side Paris Daniels put forth two outstanding performances, running to the fastest qualifying times in both the 60 meters (7.36) and the 200 meters (23.15), with her 200-meter time breaking the 15-year-old Lied Center facility record. Diamond Dixon was also able to move on to the finals of the 400 meters with her season-best time of 53.35 as was senior teammate Denesha Morris, who will also take part in her first conference 400-meter final. Junior Natalie Becker ran a solid mile preliminary (4:54.89) to earn her way into the event final. Freshman Hannah Richardson was the third-fastest qualifier in the 1,000 meters as she will have the chance to become Kansas' first ever 1,000-meter conference champion.
On the men's side Kyle Clemons rewrote the school record-books in the semifinals of the 400-meters. The senior out of Rowlett, Texas clocked in with the fastest qualifying time of 46.44, notching a new personal best and breaking Deon Hogan's 30-year-old indoor 400-meter record of 46.50. Clemons time ranks him at No. 7 in the NCAA this year and makes him a favorite for the conference title on Sunday. Josh Munsch followed Clemons' lead as he too run to the fastest qualifying time in his event, the mile. Considered one of the most competitive events at these Big 12 championships, the junior won his heat after he finished in 4:05.01.
The Jayhawks will return to the Lied Recreation Center to close out the conference meet Sunday, Feb. 24. The men's high jump, women's triple jump and the women's shot put will all kick off the day at noon with the finals in the track events beginning at 1:30 p.m. Stay updated on the last day's action by following on Twitter at @KU_Track and logging on to KUAthletics.com for a complete recap.
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