Five Sunday Champions Lead KU Women to Runner-Up Finish at Big 12 Outdoor Championships
May 13, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. - The University of Kansas track & field women's team saw five event winners on the day and seven overall as the 2012 Big 12 Track & Field Championships concluded Sunday in Manhattan. The women earned 128.5 points to finish second overall, the highest conference finish for a KU women's team in program history. The Jayhawk men finished eighth, having collected 64 points over the three-day event.
Kicking off the final day for the Jayhawks was junior Andrea Geubelle in the triple jump. Geubelle was the national leader in the event heading into the day, and confirmed her dominance in the competition Sunday. The University Place, Wash. native made sure to put her competitors away early as on her second leap of the day, she hit a mark of 13.48 meters (44-02.75 ft.). The jump, just an inch shy of her season best, wouldn't be approached by any other athlete. Geubelle eased into finals, only recording one more fair jump, but it wouldn't matter. She would take the conference crown by almost a foot and tack on an additional 10 points to her team's total.
The win is Geubelle's second Big 12 victory of her career as she won the indoor title earlier this season at the Big 12 Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas. Geubelle becomes just the third Jayhawk to tally an outdoor triple jump conference title and the first since Crystal Manning placed first at the 2007 Big 12 meet. In all, the junior collected 18 points on the weekend after her win Sunday and runner-up long jump finish.
Another big scorer for the women's squad was junior Paris Daniels, who had perhaps the best outing of her career in the finals of the 100 meters and 200 meters. The St. Louis native began the day in the finals of the 100-meter dash after recording the second-fastest time in the qualifying round. Daniels sprinted to the finish in the finals, earning a time of 11.28 to finish third overall. The wind-legal time was a new personal best and earned her an automatic trip to the Olympic Trials later this year.
An hour later, Daniels returned to the track looking to again score big in her second event of the day, the 200 meters. Daniels' race was the definition of a photo finish as she and Texas A&M's Ashley Collier finished in what appeared to be a tie. After some tense deliberation, Daniels was named the event champion, edging Collier by just .003 seconds with her lightning-fast time of 22.887. The victory made Daniels the first Jayhawk in over 30 years to win a 200-meter outdoor conference title and the fourth overall. Her time gave her another Olympic Trials A-Standard and moved her to No. 2 on the all-time school lists.
Senior Rebeka Stowe finally caught the elusive conference title as she took home gold Sunday afternoon in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase. The event was never a race. The Olathe, Kan. native opened up an early lead and set a pace the other runners would not be able to hold. Stowe crossed the finish line in 10:18.11, more than 17 seconds ahead of the runner-up. Stowe is the first-ever KU female to run to the conference's Steeplechase title.
Diamond Dixon made her highly anticipated 400-meter title defense later in the day. In the qualifying rounds Texas A&M's Kanika Beckles ran to the fastest time of the year in the Big 12 making it apparent that attaining the conference crown would be no easy feat for Dixon. In the event finals, Dixon got out to a fantastic start, leading for much of the opening 200 meters. Beckles made a move as the two glided around the final curve but it would be no match for Dixon's closing kick. The sophomore out of Houston crossed the finish line in a lifetime best 51.09 to repeat as the Big 12 Champion. Dixon is just the second KU female to repeat as Big 12 Conference champion, as Candace Mason won back-to-back heptathlon titles in 1998 and 1999.
Dixon's winning time, which is also a Big 12 meet record, is the fastest in the NCAA this season and ranks eighth in the world in 2012. The win also punches Dixon an automatic ticket to the Olympic Trials after she topped the A-Standard.
Following Dixon and Daniels' event victories, the KU women stood in third place behind Texas and Texas A&M, trailing the Aggies by three points with only one event remaining, the 4x400-meter relay. Dixon and Daniels made their way onto the track one last time as they were joined by Denesha Morris and Taylor Washington in the event finals, looking to will KU up the team standings.
With Morris leading off, the Jayhawks got out to a blistering start, finishing the first leg with a lead well over a second. Daniels then took the baton, running in her fourth event of the day, but would still run one of the fastest legs of the relay. She handed off to Washington who placed sixth in open 400-meters earlier Sunday. Washington run an outstanding leg, keeping the KU women in the lead as she handed off to the Big 12 400-meter champion, Dixon. She once again left little doubt about who would win the race, rounding the track in a sub 51-second split to earn her relay team the victory. The four clocked in with a time of 3:28.10, smashing their own school record and running the fastest time in the NCAA this season.
The quartet's victory marked the first time a 4x400-meter relay team outside the state of Texas has claimed the Big 12 crown and broke the 14-year-old meet record by over a second.
Two other KU women to were able to add points to the team score on the final day of the conference meet as sophomore Jessica Maroszek took third in the discus and Colleen O'Brien fourth in the high jump with season-best clearance of 1.80 meters (5-10.75 ft.).
In all, the KU women accumulated 129.5 points over the three days to finish as the Big 12 runners-up, the highest-ever finish for a KU female team. The Jayhawks claimed seven conference titles, the most in any conference meet by a KU women's squad.
On the men's side, freshman Michael Stigler stole the show on the final day of competition as he took part in the finals of the men's 400-meter hurdles. On Saturday, the Canyon, Texas native ran to the fastest qualifying time, a personal best of 50.37 to head into the finals as the lead runner. Sunday, Stigler ran one of the more exciting races of the meet, falling behind with only 100 meters to go but powering past Texas Tech's Jamele Mason with only 10 meters left on the track to steal the gold medal.
Stigler clocked in with a eye-popping time of 49.45, making him the new school record holder in the event. The freshman's winning time not only moved him to No. 4 in the NCAA this year, but gave him an automatic trip to the Olympic Trials in June.
Stigler is the just the fourth Jayhawk to win a 400-meter hurdle conference crown since KU began competing in league meets in 1908. His win marked the first Big 12 title on the track since Benson Chesang won the 10,000 meters in 2003.
Other notable KU men scoring Sunday were Mason Finley who threw to a runner-up finish for the second-straight year in the discus. Finley's second-place finish in both the shot put and discus garnered his team 16 points, the most of any other KU male. Kyle Clemons also had a career day as the junior ran to a personal best in his fourth-place finish in the 400-meter final. Clemons rounded the track in 45.91, which is the 17th-fastest in the nation this season is ranked fourth in the all-time KU record book.
Clemons later joined freshmen teammates Stigler, Michael Hester and Kenneth McCuin in the 400-meter relay to close out the meet in fine style for the Jayhawks. The four passed the baton around in a season-best 3:04.89 to claim fourth overall in the event. The time is the second-fastest in school history and is the sixth-ranked time in the NCAA West Region in 2012.
The Kansas men attained 64 points overall, which earned them an eighth-place team finish.
The Jayhawks now have two weeks off before they began their march to the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 6-9. Their journey will begin at the NCAA West Regional Preliminary in Austin, Texas, May 24-26. Stay updated on all the KU track news and notes until then through Twitter at @KU_Track and via kuathletics.com.