Jayhawks Open NCAA West Prelims Strong with Four National Qualifiers
May 24, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas - Kansas track and field got off to a solid start on the first day of action at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships--West Preliminary Thursday afternoon at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus. Four Jayhawk athletes punched tickets to the 2012 NCAA Championships, which will be held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, June 6-9.
The Jayhawks had a pair of the NCAA's top participants in the women's long jump. Juniors Francine Simpson and Andrea Geubelle, who each rank among the nation's top 10, were looking to enter the finals for the first time as a duo. Simpson wasted no time as she hit a big leap of 6.55 meters (21-6.00 ft.) on her first attempt of the day to quickly move up to No. 1 on the leaderboard.
Geubelle waited until her third leap of the afternoon to mark her best jump. The University Place, Wash. native, jumped to a distance measuring 6.52 meters (21-4.75 ft.) on her third try to firmly position herself into the finals. The mark was a new personal best for Geubelle, who was the runner-up to her Big 12 Champion teammate, Simpson, both indoors and outdoors.
Both women then shut it down for the day, with each earning marks that basically assured them positions in the NCAA finals in Des Moines. Simpson placed in a tie for second, while Geubelle finished in fifth. Simpson will make her first appearance at the NCAA Championships, joined by Geubelle making her third appearance in the long jump.
Junior Mason Finley threw his way to a third-consecutive qualification in the national finals of the shot put. The Salida, Colo. native cruised into the finals in third place after his preliminary mark of 19.17 meters (62-10.75 ft.) on his second attempt. Finley was unable to improve upon that mark and was passed by two competitors, ending his day in fifth place. In two weeks, Finley will attempt to garner First Team All-American honors in the shot put for the third time at the NCAA Championships.
Before he can do that, however, Finley will compete in the men's discus Saturday at 11 a.m. He enters the competition as the second-ranked thrower in the nation.
Kansas sophomore thrower Heather Bergmann closed things out right for the Jayhawks as she was the final KU athlete from Day 1 to advance to the NCAA Championship meet by finishing eighth in the javelin with her mark of 48.84 meters (160-03 ft.)
On her fourth attempt of the afternoon the Concordia, Kan., native unleashed her best mark of the night at 49.94 meters (163-10 ft.), which moved her up the leaderboard with two final rounds of throws remaining. Bergmann did not improve on her mark and was edged in the fifth round, putting her in eighth place overall.
Freshman Michael Stigler was the first Jayhawk to advance in his event Thursday as he ran in the first track event of the day, the 400-meter hurdles. Stigler, who in his most recent performance claimed the Big 12 title in the event two weeks ago, had a solid first-round race. The Canyon, Texas native stayed among the pack for the first 200 meters of the race but pulled away down the back stretch to win his heat in a time of 51.31. His race was the third-fastest among the 48 competitors in the opening round and propels him into the national quarterfinals which will be run Friday at 7:30 p.m.
For the women, Paris Daniels had the most impressive opening-round performance with her outstanding run in the 100-meter dash. The junior out of St. Louis left little doubt in her heat of the event, winning the race with a personal-record time of 11.23. The time is the fastest among the 27 competitors remaining and is the 10th-fastest in the NCAA this season.
Daniels will run in the 100-meter quarterfinals Friday at 6:45 p.m. Her day not will not be over however, as she will then compete in the opening round of the 200 meters at 8:25 p.m.
Kansas' super sophomore Diamond continued to impress in the 400 meters as she easily advanced to Friday's quarterfinal round by winning her heat with a time of 52.97. Dixon, who owns the second-fastest time in the NCAA this season at 51.09, coasted for the first 300 meters of her first-round heat before turning it up a notch down the stretch for the win. She enters the next round with the No. 4 time from quarterfinals.
Fellow KU sprinter Taylor Washington also qualified for Friday's 400-meter quarterfinal round as she clocked in at 54.66 in her first round heat. Washington was a non-automatic qualifier, but squeaked in as the last qualifier based on time. The junior from Houston, Texas battled all the way around the track and she crossed the finish line in sixth place in her heat.
Dixon and Washington will compete in the 400 meters quarterfinals Friday evening at 6:15 p.m. Dixon will also compete on the Jayhawk 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams on Saturday afternoon, while Washington will compete on the 4x400-meter relay.
Kansas junior sprinter Kyle Clemons advanced in the men's 400 meters as he clocked in with a time of 46.28. Clemons opened up strong through the first 300 meters and was in first place with about 100 meters to go before losing steam. He managed to make the quarterfinal round as he finished within the top three of his heat, placing second. He enters Friday's quarterfinal round, which will begin at 6 p.m., with the eighth-fastest qualifying time.
Sophomore Josh Munsch advanced to Saturday's 1,500-meter quarterfinals in dramatic fashion. The Hays, Kan., native led for much of his first-round race on Thursday before giving away the lead in the last 200 meters. Munsch didn't give up though, as he used his strong closing kick to stay in the top five and finish fourth with his time of 3:46.21.
Munsch will run in the 1,500 meters quarterfinals Saturday at 6:30 p.m. He enters the race with the 13th-fastest qualifying time. The top 12 finishers in Saturday's quarterfinal race will advance to Des Moines.
The Jayhawks will return to Mike A. Myers Stadium Friday for day two of the NCAA West Preliminary. Action will kick off at 11 a.m. with sophomore Jessica Maroszek throwing in the women's discus. Senior Rebeka Stowe will close out the day at 9:45 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the women's 3,000-meter Steeplechase. For updates and results from the final two days of the West Prelim, log on to kuathletics.com and go to the meet central page.