Kansas Track Continues to Roll in Austin, Sends Six More to Nationals
May 25, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas - Kansas track and field saw six more competitors advance to the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships Friday by virtue of their top 12 finishes at the West Preliminary held at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas. Those who are moving on will compete at the national meet, hosted by Drake University, to be held June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Diamond Dixon once again made it look easy as she qualified for the 2012 NCAA Championships by winning her quarterfinal heat of the 400 meters with a time of 51.71. The sophomore out of Houston was able to easily cut through a tough headwind through the first 100 meters before turning on the afterburners in the last 200 meters to snag the easy heat victory. Dixon’s time of 51.71 is just over .6 seconds better than any other competitor in the quarterfinals.
Dixon, the KU school record holder in both the indoor and outdoor 400 meters, will look to pick up her sixth All-America honor of her young career when she travels to Des Moines. She has notched four indoor All-America honors and claimed the distinction twice at last year’s NCAA Outdoor meet, earning the prestigious award in both the 400 meters and as a member of the KU 4x400-meter relay team. She enters the national meet having run the second-fastest time in the qualifying rounds and will look to back up her indoor national title in two weeks.
The Jayhawks will be well represented in the 400 meters as KU junior Kyle Clemons advanced to Des Moines in the men’s event. Clemons will be competing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the third-straight year after also qualifying in the 400 meters in both his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Clemons ran in the fourth lane in the third and final quarterfinal heat and got a great start out of the gates. He made up the stagger quickly and hung with the leaders down the home stretch, finishing third in his heat with a time of 46.19, to earn the automatic trip to the NCAA Championships. The time is Clemons’ second fastest this year and earned him a spot in the national semifinal heats to be run in the capital of Iowa on Wednesday, June 6.
Both Dixon and Clemons will compete on Saturday looking to advance to Des Moines as a member of Jayhawk relay teams. Dixon will participate as a member of the KU women’s 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams, while Clemons will compete for the KU men in the 4x400-meter relay.
Senior Rebeka Stowe advanced to Des Moines by finishing as the runner-up in her quarterfinal heat of the 3,000-meter Steeplechase with her time of 10:08.55. The Olathe, Kan., native got out to a strong start as usual and led for nearly the entire race. Weber State’s Amber Henry overtook Stowe with about 600 meters to go, however Stowe did not fall any further finishing second a claiming the automatic passage to Nationals.
Stowe will compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the third-straight year in the Steeplechase as she finished ninth and seventh at the 2010 and 2011 Championships, respectively. The senior captain has recorded the third-fastest time in the NCAA this season as she clocked in at 9:52.80 at the Payton Jordan Invitational earlier this month.
Sophomore Demi Payne made quick work of the pole vault competition as the lone Jayhawk in the field. Payne only notched one foul on her three clearances of the day. The New Braunfels, Texas native opened up the day with a second attempt clearance of 3.92 meters (12-10.25 ft.). She then needed only one attempt each at the 4.07 meter (13-04.25 ft.) bar and 4.17 meter (13-08.00 ft.) bar. Her final clearance moved her into the top 11, which assured her a spot at the event finals. Payne would end the day finished in a tie for fifth-place and an automatic trip to the NCAA Championships.
Payne will make her first appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships as she tries to become the first female pole vaulter to earn outdoor All-American honors since 2007.
Paris Daniels had another busy but successful day as she ran in two qualifying races, the quarterfinals of the 100-meter dash and the first round of the 200 meters. Daniels started the day running in the final heat of the 100-meters, going into her heat running in the fifth lane after running the fastest qualifying time (11.23) a day earlier. Daniels ran what appeared to be an easy 11.43 to finish third in her 100 meter heat and gain an automatic trip to Nationals.
A few hours later, Daniels returned to the track to run in the opening round of the 200-meter qualifying heats, running along with teammates Denesha Morris and Alisha Keys. Daniels got a fantastic jump out of the blocks, gaining the early lead that she would not relinquish. The St. Louis native crossed the finish line in 23.22 to win her heat and place third overall.
Morris also ran a solid race, placing fourth in her heat with a time of 24.09. While she did not get the automatic qualification, Morris was able move on to the next round by virtue of her time being one of the nine fastest after the automatic qualifiers. She and Daniels will run in the event quarterfinals at 7:50 p.m. Saturday.
Freshman Michael Stigler continued to write an amazing chapter in his rookie year for the Jayhawks has he punched his ticket to Nationals Friday evening. Stigler, who ran the third-fastest qualifying time in the opening round Thursday, got out off the blocks strong and held firm through the first 200 meters as he cut through a tough headwind down the first straight away. The Canyon, Texas native turned up the heat with about 150 meters remaining, blazing around the final stretch to move into the lead. Stigler held on to win his heat in 50.30, giving him the automatic pass to the event semifinals in two weeks.
Stigler’s heat-winning time is his second fastest this season and was the No. 2 time out of the West qualifying rounds. He will look to become the first KU male to take home First Team All-America honors in a track event since 2007.
The Jayhawks, who have already seen 10 athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships, will get one last opportunity to qualify for Des Moines on the third and final day of the West Preliminary meet. Action will kick off from Mike A. Myers Stadium at 11 a.m. with Mason Finley throwing in the third heat of the men’s discus. The men’s and women’s 4x400-meter relays will close out the day at 9:25 p.m. Follow all the final day’s events through the meet central page at KUAthletics.com and through twitter at @KU_Track.