Dixon Takes Third in 400 Meters As Jayhawks Wrap Up Day Three of NCAA Championships
June 8, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa - Sophomore Diamond Dixon collected her third-career outdoor All-American distinction Friday at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, finishing third in the 400 meters and contributing six points to the women's 21 total points heading into the final day of competition. The KU women sit in fifth, while the Jayhawk men are in 18th.
Dixon, the reigning national champion in the indoor 400 meters, entered the day with the second-fastest time in the nation this year at 51.09 and had recorded No. 2 qualifying time in the semifinal race that was contested Wednesday.
The sophomore began the race in frantic fashion, making up the stagger within the first 100 meters and taking command early in the race. As she came around the final curve, Dixon remained in the lead with only one straightaway and 100 meters between her and a national championship. The field began to catch up to the two-time outdoor Big 12 Champion with 80 meters to go. Dixon's signature kick was not enough on this day however, as she was unable to outsprint Illinois' Ashley Spencer and LSU's Rebecca Alexander to the finish, coming in third-place for the second-straight season in a time of 51.59.
Dixon earned All-America honors for the seventh time in her career in both indoor and outdoor track combined, the most of any KU female in the program's history. She will look for No. 8 Saturday as she anchors the women's 4x400-meter relay team to close out the meet at 12:35 p.m.
Freshman Michael Stigler took to the Jim Duncan Track hoping to attain the national title in the 400-meter hurdles earlier in the evening. The Canyon, Texas native ran the fourth-fastest time in the nation at 49.45 in May as he claimed the Big 12 Championship in the event.
Stigler, who was one of only two freshmen running in the event Friday, got out to a fast start, soaring over the first three hurdles with ease. He remained in the middle of the pack through the first 200 meters before making a move in the final curve in an attempt to catch the leaders. He held his position near the middle of pack through the final 100 meters, finishing sixth in a time of 50.41.
The finish makes Stigler the first KU male to earn All-America honors in the 400-meter hurdles since Cliff Cushman was the national runner-up in the 440-yard hurdles in 1960. His finish also makes him the first KU freshman male to claim an All-American distinction on the track since Charlie Gruber did so as a first-year athlete in the 1,500-meters in 1999.
Stigler also earned an additional three points toward the Kansas team total, which placed the KU men in 18th with one day of competition remaining.
Senior Rebeka Stowe ran in her final collegiate race as a Jayhawk in the finals of the 3,000-meter Steeplechase. The Olathe, Kan., native had run the third-fastest time in the finals field this season. The group began the race at a break-neck pace, with Stowe sticking with the leaders and remaining in fourth-place for the first 1,000 meters. The pack began to spread out over the next few minutes, while Stowe fell behind, falling to as far as 12th with only two laps to go. The veteran didn't give up however, passing several runners over the final 400 meters to move up into scoring position. She crossed the finish line in 10:12.16 to finish in eighth place and make her way on to the first team All-American list for the second-straight season.
Lindsay Vollmer completed the final three events of the women's heptathlon Friday, beginning the day in the long jump. The freshman made the dozens of KU fans in the stands move to the edge of their seats as she fouled on her first two attempts. Without a fair mark she would not have posted a score ending her competition in the heptathlon. Fortunately, she leaped to a mark of 5.54 meters (18-2.25 ft.) on her final attempt to earn 712 points.
Vollmer then moved to the javelin runway, where she hurled the javelin to a distance of 40.71 meters (133-6 ft.) on her first attempt to finish fifth overall and earn an additional 681 points.
She finished her competition in the 800 meters, rounding the track twice in 2:32.89 and claiming 675 points to finish in 18th overall in the heptathlon. She took home 5,336 total points over the two-day event and became the first KU woman to compete in the event at the national championships since Candace Mason did so in 1999.
One day remains at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships with several Jayhawks vying for national titles on the final day of competition. Juniors Mason Finley and Andrea Geubelle will attempt to pick up All-America honors in their second events of the week as Finley will throw in the shot put and Geubelle in the triple jump, both beginning at 10 a.m. The women's 4x400-meter relay will close things out as the foursome of Denesha Morris, Paris Daniels, Taylor Washington and Dixon will take to the track trying to snatch a national title at 12:35 p.m. Stay updated on all the performances on the meet's final day by logging on to kuathletics.com and following on twitter at @KU_Track.