Jayhawks Journey to Manhattan for Big 12 Outdoor Championships
May 9, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. - Kansas' men's and women's track and field teams will travel to Manhattan, Kan. May 11-13 for the 2012 Big 12 Outdoor Championships held at R.V. Christian Track Complex on the campus of Kansas State University. One of the most prestigious meets in the nation, this year's championships will feature a combined 13 teams ranked in the men's and women's USTFCCCA Top 25 rankings, the most of any conference.
The Jayhawks enter the meet ranked fifth in the country on the women's side and 23rd in the national rankings on the men's side. KU is looking to improve on its 2012 Big 12 Indoor Championship finishes. The Kansas women's team finished in a school-record third place at the indoor conference meet, while the KU men placed 10th.
The KU women enter this year's Big 12 Outdoor Championships in the middle of their most successful season in program history. Their No. 5 national ranking is the highest for any KU track team - men's or women's - since the ranking system began in 2007. Leading the way for the women this weekend will be Diamond Dixon, who currently sits at No. 2 in the nation in the 400 meters. The sophomore is the defending conference champion in both the indoor and outdoor 400 meters and will be the favorite this weekend in Manhattan.
Andrea Guebelle is the NCAA's leader in the triple jump and is looking to also score big this weekend. Geubelle was the indoor national champion in the event earlier this year and garnered All-America first team honors in the long jump as well. She will be in action in both events Saturday and Sunday.
Senior Alena Krechyk has the top hammer throw mark in the conference this year and will try to take home the conference crown for the first time. Krechyk has topped her personal best throw on three occasions this outdoor season and is primed to do it again this weekend.
Rebeka Stowe also sits at the top spot in the league as she heads into the conference meet. Stowe's school record time in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase leads the conference by over 30 seconds and is the third-fastest in the nation this year. The senior will look to claim her first conference title Sunday at 3:15 p.m.
Additionally on the women's side, Heather Bergmann enters the meet with the second-best mark in the javelin and fellow thrower Jessica Maroszek is ranked fourth in the conference in the discus. Other KU women ranked in the Big 12's top five entering the meet are Demi Payne (third, pole vault), Allison Mayfield (fifth, high jump), Francine Simpson (third, long jump), Lindsay Vollmer (third, heptathlon) and the women's 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay teams.
On the men's side, KU will look to junior Mason Finley and sophomore Johann Swanepoel in the field and senior Austin Bussing and junior Kyle Clemons on the track to guide the Jayhawks. Finley enters the meet with the No. 1 shot put mark in the conference as well as the second-farthest discus throw. Finley is the two-time defending conference champion in the outdoor shot put and claimed the discus crown as a freshman in 2010.
Swanepoel has had an outstanding year thus far in the javelin throw. He sits at third in the league with his personal-best mark of 74.51 meters (244-5 ft.). A year ago he finished fourth overall at the Big 12 meet and is hoping to better that this year as he heads into the weekend with the eighth-best throw in the nation.
Other nationally-ranked KU men to watch for this weekend are senior Austin Bussing, who sits at second in the Big 12 in the Steeplechase and junior Kyle Clemons, who boasts the sixth-best time in the 400 meters. The KU men will need good scoring efforts from both these upperclassmen to be successful in Manhattan.
Other top-ranked Jayhawk men who could make a splash this weekend are Alex Bishop (second, pole vault), Jonathan Fuller (fourth, high jump), Jesse Vaughn (fourth, javelin), Michael Stigler (fifth, 400-meter hurdles) and the men's 4x400-meter relay team.
The 2012 Big 12 Outdoor Championships will kick-off Friday, May 11 with the heptathlon and decathlon events and will conclude Sunday, May 13 with the running of the 4x400 meter relays. Stay connected to all the meet action through the meet central page at kuathletics.com and follow on twitter at @KU_Track. Complete results, videos and a full recap of the Jayhawks' performances will be posted following each day's completion at kuathletics.com.