Despite some early rainy conditions, the University of Kansas track and field teams continued to perform well at the NCAA Midwest Regionals Saturday at Jim Duncan Track in Des Moines, Iowa. Hugh Murphy, Julius Jiles, Janiece Gatson and Ashley Brown all earned automatic bids to the NCAA Championships. As a team, the men finished fourth with 50 points while the women placed 10th with 26 points.
Brown and Gatson became the first two KU women to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships after finishing second and fifth, respectively, in the 400-meter hurdles. Brown nearly matched her school record, running 57.69 and Gatson battled down the stretch to finish in 59.27.
"My finish today is sweet redemption for all the hard work I have done in my four years at Kansas," Gatson said. "This will be my first time at the NCAA Championships in an individual event and I plan on making it a memorable one."
Their coach, Elisha Brewer, was ecstatic about the performances of the two hurdlers.
"I am overwhelmed right now for these two girls," Brewer said. "It is always special to go to the Big Dance and these girls have worked very hard to get there. I am just so happy for them."
Junior Hugh Murphy qualified for the NCAA Championships with his fifth-place finish in the javelin. The Baldwin City, Kan., native threw 210-00 (64.02m) on his third throw of the competition to reach his first NCAA Championships.
"I am happy to have reached my first NCAA Championships and know that I still have better throws left in me," Murphy said, who owns the fifth-longest javelin throw in school history.
In other field results Saturday, senior Abby Emsick and junior Crystal Manning both qualified for the NCAA Championships, earning berths in the discus and triple jump, respectively. Emsick placed third with a throw of 173-08 (52.93m). Manning placed fifth in the triple jump with a leap of 42-06.75 (12.97m).
Junior Julius Jiles will be heading back to the NCAA Championships after finishing fourth in the 110-meter hurdles in 13.82 seconds. The mark represents a tie for the third-fastest time in school history.
"It feels great to be getting back to the NCAAs, especially after last year," Jiles said. "I didn't really like my start in the race today, so to set a new personal record means that I did something well. I have some things to smooth out, but I am excited to be heading back."
In other action from Saturday, junior Kate Sultanova finished sixth in the pole vault with a clearance of 13-03.75 (4.06m) and although it is not an automatic berth, she expects to earn a trip to Sacramento based on her top performance this year. The women's 4x100-meter relay team finished eighth in 45.46 seconds.
The Jayhawks will now head to the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif., June 6-9. Keep tuned to kuathletics.com for all the news about the NCAA Championships.
Kansas Automatic NCAA Championships Qualifiers
Egor Agafonov, Hammer Throw
Eric Babb, Long Jump
Julius Jiles, 110-meter Hurdles
Hugh Murphy, Javelin
Cody Roberts, Discus
Jordan Scott, Pole Vault
Barrett Saunders, Long Jump
Ashley Brown, 400-meter hurdles
Janiece Gatson, 400-meter hurdles
Abby Emsick, Discus
Crystal Manning, Triple Jump