The University of Kansas track and field teams opened the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships with several impressive performances, sending six student-athletes to the finals of their respective events. Among the highlights during the competition Wednesday was junior Julius Jiles setting a new school record in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.66 seconds.
Jiles ran a career-best time in the 110-meter hurdles twice Wednesday, culminating with his new school record in the event's semifinals. In the opening round earlier in the day, he ran 13.81 seconds, which briefly stood as his new personal record. Jiles now moves on to the finals Friday night at 7:35 pm CST.
His coach, Elisha Brewer, was ecstatic for the progress Jiles made throughout the year, culminating in a berth in the finals.
"The NCAA Championships are where you want to do your best and set new personal records and for Julius to do that twice, and set a new school record, is very exciting," Brewer said. "We came into the meet wanting to make the finals and he did that. I am very proud of his accomplishments today."
Junior Egor Agafonov qualified for Friday's final in the men's weight throw, finishing the preliminaries with a throw of 218-03 (66.52m). After capturing the 2007 NCAA Indoor weight throw national championship this past February, Agafonov will look to capture the weight throw crown on Friday at 3:15 pm CST.
Senior Eric Babb and junior Barrett Saunders both qualified for the long jump finals on Thursday. Saunders, the Big 12 and Midwest Region champion, led all competitors with a jump of 25-08.75 (7.84m).
"It definitely feels good to do that well in the preliminaries. It gives me a lot of confidence heading into the finals," Saunders said. "I'll probably still need to jump a little better in the finals to win, but considering I felt a little flat today, I am very happy that I qualified for the finals by nearly setting a new career best."
Babb, who finished third at the Midwest region, finished the day with a jump of 25-02 (7.67m), nearly matching a career best and placing him fourth among Wednesday's competitors. The finals for the long jump will be at 8:30 pm CST on Thursday.
"It feels great to get to the finals because I was a little nervous and timid today," Babb said. "I am glad to be through and want to really get out there and be aggressive on Thursday."
Kate Sultanova, a 2007 Indoor All-American, advanced to the finals of the women's pole vault with a clearance of 13-01.50 (4.00m). A junior, Sultanova was a 2005 Outdoor All-American when she placed seventh at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The women's pole vault concludes on Friday at 8:15 pm CST.
In the women's discus, senior Abby Emsick moved on to the event's finals with a throw of 170-11 (52.10m), which was the ninth-best performance in the event. Emsick is the school record holder in the women's discus and will conclude her KU career on Friday at 5:15 pm CST.
Josh Kirk currently sits in 25th place in the men's decathlon with 3,540 points through five events. Kirk will conclude the 10-event competition tomorrow with five additional events, including the pole vault and discus.
Freshman pole vaulter Jordan Scott did not qualify for the finals in the event as he missed his three attempts at 16-10.75 (5.15m). However, Scott had one of the better freshman years in Kansas and Big 12 history, winning both the Big 12 Indoor and Outdoor titles and being named the Big 12 Indoor and Outdoor Freshman Performer of the Year.
Senior Cody Roberts concluded his Kansas career in the discus with a throw of 172-0 (52.44m). Roberts leaves Kansas with a career-best throw of 188-11 (57.59m) in the discus and the fifth-best indoor weight throw, 61-01.25 (18.60m), in school history.
Junior Hugh Murphy missed qualifying for the men's javelin throw, finishing 17th with a throw of 203-08 (62.07m). The Baldwin City, Kan., native enjoyed a successful year in his first season for the Jayhawks after transferring from Brown University. He finished second at the Big 12 Championships, recording a season-best throw of 219-05 (66.87m) to finish second. The throw stands as the fifth-best in Kansas history.
Because the NCAA Outdoor Championships are a multi-day contest for field events, none of the marks registered on Wednesday will count toward any of the finals later in the competition.
Several Jayhawks will be competing Thursday, including sophomore Victoria Howard in the women's 200-meter dash and Saunders and Babb taking part in the long jump finals.