LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas senior sprinter Paris Daniels broke two facility records en route to claiming two individual titles at the Bob Timmons Challenge, KU track and field’s season opening meet Thursday. Eight other Jayhawks were victorious in individual events, as were all four relay teams.
“We had a great start (to the season) tonight,” said 13-year head coach Stanley Redwine. “We were looking to see how the athletes competed and I thought they competed very well. This is definitely encouraging for me and all the assistant coaches; it means we did a very good job in fall training. Now we just need to keep training hard through the holiday season and get ready to really get after it.”
Daniels, who returns for her senior season after claiming First Team All-America honors in the outdoor 200 meters last season, had a fantastic night to begin her final season in Lawrence. The St. Louis, Mo., native began her day in the 60 meters, where she would sprint to the finish in a winning time of 7.32. Not only was that the fastest of her collegiate career, but it also topped the previous Anschutz facility record of 7.38 set by Nickesha Anderson in 2008.
Daniels wasn’t finished there though, hours later, in the 200 meters, she rewrote the facility record books again, charging through the 200 meters in a scorching time 23.62. Daniels won the event by nearly a full half-second and erased the previous Anschutz record of 23.85, also held by Anderson. Both of Daniels’ 60-meter and 200-meter times rank first in the NCAA through the first week of the indoor season.
Alena Krechyk seemed to pick up where she left off at the end of the 2012 season, a year which saw her claim All-American honors in both the weight and hammer throws. The senior out of Grodno, Belarus hit a distance of 20.35 meters (66-9.25 ft.) on her fourth attempt in the weight throw, breaking her own facility record by more than two feet and won the event.
Junior Brendan Soucie helped the Kansas men to a quick start as he won the 3,000 meters in his first ever race at that distance. The Osawatomie, Kan., native completed the 15 laps in 8:46.35, pulling away down the final 800 meters to win the event and kick off a successful day for the Jayhawks on the track.
In her first meet as a Jayhawk Anastasiya Muchkayev made a great first impression in the shot put. The freshman out of Be’er Sheva, Israel threw to a distance of 16.18 meters (53-1 ft.) on her sixth and final attempt of the day earn an easy victory. The personal-best mark broke the Israeli national indoor record in the event and Muchkayev in the early-season NCAA lead.
Sophomore hurdler Michael Stigler was another who appeared to have not skipped a beat since his phenomenal freshman campaign ended last June. The 2012 Big 12 Freshman Track Athlete of the Year competed in the 600 yards for the first time in his career, but looked like a veteran as he finished the race in 1:11.76 to nab his first individual title of the 2012 season. The All-American won the race by a two-second margin and finished first in a field the featured five Jayhawks placing in the top-10.
As has become the case in Anschutz Pavilion, the KU women saw another successful day in the pole vault pits. Junior Demi Payne claimed her fourth-straight pole vault title inside Anschutz and nearly wrote her name into the facility record books. The New Braunfels, Texas native cruised through her opening heights, clearing the bars all the way through 4.10 meters (13-5.25 ft.), her highest-ever for her in a season-opening meet. Payne then had three attempts to break the facility record, but just barely clipped the bar on all three tries. She finished first ahead of teammate and newly anointed Jayhawk, Natalia Bartnovskaya, who joins KU after claiming two-consecutive NJCAA pole vault Championships at Vincennes University the last two seasons. Bartnovskaya earned a runner-up finish and three other KU vaulters finished in the top-10.
In the high jump pits sophomore Jonathan Fuller brought the fans to their feet later in the evening, winning the event with a personal-best clearance. The Dallas, Texas native didn’t record a single foul on the way to his top height, which measured to 2.16 meters (7-1 ft.). Fuller was unable to get over the bar on his first two tries but snuck over on his third, sealing the victory and notching the highest leap of his career.
On the women’s side, sophomore Colleen O’Brien followed Fuller’s lead, meeting little resistance on her way to winning the high jump. O’Brien cleared a height of 1.73 meters (5-8 ft.) on her first attempt at height, earning her the victory after it took teammate Ashley Shearer all three tries to clear the bar. The win gives O’Brien the fifth indoor victory of her collegiate career and marks her second-highest indoor clearance in her second season at KU.
The final Jayhawk to win an individual title was junior Nick Seckfort, who ran his fastest 800-meters in two years to outkick Lincoln’s Jermaine Blake at the finish line by only .11 seconds. Seckfort completed the four laps in 1:54.86, the time just .43 seconds off his personal best. The win marked his second-straight in the 800 meters at the Bob Timmons Challenge.
The men’s and women’s distance medley and 4x400-meter relays closed out the night, with the KU teams completing the perfect sweep in each. The women’s distance medley team of Ragan Allen, Timmie Morris, Maddy Rich and Sara Seiwald won easily with their time of 12:02.53, while the men’s team of Conner Day, Ben Wilson, Brendan Soucie and Sam Jones won in similar fashion, passing the baton around in 10:43.36.
In the 4x400-meters the women’s team of Alisha Keys, Taylor Washington, Denesha Morris and Daniels combined for a strong performance to win their event handily in a time of 3:46.96. The winning men’s team of Mike Hester, Dominique Manley, Stigler and Kenneth McCuin closed out KU’s night with a victory as McCuin ran a strong final leg and held of a charge from Lincoln to win in 3:16.72.
The Kansas men’s and women’s track teams will have a month off from competition before returning Anschutz Jan. 5, when they host the Bill Easton Classic. For coverage of Kansas track & field up to, and during the event, log on to KUAthletics.com and follow on twitter at @KU_Track.