LAWRENCE, Kan. – Members of the Kansas men’s and women’s track & field teams will travel to Manhattan, Kan., for the Ward Haylett Invitational on Saturday, May 11 as the Jayhawks will get their final tune-ups in before the preliminary rounds of the NCAA Championships kickoff two weeks from now in Austin, Texas.
As of this week, 17 members of the No. 1-ranked KU women’s team hold marks in 16 events that rank in the top-48 of the NCAA’s West Region, which would earn them opportunities to continue their journeys to the national meet by way of the NCAA West Preliminary, May 23-25. Many of athletes in action this week are on the outside of the all-important top-48, and will try to earn marks that can help the women’s team’s drive to its first NCAA title.
Freshman Hannah Richardson and junior Natalie Becker are two vying for spots at the West Preliminary in two weeks. Both managed to post 1,500-meter personal bests in scoring efforts last week at the Big 12 Championships but need to shave around four seconds off their times if they want to extend their seasons. Both are entered in the event Saturday, scheduled for 1:20 p.m.
Elsewhere on the track, freshman Tianna Valentine is right on the edge of the top-48 cutline in the 100 meters, with her time of 11.60 that sits 46th in the West. She’ll try to shave a few thousandths off that time at 2:20 p.m.
Other KU women hoping to improve their marks this weekend are senior Sarah Hedberg and junior Abby Row in the pole vault. They’ll be joined by junior Natalia Bartnovskaya and sophomore Jaimie House in the event slated for 10 a.m., all of whom are already in comfortable positions to qualify for the West Regional Meet.
For the 22nd-ranked Kansas men, 13 Jayhawks boast marks that would earn them trips to Austin in two weeks with several more close to claiming qualifying marks.
The men’s pole vault has a pair of freshmen that are close to tacking on the West Prelim to the end of their seasons. Jake Albright and Nick Maestretti hold the 50th and 53rd ranked vaults in the region, respectively, and will only need to add a couple inches to their season-best marks to punch their tickets to Austin. They, along with junior Alex Bishop and sophomores Casey Bowen and Aaron Blevins, will begin their day Saturday at approximately 1 p.m.
On the track, Nick Ucherek will try to continue the strong end to his freshman campaign by qualifying for the Preliminary meet. The Richardson, Texas native’s West ranking is currently No. 64 in the 400-meter hurdles after his personal-best 53.33 at the conference championships last weekend. He’ll try to cut half a second of his time to move into the top-48 in the event scheduled for 2:45 p.m.
Other KU men in action Saturday are juniors Josh Munsch and Brendan Soucie in the 800 meters, sophomore Jonathan Fuller and junior Nick Giancana in the high jump, and sophomore Jonathan Miller in the discus.
Kansas will have one athlete competing in another event across the nation this weekend as senior Andrea Geubelle will compete in the triple jump at the Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta Saturday. She will try to pad her NCAA lead in the event, which is currently just one centimeter ahead San Diego State’s Shanieka Thomas. Geubelle is scheduled to begin competing at 1 p.m. (CT) from the George C. Griffin Track Complex.
Follow updates from throughout both meets Saturday by following on Twitter at @KUTrack and log on to KUAthletics.com following the events for a complete recap of the athletes’ performances.