LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas sophomore Michael Stigler proved he is one of the nation’s finest as he hung with many of the top professional competitors taking home second place in the men’s Invitational 400-meter hurdles at the 2013 Kansas Relays. Stigler set a new Kansas record with his personal-best time of 49.42 Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
Stigler’s time ranks as the top in the NCAA during the 2013 outdoor season and is currently the fifth-fastest time in the world. He was edged in the event only by 2012 Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley, who won the race with a time of 48.77.
“I felt great about my performance,” said Stigler. “It was great to go out there and race against the guys I competed against in the Olympic Trials and go out there and place second and beat some professionals. This shows me that I can compete with anyone at any level. I need to keep my head on right and keep practicing hard."
KU senior Kyle Clemons also had a strong performance for the Jayhawks Saturday as he took home the title in the men’s Invitational 400 meters. Clemons turned on the after-burners coming out of the final curve to take the lead and ran his season’s best time of 46.28.
“The race kind of went the way I planned,” said Clemons. “I expected to get out pretty good, but the main focus was not running off of anyone on the backstretch and that’s what I did, and then at the end I had a nice little kick.”
The win marked Clemons’ third career Kansas Relays victory in the 400 meters as he won the men’s collegiate titles in 2010 and 2011. His time of 46.28 puts him at No. 10 in the national rankings for this season.
“This being my last year, (it’s) is amazing to get the win, especially with all these great competitors,” said Clemons. “It feels great and unbelievable. It’s a great way to go out.”
Stigler and Clemons anchored the KU men’s 4x400-meter relay team to a win to close out the 86th edition of the meet. Junior DeMario Johnson led off for the Jayhawks, followed by sophomore Michael Hester before giving way to Stigler and then Clemons as the quartet edged Nebraska for the win with its time of 3:07.78.
Senior Paris Daniels blazed to the women’s 100 meters title, clocking in at 11.55. Daniels ran away with the win, but two of her Jayhawk teammates also placed in the event as freshman Tianna Valentine was the third-place finisher at 11.80 and senior Andrea Geubelle finished sixth with 12.25.
“It wasn’t as fast as I wanted it to be,” said Daniels. “But I’m happy and satisfied; I’m a KU Relays Champion.”
KU’s quartet of senior Denesha Morris, junior Diamond Dixon and seniors Taylor Washington and Daniels ran the second fast 4x400-meter relay time in Kansas Relays history in taking the 2013 title with a time of 3:32.94.
The Jayhawk women’s 4x100-meter relay team composed of Daniels, freshman Sydney Conley, Valentine and Dixon dominated the field, taking home the title with a time of 45.02.
Dixon competed in the women’s Invitational 400 meters later in the day, taking home sixth place with her time of 53.63. It marked the first time this outdoor season that Dixon, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, competed in her signature event. Morris ran in the collegiate women’s 400 meters, taking home second place with her season’s best time of 54.18.
The KU men’s 4x880 relay team took home the Kansas Relays title for the first time since 1989. Junior Dalen Fink, junior Nick Seckfort, freshman Ben Brownlee and junior Dominique Manley joined forces for a time of 7:44.08 on their way to capturing the victory.
Jayhawk junior Josh Munsch turned in a personal-best time of 4:02.90 in the Glenn Cunningham men’s mile run. His time ranks in the top five all-time at KU for the men’s outdoor mile and earned him a seventh-place finish in the event that featured two Olympians.
KU senior Francine Simpson took home the women’s long jump title by hitting a mark of 6.53 meters (21’5.25”). After recording just one legal jump in the prelims Simpson entered the finals in second place trailing her teammate, Conley, but she was able to hit three solid jumps in the finals to take the win. Conley held on for second place with her mark of 6.06 meters (19’10.75”).
Junior Jessica Maroszek was the top collegiate finisher and took second place overall in the discus with her toss of 53.15 meters (174’4”). Maroszek’s fellow KU thrower Anastasiya Muchkayev was not far behind as she finished seventh with her mark of 49.33 meters (161’10”). Jonathan Miller had a good outing in the men’s discus for the Jayhawks, taking home a third-place finish with his mark of 51.88 meters (170’2”).
Junior Nick Giancana and sophomore Jonathan Fuller each cleared the winning height of 2.12 meters (6’11.5”) in the men’s high jump, but due to misses at previous bars in the competition the duo took home third and fourth place, respectively. Giancana’s clearance was a personal best. The KU duo is among the top-50 in this season’s NCAA rankings.
The majority of the KU athletes will take next week off as they prepare for the Big 12 Outdoor Championships in Waco, Texas, May 3-5. A small contingent of throwers will likely make a trip to San Diego, Calif., on Saturday, April 27 to compete in the Triton Invitational. Log on to KUAthletics.com for a updates and results on the Kansas competitors and follow on twitter at @KU_Track.
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