LAWRENCE, Kan. – Two Jayhawks competing in their first Kansas Relays notched wins as Kansas track & field competed on the second day of the 87th Kansas Relays Thursday inside Rock Chalk Park. Sophomore Daina Levy posted her second hammer throw victory as a Jayhawk, while freshman Grace Morgan came from behind over the final 200 meters in to pick up her first collegiate win in the 5,000 meters.
Levy, who was competing for the first time on her home turf since transferring from Auburn last season, was the clearly the superior thrower of the day as each of her three fair marks would have won her the competition. The Mississaugu, Ontario native took the early lead on her second trip into the throws ring after posting a toss of 56.47 meters (185’3”). Levy then bettered that mark by over 12 feet on her next attempt as she unleased a mark of 60.14 meters (197’4”). No other competitor would be able to come within 14 feet of that mark, giving her the Kansas Relays’ victory, and making Levy the second Jayhawk to win the hammer throw in the last three years.
On the track it was an even younger Jayhawk who shined brightest Friday evening. The Lawrence native, Morgan, helped produce the loudest roar from the pro-Kansas crowd assembled at Rock Chalk Park as she ran to one of the most exciting finishes of the day. The first-year Jayhawk ran a tactical race for the majority of the event, sticking right behind the leaders for the first 4,700 meters. Over the last three quarters of the final lap, the freshman utilized a strong closing kick to pass three runners in the final 300 meters. Morgan overtook Iowa Central’s Hannah Maina as she entered the final curve and never looked back, coming across the finish in a new personal best of 17:11.88.
Morgan ran her final lap in 1:12.70, just under 10 seconds faster than her average 400-meter split throughout the race. Morgan’s time has her among the top-15 in the Big 12 Conference standings this year and is the second-fastest 5,000 meters run by a Jayhawk this season.
Also competing during the distance carnival Thursday night was freshman Tyler Yunk, who clocked in at 14:49.74 to finish 10th in the 5,000 meters. Sophomore Julia Dury turned in a fourth-place finish in the 10,000 meters with her time of 36:38.35.
Earlier in the day, sophomore Mercedes Smith competed in the final three events of her first-career heptathlon competition. On day one, the Country Club Hills, Ill., native posted a score of 2,778 points to sit in third place after the first four events. She also turned in the fastest 200-meter time of the competition, a personal best of 24.97 to close out the day.
On day two Thursday, Smith moved up the leaderboard with a strong outing in the long jump, leaping to a mark of 5.07 meters (16’7¾”) and slide up to second place with two events remaining. She maintained her second-place status through the javelin and ended her heptathlon strong, winning the 800 meters in a time of 2:28.93. Smith posted a final score of 4,461 points to take the runner-up finish behind the winner out of Truman, Rebecca Nelson.
Many Jayhawks will be in action throughout the day Friday as preliminary events take center stage on the track. The prelims of the 100-meter and 110-meter hurdles will begin at 10:15 a.m., and will kick off a full day of competition that will conclude with the 4x400-meter relay semifinals at 6:55 p.m. Follow Kansas’ progress all weekend by logging on to KUAthletics.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack.