Ames, Iowa – The University of Kansas women’s track & field team claimed the 2013 Big 12 Indoor Track & Field team title after collecting a total of 150.5 points at the two-day meet held inside the Lied Recreation Center. The championship is the first conference title in the program’s history and the first for any KU team – men’s or women’s – since the Kansas men won the Big Eight indoor title in 1983. The KU men ended Sunday’s meet with a sixth-place finish after tallying 74.5 points.
“Everyone did a great job today,” said 13-year head coach Stanley Redwine. “We knew it would take a total team effort and that’s what happened for us. This is just a result of a lot of effort paying off. The coaches have done a great job helping the kids. The athletes have stepped up. We’ve been working hard and now all that work has finally paid off.”
Entering the day, the KU women held a commanding lead in the team standings, sitting in first with 67 points. The Jayhawks would never relinquish the lead, collecting 83.5 points on the shoulders of three more individual winners on the final day to earn their first conference championship.
To begin the historical afternoon, Andrea Geubelle looked to retain her title as the conference’s top triple jumper. The senior out of University Place, Wash., left little doubt Sunday, hitting a mark of 13.49 meters (44-3.25 ft.) on her first attempt of the day. The mark shot her up the leaderboard and into the first-place spot. Geubelle went on to claim her second-consecutive indoor triple jump championship and gave her team an additional 10 points to start the Jayhawks off on the right foot on the meet’s final day. Senior Francine Simpson also added to the scoring effort in the triple jump, soaring to a mark of 12.41 meters (40-8.75 ft.) on her second leap to finish third and garner six more points.
Junior Diamond Dixon returned to her gold-medal form as she also defended her Big 12 title in the 400 meters. The Houston, Texas product entered the day appearing vulnerable after not yet breaking the 53-second barrier yet this year. She ran to the fourth-fastest qualifying time a day earlier in the event semifinals and needed to shave nearly a second off that time if she was to return to the winner’s circle. In the final Dixon used her signature strong final kick to outpac the field down the final 50 meters to earn the victory. The junior clocked in with a season-best time of 52.52 for the win, the fifth-fastest in the NCAA this season. Dixon was joined by senior Denesha Morris in the final, who placed seventh in 54.70.
Paris Daniels made school history Sunday as she became the first Jayhawk to win the 200 meters at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. The senior ran to a personal best and broke the facility record in the semifinals, running 23.15 for the fastest qualifying time as she moved on to the final Sunday. Daniels assured he name remain at the top of the scoreboard as she held off charges from Texas’ two star sprinters down the final 100 meters. She leaned over the finish in 23.29 to earn the gold medal and retain the 200-meter title after winning the outdoor 200 meters a year ago.
Earlier in the day Daniels was joined by freshman teammate Tianna Valentine as the two looked for top finishes in the finals of the 60 meters. Daniels entered the event with the top qualifying time (7.36), but it was Valentine who turned heads in the final. The St. Louis native dashed to the finish in a personal-best 7.39 to take the runner-up finish by just .05 seconds. Daniels finished fourth in 7.40 as the two Jayhawks combined for 13 points in the team scoring.
The KU high jumpers earned some of the most vital team points Sunday as three Jayhawks competed in the event. Colleen O’Brien, Ashley Shearer and pentathlon champion Lindsay Vollmer each were able to secure points for the women’s team with top-eight finishes. O’Brien tied her personal best clearance after jumping over the 1.76 meter (5-9.25 ft.) bar, good enough for a third-place finish. Shearer wasn’t far behind, finishing in a tie for first with her personal-best clearance of 1.71 meters (5-7.25 ft.). Vollmer rounded out the KU scoring effort with her sixth-place finish, also notching a mark of 1.71 meters (5-7.25 ft.). In all, the trio collected 13.5 points to add to their team’s total.
Natalie Becker turned in a career performance in the final of the women’s mile. The junior posted a career-best 4:50.32 as she claimed fifth in the event and four points overall. Freshman Hannah Richardson was also successful in the 1,000 meters. She too notched a fifth-place finish with her time of 2:49.91, the fifth-fastest in school history.
In the women’s shot put, Freshman Anastasiya Muchkayev and junior Jessica Maroszek added six points to the women’s team total. Muchkayev got a big throw off on just her second attempt, hitting a distance of 16.62 meters (54-6.5 ft.) on just her second attempt of the day. Maroszek wasted even less time, hurling the shot 15.65 meters (51-4.25 ft.) on her first throw of the afternoon. The marks elevated both Jayhawks up the leaderboard and propelled them into the final where they were unable to improve. Muchkayev ended her day in fourth place, while Maroszek took eighth.
In the final event of the night, the women’s team needed the 4x400-meter relay team of Morris, Daniels, Taylor Washington and Dixon to finish sixth or better to clinch the team title. The team, who was the reigning conference champions in the event, ran its fastest relay of the season, clocking in at 3:37.73 for a fourth-place finish. The finish gave their team five points and just enough to outscore Texas in the final overall standings by just two points.
The men’s team was led Sunday by the 4x400-meter relay team, who turned in their best time of the season in a second-place finish. Michael Stigler, Michael Hester, Kyle Clemons and Kenneth McCuin passed the baton around in 3:08.06 to claim the final eight points of their team’s overall score. The time is the second-fastest in school history and moves the group into the top-15 in the NCAA this season.
For the third time this month Josh Munsch recorded a new personal best in the mile, saving his career best for the final of the mile run. In the race considered to be one of the most competitive events in the Big 12 this season, Munsch held with the leaders for the majority of the race. The Hays, Kan., native crossed the finish in 4:03.09 to take third overall and add 6 points to his team’s total.
Stigler and McCuin had a successful day as they took part in the 600 yard final. The sophomore duo completed the 2.5 lap race just a fraction of a second apart to notch second and third-place finishes, respectively. Stigler finished in 1:09.77, while McCuin clocked in at 1:09.88. Their finish gave the men’s squad an all-important 14 points to KU’s final total.
A day after breaking the 30-year-old school record in the 400 meters, Clemons entered the final with the top qualifying time of 46.44. The senior completed the quarter-mile lap in 47.04 to finish third overall, his highest-ever finish at the indoor conference meet.
The Jayhawks will now divide for several meets across the country next weekend as the men and women have only one more opportunity to punch their ticket to the NCAA Indoor Championships to be held March 8-9. Some athletes will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for the Arkansas Last Chance, some will head back to Ames, Iowa for the ISU NCAA Qualifier and others will compete at the Alex Wilson Last Chance in South Bend, Ind. For updates and results of all the Jayhawks in competition next weekend log on to KUAthletics.com or follow on twitter at @KU_Track.