LAWRENCE, Kan. – After claiming its second-consecutive NCAA Indoor runner-up finish two weeks ago, the Kansas women’s track & field team was named the outdoor preseason No. 1-ranked team by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Tuesday. The preseason-ranking is the highest-ever for the women’s squad during an outdoor season. Last year, the team began the outdoor campaign ranked 10th overall before earning a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June.
Kansas starts the season No. 1 on the strength of 11 returners from last year who were ranked in the top 10 of their events, including top-ranked Andrea Geubelle (No. 1 triple jump, No. 8 long jump) and Alena Krechyk (No. 1 hammer throw). Geubelle took both the long jump and triple jump titles at the recent indoor championships, as she lead the Jayhawks to their second-consecutive runner-up finish.
Other Jayhawks poised to make an impact this season are seniors Heather Bergmann (javelin), Paris Daniels (100m, 200m) and Francine Simpson (long jump) in addition to juniors Diamond Dixon (400m) and Natalia Bartnovskaya (pole vault). Bergmann was the Big 12 runner-up in the event last year before claiming her second First Team All-America honor with her fourth-place finish at nationals. Daniels has won the last two 200-meter titles against league competition, claiming the 2012 outdoor title and the 2013 indoor championship last month. Simpson was outstanding in her junior season, hitting a top long jump mark of 6.67 meters (21’10.75”) en route to the league title in the event.
Dixon ran the second-fastest 400-meters in the nation a year ago (51.09), repeating as conference champion in the event. She was also the top collegiate finisher at the Olympic Trials, running to a fourth-place finish overall in a school-record time of 50.88 and earning a trip to the London Olympics as part of the gold medal-winning 4x400-meter relay team. Bartnovskaya is new to the Jayhawks this season but has already made a tremendous impact. The junior won the NCAA Indoor pole vault title two weeks ago in Fayetteville, Ark., breaking the school record and moving up to No. 8 on the all-time NCAA indoor performance list.
The KU men find themselves sitting just outside the top-25 of the preseason rankings, coming in at No. 26. The Jayhawks finished last year with a 23rd-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and return four of the five athletes who scored at the national meet.
The Kansas men and women will kick off the 2013 outdoor track & field season when they travel to Austin, Texas for the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays March 27-30. Get a complete recap of all the Jayhawks’ performances by logging on to KUAthletics.com and following on Twitter at @KU_Track.