Pair of Big 12 Titles Propel KU into Lead at Big 12 Championships
WACO, Texas – Senior Francine Simpson repeated as Big 12 long jump champion, while Lindsay Vollmer claimed the conference’s heptathlon crown as the Kansas men’s and women’s track & field teams competed on day two of the Big 12 Outdoor Championships. The KU women now hold a 12-point lead in the team standings with 53 points with the men sitting in seventh with 7.5 points after the second day of competition.
It was another dramatic competition in the women’s long jump as the Kansas women were hoping for big points from the conference leader, Simpson, and the holder of the No. 3 long jump mark, senior Andrea Geubelle. The two Jayhawks didn’t disappoint as they jockeyed back and forth for the lead throughout the competition. Geubelle’s mark of 6.39 meters (20’11.75”) put her in first after the preliminary rounds of jumps; however, Simpson would not let the defense of her conference crown go without a fight.
On her final attempt of the day, Simpson soared to a mark of 6.67 meters (21’10.75”), bettering her All-American teammate by almost seven inches. Her wind-legal mark not only broke the school record, but also topped the 16-year-old Big 12 meet record and ranks her eighth in the world in 2013 and No. 2 in the NCAA standings. Geubelle was unable to top Simpson’s record leap, but still managed to snag the runner-up finish.
Simpson and Geubelle added 18 points to the women’s team’s point total. The KU duo’s finish also marked the fourth-straight conference meet, indoor and outdoor, the two have finished first and second in the long jump.
Vollmer validated her indoor pentathlon title by claiming the heptathlon championship in runaway fashion Saturday. The sophomore out of Hamilton, Mo., entered the day boasting a 164-point lead through the first four events on day one but continued to pad her lead over the second day of competition. Vollmer began the day by notching her third personal best of the event by leaping to a distance of 6.01 meters (19’8.75”) in the long jump, earning her 853 points and sending a message to the rest of the field that she would not be challenged.
In the javelin, Vollmer again recorded a new personal record when she hit a mark of 42.26 meters (138’8”) on her second attempt. The throw garnered an additional 711 points and gave her an insurmountable lead of just over 500 points entering the final event of the competition.
With the victory in tow, Vollmer cruised to a time of 2:38.55 in the 800 meters to claim her final 590 points of the day and her first conference championship in the event. Her final score of 5,644 points marked a new personal best and moves her up to No. 7 in this year’s NCAA rankings. Her win makes her the first Jayhawk to bring home the league’s heptathlon crown since Candace Mason’s win in 1999. It also marked the ninth time in Big 12 history a female has claimed both the indoor pentathlon and outdoor heptathlon titles in a single season.
Joining Vollmer on the awards stand was senior Rebecca Neville, who finished her final conference championship with a fifth-place finish in the event, her highest ever at the Big 12 outdoor meet. Neville accumulated a point total of 5,080 during the two-day event, just 40 points shy of her career best. The KU duo’s finish tallied 14 points toward the women’s team total.
Anastasiya Muchkayev tallied another point to the KU women’s total with her finish in the shot put. The freshman hit a mark of 15.89 meters (52’1.75”) on her second attempt of the day to move herself up the leaderboard. She was not able to improve upon the mark in the finals; however, it was good enough to earn an eighth-place finish.
Three Jayhawk men got the men’s team on the score sheet Saturday afternoon. In the men’s high jump, sophomore Jonathan Fuller had another impressive outing as he was able to clear a top bar of 2.12 meters (6’11.5”). The clearance was good enough to earn him a sixth-place finish and three points toward the team total. Junior Nick Giancana placed in the top-eight for the second-straight year after getting over his top bar of 2.07 meters (6’9.5”). Giancana added another 1.5 points with his seventh-place finish.
Sophomore Jonathan Miller maneuvered his way up the leaderboard among a talented field in the discus. The Mulvane, Kan., native started the day strong, hitting a mark of 54.02 meters (177’03”) on his first attempt of the day. Miller would not improve on the throw but still managed to notch a sixth-place finish and an additional three points toward his team’s total.
It was qualifying day on the track as a host of Jayhawks looked to punch their tickets to finals and assure their teams of big points on Sunday. Senior Paris Daniels and junior Diamond Dixon both qualified in two events. Daniels turned in the fastest qualifying time in the 200 meters (22.81) with Dixon notching a season best (23.54) to earn the fourth spot in Sunday’s final. Daniels also earned a spot in the 100-meter final, sprinting to a time of 11.40. Dixon also accomplished the first step in completing the three-peat in the 400 meters as she was the top qualifier in the prelim with a season-best 52.26.
Other KU women to move on to Sunday finals were senior Denesha Morris in the 400 meters (54.07) and junior Natalie Becker (4:26.58) and freshman Hannah Richardson (4:26.84) in the 1,500 meters.
The KU men will see competitors in each of the track finals Sunday after a successful semifinal afternoon Saturday. Junior DeMario Johnson punched his ticket to the finals of both the 100 meters (10.70) and 200 meters (21.38). Senior Kyle Clemons blazed to a new season best and the fastest qualifying time in the 400 meters (46.16). Junior Brendan Soucie will see the final of the 800 meters after running to a fifth-place finish in the event semifinals (1:53.19). Kansas will also have participants in the 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters, 110-meter hurdles and Michael Stigler will attempt to repeat as the Big 12 Champion in the 400-meter hurdles.
The final day of the 2012 Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships will kick off at 11 a.m., Sunday with the women’s triple jump and men’s javelin. Action from the track will begin at 4 p.m., with the running of the 4x100-meter relays. Stay updated on all the Jayhawks’ performances via the meet central page at KUAthletics.com and follow on twitter at @KUTrack. A complete recap, results and videos will be posted after the completion of the day’s events.