Reese Hoffa prepares in the circle at the Downtown Shot Put in Lawrence, Kan on August 18, 2014. Hoffa finished 3rd. (Photo: J.B. Bauersfeld)
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Throwers Showcase Skills on Day Three of Kansas Relays
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With many of the track events in preliminary rounds, the field events, and more specifically, the throwing event stepped up to make day three of the 87th Kansas Relays a memorable one. Former NCAA Champion and current World leader, Tim Glover, threw past the competition in the javelin, while the Olympic Silver medalist, Christian Cantwell, picked up his first win in the Downtown Olympic Shot Put.
The 2014 Kansas Relays javelin event marked another dominating performance for Tim Glover as he beat the second-place finisher by over six meters. Glover, now an unattached competitor that threw collegiately at Illinois State, is coming off a record-setting performance. Last week in Knoxville, Tenn., he threw this year’s world-leading javelin mark of 84.01 meters.
Glover was the final thrower in the second flight and he immediately catapulted himself into first place with a toss of 76.29 meters. No other thrower had come close to the 70-meter mark other than Matt Byers of the Wichita State Shocker Track Club, who recorded a mark of 70.45 meters. Glover improved on his second attempt with a toss of 76.65 meters before scratching on his final attempt.
Although the current world leader in the javelin had bittersweet feelings about his performance, he enjoyed the atmosphere of the brand-new Rock Chalk Park.
“Despite all the construction, the atmosphere here is great,” Glover said. “This is a top-five crowd that I have ever seen. This is a very supportive crowd.”
Downtown Shot Put
After a rainout last year forced the downtown shot put indoors to the Douglas County Fairgrounds, the event returned to its home this year on Lawrence’s Eighth Street, between Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
After competing injured and finishing dead last in the field loaded with Olympians in 2013, Christian Cantwell redeemed himself by claiming the event title this year. Cantwell, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist, won the event with a heave of 21.36m (70-1 ft.) on his fifth attempt.
Kurt Roberts was the runner-up with his distance of 21.23m (69-8 ft.) on his second attempt while 2012 downtown shot put champion Reese Hoffa finished third by reaching 20.96m (68-9.25 ft.) on his third and final attempt of the night.
Women’s Pole Vault
Rice’s Mckenzie Johnson had never been to the state of Kansas before, but she came away with a great first impression after claiming victory in the women’s pole vault at the 87th annual Kansas Relays. After starting her first attempt with two fails at clearing 3.65 meters (11-11.75 ft.), the Owl sophomore knew she had to focus on the details for a successful vault, and that she did. Johnson did not miss her following her third attempt over the bar at 3.65 meters, 3.80 meters (12-5.5 ft.), and 3.95 meters (12-11.5 ft.), respectively.
Johnson took the top spot in the women’s pole vault event after flawlessly clearing 3.95 meters in one attempt, while second place went to former Kansas vaulter Natalia Bartnovskaya (now competing unattached) who needed two attempts to clear 3.95 meters.
Kansas junior Jamie House finished in sixth place with her top clearance of 3.80 meters (12-5.5 ft.) while fellow Jayhawk, senior Abby Row, finished tied for 17th (3.50 meters/11-5.75 ft.).
Women’s High Jump
With a winning height of 1.74 meters (5-8.5 ft.), St. Louis University senior Naya Owusu claimed the women’s high jump title at the 87th Kansas Relays on a beautiful, sunny spring afternoon in Lawrence. After clinching the victory at 1.74 meters with an attempt remaining, Owusu tried to attain a personal-best mark of 1.77 meters (5-9.75 ft.) to no avail.
An Overland Park native, Owusu was beaming after locking in her victory. “I’m from Kansas and I’ve been to this meet since I was in high school [at Blue Valley Northwest], so it’s a big deal to me to be the Kansas Relays Champion,” exclaimed Owusu.
The Billiken cleanly cleared the 1.74-meter bar (5-8.5 ft.) that the rest of the field could not. Behind Owusu, eight women ended at the 1.69 meters height. After misses were calculated in, Kansas junior Colleen O’Brien claimed second place in the standings while junior Jayhawk Lindsay Vollmer tied for third and Grace Pickell, a KU freshman, finished fifth.
Women’s Triple Jump
In the middle of a day that featured tight competition in many events, the women’s triple jump was the exception. Nebraska junior Ellie Ewere produced the farthest jump of the afternoon at 12.80 meters on her second attempt, a significant lead over the second-place performer, another NU competitor, sophomore Mollie Gribbin's 12.64 meters.
Warming up prior to each attempt down the runway, Ewere’s meticulous, drawn-out approach to her jumps built up the anticipation in the crowd, which was one of the factors Ewere claimed led to her successful day in the pits.
“I usually run through my mind every phase that goes in to the triple jump and then apply that when I’m actually jumping,” explained Ewere.
As the competition wore on, the winds picked up in west Lawrence, resulting in shorter marks than the earlier attempts and thus clinching the victory for Ewere.
Men’s Triple Jump
In the midst of the track events on Friday afternoon, the men’s triple jump participants put on a show from the field for the fans packed into Rock Chalk Park. The biggest crowd pleaser was Iowa Western Community College sophomore Latario Collie-Minns, who registered a winning distance of 16.91 meters (55-5.75 ft.) on his second attempt.
Feeling confident with his lead over the other 14 men competing, Collie-Minns passed on his final three attempts. Joshua Honeycutt (unattached) came through in the clutch and registered 16.38 meters (53-9 ft.) on his last attempt, pushing him into second place. Rounding out the top-three was Latario’s brother, Lathone Collie-Minns, also a sophomore at Iowa Western CC, with a distance of 15.87 meters (52-0.75 ft.).
Ashley Gaston of Southern Illinois was the winner in the women’s discus Friday afternoon as she topped all of the participants with her winning mark of 52.84 meters (173-4 ft.). Gaston briefly took the event lead in the second flight of prelims as she threw 50.08 meters (164-4 ft.) on her second attempt.
Anastasiya Muchkayev of Kansas bettered Gaston in the third round of throws in the prelims with her mark of 51.46 meters (168-10 ft.). Once in the finals, Muchkayev maintained the lead over Gaston until the pair’s fifth round of throws. Gaston unleashed her winning distance of 52.84 meters (173-4 ft.), which also set a new personal best. Muchkayev was unable to top Gaston on each of her final two attempts and Gaston took home the 2014 Kansas Relays title.
Nebraska senior Chad Wright claimed the Kansas Relays men’s discus title Friday evening at Memorial Stadium as he bested 18 other competitors in the field with his top throw of 60.32 meters (197-11 ft.). The 2012 national champion in the event led throughout his preliminary round as well as the finals. Wright threw his winning distance of 60.32 in the first round of the finals and never had to worry about having to top it.
Action will kick off on the final day of the 87th Kansas Relays with the high school sprint medley relays at 8 a.m. The collegiate events are slated to begin at 1:30 p.m. with the 4x100-meter relays and conclude at 3:26 p.m. with the 4x400-meter relays.
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas women’s distance medley team rewrote an 11-year-old meet record as the Jayhawk track & field team competed on day three of the Kansas Relays inside Rock Chalk Park. A host of Jayhawks also took part in preliminary action Friday and qualified for a total of 14 spots in Saturday’s finals on the track.
The women’s distance medley team entered Friday looking to regain its dominance in the event at the Kansas Relays after Michigan snapped the Jayhawks’ three-year winning streak in 2013. The quartet of Hannah Richardson, Whitney Adams, Rhavean King and Natalie Becker not only got their school back in the winner’s circle, they managed to edit a record in the process.
The race kicked off with a blazing 1,200 meters by the sophomore Richardson, who gave her team a healthy lead through the first leg with her 3:25.16 split. Adams, a freshman, extended her squad’s lead by tackling the 400-meter stretch of the race in 54.96. King and Becker then only needed to coast home on the final two legs, as King’s 800-meter split of 2:14.80 and Becker’s 1,600-meter leg of 4:56.31 checked the Jayhawks in at 11:31.21.
Kansas’ time upended Michigan’s previous meet record of 11:32.61 and was the fourth-fastest outdoor distance medley in school history.
The Jayhawks’ men’s distance medley group followed their female counterparts’ lead by picking up a victory of their own in the event. Brendan Soucie, Dominique Manley, Dalen Fink and Reid Buchanan met little resistance from their competition throughout the 4,000-meter race. The group passed the baton around in 9:59.52 to pick up KU’s fourth-consecutive DMR victory at the Kansas Relays.
In the field the Jayhawks saw some standout performances. In the men’s discus, freshman Mitchell Cooper turned in the best mark of his young career on his fifth attempt of the day. The Australian unwound for a toss of 54.16 meters (177’8”), a mark which eventually earned him a third-place finish. Cooper’s throw was the furthest by a Jayhawk this season, ranks him sixth in the Big 12 and puts him just outside the top-50 of the most recent NCAA rankings.
On the women’s side, Anastasiya Muchkayev also wound up taking third in her discus competition. The sophomore posted a season-best mark of 51.46 meters (168’10”) on her third trip into the throws ring, a toss that kept her in the lead for the next two rounds of throws. Muchkayev’s mark was unable to keep her atop the leaderboard as Southern Illinois’ Ashley Gaston and Erica Brand (Unattached) surpassed the Jayhawk, both on their fifth attempts. Muchkayev’s toss still managed to move her up to eighth on this season’s Big 12 performance list and to 23rd on the NCAA West Regional chart.
It was preliminary day on the track as many Jayhawk student-athletes looked to advance and compete one more time in their brand-new home facility. Kansas saw Jayhawks post the fastest qualifying times in four events. Sophomore Tianna Valentine was the fastest in the 100-meter semis as she clocked in with a personal-best 11.62, just .04 seconds ahead of freshman teammate Zainab Sanni, who qualified with the second-fastest time in 11.64.
Junior Michael Stigler made a strong impression in his first 400-meter hurdle race on the Rock Chalk Park track. The Canyon, Texas native posted the best time of the prelims to earn a spot to Saturday’s final after clocking in at 51.32.
Stigler then helped the 4x100-meter relay to a win in its semifinal race. The 4x100-meter team of Shawn Smith, Jaimie Wilson, Stigler and DeMario Johnson posted one of the fastest times in school history, getting the baton around the oval in a blazing 40.06 seconds, which ranks the group as the No. 3 relay in Kansas history.
The 4x400-meter squad of Johnson, Manley, Kenneth McCuin and Wilson combined for a prelim time of 3:12.48 to earn the top spot in Saturday’s final, more than a second ahead of second-place Nebraska.
Following Friday’s preliminary races, Jayhawks will compete in 19 of the 20 Saturday finals on the track and will be joined by an additional 25 Kansas student-athletes slated to compete in Saturday field events. Collegiate action will kick off at 1:30 p.m. on the track and the in the field with the 4x100-meter relay finals as well as the men’s and women’s shot put, the men’s high jump, the women’s javelin, the men’s pole vault and the men’s and women’s long jumps. All the collegiate events from the fourth day of competition at Rock Chalk Park will be televised on the Jayhawk Television Network and ESPN3 starting at 1:30 p.m. Fans can also follow along during final day of the 87th Kansas Relays by following on Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack.