LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas track & field teams combined for 15 event victories including eight of 19 events on the women's side as the Jayhawks kicked off 2017 at the Bill Easton Classic Friday inside Anschutz Pavilion. Both the men's and women's teams displayed their balance on the track and in the field with athletes in both event areas moving up the NCAA ranks, including a trio of Jayhawk vaulters as well as a pair of KU relay squads that leaped to the top of the early-season national charts.
PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY
The KU men's pole vaulters further made the case that the Jayhawks boast one of the deepest vault squads in the nation Friday as four Crimson and Blue clad jumpers finished the day sitting inside the top-five of the NCAA rankings.
Seniors Nick Maestretti, Nick Meyer, Jake Albright and sophomore Paulo Benavides continued the KU vaulters' recent dominance in meets held inside Anschutz Pavilion as Kansas again saw one of its vaulters claim the top collegiate finish. Maestretti, who ended the competition with the top collegiate finish, was the only Jayhawk not to turn in an indoor personal best on the night. The Minden, Nevada native was perfect through his first three bars of the competition before needing all three tries to get over 5.24 meters (17-2¼). He then topped the bar set at 5.34 meters (17-6¼) on his first attempt, a feat that would eventually earn him the runner-up finish.
Benavides and Meyer were also able to conquer the 5.34 meter bar, but more misses at lower heights forced them to settle for third and fourth places, respectively.
The Jayhawk trio's performances have yet to be equaled by any DI pole vaulters this season, and have them ranked No. 1 on the national pole vault chart.
Albright, the Big 12's reigning Big 12 outdoor champion, was not far behind his teammates as he posted a fifth-place finish by way of his leap of 5.24 meters (17-2¼). As of Friday night, that mark has Albright along with his teammates sitting inside the top-five of the national rankings.
STANLEY SAID IT
"Barden did really well today. It was great to see him PR in both the long jump and triple jump. His strength level is really good right now. Coach (Wayne) Pate has done a great job with him to make sure that he's strong enough and that obviously showed today."
* Junior Barden Adams notched his second career victory in the long jump by way of a personal-best performance. Adams soared to a mark of 7.20 meters (23-7½) on his first trip down the runway to start his day at the top of the leaderboard. He only posted one additional fair attempt but his opening leap would prove to be enough to edge Wichita State's Jared Belardo by less than an inch. The career-best jump was also just five inches short of inserting Adams' name into the top-10 of KU's all-time indoor long jump list.
* Adams' stellar day didn't end there. Just minutes removed from his long jump win, the West Orange, New Jersey native collected his second gold of the day in impressive fashion. On his fourth attempt of the competition he hopped, skipped and jumped a distance of 15.60 meters (51-2¼), bettering his previous personal record by almost a foot. No other competitor managed to come within two feet of Adams as he wrapped up his second event title of the afternoon. His performance was also the best by a Jayhawk triple jumper since 2010 and moved him to No. 10 on KU's all-time triple jump chart.
The mark moved Adams to No. 2 in the early season NCAA triple jump ranks and first among Big 12 triple jumpers.
* The Jayhawk relay squads closed the night out on a high note as the women's distance medley and 4x400-meter relay squads, as well as the men's distance medley team, turned in winning performances. The women's distance medley group of Malika Baker, Molly Dean, Riley Cooney and Courtney Coppinger passed the baton around in a season-best 12:12.78, which has the foursome at No. 1 in the most recent NCAA ranks. The women's 4x400-meter team of Megan Linder, Whitney Adams, Nicole Montgomery and Daria Cook finished the mile race in 3:48.51, outpacing the group out of Kansas State by over five seconds.
The men's distance medley relay squad secured the final win of the day for the Jayhawk men with Dylan Hodgson, Adel Yoonis, Ethan Donley and Michael Melgares capturing the trophy. The Jayhawk quartet posted a time of 10:16.23, a mark that also has the Jayhawks atop the most recent national chart.
* Sophomore Emily Downey picked up the first individual indoor victory of her KU career with a runaway win in the 3,000 meters. The Overland Park, Kansas product completed her 15 laps in 10:21.58 to beat the rest of the field by nearly six seconds. Jayhawk senior Rachel Simon was the runner-up after she clocked in at 10:27.05.
* Hannah Dimmick also earned the first individual gold of her career, winning the women's mile in relatively easy fashion. The junior posted a personal-record time of 4:56.72, outpacing Kansas State's Morgan Wedekind by just under a second.
* For the second-straight outing to start her Jayhawk career, freshman Andrea Willis was the top collegiate finisher in the women's pole vault. Willis cleared the bar on all three of her trips down the runway, including her highest vault at 3.88 meters (12-8¾). She had thee solid tries at a new season-best bar of 4.03m (13-2½) but couldn't get over. However, she still managed to earn the top position on the podium.
* Dorie Dalzell was also a winner for the second-consecutive meet to start her junior year. The Sammamish, Washington native secured the 600-yard victory after holding off Barton County's Latoya Stewart at the tape. Dalzell crossed the finish in 1:24.89 to earn the win, just .10 seconds in front of Stewart.
* Senior Tianna Valentine was the first finisher in both 60-meter dash races she competed in Friday. The St. Louis product started her day by posting the fastest qualifying time in the event prelims, clocking in at 7.52. Two hours later she returned to the blocks and was able to post an even better time. In the final Valentine leaned across the finish in 7.48 to pick up the win, outpacing Barton County's Sabrina Mason by .15 seconds.
* In his first open 400-meter race of the season, junior Jaron Hartley turned in an impressive time as he collected his first-career individual victory in the event. Hartley completed his two laps around Bill Easton Track in 49.52, making him the only competitor in the 29-man field to break the 50-second barrier.
* The Jayhawks saw a 1-2 finish in the men's 1,000 meters as freshman Ethan Donley and junior Markeen Caine swept the top two spots on the podium. Donley came from behind to overtake his elder teammate in the last 200 meters to snare the win, crossing the finish in 2:32.58. Caine was not far behind as he secured the runner-up position via his time of 2:33.19.
* A KU freshman managed to hold off two of her senior teammates en route to a win in the 200 meters. Jedah Caldwell posted a winning time of 24.75 and out-leaned senior teammates Tianna Valentine, who finished second in 24.98, and Adriana Newell, who came in third with an indoor personal-best time of 25.15.
The Jayhawks will hit the road for the first time this season when they journey to Wichita, Kansas to take part in an intrastate battle against Kansas State and Wichita State in the triangular meet on Thursday, Jan. 12. Follow both the men's and women's teams as they try to take down their in-state rivals by following on Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack.
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