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Friday, May 29, 2015

Four Jayhawks advance to track and field championships

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— Four Kansas University track and field athletes secured their spots in the finals in their respective field events at the NCAA West Preliminary Thursday, while an additional five Jayhawks extended their weekends in Austin by moving on to quarterfinal races on the track.

Junior Daina Levy set a personal best in the hammer throw en route to turning in the top qualifying mark. Junior Sydney Conley qualified for her third NCAA final after she took third in the long jump.

On Levy’s second throw, the junior unleashed a toss of 69.01 meters (226’5”) which surpassed her previous career best by nearly 10 feet. None of the other 47 in the event managed to come within six feet of Levy, which earned her the top qualifying spot out of the West Region.

Levy’s throw was just one centimeter shy of Alena Krechyk’s three-year-old school record in the event. The toss is the second-farthest be a collegian this year and ranks Levy among the top-40 in the world in 2014.

She will have the opportunity to compete for her first national title in Eugene, Oregon on Thursday, June 11.

A pair of men’s throwers also earned passes to the NCAA championships for the first time. Sophomore Mitch Cooper and freshman Cole Ceban each turned in top-eight finishes in the discus to qualify for the national meet in two weeks. Cooper was the third overall qualifier after he turned in a top throw of 57.75 meters (189’5”). Ceban finished eighth overall with the help of his mark of 55.78 meters (183’0”).

Junior Sydney Conley made it look easy as she secured her spot at nationals in the long jump for the third time in as many tries. Conley needed only two attempts to punch her finals ticket, soaring to a mark of 6.48 meters (21’31⁄4”) on her first leap of the day.

Conley will now have the opportunity to earn All-America honors in the long jump for a fifth time at the national championship level.

A handful of Jayhawks also managed to advance to the next round in their respective events on the track.

Senior Michael Stigler began his march to a fourth-straight Nationals appearance in the 400-meter hurdles. He was the fastest qualifier out of the first round with his time of 49.72.

Senior Josh Munsch also moved on to the next round of the 1,500 meters. The Hays native earned an automatic spot into Saturday’s quarterfinal after finishing third in his heat with a time of 3:48.87.

Others advancing in Austin included senior Kenneth McCuin in the 400 meters (22nd, 47.07), junior Hannah Richardson in the 1,500 meters (4th, 4:22.16) and sophomore Zainab Sanni in the 100 meters (17th, 11.41).

The Jayhawks will return to Mike A. Myers Stadium today for day two of the NCAA West Preliminary.

Action will kick off for KU at noon, with juniors Daina Levy, Anastasiya Muchkayev, Dasha Tsema throwing in the women’s discus. Freshman Jaron Hartley will close out the day in the first round of the men’s 200 meters.

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