As professional, college and high school athletes flock to Lawrence for the 92nd Kansas Relays, Jayhawks past and present figure to stand out throughout the four-day meet at Rock Chalk Park.
Some of the KU track program’s most recently successful runners, jumpers and throwers will be back, complementing the current rosters.
Riding a 10-race winning streak in the 800-meter run into KU’s signature home meet, junior Bryce Hoppel explained why this week stands out for those who wear crimson and blue.
“Rock Chalk Park is an incredible facility,” Hoppel, the 2019 NCAA indoor track and field 800 champion said of the venue that has hosted the relays since 2014. “It’s home to the Jayhawks, so naturally it’s one of the best places in the world to run. I have the opportunity to train throughout the season there, but it being the host of the Kansas Relays makes it feel all the more special this time of year.”
A senior middle distance runner, Nicole Montgomery echoed those thoughts, saying the meet always means a lot to the Jayhawks.
“I really like the history behind the relays. And being able to host such a great event at our own track with people of all ages competing is so much fun to watch,” Montgomery said. “All the food trucks outside and just the scenery around it is amazing.”
As Montgomery referenced, KU officials plan to have food trucks parked north of the track on Friday and Saturday, along with a setup nearby for a beer garden. There will also be another area for entertaining children.
The Kansas Relays begin Wednesday morning with college decathlon and heptathlon events.
Some college track and field events will accompany the decathlon and heptathlon on Thursday, before the schedule really picks up on Friday, with high school, college and professional athletes competing throughout the day.
While the relays won’t include team scoring this year, an addition is coming with a couple of masters events — the 800 and the mile — for athletes who are 35 or older.
Meanwhile, the most recognizable competitors in attendance will be the former KU athletes who are scheduled to be back for the meet. The following is a list of standouts slated for competition at the Kansas Relays.
• Sharon Lokedi: The 2018 NCAA outdoor national champion in the 10,000, Lokedi possesses five KU women’s track records. She is scheduled to compete in the 1,500.
• Andrea Geubelle: Three times an NCAA champion at KU and a 2016 Olympian with the U.S., Geubelle holds three of KU’s all-time records. She will make her outdoor season debut in the long jump.
• Mason Finley: A 2016 Olympian, as well as a four-time All-American and three-time Big 12 champ, Finley will throw the discus at KU this week.
• Sydney Conley: A five-time All-American at KU, Conley will sprint in the 100 and 200 races.
• Michael Stigler: KU’s 2015 NCAA champion in the 400 hurdles, Stigler won six Big 12 championships and six All-America honors as a collegian. Stigler will race in the 200 and 4x400 relay during his return to Lawrence.
• Kyle Clemons: A gold medalist as a member of the U.S.’s 4x400 relay team at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Clemons will race in the 400 this week. He also won a pair of Big 12 titles while at Kansas and was a six-time All-American.
• Jessica Maroszek: Twice a Big 12 champion and a three-time All-American in the discus, Maroszek will compete in her signature event at the relays.
• Nick Meyer, Nick Maestretti and Jake Albright: Three former KU pole vaulters will compete.
• Zainab Sanni: A recent KU graduate, Sanni will sprint in the 100 and 200.