COURTESY: KU Sports Information
EUGENE, Ore. – Sophomore Lindsay Vollmer made Kansas track & field history Friday as she became the first Jayhawk female to earn an individual outdoor title, claiming the NCAA heptathlon title at the NCAA Outdoor Championships inside Hayward Field. Vollmer’s win, coupled with runner-up performances by senior Andrea Geubelle and junior Natalia Bartnovskaya, give the women’s team the overall lead heading into the final day of competition with 48 points, 15 points ahead of second-place Oregon.
“This feels unbelievable,” said Vollmer following her heptathlon victory. “I never imagined I would be accomplishing something like this so early in my career. I’ve had such great support from my teammates, coaches and family. This is as much theirs as it is mine. It was just an all-around amazing day.”
Vollmer entered the second day of heptathlon competition sitting in third-place in the point standings, but used three career bests in the final three events to propel herself to the event title. With optimal weather conditions inside historic Hayward Field, Vollmer put the finishing touches on one of the top heptathlon performances in NCAA Championship history. After amassing a total of 3,569 points on day one, she began her second day with a top leap in the long jump of 6.16 meters (20’2.5”), to down her previous best by nearly four inches and add 899 points to her total.
In the heptathlon’s sixth event, the javelin, Vollmer again wowed the Hayward Field crowd with a heave of 46.18 meters (151’6”) on her third and final attempt. She bested the rest of the heptathlon field by nearly five feet in the event and moved into the overall lead with one obstacle remaining, the 800 meters.
In the 800 meters, Vollmer again posted an enormous personal best, completing the two laps in 2:19.36. The time earned her the final 832 points of the competition and was just enough to outpace Arkansas’ Makeba Alcide in the final standings by 36 points.
Vollmer’s final score of 6,086 made her the No. 10 performer in NCAA history and was the ninth time in NCAA Championship history a female as broken the 6,000-point barrier. She beat or tied her former lifetime bests in six of the seven events to down her previous heptathlon personal record by more than 400 points. She also erased Candace Mason’s 1999 school record of 5,674 points.
Vollmer’s victory made her a first team All-American in the event for the first time in her career and added 10 points to her team’s overall total.
The Jayhawk women saw two other runner-up finishes, both by reigning indoor national champions, Friday afternoon to increase their lead in the team standings. Bartnovskaya again proved her mettle in the pole vault as she cleared her first four bars without a foul. The event came down to the Jayhawk and two other competitors, each trying to clear 4.45 meters (14’7.25”), which only South Dakota’s Bethany Buell was able to accomplish.
Even though she was unable to defend her indoor title, Bartnovskaya managed to salvage the second-place finish and achieve first team All-America status for the first time in her NCAA Division I career. Her day’s top clearance of 4.40 meters (14’5.25”) now gives her the top-three heights in school history and added eight points to Kansas’ team total.
Geubelle returned to the Hayward Field runway after posting a silver-medal performance in the long jump Wednesday and had high hopes in snagging the top podium spot in the triple jump Friday. The senior out of University Place, Wash., started the day well with a leap of 13.63 meters (44’8.75”) on her first attempt. The mark moved her up to second-place, where she remained as she entered the finals. The 11-time All-American could not improve on her opening round mark with her final three jumps, falling to eventual winner Shanieka Thomas of San Diego State.
Geubelle’s runner-up finish was the best ever by a Kansas female and gave her the fourth first team All-America honor in the triple jump of her heralded collegiate career. She was also able to add Kansas’ final eight points of the day, to bring KU’s three day total to 48 points with just eight events remaining. Geubelle’s 16 points during the championship meet are the most ever by a Kansas female.
On the men’s side, sophomore Michael Stigler turned in the best-performance ever by a Kansas 400-meter hurdler, posting a new personal best and school record en route to a runner-up finish in the event final. The Canyon, Texas native held his own in a race in which he was the youngest competitor. Stigler was in a close battle for second as he rounded the final curve, but used his signature strong closing kick to pull away from the field and take the second-place finish easily in a career-best and school record 49.19.
Stigler, who earned first team All-America honors in the event for the second-straight year, ran to the highest NCAA finish by a Jayhawk in the 400-meter hurdles and the best since Cliff Cushman won the 440-yard hurdles in 1960. Stigler is now the No. 19 400-meter hurdler in the world this year.
Fellow sophomore Jonathan Miller took part in his first NCAA discus event later in the afternoon. The Tribune, Kan., product hit a top mark of 52.93 meters (173’8”) on his second attempt of the day. The mark was not able to advance Miller to the final but notched him a 22nd-place finish and honorable mention All-America honors in the event.
The Kansas women have three scoring opportunities on the meet’s final day Saturday, with the Jayhawks’ 4×100-meter relay starting things off at 2:05 p.m. (4:05 CT). Paris Daniels will take the track at 2:43 p.m. (4:43 CT) for the 200-meter final before KU competes in the final event of the week, the 4×400-meter relay at 3:43 p.m. (5:43 CT). Log on to KUAthletics.com to follow the Jayhawks as they chase the program’s first NCAA title with live updates coming throughout the day via @KUTrack.