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Early KU results from Kansas Relays include pole-vault win, lots of 5K success

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Chance Parker/Journal-World photo

Kansas hosts the 100th Kansas Relays on Friday, April 14, 2023 at Rock Chalk Park.

Junior Avery Brooks’ victory in the women’s unseeded pole vault was the one of the biggest individual highlights of the day for the Kansas track and field team Thursday, as the Kansas Relays opened — after a two-hour delay to 2 p.m. — with a slate of all-collegiate action.

Brooks, a native of Georgetown, Texas, cleared 3.65 meters, beating out the next four competitors by a full 30 centimeters. She did not clear 3.80, which would have put her right up against her collegiate personal best of 3.81 (from her outdoor debut back in 2022), but still claimed first place all the same.

KU has all five of its remaining women’s pole vaulters — Erica Ellis, Gabby Hoke, Kade Joslin, Mason Meinershagen and Anna Vedral — in the invitational category at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The freshman Meinershagen has mustered the best finish of the five in her career, as she came in second at the indoor conference championships in February with a result of 4.45 meters.

KU also excelled in the women’s 5K race Thursday night. More than a third of the 35 competitors who completed the race (12, to be specific) and half of the top 10 either represented KU or were associated with KU but competed unattached.

A pair of these unattached runners, Kenadi Krueger and Tori Wingrove, claimed the top two spots with times of 16:41.96 and 16:59.99, respectively. Kenadi’s sister Olivia, a freshman, had the top performance among official KU runners at 17:31.73 (seventh place), while senior Makenna Anderson (17:33.73, eighth), freshman Eden Schwarz (17:36.24, ninth) and senior Caroline Horning (17:48.20, 11th) were close behind.

Another unattached Jayhawk, Augusta native Sawyer Schmidt, surged ahead of Ryan Heline of Saint Mary late to win the men’s 5K with a time of 14:44.38. Still another, Lenny Njoroge, finished in 10th at 15:25.65.

After Brooks’ success in the women’s unseeded pole vault, the Jayhawks did not come as close to victory on the men’s side, as Tayton Klein was the top finisher among three KU representatives (one unattached) in eighth place. The men’s pole vault elite competition is at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Oleg Klykov, who won last year’s men’s hammer throw at the Kansas Relays with a mark of 67.60 meters (at the time his personal best), settled for bronze this time around at 64.69. The winning mark for the event (from unattached, non-KU competitor Tanner Berg) was 71.12.

Sophomore Elle Williams finished in seventh (2:20.41) in the unseeded women’s 800 meters for the second year in a row. This time, she was closely followed by fellow sophomore Grace Cramblett, half a second behind in eighth place (2:20.98). On the men’s side, seniors Marcus Freeman Jr. and Lars Elsbernd came in 11th (1:57.42) and 13th (1:57.94).

The invitational 800-meter races will begin just before 1 p.m. Saturday.


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Early KU results from Kansas Relays include pole-vault win, lots of 5K success

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Written By Henry Greenstein

Henry is the sports editor at the Lawrence Journal-World and, and serves as the KU beat writer while managing day-to-day sports coverage. He previously worked as a sports reporter at The Bakersfield Californian and is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis (B.A., Linguistics) and Arizona State University (M.A., Sports Journalism). Though a native of Los Angeles, he has frequently been told he does not give off “California vibes,” whatever that means.

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