Jon Handy was as anxious as anyone to get back on the track in Kansas' indoor opener.
Handy came to KU from Kismet in 1989, bringing with him 10 Class 2A state track titles he won during his career at Southwestern Heights High.
He started the 1990 indoor season quickly as a member of the Jayhawks' then-record-holding indoor two-mile relay team and took sixth in the 800 at the Big Eight Indoor.
Then tendinitis put his collegiate career on ice. He missed the 1990 outdoor season. And the 1991 indoor season. And all but three meets of last year's outdoor campaign.
"It's been a long time since I've done much," Handy said.
He began the 1992 season by anchoring KU's A team, which also included Greg Leuenberger, Michael Cox and Ladd McClain, to victory in the two-mile relay at Saturday's Kansas Invitational at Anschutz Pavilion.
The A team finished in 7:51.58. Kansas' B team of Bobby Palmer, Brian Gray, Jim Derry and Bobby Palmer was second in 7:54.56.
THE ANKLE tendinitis that put Handy out of commission is gone. His desire to compete is not.
"It's a good motivator," he said. "When you're hurt, you don't feel like part of the team. You don't feel important. You don't feel like you're doing anything. I want to get out here and prove to myself I can still do this."
The two-mile relay Handy was a part of in 1990 earned all-American status without him last year, and that really hurt.
"They were all-Americans. At the beginning of the year, it was my goal to be with them," he said. "When they made it, I was really proud of them, but it was hard because I couldn't be with them. That was a motivating factor, too."
Cox, who was on that all-American squad, was just as motivated Saturday. He ran his leg of the two-mile relay in 1:52.
"THAT SURPRISED me," Cox said. "That's a good way to kick off the season."
Cox, a long-distance specialist who specializes individually in the 1,500 and 3,000, was running a wind sprint on his 800-meter leg of the relay.
"I'm used to running the longer stuff, so that goes by so quick for me," he said. "I went out a little fast, and luckily I was in good enough shape to hang on. That's not the best way to run it, but it worked out."
After a successful freshman year, Cox, from Hannibal, Mo., said he was even better prepared for his second campaign.
"This season I'm coming in in a lot better shape," he said. "Last year I didn't run enough over Christmas. This year I have a pretty good base. I feel good about this season."