Kansas University's school year officially ended with commencement. You wouldn't know it, however, by all the activity at KU's Memorial Stadium the past week and a half.
A total of 29 members of KU's track teams have remained on campus to prepare for the initial NCAA Midwest Regional meet Friday and Saturday at Weir Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
Like many of his colleagues, KU coach Stanley Redwine is not a big fan of the new qualifying format.
"I'm not against the meet," Redwine said, "but if the purpose is to add more athletes to the NCAA championship, I think there's a better and cheaper way to do it. My choice would be just to add more people to the system you already have."
The top five finishers in each event and the top three in relays at regionals in the West, Midwest, Mideast and East will qualify for the NCAA Outdoor June 11-14 in Sacramento, Calif. In addition, six at-large berths in each event will go to athletes who fail to qualify at regionals. Those picks will be based on regular season performances.
About 1,100 athletes will compete at the NCAAs, 40 percent more than last year.
Under the old system, athletes had to attain qualifying times or marks during the regular season to advance.
"For most schools it adds on another two weeks of expenses for athletes because classes are over with," Redwine said. "It is on the schedule, and we are excited about it."
The Jayhawks, who are coming off sixth- (women) and ninth- (men) place finishes at the Big 12 Outdoor, have several athletes hoping to reach the NCAA Outdoor.
At the top of the list is junior Leo Bookman, the NCAA Indoor 200-meter champion who placed second at the Big 12 Outdoor in a personal-best 20.37.
"Anytime you have an NCAA champion you have to be extremely excited," Redwine said. "They come few and far between. He is a competitor. That is the key."
Freshman Benson Chesang and senior Benaud Shirley are coming off league victories in the 10,000 and triple jump. Sophomore Jeremy Mims was third in the 800.
On the women's side, freshman Abby Emsick is coming off an impressive second place in the discus at league. Thirds were nabbed by freshman Charisse Bacchus (long jump), freshman Yvonne Calzonetti (pole vault), junior Laura Lavoie (1,500) and the 1,600 relay team of Robbie Harriford, Stacy Keller, Shameika McField and Kim Clark which placed to a third-place clocking of 3:36.67, a school record.
|NCAA Midwest RegionalFriday-Saturday at Lincoln, Neb.WomenCharisse Bacchus (long jump); Yvonne Calzonetti (pole vault); Kim Clark (800); Abby Emsick (discus, shot put); Brooklyn Hann (100 hurdles, triple jump); Laura Lavoie (1,500); Megan Manthe (1,500); Shameika McField (400); Monique Peters (long jump); Sondra Rauterkus (high jump); Jamie Waters (hammer); 400 relay.MenLeo Bookman (200); Benson Chesang (5,000); Vadim Gvozdetskiy (pole vault); T.J. Hackler (high jump); Jeremy Hull (pole vault); Anson Jackson (110 hurdles); Mike Mehring (high jump); Mark Menefee (5,000); Jeremy Mims (800); Benaud Shirley (triple jump); Brett Terp (high jump); 400 relay team of Jackson, Mike Walker, Aaron Thompson, Bookman); 1,600 relay team of Ryan Nelson, Bookman, Mims, Luke Steinbrink).|