The first event of the 2006 Kansas Relays figures to be one of the best.
The men's hammer throw, set for 11 a.m. Thursday outside Memorial Stadium, will feature new KU record holder Egor Agafonov, a sophomore from Togliatti, Russia, who shattered Scott Russell's record by more than 10 feet last weekend at the Mesa (Ariz.) Classic.
Agafonov's heave of 228-6 bettered Russell's 218-5 and is the third-best mark in the country this year.
Agafonov will compete against 2005 Big 12 Outdoor track performer of the year Sheldon Battle, the only athlete in KU history to rank in the top three on the school's all-time hammer, shot put and discus lists, as well as two-time Relays defending champion Nick Welihozkiy of Pac Bay Track Club.
"This is huge. You have a guy in Egor who is making international news with how he's throwing," meet director Tim Weaver said Monday. "One thing we talk about is, the Relays is a KU event. You've got two KU guys throwing against Nick, one of the best in the U.S. If you want to see raw athleticism up close and personal, be at the hammer Thursday."
Agafonov's record performance follows teammate Zlata Tarasova's setting the women's hammer mark (193-10) on April 14 at the Texas Relays. Tarasova, who like Agafonov hails from Togliatti, Russia, broke her own record over the weekend with a toss of 199-11. She will compete in the women's hammer at 3 p.m. Thursday.
"Both are exceptional athletes and very nice people," Weaver said of the duo, recruited by first-year KU throws coach Andy Kokhanovsky, who hails from Ukraine. "His connection got them here."