KU senior Rylee Anderson takes high jump at Kansas Relays, several other Jayhawks claim top spots as well

Kansas senior Rylee Anderson competes in high jump during the 100th Kansas Relays on Friday, April 14, 2023.

After competing in the Kansas Relays as a freshman in 2019, Rylee Anderson always just assumed the iconic meet would be a regular part of her college experience.

Four years later, the KU senior finally got back there, winning the high jump on Friday to bookend her KU career with wonderful Kansas Relays memories.

Anderson also won the event in 2019, clearing 1.75 meters that year and 1.83 (6 feet) on Friday. After watching a dozen or so other competitors build up to their desired heights, Anderson entered the competition by clearing 1.78 meters on her first try and 1.83 meters on her first try after that.

Those clean jumps wound up being the difference. Wichita State sophomore Destiny Masters also cleared 1.83 meters, but she needed two tries to do it and the extra miss gave Anderson the win after both finalists missed all three of their attempts at 1.87.

Had Anderson cleared that final height, it would have been a new personal best in outdoor competition. Her current best on the outdoor circuit is 1.86 meters, which she set a week ago. Her best indoor jump cleared 1.9 meters.

Despite narrowly missing a new outdoor record, Anderson left the pit pleased with her victory.

“It was definitely a lot of fun,” she said after stepping off the medal podium. “When we were practicing out here and they were setting everything up, that made it even more fun. … Being able to close out my fifth year and compete at the Kansas Relays is really special.”

Ranked as the No. 2 female high jumper in the NCAA, Anderson has her sights set on the top spot and six meets remaining to run it down, including the Big 12 outdoor championships, regionals and nationals next month.

“I usually set my goals pretty high,” Anderson said. “And, this year, I wanted to be top 3 at nationals. Then, during the indoor season when I started doing really well, I thought, ‘Wow, I can really do this.’ I definitely surprised myself with how fast I improved.”

The nation’s No. 1-ranked female high jumper is Georgia sophomore Elena Kulichenko. Anderson also likely will have to contend with Texas A&M senior Lamara Distin, who has won three consecutive NCAA Division I high jump titles — two indoor and one outdoor — with a top jump in that span of 1.95 meters, which came at last year’s outdoor championships.

Anderson said her goal for the next six weeks is to continue to fine-tune her approach, hoping to quicken her steps leading into her approach for better explosion and to be less vulnerable to tailwinds.

Her coach, KU’s Stanley Redwine believes anything is possible for the Colorado native, and he’s confident she’ll put in the work required to achieve her goals.

“It’s just a matter of time. She’s doing the things she needs to do in order to be great,” Redwine said. “Team leader, team captain; I can’t say enough good things about Rylee. She’s just been a pure example of what success needs to be.”

In other Kansas Relays action for the Jayhawks this weekend:

• KU sophomore discus thrower Dimitrios Pavlidis threw a personal best and school-record mark of 64.9 meters on his third attempt on Friday. Pavlidis’ previous personal best was 59.73. Not only was his throw a KU record but it also marked a Greek national record. Former Jayhawk Mitchell Cooper previously held the KU record at 63.98 meters. Fellow Jayhawks Patrick Larrison (59.92) and Joseph Kieny (55.37) took second and fifth in the event.

• The KU men’s 4×800 squad of A.J. Green, Sawyer Schmidt, Tanner Talley and T.J. Robinson finished first overall in 7:35. On the women’s side, KU’s Addie Coppinger, Avryl Johnson, Elle Williams and Samantha Whittlesey took second place with a time of 9:12.70.

• KU’s Tori Thomas won the women’s shot put with a throw of 15.1 meters.

• In the women’s triple jump, Clare Fallon and Charli Foreman both hit new personal bests, while Saudia Heard secured second place overall in the event as the Jayhawks’ highest finisher.

• Jaden Patterson was the lone men’s representative in the triple jump, taking third place overall. Samantha Van Hoecke led the way for the women’s pole vault squad, taking second place overall by clearing 4.17 meters. Gabby Hoke was close behind, clearing 4.02 meters and placing third in the event.

• In Saturday’s 400 finals, KU’s Michael Joseph took first by improving on his qualifying time by nearly three full seconds. Grant Lockwood took second in 47.23 seconds, setting a new PR for the second day in a row.

• KU junior Cameron Wilmington won the 400-meter hurdles in 52.17 seconds while KU sophomore Addison Brooks (1:02.28) and senior Anna Siemens (1:03.36) took second and third on the women’s side of the event.


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