KU track athletes punch tickets to NCAA Outdoor Championships

photo by: Carter Gaskins/Special to the Journal-World

KU's Aaliyah Moore (9), Lona Latema (1) and Dorcas Kiptanui (10) run the invitational women's 1,500 meters at the Kansas Relays at Rock Chalk Park on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

The Kansas track and field team is sending 11 athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the second straight year after a slew of Jayhawks emerged from regional competition in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with top-12 finishes over the weekend.

They will represent the Jayhawks in Eugene, Oregon, from June 5-8.

Arkansas graduate transfer Yoveinny Mota, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, was the headliner, as she came in third in the women’s 100-meter hurdles at regionals while setting a school record at 12.66 seconds and reaching the Olympic qualifying standard in the process.

“Dreams are destined for those who wake up and work every day to achieve them,” Mota wrote in Spanish in a post on X on Thursday. “Today I have officially qualified for my first Olympic Games (Paris 2024) in which I will allow myself to continue a dream that is just beginning.”

Senior Chandler Gibbens excelled as usual in the long-distance runs, finishing second in the 5,000 meters with a time of 13:45.69, just behind New Mexico freshman Habtom Samuel. Gibbens also came in fourth in the 10,000 meters at 28:33.36, meaning he will compete in two separate events at nationals.

Reigning indoor and outdoor Big 12 Conference champion Devin Loudermilk, a junior from Howard, continued his hot streak in the high jump with a mark of 2.20 meters, matching the longest distance in regional competition and placing fourth overall.

Junior Clayton Simms cleared 5.42 meters in the pole vault and qualified, though the remaining members of KU’s formidable men’s pole vault squad fell short, including Luke Knipe, whose season-best mark of 5.32 wasn’t quite enough as he tied for 14th.

On the women’s side, Mason Meinershagen cleared 4.30 to earn her own spot, making her the lone freshman representing KU at nationals this season.

Sophomore Tayton Klein put up a season-best mark of his own in the men’s long jump, jumping 7.70 meters for 11th place and a spot in Eugene. Klein and Alexander Jung, KU’s Big 12 champion decathlete, will both be competing in the decathlon at NCAAs as well.

Junior Dimitrios Pavlidis threw the discus 60.69 meters to finish as runner-up and earn his place at nationals.

Redshirt junior Aaliyah Moore came in fifth with a personal-best, school-record showing of 2:02.50 in the women’s 800 meters.

Senior Lona Latema is headed back to nationals in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase after her time of 10:10.21 was good enough for sixth place.

In fact, Gibbens, Jung, Klein, Latema, Pavlidis and Simms all appeared at last year’s outdoor championships, meaning the Jayhawks have plenty of returning experience among this year’s contingent. Simms, who will be making his third appearance in total, was KU’s sole podium finisher last year at the outdoor championships when he came in fifth by clearing 5.60.

Junior Deshana Skeete was one of the closest among KU’s non-qualifiers and set a personal best in the women’s 400 meters but fell just short by finishing 13th overall; fellow junior Gabby Hoke also tied for 13th in the women’s pole vault.

photo by: KU Athletics

Kansas track and field long distance runner Chandler Gibbens competes at the 2023 Big 12 Track and Field Championships on Friday, May 12, 2023.

photo by: Missy Minear/Kansas Athletics

Devin Loudermilk during the Big 12 Championships in Norman, Okla., on Tuesday, May 13, 2023.

photo by: Carter Gaskins/Special to the Journal-World

KU’s Tayton Klein is excited about his jump in the men’s long jump competition at the Kansas Relays at Rock Chalk Park on Saturday, April 20, 2024.


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