Team effort lifted KU to Big 12 title

05/07/2013 6:32 AM

05/07/2013 6:33 AM

Kansas sprinter Diamond Dixon owns a gold medal from the London Olympics for her participation on a relay team.

But Sunday, when Dixon helped the Jayhawks women win their first Big 12 championship for outdoor track, the feeling of satisfaction was just as strong.

“Winning the gold was special, but I wasn’t as close with that team as I am with these ladies,” said Dixon, who repeated as the 400 champion. “We made history, and when I look back years from now I will know I helped them get that banner.”

The Kansas triumph, by a 158-145 margin over runner-up Texas at the meet in Waco, Texas, was filled with individual heroes.

Sprinter Paris Daniels was chosen national track athlete of the week Monday after a weekend in which she scored 23 points with a victory in the 200, a second in the 100 and participation in the two winning relays.

Dixon collected 20 points, adding a fourth in the 200 to go along with her two relay titles.

Andrea Geubelle won her specialty, the triple jump, and took second to teammate Francine Simpson in the long jump. Simpson got fourth in the triple.

Lindsay Vollmer won the heptathlon, and Jessica Maroscek took the discus.

It was during Maroszek’s event that the team race tightened. Texas had closed to two points. But Maroszek took the lead on her first throw and set a school record on her third at 186 feet, 5 inches to never trail in the event. Teammate Anastasiya Muchkayev took fourth for five more points, and by the time the discus was over, the Jayhawks had restored a healthy lead.

“Competing on the infield you could see a lot of the events,” Maroszek said. “I knew it close, so when we got 10 points for the team and Anastasiya contributed five, that was huge.”

Kansas had the title clinched before capturing the meet’s final event, the 1,600-meter relay with Daniels, Dixon, Taylor Washington and Denesha Morris.

But the team aspect is what thrilled coach Stanley Redwine. Kansas got eight points from the 1,500, with a fourth-place finish by Hannah Richardson and Natalie Becker’s sixth-place. The Jayhawks didn’t win the pole vault, but got 20 points by four who placed.

In addition to the heptathlon, Vollmer finished fourth in the high jump.

“A total team effort,” Redwine said.

In all, 20 of the 30 athletes scored and Kansas won eight events.

Through it all a team pride washed over Geubelle, one of the nation’s top jumpers, who came to Kansas four years ago to improve her game. She’ll finish her Kansas career at the NCAA meet at Eugene, Ore., next month with a chance to own a team national title. The KU women finished second in the NCAA indoor meet earlier this year.

“Coming into college, I did track and field because it’s an individual sport and I didn’t have to rely on anybody else,” Geubelle said. “That was always my attitude, until last year.”

That’s when Kansas broke onto the national stage, placing fourth at the NCAA outdoor meet last year in Des Moines, Iowa, a finish that could have been higher except a relay team was disqualified and Geubelle’s apparent winning triple jump was taken down by protest and she finished third.

“This year I’ve thought about nothing but the team,” she said. “When you see people win you want to win.”

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