Kansas scored the first outdoor individual title for its women’s program Friday, and the Jayhawks look to make team history Saturday.
Lindsay Vollmer won the heptathlon in come-from-behind fashion, starting a big scoring day for Kansas, which finished the day with 48 points.
Hard-charging Oregon, its runners bolstered by a large home crowd in Eugene, scored big Friday and will take 33 team points into the final events.
Saturday, Kansas has three scoring opportunities, the two relays and Paris Daniels’ quest in the 200. The Jayhawks will need all the points they can accumulate to capture the first NCAA title in the program’s history.
Oregon has five scoring opportunities in the day’s eight events for women, but other schools with strong sprint teams like Texas A&M and LSU have as many or more and could make a final-day push.
If the championship comes down the final running event, the 4x400 meter relay, all of the meet’s contenders are entered with LSU and Texas A&M qualifying first and second, Oregon fourth and the Jayhawks seventh.
Vollmer got Kansas’ day started with an exclamation point.
She entered in third place after Thursday’s four events but roared through Friday’s disciplines, setting personal records in long jump, javelin and 800.
Heptathlon scoring is based on performance and not finish, but Vollmer had the third-best long jump and the top javelin throw among the competitors.
She needed to come close to matching her personal best in the final event, the 800 to hold her lead, and she did, finishing in the middle of the pack.
Vollmer, a sophomore from Hamilton, Mo., scored 6,086 points, holding off the event’s favorite, Makeba Alcide of Arkansas, the first-day leader who finished with 6,050. In setting personal bests in six of the seven events, Vollmer scored 442 higher than her previous best.
The triumph meant 10 big points for the Jayhawks, and they added to the total with a pair of second-place finishes, good for a total of 16 points.
Pole vaulter Natalia Bartnovskaya and triple jumper Andrea Guebelle were looking to add outdoor titles to their NCAA indoor championships.
Bartnovskaya would have won had South Dakota’s Bethany Buell missed on her final attempt at 14-51/4 but Buell cleared the height.
Missouri’s Katrine Haarklau took fifth at 14-31/4.
Guebelle soared 44-83/4 on her first attempt, and that held up for second after San Diego State’s Shanieka Thomas went 46-43/4 on her fourth try.
The men’s high jump provided one of the day’s best competitions. Kansas State’s Erik Kynard, the two-time defending champion and Olympic silver medalist, was the only jumper to clear every height through 7-7.
Indiana’s Derek Drouin missed on his first attempt at that height and passed on its next two. When Drouin missed on its first try at 7-8, he was down to his final jump. Miss, and Kynard would take another crown.
But Drouin cleared the bar, and Kynard missed all three attempts at 7-8. His second-place finished marked only the third time in 12 meets, indoors and outdoors, as a senior that Kynard hadn’t won.
Still, he exits college as one of the greatest track athletes in K-State history.
Saturday’s events also feature shot putter Kearsten Peoples, a Missouri sophomore from Ottawa, Kan., who finished sixth in the event as a freshman.
UMKC sophomore Courtney Frerichs is among the 12 finalists in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.