It’s a throwback track meet held in modern, million-dollar facility.
The 88th running of the Kansas Relays begins Wednesday at Rock Chalk Park (schedule here), the one-year-old home of the KU track programs. The meet, which includes high school and college competition, runs through Saturday. There is also a professional shot-put meet in downtown Lawrence on Friday night. The downtown shot-put meet, which is in its fifth year, is no longer an official part of the relays, but it’s become a staple of relays week.
As hundreds of high school and college track athletes descend on Lawrence, here are three story lines to watch:
1. The quadrangular battle
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For the first time in Kansas Relays history, the meet will feature a collegiate quadrangular competition, with Kansas, K-State, Colorado State and Purdue facing off in a format that will be scored similar to a Big 12 or NCAA meet. While some of the quadrangular events will be held early in the week, the majority of the competition will take place on Saturday at Rock Chalk Park.
2. Kansas’ Stigler finishing decorated career
Senior sprinter Michael Stigler, a three-time All-American, enters the KU Relays after having broke his own school record in the 400-meter hurdles while winning the Texas Relays for the third straight year. Stigler’s time (48.44 seconds) was the fastest by a collegian in nearly four years — and the top 400-meter hurdle time in the world this year. Stigler is still looking for an elusive outdoor NCAA title in the 400-meter hurdles. He has finished runner-up the last two years.
3. Downtown shot put
It is part shot-put event, part block party. For the fifth straight year, a downtown city block — Eighth Street, between Massachusetts and New Hampshire streets — will transform into a world-class shot-put event. Former Missouri star Christian Cantwell, ranked No. 6 in the world rankings, will be back, along with usual participants Reese Hoffa (No. 1), Ryan Whiting (No. 7) and Kurt Roberts (No. 10). The event is set to begin at 7 p.m.