Sydney Conley is not the most famous or accomplished athlete in her family. That might be her older brother, Mike, a point guard with the Memphis Grizzlies. Or it might be her father, Mike Conley Sr., an Olympic gold medalist in the triple jump at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
But Sydney Conley, a sophomore at Kansas, will hope to burnish her own athletic credentials this week in the long-jump competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Conley, the niece of KU track coach Stanley Redwine, finished second at the Big 12 meet and will attempt to improve on her 17th-place finish at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championship. She finished fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. in March.
Conley will be among a contingent of Kansas athletes in Eugene as the KU women return to the site of their NCAA Outdoor Championship last June. The Kansas women, ranked No. 14 in the latest NCAA rankings, won’t be defending their title this week; they won’t have the depth to make a run at the team points title.
But Redwine is hopeful his women’s program can continue its ascent and stay among the nation’s top programs.
“You never forget what got you there,” Redwine said earlier this spring. “It’s harder to stay there than it is to get there.
“I think it’s the coaches motivating the athletes and reminding them what it takes to be successful.”
Junior Lindsay Vollmer, the defending NCAA champion in the heptathlon, will try to become just the third woman since 2008 to successfully defend her title. Vollmer, a native of Hamilton, Mo., was a surprise winner last June, claiming the program’s first individual NCAA outdoor title with a personal-best score and school record 6,086 points in the heptathlon. Vollmer won’t surprise anybody this week.
Senior Jessica Maroszek, the Big 12 champion in the discus, will try to improve on her fourth-place finish at last year’s NCAA Outdoor meet. Maroszek owns nine of the top-10 discus throws in school history.
Senior sprinter Diamond Dixon, who claimed a relay gold at the 2012 London Olympics, didn’t qualify for the 400 meters, her signature event. But she will close out her decorated college career by competing in the 1,600-meter relay.
Stigler takes aim at title
One year ago, junior hurdler Michael Stigler came up just short in the 400 hurdles final, finishing runner-up with a personal-best time of 49.19. Now he’ll try to take care of some unfinished business on the same track in Eugene.
Stigler, who has Olympic aspirations, was won eight of his nine 400-meter hurdle races this season. He has also won 12 of his last 17 races against college athletes.