THIS WEEK: Olympic Gold Medalist Crouser and Stars Galore at Kansas Relays

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WATCH LIVE ON FLOTRACK, including high school events, Thursday April 20 through Saturday, April 22

The 90th annual Kansas Relays are back and you could easily argue that the event is better than ever.

Relays Director Milan Donley and his staff not only put together four days of exciting track and field, they are innovative in how they take track and field out to the rest of the community.


On Thursday, the second annual Street Pole Vault will take place at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Salty Iguana, located off the corner of 6th Street and Wakarusa on the west side of Lawrence. Entry is free to the public and seating is provided.


Ten of the greatest pole vaulters in the world - five men and five women - will compete with a tasty carrot attached: they will earn money for each height they clear.


The exhibition event features former University of Kansas standout Alex Bishop, the 2013 Big 12 indoor champion and two-time NCAA All American. But he'll have his hands full with a star-studded field that includes:


* Jack Whitt, the 2012 NCAA outdoor champion and member of the 2013 world championship team;

* Mark Hollis, a two time USA outdoor champion and past winner of the Millrose Games;

* Jeff Coover, a four-time NCAA All American; and

* Augusto Putra, a 2016 Olympian from Brazil.


The women's field is equally loaded with 2016 Brazilian Olympian Joanna Costa among the headliners. She's joined by:


* Mary Saxer, 2014 U.S. indoor champion;

* Kristen Hixon, a three time NCAA Division II champion;

* Kortney Ross, a college standout at San Diego State and Oregon; and

* Allison Koressel, a college standout at UCLA.


Click here for more information about the Street Pole Vault.


On Friday, Olympic Gold Medalist Ryan Crouser is the headliner in a field of stars that will compete in the Downtown Shot Put.


That event is set for a 6 p.m. start on 8th Street, between Massachusetts and New Hampshire in Lawrence. Entry is free to the public, and seating is provided.


The 24-year-old Crouser set the Olympic record of 73-10.75 in winning the gold at the Rio Olympics last summer. It was the 10th best shot put performance in the history of the event.


Crouser won two indoor and two outdoor NCAA championships in the shot put for the University of Texas.


The exhibition event features five of the top 25 shot put throwers in the world currently, including Canadian Olympian Tim Nedow; Nigerian Olympian Stephen Mozia; Kurt Roberts; and Ryan Whiting (a former NCAA indoor record holder). There are eight men who will compete on Friday.


The meet record in the Downtown Shot Put is 71-3.5, held by U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Reese Hoffa. This year's field has a great chance to better that mark.


Click here for more information about the Downtown Shot Put.


The exhibition events put even more bling into what is already a magnificent four days of track and field at Rock Chalk Park, located on the west side of Lawrence off of State Highway 10 and Sixth Street.


Rock Chalk Park is one of only five tracks on U.S. soil that is Class I Certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations. In other words, it is one of only five in the United States where the Olympics could be held.


That's exciting stuff for high school and college athletes alike, who get to run on a great track in a great environment and against great competition.


The action gets started on Wednesday at 10 a.m. with the men's decathlon, followed by the start of the women's heptathlon at 10:30 a.m. Those events conclude Thursday afternoon.


College and open field events begin Thursday morning at 10 a.m., and middle distance and distance events are Thursday evening for the college and open competitors.


The high school events get started in full force on Friday morning with field events, the 4 X Mile Relay, and prelims in many events. The Kansas Relays are one of the premier meets in the country for high school athletes; you can expect high schoolers from seven states to attend, and often will see performances that surpass the winning marks and times at next month's state meets.

Both the high schoolers and those in the college and open events wrap up competition by 4 p.m. on Saturday.


The University of Kansas is then hosting California, Minnesota and Southern Illinois in a scored invitational, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, that wraps up at about 9 p.m.


The University of Kansas is putting on a fireworks show after the last event.


One athlete fans may want to look for is Gleb Dudarev, a University of Kansas freshman who recently shattered the school record in the hammer throw with a heave of 238-6. At the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Ariz. last week, he had five throws that were better than the previous KU record.


He is currently the No. 1 ranked hammer thrower in the NCAA and No. 25 in the world. The hammer throw is not being contested at this meet, but Dudarev will participate in the scored invitational shot put, an event in which he was an NCAA All American in indoor track a month ago.

The Jayhawks also have the best group of pole vaulters in the country, including two in the top 4 of the most recent NCAA rankings. Senior Jake Albright and sophomore Hussain Al Hizam have both cleared 18-4.5 this season. Hizam's vault is the Saudi Arabian national record.

The women's 4 X 100 meter relay squad has been sizzling early in the season and sophomore Nicole Montgomery will be one to watch in the 400 meters. KU's middle distance and distance crews could be dominant, but Cal will be tough to beat in the distances.


Also, look for the Jayhawks' 4 X 400 relay to provide a fitting finish to the meet. The University of Kansas was the Big 12 outdoor champions in this event last year, with four guys routinely running between 46-47 seconds.


A full schedule of events, meet and ticket information, and live results are available online at