Egor Agafonov, Zlata Tarasova and Kate Sultanova – two weight throwers and a pole vaulter – will compete at the 2008 New Balance Collegiate Invitational indoor track meet at the Armory in New York Feb. 8-9. All are Russian athletes competing for the Kansas University team. The Jayhawks, coached by Stanley Redwine, are competing in the meet for the first time.
Agafonov is the reigning NCAA champion in the men’s weight; he has a best of 77-5 ¼, his winning distance at last year’s NCAA meet. That also set the Russian national record in the event. Agafonov is an economics major from Togliatti.
Among his challengers in February will be Brook Antonio of South Carolina (67-8 ¾); two throwers from Kentucky, Rashaud Scott (64-10 ¾) and Andy Fryman (63-7); Alex Pessala of Princeton (63-2), and freshman Walter Henning of North Carolina (62-1). Henning, from Long Island, set the national high school record at the Armory last winter.
The favorite in the women’s weight is Veronica Jatsek of Ohio State, who has thrown 68-5 ¾. Jatsek was Big 10 champion last year in the hammer.
Tarasova, another of the KU Russians, has a best of 62-1 ¾. Tarasova, who like her teammate Agafonov hails from Togliatti, was Big 12 hammer champion last spring.
Other contenders in the women’s weight are Ashley Harbin of Lafayette (63-4) and Caressa Sims of Portland State (62-10 ¾).
Sultanova competes in the pole vault for KU and has a best of 14-1 ¼. She is a 23-year-old student from Krasnodar. The other 14-footer in the field is Tiffany Maskulinski of Buffalo. Maskulinski accomplished that in high school in upstate New York in 2005. She is returning to competition after a year at Washington State University and a year off.
The University of Arkansas brings its usual stable of formidable vaulters, led by Stephanie Irwin, Katie Stripling and Tara Diebold. Stripling opened this indoor season with a lifetime-best 13-8 ½.
The men’s vault is also led by a Kansas Jayhawk, Jordan Scott, the Big 12 champion with a best of 18-2 ½. The other 18-footers in the field are Rory Quiller, a senior at Binghamton University, and Chip Heuser of Oklahoma. Quiller was NCAA indoor runnerup last winter for Binghamton, located in the Southern Tier section of New York State. He has a best of 18-1, Heuser 18-0 ½.
Also in the men’s vault field are the two leading prep vaulters indoors in the nation last year, Maston Wallace (17-5), now at Texas, and Spencer McCorkel (17-9), Arkansas; the NCAA Division III national champion, Kevin Clark (17-0 ½) of Elizabethtown (Pa.), and a trio of good vaulters from BYU, Whitney Neves (17-7 ¾), Matt Weirich (17-5 ¾) and Bob Low (17-4 ½).