K-State Men Add Three More Signees

MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State Track and Field announced the signing of three additional student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2016 season. All signees for the men’s squad, the three newest additions make it 18 student-athletes total for the 2015 recruiting class – 11 for the men, seven for the women.

Bolstering the throws group will be Tyler Merkley, who excelled in the discus, shot put, as well as the hammer and weight throws at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California. On the track, the men added relay specialists in Nick Albus from Martin High School in Arlington, Texas, and Kurt Loevenstein from Mill Valley High School in Shawnee, Kansas.

Head coach Cliff Rovelto said the men’s class as a whole is rounding into solid form, with the relays and throws, in particular, being greatly enhanced.

“This is a good group,” Rovelto said. “These three we’ve added, we anticipate will help early on. And with other additions from this year’s class like Javon Patterson, who is a quality 800m guy and can run on the 4x4, and the throws signees are all good athletes - Mitchell Dixon and Tyler could be scorers right away. The sprinters in Devie Freeman will for sure make a big difference on the 4x4 and Jullane Walker is definitely a good jumper, but is also very fast, so he’ll run the 4x1 for sure.

“With the guys returning and the guys we’ve added, we feel like DMR indoors, 4x1 and 4x4 outdoors – all three of those relays are significantly better than what they were this year. And adding in the throws, it’s a good group. Hopefully we can add one or two more that continue to build off of this group.”

The Wildcats have kept busy throughout the year in adding new faces to the 2016 squad, signing eight student-athletes during the winter and seven more most recently announced this past May. More information on both groups can be found here and here, while further information on the three newest additions to the 2015 recruiting class can be found below.

NICK ALBUS | Martin HS | Sprint/Relays

Nick Albus joins the Wildcats from Martin High School in Arlington, Texas, where, along with track and field, he competed in cross country, football and soccer. He had tremendous success this past year running the second leg on the 4x100 squad, as that group won the UIL 6A state title, as well as the 4-6A District title, which continued a streak of now three-straight district titles. Individually, Albus has competed primarily in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, most notably qualifying for states this past year in the former and finishing seventh-overall in the event final. He holds a wind-legal personal best of 10.52 seconds in the 100m.

What Rovelto says…

“Nick is a short sprinter primarily – 100m, 200m – and ran on a very, very good high school relay team that ran some of the fastest times in the country. We think he is a quality athlete. With him, [Jullane Walker] and the guys returning from this year’s team – Terrell Smith, Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye and so forth – we feel like we could have a really good 4x100. A 4x100 that can run 39 seconds-low, if not faster. I don’t anticipate him running past the 100m or 200m individually, but we don’t know. We do know that he will greatly enhance the 4x100 for sure.”

KURT LOEVENSTEIN | Mill Valley HS | Mid-Distance/Relays

The second in-state recruit for the men this season, Kurt Loevenstein comes to K-State after a stellar career at Mill Valley High School. A native of Shawnee, Kansas, Loevenstein made a considerable leap this past year, helping the Jaguars to a program-best third-place finish at the 5A state meet, as well as Kaw Valley League and Regional titles. He had plenty of individual success, nabbing state titles in the 800-meter, 1600-meter, and as the anchor on the 3200-meter relay – the 800m title in particular made it back-to-back seasons Loevenstein has won the event. Setting school records in all three of the aforementioned events, Loevenstein also took home Kaw Valley League titles in the 800m and 1600m. For his efforts, which included state-best times for the 2015 season in the 800m (1:53.97) and 1600m (4:13.85), Loevenstein was named Athlete of the Year by the Lawrence Journal-World.  

What Rovelto says…

“Kurt is a middle distance guy. Coach [Ryun Godfrey] saw him run at [the Kansas Relays] and thought he really kind of stood out. He had some decent times, but more importantly we really liked the way he looked. And then he ran really well at the Shawnee Mission North Relays – ran very fast. So, we think he can be someone that could be a real fine addition right off the bat in the distance medley relay. Whether or not he can score at the conference level right away individually isn’t for sure – he definitely will eventually – but he is for sure going to make a difference on the DMR relay. He’ll contribute right away.”

TYLER MERKLEY | Los Osos HS | Throws

Rounding out the group is Tyler Merkley, a native of Alto Loma, California. Competing in multiple throws events at Los Osos High School, Merkley’s success has translated both at the high school level, as well as on the national level. In the latter, Merkley most notably competed as a member of Team USA at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, where he finished seventh in the discus. This season, Merkley nabbed the state title in the weight throw, as well as took home the Simplot Games title in the event – a meet that is considered one of the nation’s premier indoor high school meets, where over 2,000 athletes from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Australia all compete in Pocatello, Idaho.

Outdoors, Merkley has had notable success in the hammer, shot put and discus – he most recently nabbed top-five finishes in both the discus and shot outdoors. He won the 2014 state title in the hammer and is a three-time Baseline League champion in both the shot put and discus throw. Merkley earned numerous honors in 2015 for his stellar senior season, being named Baseline League Outstanding Scholar-Athlete, Los Osos Male Athlete of the Year and a MileSplit Indoor All-American. He finished the year with the fourth-best throws in the nation in both the weight (73-08.50) and hammer (225-07).
 
What Rovelto says…

“Tyler is a hammer thrower and we’ve felt like he is going to be a pretty good one. He will be going on a mission trip for a year following his freshman season, but we felt that he is good enough athlete to come in and probably score as a freshman, knowing that he may be gone for a year or two after that first year. My own personal philosophy on redshirting freshmen is that if you’re good, you’re good, and you can compete right away. Really the one exception to that tends to be the male throwers because the implements are so much heavier than they were in high school. We’ve redshirted a number of male throwers when they’ve first come in here, but coach [Greg Watson] thinks [Tyler] can come in and be a scorer right away.”