Neelly PR Highlights Day One of NCAA Championships

– Freshman Brett Neelly's scoring performance in the men’s shot put highlighted an all-around strong effort on the first day of the NCAA Championships in front of 9,201 fans at Hayward Field on Wednesday. 

“All-in-all, the day was not bad,” head coach Cliff Rovelto said about the first day of competition. “I think we did some pretty good things today”

Neelly reached the finals in his first ever NCAA Championships in impressive fashion, exploding out of the gate with a personal best throw of 19.16m/62-10.50 on his first attempt. He then held on over his final five attempts to not only secure a point for the team, but also earn First Team All-American honors in the event. 

His finish made him the first K-State shot putter to score at NCAAs since Andrew Gillam, who holds the school record in the event, finished in seventh place at the 1985 NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas. 

“Brett had a personal best and to score as a true freshman is pretty big stuff,” Rovelto said about Neelly. “That was pretty spectacular. It only translated into one point, but it is still spectacular.”

Fellow NCAA debutants Tyler Merkley and Brady Grunder, who entered the meet ranked 22nd and 24th in the hammer throw, opened the meet for the Wildcats, finishing in 21st and 22nd place, respectively. Both earned Honorable Mention All-American honors. 

Despite fouling on his first attempt, Merkley recorded his top mark of 62.09m/203-08 on his second throw. Grunder improved on his first attempt of 61.28m/201-00 with his final mark of 61.68m/202-04 on his second attempt. The mark is the junior’s third best throw of the season. 

“The hammer guys basically threw what they threw to get here,” Rovelto said. “Brady probably threw a little bit better than he has in the last couple of weeks. Tyler was probably ready to throw a little bit farther, but being a true freshman, he was probably a little excited.”

On the track, sophomore Terrell Smith improved on last season’s 21st-place finish in the men’s 200 meter dash at NCAAs, taking 17th place in the event this year with a time of 20.89 (-0.2). His finish earned him Honorable Mention All-American honors for the second-straight season. 

“What Terrell ran in lane one is honestly not all that bad of a time,” Rovelto noted about his sophomore sprinter. “It is unfortunate that he was in lane one, but that is just the luck of the draw and the way that it worked out.”

Competition resumes on Thursday at 4 p.m. CT when Sara Savatovic and Janee' Kassanavoid compete in the women’s hammer throw. Fans will be able to watch the meet live starting at 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU and then on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. CT. 

For more information on the NCAA Championships, including results, heats sheets and the meet schedule, visit the meet home page by clicking here. Live results for the meet can be found by following @kstate_gameday on Twitter or by tuning into the live results here

For the latest on K-State track and field, follow @kstatesports and @KStateTFXC on Twitter using the hashtag #KStateTF or on the team’s Facebook page. 

NCAA Championships
Hayward Field
Eugene, Ore.

Men’s 200 Meter Dash Semifinals
17. Terrell Smith – 20.89 (-0.2)

Men’s Shot Put
8. Brett Neelly - 19.16m/62-10.50 (PR)

Men’s Hammer Throw
21. Tyler Merkley – 62.09m/203-08
22. Brady Grunder – 61.68m/202-04