Personal Successes Highlight Big 12 Championship Meet
Twenty-three athletes finished in the top five of their respective events, while five athletes traveled home with first-place medals.
"In terms of the team placing, we far surpassed what I thought we would do and, individually, there were a lot of really good performances," head coach Cliff Rovelto said. "It's really hard for me to find much of anything wrong; it was good."
"Good" just might be an understatement as K-State track and field student-athletes broke personal records and marked their names in Wildcat history over the weekend.
Before the season started, senior pentathlete Erica Twiss sat down and wrote a list of her goals. Among that list was a first-place finish in the Big 12's multi-event. Back then, a Big 12 title seemed nearly impossible, however after a season filled with breaking personal records and milestone markers, the talented athlete pulled off a victory in the pentathlon with a score of 4,074 - a career best.
"That was one of my goals coming in to the season - winning the Big 12," explained Twiss. "I have a lot of goals. Some might be kind of out of reach while other ones I know I can do, but that one was really, really tough and a challenge. When I found out I achieved it, I was overwhelmed with joy. It was an awesome feeling."
Along with her first-ever Big 12 title, Twiss was a part of K-State history as she and teammate Devin Dick became the first Wildcat duo to sweep the indoor competition's men's and women's combined events.
"Devin and I were talking about it before the meet, but neither of us really knew how significant doing that would be," Twiss said. "I finished the day before he did, so it was cool that I achieved it then got to see him put it all together, finish strong and get (first) also."
Also placing in the Big 12's multi events were sophomore Reinis Kregers and freshman Adam Deterding, who finished second and fifth, respectively, on the men's side, while senior Merryl Mbeng and junior Sarah Kolmer also placed in the top-five on the women's side with finishes of third and fifth, respectively.
"There's no words to describe it - it's awesome," Dick said about sweeping the multi events. "It just shows the power of the K-State multi events, and that's not even just Erica and me winning it, but having two other multis place in the men's and two other multis place in the women's. That just shows the strength that Coach Rovelto has built in this program."
Dick's 5,603 points after winning four of the seven events were a personal best, and moved him to fourth-place in school history in the heptathlon.
"At the time it really didn't hit me because everything I had done that day, I was out of the mindset," explained Dick. "But looking back at it now, it's just a great accomplishment."
Also overcoming odds this season was sophomore weight thrower Sara Savatovic. Savatovic's throw of 19.29 meters (63-03.50) was good enough to capture her first Big 12 indoor title - K-State's first Big 12 title in the weight throw since 2009.
A native of Crvenka, Serbia, Savatovic's main focus is the outdoor hammer throw, while the weight throw is an event she began only a year ago in the 2013 indoor season.
"At the beginning of the season I didn't expect this much because the weight throw was something new to me," explained Savatovic, who placed eighth in the event in last year's Big 12 Indoor meet. "I just wanted to throw as far as I could, and then as the season went on, I was thinking about winning the championship. It was pretty dramatic. I had personal fouls, I had to throw better and better and better to win, but somehow I did it on my last attempt and won. It was a good feeling."
Also seeing his fair share of success, senior Jharyl Bowry won his second-straight conference title in the long jump after leading the competition with a jump of 7.44 meters (24-05.00). His win marked the first time a Wildcat won consecutive Big 12 titles in the event since Kenny Harrison won four straight from 1985-88.
Finally, senior pole vaulter Kyle Wait soared above the competition as he won his first-ever Big 12 title with a jump of 5.45 meters (17-10.50).
"It was pretty exciting," Wait said. "It had been one of my goals to do well at the Big 12 indoor meet because I really haven't done well in indoors, but training had been going so well and I'd been doing well at practice. So I knew that it was eventually going to come together, whether that was going to happen at indoors or not, I knew I was eventually going to be where I should be at."
Wait's jump tied his personal best, a K-State record, and put him in four-way tie for the 10th-best mark in Division I this season.
Overall, the indoor track and field season has been one full of excitement and overcoming the odds for this year's team, and it will continue at the NCAA Indoor Championships later this month in Albuquerque, N.M.
"I think this year has been one of my favorite years because of our team's chemistry," Dick said. "OSU, Texas, they have really strong teams and have the ability to go in there and win it every year, but for us, going into this conference and not having the strongest team, going in as the underdogs and knowing everything had to go perfect and everyone had to show up and do exactly what they needed to, to place third, it was great. Once everyone got on that bus they were focused and mentally prepared to compete their hardest, and things lined up."
The men's team took home a third place finish while the women's team placed fifth. The men's final point total of 95 was the Wildcats' second most ever scored at the indoor meet.
"We didn't have a lot of numbers, so the people that we did take had some pretty significant jobs," Twiss said. "Everybody knew that they had to step up and take care of business, and that's exactly what we did. Everyone really went in with a fierce and competitive mind set, so it was cool to watch everything fall into place."
For results and more on K-State's weekend at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, click here.
K-State's Kyle Wait competes in the men's pole vault during the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Lied Recreation Athletic Center in Ames, Iowa on February 28, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)