SE: Excitement Promised at DeLoss Dodds Invitational

If you want a mini preview of the upcoming Rio Olympics, look no further than Ahearn Field House. Today and tomorrow, K-State track and field is hosting the DeLoss Dodds Invitational where 11 Wildcat Olympic hopefuls will hit the track to compete.

This group of stellar Wildcat athletes will be highlighted by senior Akela Jones, who will look to make history in the pentathlon today, senior long jumper Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye, who is among Turks and Caicos most talented track and field athletes, and Jamaica native junior Kim Williamson, who will face tough competition in the high jump. 

“It’s always great to compete with your team at home and get some support from your fans,” said Otuonye. “It’s also great to compete with these really, really talented people; it just brings the best out of everyone. To have this high level of competition is really, really good. When one person excels, everybody else knows they have to step it up. It’s become a culture.”

K-State track and field has been breeding this culture of excellence over the past few years, and this year – an Olympic year – that excellence is shining brighter than ever.  

“To have this many collegiate athletes that are capable of (making their Olympic teams) is a little bit unique; it’s special,” said K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto. “But the thing that’s interesting is, all those people who we projected having the possibility of making their Olympic team a year or two ago are, now, all right there. They’re all doing it. They’re all capable of getting it done this year and that’s neat because whether it’s themselves, their team, their country, whoever it is that has challenged them, they’ve accepted it and done the work to get there.”

Along with Jones, Otuonye and Williamson, other current Wildcats with Olympic potential are seniors Sara Savatovic (hammer throw), Sonia Gaskin (sprints) and Dani Winters (shot put), and sophomores Rhizlane Siba (high jump), Claudette Allen (long jump), A’keyla Mitchell (sprints) and Christoff Bryan (high jump), while former Wildcats Alyx Treasure (high jump) and Erik Kynard (high jump) are currently training in Manhattan and have the Olympics on their mind.

As a matter of fact, Kynard, a silver medalist in the 2012 Olympic high jump and two-time NCAA Champion, will be back in Ahearn Field House competing tomorrow morning. 

“Hopefully people come out and watch, but I would say the excitement shouldn’t be to see me. If I were a fan, I’d want to be more engaged in these K-State student-athletes,” said Kynard. “They also have the opportunity to represent their countries in their respective events on the track. From a fan’s perspective, I’d want to be more engaged watching their progress in 2016. Me, I’m an old dog, but I do appreciate and respect the support from the K-State community; it’s great.” 

Kynard will kick off tomorrow events in the DeLoss Dodds Invitational with the newly-named “Erik Kynard High Jump” (the men’s high jump event) beginning at 11 a.m.

While tomorrow’s events begin at 11 a.m., the multi events kick off today at 10 a.m., with the Austra Skujvte Women’s Pentathlon (10 a.m., to 2:30 p.m.), followed by the Steve Fritz Men’s Heptathlon from 11 a.m., to 2:10 p.m.

Akela Jones, the reigning 2015 Outdoor NCAA Women’s Heptathlon Champion, has high hopes for her first pentathlon of 2016. Jones broke the NCAA day-one women’s heptathlon record last summer, and, if she competes at her best, has a chance of breaking the NCAA’s indoor pentathlon record today. 

“It would be nice if she could go out and (break the record),” said Rovelto. “That’s something you can’t take away, but for what it is that she hopes to accomplish this year, that would just be a step along the way. What I think she’s ultimately capable of doing this summer is so far superior to, and I don’t want to make light of the record, but it’s so far superior to what the record is.”

The current NCAA Pentathlon record is 4,678 points held by Georgia’s Kendell Williams. Jones hopes to exceed that number and make NCAA track and field history this afternoon. 

“I’m always looking forward to getting the pentathlon done and over with,” laughed Jones. “It’s one of the hardest events indoors, so I know I have to put in a lot of work, but the more I’ve trained with Coach Rovelto, the more confident I’ve become in myself. We train at very high levels here at K-State; we are good. So there’s nothing to be scared about.

“I don’t go into events and think about breaking records,” she continued, “I just think about competing at my best, listing to my coach and executing, but if you train hard and you compete great, those records will be broken.”

For fans hoping to come out and cheer on the Cats, admission to the meet is free. Please see below for the full DeLoss Dodds Invitational schedule. For more information about this weekend’s home track and field events, please click here

“There are some really good athletes coming out,” said Rovelto. “Along with our athletes, in the combined event you have some athletes from UCLA coming, you’ve got a guy that competed at Wichita State that’s been on the U.S. team. So in the pentathlon and the heptathlon, there are going to be some pretty good athletes. Then when you look at Oklahoma State’s team, Tulsa’s team, with all these different schools coming in, they’re bringing some really, really fine athletes. This is going to be one of the larger meets in terms of numbers that we’ve hosted in a number of years, and the quality of athlete in virtually every event is really, really high.”

DELOSS DODDS INVITATIONAL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

FRIDAY, JANUARY 22
Austra Skujyte Women’s Pentathlon
10:00 a.m. – Women’s Pentathlon 60 Meter Hurdles 
10:40 a.m. – Women’s Pentathlon High Jump 
12:20 p.m. – Women’s Pentathlon Shot Put
1:20 p.m. – Women’s Pentathlon Long Jump
2:30 p.m. – Women’s Pentathlon 800 Meter Run

Steve Fritz Men’s Heptathlon Day 1
11:00 a.m. – Men’s Heptathlon 60 Meter Dash 
11:40 a.m. – Men’s Heptathlon Long Jump 
1:00 p.m. – Men’s Heptathlon Shot Put
2:10 p.m. – Men’s Heptathlon High Jump

SATURDAY, JANUARY 23
Steve Fritz Men’s Heptathlon Day 2
9:00 a.m. – Men’s Heptathlon 60 Meter Hurdles 
9:50 a.m. – Men’s Heptathlon Pole Vault 
11:50 a.m. – Men’s Heptathlon 1000 Meters

Field Events
11:00 a.m. – Erik Kynard High Jump, Women’s Weight Throw
12:30 p.m. – Men’s Weight Throw
1:00 p.m. – Women’s High Jump, Women’s Long Jump, Erin Anderson Women’s Pole Vault
2:00 p.m. – Women’s Shot Put
2:30 p.m. – Men’s Long Jump
3:00 p.m. – Men’s Pole Vault
3:30 p.m. – Men’s Shot Put
4:00 p.m. – Women’s Triple Jump 
5:30 p.m. – Vince Parrett Men’s Triple Jump

Track Events
Beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Women’s Mile Run
Jeff Schemmell Men’s Mile Run
Women’s 60 Meter Hurdles 
Men’s 60 Meter Hurdles
Women’s 60 Meter Dash 
Men’s 60 Meter Dash
Women’s 400 Meter Dash 
Men’s 400 Meter Dash
Women’s 600 Yard Run 
Men’s 600 Yard Run
Women’s 800 Meter Run
Bob Prince Men’s 800 Meter Run
Women’s 1000 Meter Run
Christian Smith Men’s 1000 Meter Run
Women’s 200 Meter Dash 
Men’s 200 Meter Dash
Janet Haskin Women’s 3000 Meter Run 
Men’s 3000 Meter Run
Women’s 4x400 Meter Relay 
Men’s 4x400 Meter Relay

 

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