SE: Jones Impressive in First Meet of 2016

On Friday, January 8, Akela Jones woke up in sunny, 80-degree Saint Michael, Barbados. By early the following morning, after a long day of traveling, she had arrived back in zero-degree, snowy Manhattan, Kansas. She may have been tired, but she was ready to get back on the track in Ahearn Field House for the Wildcat Invitational.

“She got in at 4 o’clock yesterday morning to Manhattan; it was a long trip for her,” said K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto with a smile after watching Jones succeed in Saturday’s home meet.  “She had an opportunity to get home, and the good thing is that it was 80 degrees her whole time in Barbados, so she got outside and had the chance to get in some good training.”

Jones had the opportunity to spend nearly three weeks of her winter break at home in the easternmost island in the Caribbean, and though she was nearly 5,000 miles away from K-State, she never let her training wane. 

Jones hit the track every day, and her consistent winter practice was evident on Saturday, Jan. 9, at the Wildcat invitational where she opened 2016 with a stellar showing. 

“I was nervous coming into this meet because I just got back to K-State and I’ve only been back for less than 24 hours,” said Jones. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride here, I was tired, but today was just a phenomenal day. I came out and started best way, I ever have in high jump, I did almost a personal best in the hurdles and I did a spectacular job in the 4x400. So today was an amazing day, not just for me but for the entire team; we came out here for the first meet of 2016 and did a phenomenal job.” 

Jones earned first-place finishes in every event she tackled at Saturday’s meet. In the high jump, she tied a meet-record by soaring over the bar at 1.87m/6-01.50. She followed her high jump performance with an even more impressive showing in the 60-meter hurdles. With a speedy mark of 8.17 seconds, Jones broke both the Wildcat Invitational and the Ahearn Field House facility 60-meter women’s hurdle record. She also helped the women’s 4x400 meter relay team to a first-place finish recording a time of 3:44.19 in the event.

It would be easy for Jones, the 2015 Big 12 Indoor Outstanding Performer of the Year and 2015 NCAA Outdoor Champion in the heptathlon, to focus solely on herself and solely on her performance; it is, in fact, and Olympic year. There is a lot on the table for her. 

However, she has placed much of her focus on her team. She takes pride in K-State track and field, and one of her main goals this year is to win the Big 12 Championship with her teammates standing by her side. 

“Because we lost last year by six and half points, everybody is motivated this year to do better and to come out better at the Big 12 Championship,” said Jones. “Everybody at practice supports each other. This year, we’re really trying to come together as a team and put all of our feet forward together.”

With her bubbly personality and her fierce competitive spirit, Jones is letting nothing hold her back as she tackles her final season as a Wildcat. 

With all momentum swinging their way, there is no doubt a special season has begun brewing for Akela Jones and her No. 4-ranked Wildcat team.

“Everybody looks at us now and they see us as a strong team,” Jones said. “We’re a competitive team. We are coming. We are gunning.”

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K-State men’s basketball (10-5, 0-3 Big 12) returns home to Bramlage Coliseum tonight, as the Wildcats play host to Texas Tech (11-3, 1-2 Big 12) at 7 p.m. CT. The contest begins a 2-game homestand for the squad, as K-State hosts No. 17/18 Iowa State (12-3, 1-2 Big 12) at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday.

K-State will be looking to snap a 3-game losing streak, which is the longest since dropping 5 straight from Jan. 27-Feb. 11, 2015. The Wildcats are 0-3 in Big 12 play for the first time since losing their first 4 league games in 2008-09. The 3 losses have come by a combined 17 points.

For game notes, ticket information and more on tonight’s game, please click here

Kansas State head football coach Bill Snyder, who on December 8 became just the fourth active head coach to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, confirmed today that he will be on the sidelines as head coach of the Wildcats in 2016.

“Following our bowl game against Arkansas, I had a chance to visit with my family, and they collectively wanted me to do what I wanted to do and none were against my decision to return as long as I am having a positive impact on the young people in our program, my health is in order and as long as I am wanted by the University and the wonderful Kansas State fan base,” Snyder said.

To continue reading about Snyder’s decision to return to the sidelines, please click here

K-State men’s basketball freshman Barry Brown was selected as the Phillips 66 Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Monday after averaging 17.0 points off the bench in road games against Texas and No. 2/1 Oklahoma.

Brown becomes the second Wildcat freshman to win the Big 12 newcomer award after Dean Wade won the weekly accolade on Dec. 7, 2015, and the third overall player to earn an accolade from the league since junior Wesley Iwundu won player of the week honors to open the season on Nov. 16, 2015. Brown is the sixth different Wildcat player to be selected for the honor since 2007. Overall, it marks the school’s 30th Newcomer of the Week honor since the inception of the Big 12 in 1997, including the fourth under head coach Bruce Weber.

To continue reading about Brown’s recent honor, please click here.