Wildcats Dominate Long Jump at Big 12 Championship

Jharyl Bowry

Feb. 23, 2013

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AMES, Iowa – Kansas State track and field came into the Big 12 Indoor Championship expecting to compete for a title on the men’s side, and the Wildcats have put themselves in position to be in contention on Sunday when the meet closes.

The Wildcats are currently in third place through five men’s events with the potential to score in 10 of the 14 events on Sunday. Texas is the team to catch with the Wildcats trailing them by 21 points. K-State’s women are in fourth place through six of the 16 events.

One event the Wildcats made a significant impact on the meet was in the men’s long jump. The Wildcats entered the meet with the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked jumpers in the men’s long jump, and that is exactly where Jharyl Bowry and Ifeanyi Otuonye finished.

Bowry posted a new season best jump of 7.54 meters (24-09.00) on his first attempt to set the standard for the competition and no one caught him. Otuonye set a new personal record of 7.50 meters (24-07.25) on his third jump to move into second place, but there was drama near the end. Baylor’s Felix Obi also jumped 7.50 meters and grabbed second place because his second best jump was better than Otuonye’s.

On his final attempt, Otuonye needed to jump 7.46 meters to reclaim second place, and he flew 7.47 meters through the air to give K-State to the 1-2 finish in the event.

“It’s a good feeling to win, but it’s bittersweet because I’m not in the running for nationals,” Bowry said of his win. “I think finishing 1-2 speaks more to the program than it does for us. I’ve seen Ifeanyi PR three meets in a row. It feels good because our coaches believe in us and it’s showing that we came to the right place and our talents are in the right hands at K-State.”

Bowry and Otuonye are the first teammates to finish 1-2 in the men’s long jump at the Big 12 Indoor Championship since Nebraska accomplished the feat in 1998.

The Wildcats tallied a total of 20 points in the men’s long jump as freshman Tyris Jefferson finish seventh with his leap of 7.17 meters (23-06.25), which also was a season best. Otuonye’s jump of 7.50 meters also improves his own indoor national record for his native Turks and Caicos.

K-State came into the meet with a number of Wildcats capable of scoring points in the multi-events and with that talent on display Coach Cliff Rovelto’s crew put on a show.

The women’s team entered four Wildcats into the pentathlon, and three came away with points for the team score by finishing in the top eight. Last year, K-State had two Wildcats make the podium in the pentathlon and both graduated. This year, a strong group nearly gave K-State four on the podium led by newcomer Merryl Mbeng in second place. Sophomore Joslyn Barnes finished fifth and Erica Twiss was in seventh. Freshman Brooke Rowland just missed the podium finishing 10th.

Mbeng posted a score of 4,090 points to finish second behind KU’s Lindsey Vollmer. Mbeng almost overcame a deficit of 151 points in the final event to catch Vollmer. Mbeng ran 2:14.58 in the 800 meters to leave the field behind her and make it a close battle on the scoreboard with Vollmer.

Mbeng’s score ranks sixth in school history, and Barnes posted a new personal best score of 3,918 points to rank 10th on the K-State list. Twiss tallied a score of 3,757 points in the pentathlon, and the trio gave the team 14 points toward the team standings.

The trio of Reinis Kregers, Tomas Kirielius and Devin Dick all posted personal records in the 60 meters to open the men’s heptathlon, and all four women in the pentathlon ran strong in the 60 meter hurdles to start the meet off well.

All four in the pentathlon went on to big marks in the high jump as Barnes posted a PR of 1.78 meters (5-10.00) along with Mbeng at 1.72 meters (5-07.75). Rowland and Twiss had their best jumps of the season to give K-State four marks to score significant points toward each individual’s score in the pentathlon.

The momentum from the 60 meters for the men and the women’s high jump also carried over to the men in the long jump as Dick soared 7.36 meters (24-01.75) to post a new PR and establish the No. 2 mark in school history during a heptathlon. Kirielius responded with a PR on his second attempt and then improved even more on his final jump to 7.03 meters (23-00.75) to rank ninth in a heptathlon. Kregers also had a strong mark at 6.51 meters in his first long jump competition of the year.

Mbeng, Barnes and Rowland all posted PRs in the shot put as well to help hold their positions overall as it is the weakest event for all the Wildcats in the pentathlon.

Following the multi-events, the Wildcats continued to post impressive numbers in the preliminary heats and the field events scheduled for Friday.

Jessica Carter and Sara Savatovic performed well in the women’s weight throw with Carter just missing her PR in the event with a toss of 18.64 meters (61-02.00) to finish sixth and score two points toward the team total. Savatovic posted a PR to finish 8th at 18.37 meters (60-03.25). That mark also moves her into 10th in the K-State record books. Dani Winters finished in 12th with a toss just one centimeter off her best.

Alex Roe finished sixth for the men in the weight throw as he came up just short of his own PR on a toss of 17.72 meters (58-01.75).

Once preliminary heats began in the running events, the Wildcats continued to get the job done. The men’s team advanced runners in all five events they were entered. K-State advanced to finals in three events on the women’s side.

Carlos Rodriguez highlighted the men’s running events as he advanced in both the 60 meters and the 200 meters. He also is expected to run a leg on the men’s 4x400 relay on Sunday. Rodriguez posted the fourth fastest time in the 60 at 6.71 seconds and the third best time in the 200 at 21.06 seconds.

In the men’s 60 meter hurdles, Tarique Hill ran his fastest time at 7.90 seconds to improve his PR yet again this season. His time ranked third in the prelims.

In the sprints for the women, Richelle Farley advanced to the final with her time of 8.47 seconds, just .01 off her PR in the event, and three Wildcats failed to move to the final in the 60 meters. Senior Samantha McKnight led the team with a time of 7.64 seconds in the 60 meters but finished 17th. Freshmen Jasmine Gibbs and Ashley Williams tied for 19th in 7.66 seconds.

Mid-distance events was another strength for the Wildcats on Saturday with the men and women advancing a runner to the final in the 600 yards and 800 meters.

Freshman Tia Gamble posted the second best time of the day in the 600 yards as she clocked in at 1:22.06. Jay-J Parks ran the men’s race in 1:12.48 winning his heat and receiving an automatic spot in the final.

Another freshman ran strong for the women in the 800 meters with Sonia Gaskin clocking in at 2:07.92 for the No. 2 time of the day. Senior Kyle Hanson advanced for the men in 1:52.19, grabbing the first non-automatic spot based on time.

“With the men, we qualified well. There were no losses there,” said Rovelto. “The multis were solid with both genders. Tomas and Joslyn had very good days. We had a lot of PRs today, and I thought we competed well.”

The Wildcats will be back in action for the conclusion of the heptathlon, finals in running events, remaining field events and the exciting 4x400 relay to end the meet.

Action begins at 11 a.m. with the 60 meter hurdles of the heptathlon. Fans can follow the action on K-State’s live events Twitter account @kstate_gameday.