Women Lead After Day One of Big 12s

AMES, Iowa - Akela Jones and Sara Savatovic snagged Big 12 titles in their respective events en route to helping the K-State Track and Field women hold an overall day one lead at the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championship in Ames, Iowa. The Wildcat women's 45 points came thanks to scoring efforts from 10 different athletes, including 21 points from the throws trio of Savatovic, Janee' Kassanavoid and Dani Winters in the weight throw.

Leading the second-place Kansas Jayhawks (35.5) by a little under 10 points, it marks the second-straight season the women have led the indoor conference meet at the halfway mark - K-State was tied for first with Texas at 38 points in 2013-14 before eventually finishing fifth overall.

"The women's day was good," said head coach Cliff Rovelto. "With what we got qualified and with the finals in the triple jump, high jump and shot put tomorrow, those are all obviously good events for us. I'm sure though Texas (4th - 32 pts.) feels pretty good where they are and I'm sure Baylor (3rd - 34 pts.) feels good about where they are too. It's just going to come down who takes care of business tomorrow." 

Rovelto said the women's pentathlon with Twiss and Sarah Kolmer and the weight throw went especially well.

"Erica had a solid meet. She competed well," Rovelto said. "I thought Sarah had a really good meet. She had a lot of pentathlon PRs and collectively, we actually picked up a couple points in that event from what I thought we'd get ahead of time. The weight was another one we picked up points. That was outstanding, all three of them PRed. It was awesome."

He highlighted Twiss' day one effort in particular. The senior Wildcat competed in three events on the day - pentathlon, long jump and 60H - tallying nine points and qualifying for the hurdles final on the track. 

"Who knows, at the end of the day, the difference between first and second may be a point or two. You don't know so at the conference meet you try and do some stuff where you're really asking a lot of people," Rovelto said. "There was no one else that did what she did today. She got second in the pentathlon, is going to score in the hurdles, scored in the long jump. If she's still standing, she's may do the [4x400]. So she's doing a lot and doing a good job. You can't ask much more."

Savatovic, Kassanavoid and Winters Have a Day in the Weight Throw

The throws trio of Sara Savatovic, Janee' Kassanavoid and Dani Winters has been a strong point for the Wildcat women all the season and the theme continued once again today. Entering the meet all ranked in the top-six of the conference, Savatovic, Kassanavoid and Winters notched personal bests to place first, third and fourth, respectively, combining for a gaudy 21 points.

Savatovic's first-place finish secured her second-straight weight throw title and marked the fourth-consecutive conference meet, including outdoors, she has won an individual title. She hit 20.66m/67-09.50 in her fourth throw of the afternoon to outlast KU's Daina Levy (20.49m/67-02.75), while also improving upon her previous personal best of 20.59m/67-06.75 set at last season's Bill Bergan Invitational to remain at No. 3 in school history. The junior's performance was dominant, as she hit 20-plus meters on three of her six throws and is one of only three Wildcat women in school history to repeat as a conference champion in the event - the first since Loren Groves recorded a three-peat in 2009.

Kassanavoid and Winters also made their marks in the K-State top-10. For Kassanavoid, she PRed in the event for a fourth-time this season, marking 19.07m/62-06.75 for the third-place finish. The sophomore-transfer's latest effort moved her to 7th-best in school history, as she hit the mark on her second attempt of the evening. Winters, meanwhile, earned fourth-place with a throw of 18.69m/61-04 on her third attempt, moving her to No. 10 in school history. The junior, who will also compete in the shot put tomorrow where she ranks No. 1 in the conference, finished top-eight in the weight throw for a second-straight conference meet - she placed sixth in 2013-14.

Jones Nabs Her First Career Big 12 Title

Akela Jones leapt her way to a Big 12 title, hitting 6.37m/20-10.75 in her second jump of the evening to secure the victory. The junior-transfer entered the meet with the top jump in the conference and the country at 6.64m/21-09.50. Though she did not reach her personal best and school record mark, Jones easily dispatched the field of 18, out-jumping the competitors by a minimum five inches - KU's Sydney Conley took second (6.24m/20-05.75).

For Jones, the victory adds to an impressive championship resume in her track and field career. Before joining the Wildcats, the St. Michael, Barbados, native was a 12-time NAIA champion at Oklahoma Baptist, including four titles in the long jump, and also snagged a long jump title at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Now a Big 12 champion for the first time in her career, Jones is also the first women's Wildcat to win an indoor conference title in the event since Kelly Wenlock in 1982.

Competing alongside Jones in the event final was Erica Twiss. The senior Wildcat tacked on a point for the `Cats with an eighth-place finish. She leapt 5.83m/19-01.50 in her third attempt of the afternoon to secure the scoring performance.

Twiss, Kolmer Solid in Pentathlon

Seniors Erica Twiss and Sarah Kolmer combined to score 11 points for the K-State women in the pentathlon, placing second and sixth, respectively.

For Twiss, she followed up last year's pentathlon conference title with a runner-up finish to All-American Jayhawk Lindsay Vollmer. Twiss dueled with Vollmer and Texas Tech's Shanice Stewart throughout the entirety of the multi competition to eventually finish with a season-best score of 4,138 points.

The Carrollton, Texas native opened competition clocking 8.32 in the 60-meter hurdles, finishing behind only Stewart's time of 8.31 seconds. Following a 1.72m/5-07.75 clearance in the high jump and the shot put (9.44m/30-11.75), Twiss sat in third heading into the fourth event of the day, the long jump. Twiss would mark 5.89m/19-04 in the event to remain in the third with a score 3,245 points - 370 points behind Vollmer's lead tally of 3,615. From there, she clocked a strong time of 2:14.98 (o) to finish first overall in the multi-concluding 800-meter and secure a second-place finish.

The final total of 4,138 marked an improvement over her season-opening mark of 4,114 set at the Carol Robinson Winter Pentathlon, as Twiss, who entered the meet ranked 13th in Division I, will look to qualify for NCAAs in the multi for a second-consecutive indoor season.

Her teammate Kolmer, meanwhile, used a personal best in the shot put, as well as season-bests in the high jump (1.57m/5-01.75), long jump (5.45m/17-10.75) and 800m (2:17.12 (o)) to secure a PR tally of 3,862 points for sixth-place. Earning three points for the Wildcat women with her effort, Kolmer recorded her third-straight Big 12 scoring performance, including outdoors, dating back to the 2013-14 season. 

Her performance was highlighted in particular by her showing in the shot put, where she chucked 12.82m/42-00.75 for the third-best mark in the event. Along with besting a previous PR of 12.70m/41-08 set in 2013-14, Kolmer's mark was the best by a Wildcat multi in the event this season and sixth-best in school pentathlon history.

Joining Twiss and Kolmer in the action was senior Joslyn Barnes. Barnes finished just outside the top-eight, placing ninth with a final score of 3,654 points.

Onto the Finals...

• Freshman A'Keyla Mitchell notched qualifying efforts in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes. Her performance in the latter was particularly impressive, as she motored to a time of 23.49 (o) to finish first in her heat and second-overall in the event prelims. Along with being the fastest time run by a Wildcat sprinter this season, Mitchell's time was the fastest in school history on an oversized track - previous record was Shunte Thomas' time of 23.82 set at the Iowa State Classic in 2005.

In the 60m, Mitchell clocked 7.48 in the event semifinals to earn the eighth and final qualifying spot. She is scheduled to run the 60m at 1:50 p.m. and 200m at 4 p.m. in day two action tomorrow, Feb. 28.

Said Rovelto, "In terms of qualifying, you're trying to do what you can do. A'Keyla got through the 60m and I thought ran outstanding in the 200m. That was very good. It's not very often freshmen make finals, let alone in a couple of events at the conference level so she's obviously a special athlete."

• The 600-yard run saw both Sonia Gaskin and Tia' Gamble cruise to qualification with Gaskin scorching the field of 12 for first-place in 1:19.78 (o) and Gamble placing fourth-overall (1:21.74 (o)). Gaskin's time was the fastest ran on an oversized track in school history, as well as only the second sub-1:20 600Y time ran in the conference this season. Gamble, meanwhile, snagged qualification to the event final for a third-consecutive indoor conference meet and will look to improve upon her third-place finish from last season's Big 12s.

On the men's side, Christopher Campbell earned qualification placing third in the prelims in a time of 1:10.13. Like Gamble, the senior Wildcat also placed third in the event final at last season's conference meet. Gaskin and Gamble are expected to run the final at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow with Campbell following at 2:40 p.m.

Terrell Smith, Carlos Rodriguez and Kain Ellis all moved onto their respective event finals. Smith, in the 200m, clocked the fastest time in school history on an oversized track en route to finishing second in his heat in 21.10 (o). Rodriguez, on the other hand, ran the 400m in conference competition for the first time in his career, finishing the event prelims in 47.59 (o) to earn the eighth and final spot in the final. Lastly, Ellis, powered his way to the fifth fastest time in 800m the prelims. Clocking 1:50.87 (o), Ellis used a strong push in the final stretch to earn third-place in his heat.

The 400m will be the first of the three events to run tomorrow at 3:10 p.m., with the 800m and 200m following at 3:50 p.m. and 4:10 p.m., respectively.

• Lastly in the 60-meter hurdles, Akela Jones and Erica Twiss kept busy with both qualifying for the event final, clocking 8.24 and 8.31 seconds to finish second and third, respectively, in the semifinals. Jones (8.17) and Twiss (8.28 aa) entered the meet ranked third and fifth in the conference heading into this week. They will run the final at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow. 

The Rest in Notable Performances...

• Senior Tommy Brady took eighth in the men's pole vault to earn his first-career scoring performance at the conference meet indoors. Clearing 4.93m/16-02 in his second attempt at the height, Brady notched a point for the Wildcat men.

• Junior Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye leaped 7.26m/23-10 to finish eighth in the men's long jump. Competing in the event for the third time this season, Otuonye secured a conference scoring effort in the event, including outdoors, for the fourth time in his career.

• In day one of the men's heptathlon, sophomore Adam Deterding tallied 2,871 points in the multi's first four events to hold down fifth-place. Deterding's effort was highlighted by personal best performances in the long jump (6.70m/21-11.75) and shot put (12.88m/42-03.25). Placing fourth in last year's Big 12 heptathlon, Deterding will look to improve upon his score of 4,898 points in tomorrow's action - his day one score last year was 2,850 points.

Joining Deterding in action was teammate Max Estill. The freshman finished the day in ninth with a score of 2,569 points.

• In the distance medley relay, both the men's and women's squads finished seventh in their respective races. The men's team, ran by Lukas Koch, Kaneil Harrison, Ellis and Colton Donahue clocked 10:00.10 (o), while the women's team of Kayla Doll, Keiteyana Parks, Marija Stambolic and Laura Galvan earned their two points with a time of 11:38.14 (o). 

What's Next?

K-State concludes Big 12s with the men's heptathlon 60-meter hurdles kicking off action at 11 a.m. For up-to-the-minute results on K-State Track and Field, follow @kstate_gameday on Twitter under #KStateTF.

Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championship
Lied Athletic Recreation Center
Ames, Iowa

Team Scores
1: Texas, 43 | 2: Oklahoma State, 40 | 3: Kansas, 29.5 | 4: Oklahoma, 24 | 5: Texas Tech, 23.5 | 6: TCU, 16
7: Iowa State, 10 | 8: Baylor, 5 | 9: K-State, 4

1: K-State, 45 | 2: Kansas, 35.5 | 3: Baylor, 34 | 4: Texas, 32 | 5: Iowa State, 28 | 6: Texas Tech, 26.5
7: Oklahoma, 15 | 8: Oklahoma State, 10 | 9: West Virginia, 8

K-State Results (Day One)
60m (Semis)
11: Terrell Smith, 6.81s

8: A'Keyla Mitchell, 7.48sq
15: Akela Jones, 7.58s

200m (Prelims)
6: Terrell Smith, 21.10pq (o) - Fastest time in school history on oversized track
15: Dane Steen, 21.88p (o)

2: A'Keyla Mitchell, 23.49pq (o) - Fastest time in school history on oversized track

400m (Prelims)
8: Carlos Rodriguez, 47.59pq (o)

600Y (Prelims)
3: Christopher Campbell, 1:10.13pq (o)

1: Sonia Gaskin, 1:19.78pq (o) - Fastest time in school history on oversized track
4: Tia' Gamble, 1:21.74pq (o)
11: Jordan Matthews, 1:27.01p (o)

800m (Prelims)
3: Kain Ellis, 1:50.87pq (o)

1000m (Prelims)
10: Logan Smith, 2:27.05 (o)

60H (Semis)
9: Adam Deterding, 8.29s

2: Akela Jones, 8.24sq
3: Erica Twiss, 8.30sq

Distance Medley Relay
7: Koch-Harrison-Ellis-Donahue, 10:00.10 (o)

7: Doll-Parks-Stambolic-Galvan, 11:38.14 (o)

Pole Vault
8: Tommy Brady, 4.93m/16-02

Long Jump
8: Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye, 7.26m/23-10

1: Akela Jones, 6.37m/20-10.75
8: Erica Twiss, 5.83m/19-01.50
10: Alyssa Kelly, 5.67m/18-07.25
12: Zanri Van der Merwe, 5.61m/18-05

Weight Throw
10: Kyle Smith, 16.24m/53-03.50

1: Sara Savatovic, 20.66m/67-09.50 - Personal best & 3rd-best in school history
3: Janee' Kassanavoid, 19.07m/62-06.75 - Personal best & 7th-best in school history
4: Dani Winters, 18.69m/61-04 - Personal best & 10th-best in school history

Heptathlon (Day One)
5: Adam Deterding, 2,871 pts.
60M: 7.27 - 789 pts.
LJ: 6.70m/21-11.25 - 743 pts. - Personal best
SP: 12.88m/42-03.25 - 660 pts. - Personal best
HJ: 1.86m/6-01.25 - 679 pts.

9: Max Estill, 2,569 pts.
60M: 7.36 - 759 pts.
LJ: 6.42m/21-00.75 - 679 pts.
SP: 8.56m/28-01 - 400 pts.
HJ: 1.92m/6-03.50 - 731 pts.

2: Erica Twiss, 4,138 pts.
60H: 8.32 - 1,057 pts.
HJ: 1.72m/5-07.75 - 879 pts.
SP: 9.44m/30-11.75 - 493 pts.
LJ: 5.89m/19-04 - 816 pts.
800M: 2:14.98 (o) - 893 pts.

6: Sarah Kolmer, 3,862 pts. - Personal best
60H: 9.06 - 897 pts.
HJ: 1.57m/5-01.75 - 701 pts.
SP: 12.82m/42-00.75 - 715 pts. - Personal best & 6th-best in school pentathlon history
LJ: 5.45m/17-10.75 - 686 pts.
800M: 2:17.12 (o) - 863 pts.

9: Joslyn Barnes, 3,654 pts.
60H: 9.42 - 824 pts.
HJ: 1.66m/5-05.25 - 806 pts.
SP: 10.90m/35-09.25 - 589 pts.
LJ: 5.17m/16-11.50 - 606 pts.
800M: 2:19.61 (o) - 829 pts.