Jones, Mitchell Star in First Day of NCAAs

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Akela Jones and A'Keyla Mitchell starred in day one action for K-State Track and Field at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships, as Jones nabbed first team honors in two events, while Mitchell clocked yet another 200-meter school record to secure a spot in Saturday's, March 14, event final.

Thanks to scoring efforts from Jones in both the high jump and long jump, the women sit tied for ninth-overall with eight points at the conclusion of day one in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


Jones Joins Wildcat Elite in Loaded First Day

Akela Jones turned a loaded day of action into two first team All-American honors, placing fourth in the high jump and sixth in the long jump. The junior-transfer from Oklahoma Baptist also had a go in the 60-meter hurdles, taking 13th-overall in the event semifinal.

Jones opened her afternoon in the high jump, clearing 1.84m/6-00.50 on her second attempt to secure the fourth-place finish. It was a strong showing for Jones, as she was a perfect four-for-four on heights cleared until missing on three attempts at a would-be season-best 1.87m/6-01.50. The fourth-place finish was the best by a Wildcat women's high jumper at NCAA Indoors since Wanita Dykstra cleared 1.88m/6-02 to finish second-overall in 1997. Jones is also the first K-State women's athlete to earn first team honors in the event since Kaylene Wagner (eighth) in 2007.

"I thought Akela jumped really well until the bar got to [1.87m]," said head coach Cliff Rovelto. "The first attempt was okay, and I think the way she looked, she certainly had at least [1.87m] in her. But the bottom line is she placed higher than what she was ranked nationally [eighth] so she really had a good, solid showing in the competition."

No less than an hour after the conclusion of the high jump, Jones took part in the long jump final and 60-meter hurdles semifinal. Marking 6.09m/19-11.75 on her second attempt in the long jump, Jones then took to the track in the 60H, clocking 8.24 to finish seventh in the second of two heats and 13th-overall. Earning second team honors in the hurdles, Jones became the first-ever Wildcat women's athlete to earn All-American status in the event.

Moving back to the long jump pit, Jones hit 6.27m/20-07 in her third jump of the afternoon to secure a spot in the event final. She would go onto finish sixth, saving her best jump of 6.28m/20-07.25 for her last attempt on the evening.

Rovelto thought Jones performed well overall considering the circumstances.

"We knew it was going to be tight going in," Rovelto said. "We were hoping that things would fall in such a way that she would take a couple jumps [in the long jump] then work in a couple starts. But there's nothing we can do about that as far as the hurdles go, but, even then, 8.24 in the hurdles with no warm-up is pretty good. The long jump, the frustrating part about that was the mark on paper is not at all indicative of what she jumped. The closest she got to the board was, conservatively, six inches - she was probably close to hitting 22 feet at one point. When you factor in the warm-up and so forth, she just couldn't get it dialed in.

"So, the high jump was good, the hurdles considering the warm-up was good and with the long jump, it's not that she didn't jump well, it's just the result doesn't reflect how far she jumped because of where she took off. But you know what that's the long jump, that's the way it goes sometimes."

With first team honors in both the high jump and long jump, Jones joined impressive company as only the fifth Wildcat women's athlete ever to earn multiple first team honors in an indoor season. The last time the Wildcats saw an athlete accomplish such a feat was in 2001 when Korene Hinds took first team honors in both the mile and as part of the distance medley relay team. Jones also joins Vanitta Kinard (1996 - long jump, triple jump) out of that group as the only athletes to be awarded first team accolades in individual events.

Mitchell Continues To Fly

A'Keyla Mitchell motored her way to the 200-meter final, clocking in at a blazing 23.25 seconds to earn the spot. The season-best time shattered her school record time of 23.96 set at the KSU-KU-WSU Triangular, as well as her previous season-best of 23.45 (o) that earned her third at Big 12s. For Mitchell, the latest effort adds to what has been a magnificent freshman campaign that includes breaking the 200-meter school record for a now-third time to go along with school record efforts in both the 60-meter and as part of 4x400 as well.

Running out of the third lane in the second of four heats, Mitchell placed third behind Florida's Kyra Jefferson (22.64) Kentucky's Dezerea Bryant (22.74), who recorded the second and third fastest times overall in the semifinal. Even more impressive, Mitchell's heat was the only one of the four to have all four runners qualify for the final.

Rovelto had strong praise for the Corpus Christi, Texas native, who entered Friday's competition with the 17th-fastest time in Division I.

"A'Keyla, what she did was pretty magnificent," Rovelto said. "It's unbelievable. To run that fast coming out of lane three, the fastest time she's ever ran, a school record by a lot and do that as a redshirt freshman - that's unbelievable."

Mitchell's stay at NCAAs continues tomorrow with the 200m final at 7:40 p.m. and then the 4x400 final at 8:30 p.m. Already guaranteed first team honors in the former, she will become only the second Wildcat women's sprinter in the 200m to earn the national honor indoors - Markeya Jones placed fifth in 1991, clocking 24.01.

Second Team Honors go to...

Kim Williamson and Alyx Treasure notched second team honors in the high jump, both clearing 1.81m/5-11.25 to finish 11th and 12th, respectively. For Williamson, the sophomore cleared on her second attempt at 1.81m before bowing out at 1.84m/5-11.25. The All-American status caps off a strong indoor debut with the Wildcats that also included a high jump conference title, as well as her season-best of 1.87m/6-01.50 slotting her at No. 4 in school history.

Treasure, meanwhile, earned second team indoor honors for a third time in her career. Though she did not improve upon her NCAA Indoors career-best finish of 10th-place, set last year in Albuquerque, Treasure's height cleared was her best showing on the national stage in three appearances.

What's Next?

K-State wraps up NCAA Indoors with several athletes in action. Senior Erica Twiss gets competition started for the Wildcats at 11:30 a.m. in the pentathlon 60-meter hurdles. Also set to be in action will be Christoff Bryan and Nate Gipson in the men's high jump at 3:30 p.m., while Dani Winters on the women's side competes in the shot put at 3:45 p.m. Competition will then wrap up late with A'Keyla Mitchell in the 200m final and finally the women's 4x400 at 8:30 p.m. Follow @kstate_gameday under #KStateTF for up-to-the-minute results.


NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships
Randal Tyson Track Center
Fayetteville, Arkansas

K-State Results (Day One)

60H (Semifinals)
Women
13: Akela Jones, 8.24s

200m (Semifinals)
5: A'Keyla Mitchell, 23.25sq - School record

High Jump
Women
4: Akela Jones, 1.84m/6-00.50
11: Kim Williamson, 1.81m/5-11.25
12: Alyx Treasure, 1.81m/5-11.25

Long Jump
Women
6: Akela Jones, 6.28m/20-07.25