Mitchell Smashes School Record in Final Day of NCAAs
Mitchell Smashes School Record in Final Day of NCAAs
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - A'Keyla Mitchell smashed the 200-meter school record en route to a fifth-place finish in the event final, as K-State Track and Field wrapped up competition at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. On the day, the Wildcats kept busy with five athletes and one relay squad competing across five events total.
Joining Mitchell in earning All-American recognition were Christoff Bryan and Nate Gipson in the high jump, Erica Twiss in the pentathlon, Dani Winters in the shot put and the women's 4x400 relay squad. The women's team, as a whole, tallied 12 points over the two-day meet to tie for 18th-overall - bests in regards to both place and finish since the 2005 women's squad scored 15.5 points to finish 14th.
Mitchell Goes Sub-23 in 200-meter Final
A'Keyla Mitchell has ran competitively in the 200-meter a total of six times this season and has improved each time to the tune of 23.97-23.96-23.49-23.45-23.25 and now-22.96 seconds. Starting the season off by clocking 23.97 at the Bill Easton Classic, Mitchell ended her first indoor season with the Wildcats running a blazing 22.96 seconds to finish fifth in Saturday's 200-meter final. The freshman's performance was unlike any other by a Wildcat women's sprinter in the 200m, as she not only clocked the first sub-23 second time in school history, but also became the second Wildcat to earn first team honors in program history - Markeya Jones also took fifth in 1991.
Running in the second of two heats, Mitchell finished third behind the overall first- and second-place finishers in Florida's Kyra Jefferson (22.63) and Oregon's Jenna Prandini (22.74). In fact, along with Mitchell, the top-five finishers all had sub-23 second times - the first time that had occurred in a 200-meter final since a stretch from 2006-08 that included all seven sprinters in 2007 running 22.99 or better.
Mitchell, who entered the meet with the 17th-fastest time in all of Division I, destroyed that then-season-best time of 23.45 (o) as well as last night's semis-qualifying time and previous school record of 23.25. In regards to Big 12 standing - she finished third in the event at the conference championship - only Texas Tech's Cierra White has run faster at 22.90 and the senior Red Raider clocked that time to finish fourth just ahead of Mitchell in Saturday's final.
Adding to the historical effort, Mitchell, a true freshman from Corpus Christi, Texas, clocked the fastest time by a freshman in this year's championship, as well as the fastest by a freshman in the event final overall since Texas' Bianca Knight clocked a collegiate record 22.40 to win the national title in 2008.
Capping off the night in the 4x400-meter, Mitchell ran the third leg on the relay squad alongside Sonia Gaskin, Tia' Gamble and Erica Twiss to an 11th-place finish. The multiple All-American honors on the night made Mitchell one of only seven Wildcat women's athletes to accomplish the feat in a single indoor season.
Head coach Cliff Rovelto had high praise for the freshman sprinter.
"A'Keyla in the 200 was phenomenal," Rovelto said. "With those times - I mean that race was ridiculously fast - it's phenomenal. I had very successful sprint coaches make a point to say how impressed they were because you rarely see those types of performances. That's significantly faster than she ran coming here - it's amazing. She ran over a second of what our school record was coming into this year [Jones (24.01)] and we've had some really good sprinters so it's crazy to think of what she's already accomplished.
"She also ran a strong leg on the relay. Going into the year, if somebody said she would run a 53-second leg at the NCAA meet, would you take that? Of course I would. It's just how good she has become that you can expect more. She's really doing well, she had a phenomenal meet."
Second Team Honors go to...
• Senior Erica Twiss finished 10th-overall in the women's pentathlon, tallying a season-best score 4,143 points to earn second team All-American honors. Her final time competing in the multi as a Wildcat, Twiss matched her finish at NCAA Indoors in Albuquerque last year, while also narrowly missing her personal best score of 4,151 points.
The Carrollton, Texas native opened up competition with the fifth-fastest time in the 60-meter hurdles of 8.38 seconds. Clearing 1.74m/5-08.50 in the high jump to remain in the pentathlon top-eight, Twiss fell to 15th after the shot put. She would battle back, clocking an event-best 2:13.88 in the 800-meter to secure the 10th-place overall finish.
Said Rovelto, "I thought Erica did a really good job. Her overall score at sea-level was a PR - the only time she has scored higher is at altitude when you get the advantage with the long jump and hurdles - so she really did a really, nice job to score higher than she has all season to get here. And in the relay, she split a fast time so she had a great meet and did a real, super job."
With All-American nods in both the pentathlon and 4x400, Twiss closes out her K-State career on an impressive stretch. Joining Akela Jones and A'Keyla Mitchell this season as the latest Wildcats to earn multiple All-American honors in the same indoor meet, Twiss is also the first K-State women's athlete to nab multiple All-American designations at both NCAA Indoors and Outdoors since the USTFCCCA began awarding finishers nine-through-16 second team status in 2011.
• In the 4x400, the foursome of Sonia Gaskin, Tia' Gamble, A'Keyla Mitchell and Erica Twiss clocked 3:36.59 to finish in 11th-place. Gaskin kicked off the relay, clocking a split of 54.12 to narrowly keep pace with Miami after the first leg. Following Gamble's leg (55.08), both Mitchell (53.46) and Twiss (53.95) recorded sub-54 second legs for the eventual finish of 3:36.59. Earning second team honors for their effort, this year's group is the first women's 4x400 squad to earn All-American recognition in indoor program history.
• In her first career appearance on the national stage, Dani Winters placed ninth in the women's shot put. The junior thrower finished with a best mark of 16.94m/55-07, which came on her second attempt of the afternoon. Winters was in eighth following the first three rounds of throws, but was unable to mark again in the final three rounds, fouling in all three to eventually drop to ninth.
Said Rovelto, "Dani, I thought, was very good. To throw at her first national meet like this, at a level beyond what she had ever thrown before this year [Winter's PR entering this season was 15.85m/52-00] - that's pretty good stuff. She did a great job."
Despite just missing out on first team honors, Winters is the first Wildcat women's thrower since Rebekah Green in 2004 to earn All-American designation in the event.
• The men's high jump saw the freshmen duo of Nate Gipson and Christoff Bryan tie for 10th and 14th, respectively. Both making their indoor championships debut, Gipson's second team honors came thanks to a clearance of 2.20m/7-02.50, while Bryan cleared 2.15m/7-00.50.
For Gipson, he entered the meet fresh off a runner-up showing at Big 12s and cleared 2.20m or better for a third-consecutive meet. Bryan's season-best of 2.28m/7-05.75, meanwhile, was tied for first in Division I. Neither jumper though was able to string together a consistent stretch of successful jumps, as aside from the event-opening height of 2.10m/6-10.75, Gipson and Bryan took at least three attempts to clear each subsequent bar.
Rovelto said, finishes aside, both Gipson and Bryan competed very well for freshman at this level of competition.
"The good thing is they're disappointed they didn't score, but we've had a fair share of good high jumpers at K-State and we've never had a freshman score at this meet," Rovelto said. "We've had freshmen score outdoors, but we've never had a freshmen score indoors [K-State greats such as Erik Kynard and Scott Sellers finished 11th and ninth, respectively, in their freshman campaigns]. So it's a pretty significant feat to even compete like they did.
"[Nate] was jumping at PR at [2.23m] and for him to clear 2.20m, that's better than we've had a freshman perform at this meet and he was the top-placing freshman here. Christoff struggled a little bit, but as he gets a little bit more comfortable in training, he'll improve. Physically he's fine and he'll be fine."
With the indoor season in the books, the Wildcats kick off the outdoor campaign right away with the TCU Invitational next week. Slated to run March 19-20, K-State will compete against host TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as several other schools. For more information on the Wildcats' upcoming outdoor season, visit www.k-statesports.com.
NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships
Randal Tyson Track Center
K-State Results (Day Two)
5: A'Keyla Mitchell, 22.96 - School record
11: Gaskin-Gamble-Mitchell-Twiss, 3:36.59
T10: Nate Gipson, 2.20m/7-02.50
T14: Christoff Bryan, 2.15m/7-00.50
9: Dani Winters, 16.94m/55-07
10: Erica Twiss, 4,143 pts.
60H: 8.38 - 1,044 pts.
HJ: 1.74m/5-08.50 - 903 pts.
SP: 8.96m/29-04.75 - 462 pts.
LJ: 5.92m/19-05.25 - 825 pts.
800M: 2:13.88 - 909 pts.