Stoakes Wins 800m Big 12 Title

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Sara Stoakes entered the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships as the No. 1 runner in the conference in the 800 meters as just a freshman and she left No. 1 still. Stoakes won the 800M title holding off the field and pulling away down the final stretch to post Kansas State's lone title of the championship meet.

Stoakes pull ahead of the field on the back stretch of the first lap and withstood a charge from Iowa State's Erin Penticoff and Nebraska's Blaire Dinsdale out of the final turn. Stoakes has held the No. 1 seed in the conference since her first race this season and proved she is the best runner in the 800M in the Big 12, which she set her mind out to accomplish - even as a freshman.

"When you have one of the top times, people want to beat you," Stoakes said. "You don't want to be the person who has the top time but nothing to show for it so I definitely wanted to defend my time and win."

Of the mental approach to the race, Stoakes said she has been able to make the transition to the college ranks well thanks to solid coaching and is ready to keep improving.

"It's hard to run the 800 because high and college are so different in how the race is run," she said. "It's hard for freshmen to learn to race mentally, but I think I ran a good race and I'm ready to keep going toward the next level."

Assistant coach Michael Smith, Stoakes' event coach, said she has been an impressive runner all season long and impressed him with her ability as such a young runner. Adding a Big 12 title to her list of accomplishments in her freshman year is a testament to what kind of an athlete she can be, Smith said.

"She's just a freshman, but she ran a very good race," Smith said. "If you watched the race closely, every move she made was a tactical move to hold off everyone else in the field. She ran a great race."

It was not only Stoakes who was making a splash in the rain and cold at the Big 12 Championships from Audrey J. Walton Stadium.

Another freshman made her name known among the Big 12 ranks as Martina Tresch shattered the school record in the 3,000 meter steeplechase to finish third in the event and score six points toward the team effort. Tresch crossed the finish line in 10:04.27 to break the school record held by senior Beverly Ramos by more than 11 seconds.

As a team the women's squad finished ninth with a total of 30 points while the men's team scored 40 points to claim 11th. Texas A&M claimed the women's title with 157 points, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers repeated as men's champions with 118 points with the title coming down to the 4x400 relay to close the meet to decide the winner.

K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said it was an interesting meet with the weather playing a part in a number of the events. He said the Wildcats' finish was close to what he had anticipated coming into the meet considering a number of athletes who did not compete due to injury and how many athletes the team did bring with on the men's side.

"We left 14 to 15 points at home in the decathlon," Rovelto said. "But we didn't bring many guys that didn't make the final or didn't score in their event. For a lot of people, I'm sure there's disappointment in how they finished, but I'm not disappointed in how we did. We just have to get healthy. This is a young team, and I believe we could place the same at the NCAA meet. With who scored at this meet and what they are capable of doing nationally, we could finish 11th and possibly Top 10 at the NCAA Championship."

On the women's side, Rovelto said the team finished where he expected because it is harder to keep up with the numbers some of the larger programs bring, but from an individual standpoint the meet was a success for a lot of his Wildcats.

"Individually, I felt that all did a nice job of competing and doing their best," Rovelto said. "For Sara to win the 800 as a true freshman is phenomenal. And what Martina Tresch, also as a freshman, to do what she did in the steeplechase is very significant. She competed hard and did everything she could to win and almost did."

The women's squad could have finished higher if injuries had not been something the Wildcats battled on that side as well, Rovelto said. K-State could have fielded a 4x100 team and scored higher in a couple of events if some athletes were able to compete.

Junior Jeffrey Julmis also put his name on top of the record book at K-State with his fourth-place finish in the 110 meter hurdles. Julmis finished in 13.62 seconds to pass Jared MacLeod's record set in 2002. Julmis was followed closely behind by teammate Balazs Baji, who finished fifth with his time of 13.81 seconds. K-State had a trio of Wildcats score in the hurdles with Denise Baker taking seventh in the women's 100 meter hurdles tying her personal best time of 13.72 seconds.

In keeping with the sprints, K-State newcomer Martynas Jurgilas finished fifth in the 100 meters crossing the line in 10.37 seconds in a race that saw Texas A&M's Gerald Phiri break the Big 12 Championship record at10.13 seconds. The Wildcats also fielded a 4x100 relay for the men's squad with Jason Coniglio, Julmis, Baji and Grant Loescher combining to finish seventh at 40.95 seconds.

The Wildcats also put points on the board in the men's 800 meters with the pair of Jack Sachse and Jacob Davies. Sachse kicked in the final 150 meters to pull from sixth into fourth and held off a push by Nebraska's Tommy Brinn in the final 50 meters to post a new personal record time at 1:49.66. Davies finished eighth clocking in at 1:53.50.

Sunday Results
4x100 - Men
7: 40.95 (2 points) Jason Coniglio, Jeffrey Julmis, Balazs Baji, Grant Loescher

3000M Steeplechase
3: Martina Tresch, 10:04.27 (6 points, school record)
12: Megan-Anne Perrin, 11:03.08

7: Denise Baker, 13.72 PR (2 points)

4: Jeffrey Julmis, 13.62 (5 points, school record)
5: Balazs Baji, 13.81 (4 points)

5: Martynas Jurgilas, 10.37 (4 points)

1: Sara Stoakes, 2:07.16 (10 points) - 1st 800M champ since Lysaira Roman-Del Valle in 2003

4: Jack Sachse, 1:49.66 PR (5 points)
8: Jacob Davies, 1:53.50 (1 point)

4: Beverly Ramos, 16:13.61 (5 points)

9: 3:46.29 - Lekesha Pointer-Allen, Sara Stoakes, Boglarka Bozzay, Denise Baker

10: 3:16.02 - Ben Love, Jacob Davies, Sam James, Grant Loescher

High Jump
2: Erik Kynard, Jr., 7-00.50 (8 points)
9: Michael Healey, 6-08.75

4: Eric Thomas, 181-03 (5 points)

4: Ali Pistora, 158-06 (5 points)

- -