K-State Women Place Second at Big 12s

AMES, Iowa -- Akela Jones snagged high-point honors and Kim Williamson took home the high jump title, highlighting a stellar final day showing for K-State Track and Field at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships in Ames, Iowa.

Tallying 129.50 points over the three-day meet, the women finished second to only Texas (141.50), while the men took eighth with a score of 62 points.

Head coach Cliff Rovelto had plenty of praise for the overall team effort, mentioning the women's performance particular as going above and beyond even his expectations coming into the meet.

"From our perspective, we scored well beyond what I had us doing. We had so many athletes perform well," Rovelto said. "Coming into the meet, I had us at mid-90s and I had Texas with 160 points or so and then there were literally the two-through-six spots I had between the 90s and low-100s. So, obviously that is not what happened. It was a great effort."

Finishing second-place outdoors for the first time-ever in the Big 12 era, the women's overall point total was also a program-best. A point total even better than the back-to-back outdoor champion squads of 2001 (128.25 pts.) and 2002 (121 pts.) - squads which Rovelto said have a lot of common with this year's group.

"This year has definitely been a phenomenal one," Rovelto said. "How do you say this is better than the years where you won the championships? It's kind of hard to say, but certainly I think it's safe to say that the team we're placing second to now is probably a little bit superior to the teams we were finishing just ahead of both those years. So there's a lot of similarities in a way and that team was pretty complete. We were scoring in a lot of different event areas back then and we're scoring in a lot of different areas now. We still obviously has holes, and so does everybody, but we really had a lot of good showings from just about everybody this weekend."

Jones Tabbed High-Point Scorer a Second Time

Since joining the Wildcats this season, Akela Jones has been nothing short of magnificent.

A junior-transfer from Oklahoma Baptist, Jones dominated indoor competition to the tune of one conference title, high-point scorer honors at the conference meet and All-American designation in three events. With her latest showing at Big 12 Outdoors, Jones looks well on her way to a repeat performance. Though not capturing an individual title on the weekend, Jones added runner-up showings in both the high jump and 60-meter hurdles in today's action to her second-place effort in the long jump earlier this weekend, as well helped the 4x100 and 4x400 relay squads to scoring performances.

Rovelto had significant praise for Jones on each of the five events she competed in on the weekend.

"[Akela] had a great meet," Rovelto said. "Her long jump was a school record, her hurdles time in the prelims was a school record. Obviously she ran a little bit faster in the final with the wind going the way it was today, and her high jump was a personal best. She also ran very well on both relays. She ran a phenomenal 4x100 anchor leg, I thought, and she had a stumble there in the 4x400 but still clocked 54-flat. Take out that stumble and she's probably running 52-something. So she had a great weekend."

For her efforts, Jones tallied a gaudy 26.50 points over five events to earn high-point scorer of the meet over Texas' Morolake Akinosun. The point total was the highest tallied by a women's athlete outdoors in the Big 12-era since Marshevet Hooker of Texas scored 32.50 points in 2006 and she joins Austra Skujyte (2001, 2002) and Renetta Seiler as the only Wildcat to earn the honor in the Big 12-era.

Rovelto added Jones' will only continue to get better as her career moves forward.

"For her, not taking any light away from this weekend, but she's working towards something, not just the NCAA meet, but even beyond that. A lot of what we're doing here is a part of the bigger picture for her down the road. It's part of the reason why she [competed in five events], part of the reason why we're still working hard, still preparing for those bigger goals down the road."

Fresh off of setting the 60H school record in yesterday's preliminary action, Jones excelled against a stacked field in the final, clocking a wind-assisted 13.11 seconds for second-place. Eclipsing her previous wind-aided season-best of 13.30, Jones' time was the fastest wind-aided time in school history. She finished behind only Tiffani McReynolds of Baylor (12.70), while outlasting both Morgan Snow of Texas (13.15) and Le'Tristan Pledger of Texas Tech (13.19) -- all three of whom entered the meet ranked in the Division I top-10.

Her other runner-up performance on the day came in the high jump, where she tied a personal best 1.87m/6-01.50 to finish second behind teammate Kim Williamson. And in the relays, Jones helped the 4x100 group of Zanri Van der Merwe, A'Keyla Mitchell and Jordan Matthews to fifth and the 4x400 squad of Mitchell, Sonia Gaskin and Tia' Gamble to third.

Women Score 25.50 Points in High Jump

Kim Williamson highlighted an excellent showing by the women's high jump group, capturing the conference title in the event and adding 10 points to a total team tally of 25.50 points. Clearing 1.87m/6-01.50 on her first attempt, Williamson matched a season-best, while securing the indoor/outdoor title sweep in the event for the season. Notching scoring efforts along with Williamson were Akela Jones, Alyx Treasure and Rhizlane Siba.

For Williamson and Jones, who also finished 1-2 at Indoors this season, the match-up was near identical with both athletes matching each other bar for bar and Williamson winning by virtue of less missed attempts. Jones' clearance at 1.87m came on her third attempt and despite missing at 1.90m in her following three attempts, the mark matched a personal best for the junior -- both she and Williamson tied Rita Graves at No. 4 in school history with their efforts.

Rovelto said Williamson's performance was more than deserving of the conference title.

"For Kim, it's one centimeter beneath her PR [1.88m/6-02]. Anyone who was watching the competition knows that Kim was jumping very well. She had a couple of hiccups in there, but really looked to be the athlete that was going to come out on top today."

With the victory, Williamson's title was the first not captured by a Longhorn high jumper outdoors since 2008, while she also became only the second Wildcat in school story to win the Big 12 title outdoors -- Wanita Dykstra placed first in 1997.

As for the remaining Wildcat high jump scorers, Treasure cleared 1.81m/5-11.25 to take fourth and Siba cleared 1.76m/5-09.25 to tie for sixth. Siba's clearance in particular was an outdoor season-best and her best showing in the event since clearing a Moroccan national record of 1.81m/5-11.25 in her Wildcat debut this indoor season.   

Freshmen Shine for K-State

K-State garnered key contributions from three freshmen Wildcats on Sunday, with A'Keyla Mitchell and Terrell Smith recording multiple scoring efforts on the track and Nija Collier taking third in the triple jump.

First on the track, Mitchell and Smith both entered day three coming off school record showings in the 200-meter prelims. For Mitchell, she took a solid third-place in the 200m finals, while also capturing sixth in the 100-meter dash. Adding to her final point totals were scoring efforts as both part of the 4x100 and 4x400 relay squads to give her 12.50 points on the day -- a half-point better than her showing at Big 12 Indoors.

Smith, on other hand, sped his way to an eighth-place finish in the 100m and fourth-place finish in 200m. Both wind-aided times, Smith was the lone freshman to qualify for the 100m final, while he also finished only .02 seconds behind Baylor's Kevin Harris (21.13) in the 200m -- the only other freshman to qualify in that event final. The Vicksburg, Mississippi, native finished with an overall point total of 6.25 thanks to the individual efforts in the sprints, as well as taking seventh with Dane Steen, Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye and Kaneil Harrison in the 4x100.  

Rovelto said both athletes performed well, shaking off tough showings in the 100m with strong efforts in the 200m.  

"A'Keyla, she ran `technically' poor 100m race and still ran pretty fast. She ran an outstanding 200m and ran a really strong leg on both relays. We're talking about a true freshman. Her and Terrell are true freshmen," Rovelto said. "That's really remarkable in itself. You could say much of the same thing about Terrell today. He ran a sub-par 100m, but then came back and ran a great 200m. So, both of them bounced back after a disappointing 100m to run really great 200s -- that was special.

Added Rovelto, "Anytime true freshmen are scoring in a conference like this, it's a pretty good accomplishment."

In the triple jump, Collier built off a solid showing at Big 12 Indoors, where she placed second, by taking third in today's action. Leaping a wind-assisted mark of 12.84m/42-01.50 on her sixth and final attempt, Collier secured six points for the Wildcat women. The performance was a strong one, as Collier leapfrogged West Virginia's Shamoya Mitchell (12.81m/42-00.50) for the top-three finish and was the highest-finishing freshman in the event.

Points! The Rest in Today's Scoring Performances...

• Juniors Tia' Gamble and Sonia Gaskin both had solid days on the track, earning points individually and as part of the 4x400 relay squad that took third. For Gamble, she clocked a season-best 59.06 seconds in the 400-meter hurdle final to finish third behind the Texas duo of Melissa Gonzalez (57.94) and Ariel Jones (57.87). Gaskin, meanwhile, took fourth in the 800-meter in a time of 2:11.35. Her first time running the event at Outdoors since 2013, Gaskin has now recorded scoring performances at Big 12s in the 800m a total of three times overall, including indoors.

Rovelto praised both the juniors on their efforts, "Sonia continued just do what she does. She's a great competitor. Whether she's on or off, you know you're going to get 110 percent -- never anything less than that. And Tia', I felt in the intermediates, her time was close to a personal best, but given these windy conditions, it was by far her best race. There's no question about that, so she certainly had really, really great race there. And both of them finished with strong legs on the relay."   

Laura Galvan capped off a stellar weekend with her second fourth-place finish in as many events, taking fourth in the 5,000-meter run. Bringing her point total to 10 for the Wildcats, Galvan's second top-five finish came against a field of 40, as she clocked 16:52.76 to be one of only four runners to clock a sub-17 minute time in the event. Along with her fourth-place finish in the 10K this past Friday, the senior from Guanajuato, Mexico, has scored in multiple events at Big 12 Outdoors for a second-straight season -- Galvan took 6th in both the 5000m and 10K in 2014.

Said Rovelto, "I certainly felt like Laura was capable of scoring in the [5000m], but would have never have guessed she was going to come back that strong and run that kind of race after taking fourth on Friday. She had a phenomenal meet."

• Also racking up multiple scoring efforts on the track was Kain Ellis for the men. Individually, the sophomore Wildcat clocked 1:50.83 to finish fourth in a tightly contested 800m final that saw third-through-fifth separated by less than a half-second. The Saint Joseph, Missouri, native has excelled as of late, notching sub-1:51 minute times in back-to-back races after accomplishing the feat only once during the regular season. Ellis went onto to cap off his day with a fifth-place effort as part of the 4x400 relay squad with Christopher Campbell, Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye and Kaneil Harrison. Clocking 3:12.26, the time was the second-fastest ran by a Wildcat men's 4x400 this season.

• Competing alongside Nija Collier, Alyssa Kelly took fifth in the triple jump to secure a scoring effort in the event outdoors for a third-consecutive season. A career-high finish in the event at the conference level, Kelly's wind-assisted mark of 12.63m/41-05.25 also her marked the third time in her career she has recorded a jump of 41 feet or better.

• Rounding out the scoring efforts were top-eight finishes by both Morgan Wedekind and Colton Donahue in the 3000-meter steeplechase for the women and men, respectively. On the women's side, Wedekind took sixth in 10:53.27 -- a four-spot improvement from her performance at last season's conference meet. Donahue, for the men, placed seventh in 9:29.39 -- one of seven runners to finish the event in under 9:30.

What's Next?

K-State shifts its focus to the national level, first traveling to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA West Regionals on May 28-30. Held at the Longhorns' Mike A. Myers Stadium, the top-48 athletes from each event in the Division I West Region will compete for a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon, later this June.

Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships (Day III)
Cyclone Sports Complex
Ames, Iowa

Team Scores
1: Texas, 151 | 2: Texas Tech, 126.75 | 3: Oklahoma, 107 | 4: Baylor, 93 | 5: Kansas, 85.25
6: Oklahoma State, 69 | 7: TCU, 67 | 8: K-State, 62 | 9: Iowa State, 58

1: Texas, 141.50 | 2: K-State, 129.50 | 3: Texas Tech, 103 | 4: Kansas, 101 | 5: Baylor, 96
6: Oklahoma, 79 | 7: Oklahoma State, 62 | 8: Iowa State, 59 | 9: West Virginia, 32 | 10: TCU, 15

8: Terrell Smith, 10.39w (3.5)

6: A'Keyla Mitchell, 11.467w (3.5)

4: Terrell Smith, 21.15w (4.7)

3: A'Keyla Mitchell, 23.09w (3.5)

4: Kain Ellis, 1:50.83

4: Sonia Gaskin, 2:11.35

21: Colton Donahue, 15:36.21

4 Laura Galvan, 16:52.76
30: Morgan Wedekind, 18:27.01

100H (Prelims)
2: Akela Jones, 13.11w (3.8) -- Fastest wind-aided time in school history

3: Tia' Gamble, 59.06

3000m Steeplechase
7: Colton Donahue, 9:29.39
14: Jeff Bachman, 9:57.97

6: Morgan Wedekind, 10:53.27
9: Kayla Doll, 11:06.49

7: Steen-T. Smith-Harrison-Otuonye, 40.83

5: Van der Merwe-Mitchell-Matthews-Jones, 45.31

5: Campbell-Otuonye-Harrison-Ellis, 3:12.26

3: Gamble-Mitchell-Jones-Gaskin, 3:35.15

High Jump
1: Kim Williamson, 1.87m/6-01.50 -- T-4th-best in school history
2: Akela Jones, 1.87m/6-01.50 -- Ties personal best & T-4th-best in school history
4: Alyx Treasure, 1.81m/5-11.25
T6: Rhizlane Siba, 1.76m/5-09.25
12: Rachel Proteau, 1.66m.5-05.25

Triple Jump
3: Nija Collier, 12.84m/42-01.50w (3.2)
5: Alyssa Kelly, 12.63m/41-05.25w (2.5)