K-State Tallies Five Entries in Final Day of Prelims

AUSTIN, Texas -- K-State Track and Field wrapped up the Division I West Preliminary Round in Austin, Texas, with five more NCAA-qualifying performances. The Wildcats' effort was mainly highlighted on the track with A'Keyla Mitchell, Terrell Smith and the women's 4x400 squad earning bids, while Alyssa Kelly and Dani Winters each punched first-career trips to NCAA Outdoors in the field.

Bringing the overall total number of entries earned in Austin to 13 for K-State, the three-day performance matches last year's West Prelims total accrued in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

4x400 Shatters School Record, Returns to Eugene

It was déjà vu all over again for the women's 4x400 team. Entering the meet ranked 13th in the West Region, the relay squad wasn't guaranteed a spot in Eugene, Oregon, much like last year's first team All-American squad that entered preliminary action ranked 32nd. That squad, consisting of Sonia Gaskin, Tia' Gamble, Merryl Mbeng and Sarah Kolmer, snatched a qualifying spot, setting the then-school record of 3:34.12 in the process, before going onto take eighth at NCAAs.

In tonight's action, Gaskin and Gamble returned for an encore, and were joined by A'Keyla Mitchell and Akela Jones, as the foursome clocked a speedy 3:31.20 to take second in their heat and fourth-overall in the event. Like last year's squad, this group shattered the school record, by nearly two seconds, to secure the qualifying bid -- the previous record of 3:33.12 was set by the 2014 4x400 team in Eugene. All four runners ran quick splits, highlighted by Gamble saving a near-botched handoff between the second and third legs and Mitchell running the anchor in an impressive 51.102 seconds.

Entering Eugene, the women's 4x400 will attempt to do something no Wildcat relay squad, men's or women's, has accomplished -- earn NCAA All-American outdoor honors in back-to-back seasons.

Kelly Nabs First Career Trip to Eugene

Marking a career-best 12.81m/42-00.50 in her first jump in the first round of flights, Alyssa Kelly had quite the long wait to secure a first career trip to NCAAs, but the junior punched her ticket, eventually finishing 10th-overall in the triple jump. Kelly, who entered the meet ranked 28th in the West Region, held on to a top-12 spot thanks to leaping the second-best overall mark in the first two flights of the triple jump.

The first Wildcat women's athlete to qualify for NCAA Outdoors in the event since TiAra Walpool in 2009, Kelly also moved to No. 7 in school history with her latest effort. Her mark is the best by a Wildcat since Walpool leapt the third-best mark in school history at 13.35m/43-09.75 in 2011.

In Eugene, Kelly will look to become the first K-State women's triple jumper in a decade to earn All-American honors -- Chaytan Hill took 7th at the 2005 NCAAs.

Mitchell, Smith Clinch Bids in 200m

A'Keyla Mitchell and Terrell Smith each earned NCAA qualifying bids in the women's and men's 200-meter quarterfinals, respectively. Clocking 23.16 seconds to take first over Deanna Hill of USC (23.28) in the third and final heat, Mitchell's time was also the fourth-fastest overall out of the field of 23. Smith, meanwhile, nabbed the 12th and final qualifying spot on the men's side, in an ultra-competitive first heat that saw the top-six finishers all move onto Eugene.

Both freshmen, Smith was the lone freshman to qualify out of the West Region and one of only three to qualify for NCAAs overall, while Mitchell's qualifying time was the second-fastest out of the five first-year women's sprinters that will compete in Eugene. Smith and Mitchell are also the first Wildcats to compete at NCAA Outdoors in the sprints since Martynas Jurgilas ran the 100-meter in 2011.

Winters Cruises to First Career Outdoor Qualification

Already with All-American honors under her belt indoors in the shot put, Dani Winters made it one step closer to doing the same outdoors, earning qualification thanks to a third-place finish overall at Prelims. The junior thrower rebounded well after fouling in her first attempt, vaulting into the top-three with a mark of 16.92m/55-06.25 in her second throw of the evening.

The fifth-best qualifying mark out of both the East and West Regions, Winters' latest effort highlights a junior season that has been nothing short of stellar. She has swept the shot put conference titles, as well set the school records both indoors and outdoors in the event. Now with her trip to Eugene, the Plainville, Kansas, native will have the opportunity to become the first Wildcat women's thrower since Rebekah Green in 2003 to earn All-American shot put honors.

The Rest in Competition...

• In the javelin, four Wildcats competed on the day -- two each for the men and women. On the men's side, Ivan Hartung and Dwight Davidson took 23rd and 25th, respectively. Davidson, in particular, set a personal best mark for a second-consecutive meet, marking 63.34m/207-10 in his final attempt of the afternoon. The women, meanwhile, saw Danie Plank and Haley Pitko take 19th and 42nd, respectively, with the former (45.67m/149-10) missing a qualifying spot by a little less than three feet -- 12th-place finisher Stephanie Wells of Montana hit 46.52m/152-07.

What's Next?

The Wildcats get a week off before heading to Eugene for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 10-13. K-State will enter competition with 14 entries, including Akela Jones in the heptathlon -- 10 for the women and 4 for the men. For further information on K-State's upcoming national championship slate, visit www.k-statesports.com.


NCAA West Preliminary Round (Day III)
Mike A. Myers Stadium
Austin, Texas

200m
Men
10: Terrell Smith, 20.78q (0.4)

Women
4: A'Keyla Mitchell, 23.16q (0.7)

4x400
Women
4: Gaskin-Jones-Gamble-Mitchell, 3:31.20 -- School record

Triple Jump
Women
10: Alyssa Kelly, 12.81m/42-00.50q (-1.6) -- Personal best & 7th-best in school history

Shot Put
Women
3: Dani Winters, 16.92m/55-06.25q

Javelin
Men
23: Ivan Hartung, 63.72m/209-01
25: Dwight Davidson, 63.34m/207-10 -- Personal best

Women
19: Danie Plank, 45.67m/149-10
42: Haley Pitko, 42.05m/137-11