`Cats Rack Up Four More at NCAA Prelims

June 1, 2014

Photo Gallery  K-State AthleticsFAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – K-State and Track wrapped up a solid effort at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with five more Wildcats earning trips to Eugene, Oregon. Three of the four qualifications came from the field, as Devin Field in the triple jump, Sara Savatovic in the hammer throw and Alyx Treasure in the high jump nabbed NCAA bids, while on the track the women’s 4x400 of Sonia Gaskin, Tia' Gamble, Merryl Mbeng and Sarah Kolmer made it a total of 13 bids by 14 athletes for K-State in the NCAA Outdoor Championships this June.  

Head coach Cliff Rovelto said the three-day meet, as a whole, could not have gone much better for the Wildcats.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot more that we could have done,” Rovelto said. “I mean there are always more possibilities, but you’re not going to bat a thousand. The people that probably had the best opportunity of scoring [at NCAAs] moved on. It doesn’t mean that the athletes who didn’t make it don’t belong there, but, overall, we did well.”


Devin Field made it two-for-two in the Prelims, securing an NCAA berth in the men’s triple jump. The sophomore registered a personal best leap of 16.30m/53-05.75 in his fifth and final attempt of the evening to finish first overall. His latest effort moved him to sixth-best in school history, as Field is the first Wildcat to earn a trip to NCAA Outdoors in the triple jump since Stelios Kapsalis in 2006.

Including his qualification in the long jump, Field will also be the first Wildcat to earn All-American recognition in both the long jump and triple jump since Kenny Harrison in 1986. Second Team and Honorable Mention All-American recognition was added by the NCAA in 2011.

• In the women’s 4x400, the squad of Tia' Gamble, Sonia Gaskin, Merryl Mbeng  and Sarah Kolmer put in an exceptional performance for the Wildcats to punch their ticket to Eugene. The foursome clocked in at 3:34.12 to place 10th-overall in an effort that saw Gaskin and Gamble combine to run the first two legs in 1:45.60, while Mbeng and Kolmer finished the last 800 meters in splits of 54.38 and 54.15, respectively.

The Wildcats’ finish was even more impressive as it was only the second time the four athletes had ran together this season and they competed in a heat that included two of the top five squads in the West Region in Oregon and Texas A&M. The relay squad’s final time was also third fastest in school history.

Rovelto had plenty of praise for each individual’s effort.

“We really didn’t know till late who was going to run, but they ran great. It’s a good problem to have with the options we have,” Rovelto said. “Sonia did a nice job leading off out there in lane nine. She’s not a ‘quarter-miler,’ but the reason we run her lead off is because she is very dependable and you know what you’re going to get. What she did today was basically what she did at conference and so forth. For Tia’, she has gotten progressively better and we knew with the first two legs that we were going to be able to run at a competitive level.

“With Merryl, we weren’t sure what we were going to get tonight, but we did know that Merryl is capable and she did a good job. And with Sarah, she ran her guts out. That’s beyond 100 percent, she’s never been close to that territory so we couldn’t do anything more than what we did – it was awesome.”

The group of Gaskin, Gamble, Mbeng and Kolmer will be the first Wildcat 4x400 squad to compete at NCAA Outdoors since Lisi Maurer, Shunte Thomas, Donniece Parrish and Morgan Bonds represented K-State at the 2006 Championships.

Sara Savatovic kicked off Saturday’s action in a big way, qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the hammer throw. The sophomore finished fifth overall, punching her ticket to Eugene on her third throw of the day – 61.21m/200-10. She was one of only five throwers to register a throw 200 feet or more, as well as the lone underclassmen to move onto the national championship.

Along with Savatovic qualifying for NCAAs for the first time in her career, she will be the first Wildcat women’s hammer thrower to compete on the national stage since Loren Groves in 2009.

Alyx Treasure clinched her second career trip to NCAAs, and first outdoors, placing first overall with a final leap of 1.77m/5-09.75. The junior high jumper tied with Texas’ Shanay Briscoe and Arkansas’ Kirsten Hesseltine for the top spot, as the trio were the only athletes to clear each bar on their first attempt. Competition was halted after the qualifying top-12 was decided at 1.77m.

Treasure will be the first Wildcat women’s high jumper to appear on the outdoor national stage since Kaylene Wagner in 2007. The 2007 outdoor season is also the last time K-State has had both a men’s and women’s high jumper competing at the national championship – Wagner, Kyle Lancaster and Scott Sellers.

Also in Action…

Erica Twiss closed out a busy week of competition in the 100 meter hurdles final, finishing the event 19th overall in a time of 13.68 seconds.

• In the women’s high jump, Joslyn Barnes and Rachel Proteau competed alongside Treasure, finishing tied for 11th and 31st, respectively. Barnes, competing in the Prelims for the first time in her career, cleared her first two bars at 1.67m/5-05.75 and 1.72m/5-07.75 before dropping her next three attempts at 1.77m/5-09.75. Her final mark put her in an eight-way tie for the final two qualifying spots, which led to a jump off. Barnes was unable to clear 1.77 meters though, as Northern Illinois’ Claudette Day and Wichita State’s Ashley Petersen earned the final two spots to Eugene.

For Proteau, she was one of only five freshmen to compete in the high jump, clearing 1.67m before bowing out at 1.72m.  

• The men’s 4x400 squad of Christopher Campbell, Carlos Rodriguez, Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye and Tyris Jefferson took 20th overall, clocking in at 3:10.07.

The Wildcats will now shift their attention to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, set to run from June 11-14 at University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. For more information, visit www.k-statesports.com.

NCAA West Regional Preliminary Round
John McDonnell Field
Fayetteville, Ark.

K-State Results

100m Hurdles
19: Erica Twiss, K-State, 13.68 (0.9)

20: Campbell-Rodriguez-Otuonye-Jefferson, K-State, 3:10.07

10: Gaskin-Gamble-Mbeng-Kolmer, K-State, 3:34.12 – 3rd-best in school history

High Jump
T-1: Alyx Treasure, K-State, 1.77m/5-09.75
T-11: Joslyn Barnes, K-State, 1.72m/5-07.75
T-31: Rachel Proteau, K-State, 1.67m/5-05.75

Triple Jump
1: Devin Field, K-State, 16.30m/53-05.75 (0.8) – Personal best & 6th-best in school history

Hammer Throw
5: Sara Savatovic, K-State, 61.21m/200-10q