Winters Takes First Team Honors in Day Two of NCAAs

EUGENE, Ore. -- Dani Winters took home first team All-American honors in the shot put, headlining the second act of competition for K-State Track and Field on day two of the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships. After watching teammate Akela Jones nab the heptathlon national title, the rest of the Wildcat women followed their teammate's effort up with multiple solid performances in both the field and on the track.  

Thanks to the scoring efforts from both Jones and Winters, the Wildcat women finished the day with 15 points and currently stand fifth-overall.

Winters Places Fourth in the Shot Put

To quantify just how far Dani Winters has come in one year may be a next to impossible task. The junior Wildcat thrower entered the 2015 season with solid numbers, including multiple scoring performances at the conference level both indoors and outdoors, but she had yet to translate that success to the national level. Fast forward to today's competition and Winters not only entered the meet as the No. 3 shot putter in the country, but also the reigning indoor and outdoor Big 12 champion in the event, as well as an indoor All-American -- not to mention Winters also currently holds both the indoor and outdoor school records.

If all those accomplishments weren't enough for one season, she added one more career-first in today's action, notching first team honors in the shot put with a fourth-place finish. Throwing 17.64m/57-10.50 on her sixth and final throw of the day, Winters nearly matched her career-best and school record of 17.75m/58-03 and became the first Wildcat women's thrower to finish top-five in the event outdoors nationally since Austra Skujyte and Rebekah Green took second and fifth, respectively, in 2002.

The performance by the Plainville, Kansas, native was an impressive one, as she nearly came away with national title. Winters advanced to the event final thanks to a throw of 17.51m/57-05/50 on her third attempt, moving into a tie of first-place with Wisconsin's Kelsey Card. That result would hold for a majority of the final three rounds until Card hit 17.96m/58-11.25 in the final throw of the fifth round to take the lead. The eventual national champion Raven Saunders of Southern Illinois, as well as Tori Bliss of LSU would move up in the sixth round. Despite dropping to fourth, Winters final throw of the evening marked an improvement by five inches, as she was one of only four throwers to throw 57 feet or better in the field of 24 -- to put that number into further perspective, Winters is the only Wildcat women's thrower to throw 57 feet or better in program history.

With the All-American effort, Winters tallied five points for the women.  

On the Track...

A'Keyla Mitchell led a busy day on the track for the women, nabbing second team honors in the 200-meter. One of five freshman sprinters competing in the event, Mitchell clocked 23.12 seconds in the second of three heats to eventually place 16th out of a field of 24 runners. Her All-American effort made her the first Wildcat women's runner since Nicole Green in 1995 to earn the honors in a sprints event.

She was joined in the individual events by Tia' Gamble, who placed 21st in the 400-meter hurdles -- her first career appearance competing on the national stage individually. Gamble, who qualified for NCAAs with a personal best mark of 58.19 seconds at West Prelims, clocked 59.29 in the second heat, securing All-American honorable mentions honors in the process.

Both Gamble and Mitchell went onto wrap up the women's evening on the track, competing alongside Sonia Gaskin and Sarah Kolmer in the 4x400-meter relay. The foursome clocked 3:36.62 to finish 17th-overall and narrowly outside 16th-place (Cornell -- 3:36.56) and second team honors.   

What's Next?

Action switches to the men's side, as K-State will have two high jumpers in competition. Scheduled to start at 6 p.m. CT, freshmen Christoff Bryan and Nate Gipson will look to become the first pair of K-State teammates to earn All-American honors at NCAA Outdoors in the event since Scott Sellers and Kyle Lancaster accomplished the feat in 2007. Updates on all of the day's action for K-State can be found on Twitter via @kstate_gameday under #KStateTF.

NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships (Day I)
Hayward Field
Eugene, Oregon

200m (Semifinals)
16: A'Keyla Mitchell, 23.12 (1.8)

400H (Semifinals)
21: Tia' Gamble, 59.29

4x400 (Semifinals)
17: Gaskin-Mitchell-Gamble-Kolmer, 3:36.62

Shot Put
4: Dani Winters, 17.64m/57-10.50

Hammer Throw
--: Sara Savatovic, FOUL