Newcomers Shine at Winter Invitational

 MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State Track and Field capped off a solid weekend of action with an outstanding showing at the K-State Winter Invitational in Ahearn Field House. Competing against Oklahoma State and Nebraska-Omaha among others, the Wildcats racked up four school records, four meet records as well as saw freshman Rhizlane Siba set a new Morocco National Indoor Record in the women’s high jump.

Head coach Cliff Rovelto was impressed with the Wildcats’ overall performance.

“From a team perspective, overall, it was very good,” Rovelto said. “I think there were some great individual performances.”

The newcomers for K-State, in particular, made impressive debuts. Among the several highlight performances were A'Keyla Mitchell, Akela Jones and Keiteyana Parks all setting school records in the 60-meter, 60-meter hurdles and 300 meter dash, respectively, while the aforementioned Siba in the high jump and freshman Janee' Kassanavoid in the weight throw recorded personal bests.

Records and PRs Galore

• The foursome of Sonia Gaskin, Tia' Gamble, A'Keyla Mitchell and Erica Twiss shattered the 4x400 relay school record, clocking in at a time of 3:37.98 – nearly two-and-a half seconds better than the previous fastest time of 3:40.38 set in 2012. It was a dominant performance that saw each runner record splits of well under 56 seconds or better en route to defeating the field of six by more than 13 seconds overall.

“The women’s relay was phenomenal,” Rovelto said. “In a way, it was almost anti-climactic because we all, kind of, saw that coming. We all knew what was there. But you still have to go out and do it, and they did so that was pretty neat.”

Along with setting the school record, the first-place finish was also a new Winter invitational meet record.

• Prior to helping break the 4x400 record, Mitchell set both a school and meet record of her own in the women’s 60-meter dash, finishing in a time of 7.40. The Corpus Christi, Texas native defeated the field of 17 by nearly a half-second, while besting the school record previously held by Jasmine Gibbs of 7.41 set at the 2012 KSU All-Comers meet.

“A'Keyla Mitchell is a very gifted young athlete, obviously,” Rovelto said. “It was her first time she has ever run a 60 in her life. To go out and run 7.40 the first time you are ever running that event is pretty good. She also scored a 52.9 [split] in the relay too, so she’s going to do some special things.”

• Junior-transfer Akela Jones followed Mitchell’s performance by setting the school and meet record in the 60-meter hurdles. Clocking in at 8.17 seconds, Jones’ time bested the record set by Lisi Maurer in 2006, and most recently tied by Twiss last season, of 8.24. A native of St. Michael, Barbados, Jones entered this season as the reigning NAIA indoor champion in the event, while her previous best in the 60H was 8.30 seconds.

Rovelto said Jones has the potential to be even better.

“There’s no denying it, people have seen it for years,” Rovelto said. “She’s shown glimmers and some of it hasn’t come out yet, but it’s our job to help her get there. I’m not at all surprised by what she ran, she’s just that good.”

• Also making her debut in K-State purple was Keiteyana Parks, who competed in the 60-meter and 300-meter dashes. Her performance in the latter event was particularly notable, as Parks set a school and meet record with a time of 39.40 seconds. The record-setting time marked the fourth-straight year a Wildcat sprinter had set the record in the event – Parks bested Gamble’s time of 39.44.

“The record she broke was set by an athlete that was second in the conference in the 600 [yard run] last year and was on a relay in the NCAA finals too,” Rovelto said. “So for a freshman to do that, when you compare that time with what she ran in high school – there’s no comparison – it was very good.”

• In the high jump, Rhizlane Siba cleared the bar at 1.81m/5-11.25 en route to a first-place finish and new Morocco National Indoor Record. Already the national outdoor record holder with a mark of 1.80m/5-10.75, Siba was a perfect five-for-five in bars cleared until missing her final three tries at 1.85m/6-00.75. The personal best effort also placed the Rabat native in the K-State top-10, tying her for ninth with Terresha DeRossett and DeDe Henderson.

• After spending this past season with Johnson County Community College, sophomore transfer Janee' Kassanavoid kicked off her K-State career with a personal best chuck in the weight throw. Kassanavoid recorded her PR mark of 17.08m/56-00.50 on her second throw of the morning, besting her previous PR of 16.59m/54-05.00 en route to a second-place finish overall.

The Rest in First-Place Finishes…

• Freshman Thilina Karunaratne leapt his way to a first-place finish in the high jump. A native of Nugegoda, Sri Lanka, Karunaratne finished the afternoon with a final height cleared of 2.10m/6-10.75. Joining Karunaratne were Nate Gipson, who tied for second in his K-State debut, and Miles Bearden, who finished in fourth.

“All the high jumpers looked pretty solid for their first meet,” Rovelto said. “Thilina if he doesn’t blow out his shoe at his make at 2.10m, who knows if he would have been in his shoes, he might make that next bar, which is right at his PR. But I thought Miles looked good and so did Nate for where they are in their training.”

• Elsewhere in the field, Dani Winters racked up a first-place performance in the weight throw, while Alyssa Kelly and freshman Megan Vanderpool took first in the long jump and pole vault, respectively. Winters also finished second in the shot put – the junior is coming off a 2013-14 indoor season that saw her record scoring performances in both the weight throw and shot put at Big 12 Indoors.

• In the distance events, the Wildcats swept the 1000-meter with Gaskin (2:54.30) leading the way for the women, while Logan Smith clocked in at 2:29.80 to defeat fellow teammate Kain Ellis by one second. K-State also got winning performances from Blake Goodin (4:19.92) and Mary Frances Donnelly (4:58.09) in the men’s and women’s mile runs, respectively, and both Laura Galvan (10:03.53) and Avery Loyd (1:31.21) opened their senior years on winning notes in the 3000-meter and 600-yard runs, respectively.

• The men followed up the women’s victories in the 60-meter, 300-meter and 4x400 with wins of their own. First, in the 60-meter, freshman Terrell Smith bested senior Carlos Rodriguez to take first-place – his time of 6.76 put him as the No.6-fastest in school history. Rodriguez would go onto take first in the 300-meter dash not soon after, finishing the race in a time of 34.04. Lastly, in the 4x400, the foursome of Christopher Campbell, Jay-J Parks, Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye and Tyris Jefferson clocked in at 3:16.73 to best the field of six.

“Carlos ran well in the 300, and I thought Tyris did well in the [300m] and ran a strong relay split,” Rovelto said. “The guys ran solid on the relay, but, of the four guys, the only guy that ran close to where I would be expecting him to be right now was Tyris so all of the other guys could have ran faster. They ran a decent time, but I thought we should have ran a second-and-half, two seconds faster than we did. So that speaks well for down the road.”

What’s Next?

With the first weekend of competition in the books, the Wildcats won’t return action until Jan. 9 in Lawrence, Kansas for the Bill Easton Classic. They’ll follow up that meet with their next home meet, a triangular between the ‘Cats, Jayhawks and Shockers on Jan. 17. For more information on today’s action as well as K-State’s upcoming schedule, visit

K-State Winter Invitational
Ahearn Field House
Manhattan, Kansas

K-State Results

1: Terrell Smith, K-State, 6.76 – 6th-fastest in School History
2: Carlos Rodriguez, K-State, 6.82
4: Dane Steen, K-State, 6.92

1: A'Keyla Mitchell, K-State, 7.40 – School & Meet Record
3: Keiteyana Parks, K-State, 7.91

1: Akela Jones, K-State, 8.24 – Personal best, School & Meet Record
5: Tia' Gamble, K-State, 9.43

1: Carlos Rodriguez, K-State, 34.04
2: Tyris Jefferson, K-State, 34.41
3: Christopher Campbell, K-State, 34.64
5: Dane Steen, K-State, 35.31
6: Kaneil Harrison, K-State, 35.49
--: Devin Field, K-State, DQ

1: Keiteyana Parks, K-State, 39.40 – School & Meet Record
6: Jordan Matthews, K-State, 41.50

1: Avery Loyd, K-State, 1:31.21

1: Logan Smith, K-State, 2:29.80
2: Kain Ellis, K-State, 2:30.80
3: Kevin Jantsch, K-State, 2.33.14
4: Sam Oxandale, K-State, 2:34.07

1: Sonia Gaskin, K-State, 2:54.30
3: Marija Stambolic, K-State, 3:04.53

1: Blake Goodin, K-State, 4:19.92
2: Colton Donahue, K-State, 4:21.80
4: Brett Bachman, K-State, 4:24.63

1: Mary Frances Donnelly, K-State, 4:58.09
2: Kayla Doll, K-State, 5:20.25

2: Jeff Bachman, K-State, 8:53.71
3: Bryan Zack, K-State, 9:08.64
4: Daniel Worthington, K-State, 9:09.83

1: Laura Galvan, K-State, 10:03.53
2: Erika Schiller, K-State, 10:07.43
3: Jennifer McCarty, K-State, 10:23.36
4: Paige Kochuyt, K-State, 10:52.64

1: Campbell-Parks-Otuonye-Jefferson, K-State, 3:16.73
3: Harrison-Deterding-Estill-T. Smith, K-State, 3:23.89

1: Gaskin-Gamble-Mitchell-Twiss, K-State, 3:37.98 – School & Meet Record
2: Matthews-Kolmer-Jones-Barnes, K-State, 3:51.88
--: van der Merwe-Collier-Knox-Kelly, K-State, DNF

High Jump
1: Thilina Karunaratne, K-State, 2.10m/6-10.75
T2: Nate Gipson, K-State, 2.05m/6-08.75
4: Miles Bearden, K-State, 2.05m/6-08.75

1: Rhizlane Siba, K-State, 1.81m/5-11.25 – Morocco Nat’l Indoor Record
4: Rachel Proteau, K-State, 1.78m/5-10.00

Pole Vault
1: Tommy Brady, K-State, 4.75m/15-07.00

1: Megan Vanderpool, K-State, 3.52m/10-06.50
4: Kristen Petry, K-State, 3.20m/10-06.00

Long Jump
1: Alyssa Kelly, K-State, 5.63m/18-05.75
2: Chadnee Knox, K-State, 5.62m/18-05.25

Shot Put
2: Jason Coon, K-State, 15.89m/52-01.75

2: Dani Winters, K-State, 15.80m/51-10.00
6: Danie Plank, K-State, 11.35m/37-03.00

Weight Throw
6: Kale Mueller, K-State, 15.09m/49-06.25

1: Dani Winters, K-State, 18.04m/59-02.25
2: Janee' Kassanavoid, K-State, 17.08m/56-00.50 – Personal best