Track Opens Road Competition in Arkansas

MANHATTAN, Kan. - After starting the season with three home meets, Kansas State will travel to its first event of the year as the track and field teams compete at the Arkansas Invitational on Friday, Jan. 11th. The Wildcats have found four qualifiers in the first weeks, including the addition of Laci Heller in the women’s weight throw during last week’s KSU Invitational. K-State will be looking to add to that number with the 12 men and 17 women that will compete in Fayetteville, Ark.

Competition from the Randal Tyson Track Center, home of the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, will start at noon on Friday with the men’s shot put and women’s high jump. K-State’s first competitor will be Cassie Styers in the high jump.

The running events get underway at 1 p.m. with the women’s mile, followed  by the men’s. The Wildcats will be fielding entries of Emily Dittemore, Sydney Messick and Megan-Anne Perrin for the women and Danny Schneider and Mike Sickafoose on the men’s side.

The meet will conclude with the women’s and men’s 4x400M relay with an approximate start time of 7:45 p.m. A complete recap of K-State results will be posted on www.kstatesports.com as soon as final results are in.

IN FULL SWING
Kansas State had an early start to the track and field season with three smaller events being hosted in Ahearn Field House in early December and January. The weekend of the Arkansas Invitational will feature an array of meets as previous weekends were of a quieter nature. While the January 5th weekend had nine events, the upcoming weekend will have 27 track and field meets taking place.

More competition brings more qualifiers, as the men list 24 and the women have 19 automatic and provisional qualifiers for the national meet. Sophomore Alexandra Gonzalez is one of two to provisionally qualify thus far in the women’s pole vault, while Loren Groves and Laci Heller are two of the three in the women’s weight throw. Junior Scott Sellers is one of only four men to have a ticket punched to the championship meet as he opened the year with an automatic mark in the men’s high jump on December 7th.

MAKING THE TRIP
The Wildcats will travel 12 men and 17 women to the Arkansas Invitational on Friday. In men’s field events, high jumpers Michael Healey and Scott Sellers and long jumpers Moritz Cleve and Adam Fretwell will compete to improve numbers from earlier this season. Healey opened his K-State career with a clearance of 6-10.25, while Sellers notched an automatic mark of 7-04.25 in his first competition this season.

The men will have Desmond McGuire and Mike Myer compete in the sprints, while Cleve and Fretwell will take part in the 60M hurdles. For mid-distance and distance events, Jason Collett, Sam James, Danny Schneider, Mike Sickafoose, Colin Swaney and Alex Umberger will compete. Collett and James each have marks in the 600Y and 800M with the pair coming in one-two in each meet. Colin Swaney, a 2008 team captain, will be racing in his first event of the season, the 3000M.

K-State’s women will travel six to compete in field events, including sophomore sensation Alexandra Gonzalez. Nancy Harrington will join Gonzalez in the women’s pole vault competition set for 2 p.m. Friday. Annika Schoenebeck and Thomaida Polydorou will compete in the long and triple jump, respectively. Cassie Styers (high jump) and Lindsay Grigoriev (shot put) will be among the Cats’ first field competitors of the meet.

Racing for the women are distance competitors Morgan Bonds, Emily Dittemore, Sydney Messick and Megan-Anne Perrin. Dittemore, Messick and Perrin will be competing in their first mile event of the year, while Bonds will join Dittemore for their first running of the 800M. Sprinters Denise Baker, Marnyka Honeycutt, Donniece Parrish and Tiara Walpool will run in the 1:30 p.m. 200M, and Lauren Fisher will be the lone Wildcat running the 400M. Baker, Grigoriev and Schoenebeck will also compete in the women’s 60M hurdles at 4:55 p.m.

GROVES IN A GROOVE
Wildcat thrower Loren Groves has put herself into a groove of performing well as the junior started the season strong with a victory in the women’s weight throw at the KSU All-Comers. The native of Scott City, Mo., won the event with a top mark of 66-10.00 to earn a provisional mark. In the second meet of the year, the KSU Invitational, she added a second provisional mark at 64-05.75 to earn her second victory of the year. As a sophomore, Groves threw for six NCAA provisional marks and opened the year with 64-02.50, which finished as her shortest toss of the season.

OVER THE TOP
Kansas State might have known the potential that transfer Alexandra Gonzalez held, but being the Puerto Rico record holder might make her potential apparent. Gonzalez proved her worth in the first meet as a Wildcat, as she recorded an NCAA provisionally-qualifying height in the pole vault with a clearance of 12-11.50. The height marks the first time for a K-State female vaulter to pass over 12 feet since the 2006 season. In the KSU Invitational, she added a second mark of over 12 feet with a clearance at her second attempt of 12-01.50.

FIRST WINS OF THE SEASON
At the last competition this year, numerous Wildcats walked away with victories, while many earned their first of the season. Mike Myer won his first sprint of the year with a time of 6.94 in the 60M, while Adam Fretwell took the win in the 60M hurdles (8.42). In longer distance events, Sam James won the 600Y running 1:12.14, while Danny Schneider (1000M) and Mike Sickafoose (Mile) won the first races of their career.

Additional victories for the Wildcats were Loren Groves in the women’s weight throw (64-05.75), Morgan Bonds in the 600Y (1:22.56), Alexandra Gonzalez with a height of 12-01.50 in the pole vault and Marnyka Honeycutt in the 60M (7.67). For the men, Scott Sellers won the long jump on opening day with a personal-best 23-10.00. Both men’s and women’s 4x400M relay teams won the event, as the men ran a season-best time of 3:24.38 and the women clocked a 3:50.73.

ARKANSAS INVITATIONAL HISTORY
Kansas State walked away from the 2007 Arkansas Invitational with nine top-three finishes, including three event titles. Current Wildcat Scott Sellers will be the only 2007 titlist to return to the scene as he captured the men’s high jump win a year ago with a height of 7-02.50. Then-freshman Lindsay Pierson won the women’s mile with a time of 5:10.93, and former Wildcat Kaylene Wagner earned her third high jump win with a mark of 5-11.25.

Current Wildcats recording second place performances were Liliani Mendez, Jason Collett and Colin Swaney. Mendez had a mark of 4:55.16 in the women’s championship mile, the same event she will compete in this year. Collett captured silver in the 800M with a time of 1:54.20, while Swaney crossed the line in 8:35.42 in the 3000M. Both men are scheduled to compete in the same event at the 2007 edition of the meet.

PENT OF EMPHASIS
After the completion of the Carol Robinson Winter Pentathlon, Kansas State’s top 10 list changed with the rotation of three new names being added to the standings. In his first ever combined events competition, junior Scott Sellers tallied the second best pentathlon mark in school history with 4,046 points. He finished with first-place finishes in both the high jump (7-04.25) and long jump (23-08.25).

Freshman Rok Derzanic took third place after notching 3,839 points to mark the fourth top mark in KSU history. He ran a time of 8.31 in the 60M hurdles, while also finishing at 6-05.50 in the high jump and 22-06.25 in the long jump. Freshman Moritz Cleve also had a top 10 mark, earning 3,792 for the eighth best mark all-time while placing fourth in the meet. Cleve ran the fastest mark in the 1000M with a time of 2:42.21, while also leading the K-State competitors in the shot put with a throw of 41-05.25.

JUST OUTSIDE
The men’s and women’s teams each missed the cut for the preseason top 25 from the USTFCCCA, but each is knocking at the door of the listings. Each team sits just outside as the women are ranked 31st with the new scoring system in place, while the men are at 38th.

The LSU women open the season with the coveted first-place ranking, while the Florida State men sit atop on the men’s side by a slightly smaller margin. LSU leads Arizona State by nearly 45 points as Florida State has an approximate nine point edge over Washington for the men’s lead.

Big 12 schools listed for the women are Texas Tech at seventh with Texas A&M only 0.13 of a point back in eighth. Texas enters the polls at 11th as the only other women’s team in the top 25. For the men, Baylor paces the conference at 10th with Kansas and Nebraska trailing at 11th and 12th, respectively. Reigning Big 12 outdoor champions Oklahoma sit at 17th with Texas in 18th. Texas A&M and Missouri round out conference foes in the top 25 as they enter the season 21st and 23rd, respectively.

The Wildcat women sit out of the top 25 by 8.75 while the men are 10.91 back of 25th Virginia Tech.

LEADER OF THE CATS
The Wildcats will look for leadership from eight individuals who were voted as 2008 team captains. For the men, Bryce Bergman (pole vault), Lamar Garrett (high jump), Kyle Seiler (javelin) and Colin Swaney (distance) earned the vote of their peers. Seniors Morgan Bonds (mid-distance), Laci Heller (throws), Candice Mills (jumps) and Donniece Parrish (sprints) were all named captains on the women’s side.

CHASING DOWN RECORDS
The 2007 season saw the falling of four school records, including three in the outdoor season alone. Both indoor and outdoor men’s high jump records were replaced by marks from outdoor champion Scott Sellers. The indoor record of 7-05.75 at the ISU Classic was the lone indoor mark to be replaced. The then-sophomore from Katy, Texas, also captured the outdoor record with a clearance of 7-07.75 to capture the Big 12 crown.

The remaining records to fall sit on the women’s side and include one relay marks. The 4x400M team (Shunte Thomas, Donniece Parrish, Monique Coleman, Morgan Bonds) ran a pace of 3:33.34 at the NCAA Midwest Regionals to break the old mark of 3:33.45 set in 2006 at the Texas Relays. Beverly Ramos etched her name into the books for the 3000M steeplechase as she finished the NCAA Midwest Regionals in a time of 10:21.71 to erase the mark of Amanda Crouse-Behnke from the 2001 Big 12 Championships (10:49.65).

16 AND COUNTING
Kansas State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto wrapped up his 15th season with the Wildcats in 2007 with All-America resume additions - make that three additions and all in the event of high jump. Rovelto coached his Cats through the NCAA Outdoor Championships and walked away with three All-Americans, including one national title holder. Scott Sellers finished with gold in the high jump to mark the fifth athlete under Rovelto to earn an NCAA title and sixth overall first-place finish. Kyle Lancaster finished fourth with his seventh All-America honor, while Kaylene Wagner took eighth to earn her first All-America accolade as a Wildcat.

Now entering his 16th season, Rovelto has guided 42 individuals to 94 All-America certificates and 47 Wildcats who won 66 conference titles. The list includes five to win six NCAA Championships, while Rovelto has coached 15 NCAA runner-ups and 11 NCAA bronze-finishers.