SE: Rovelto High on his Young Wildcats

Jharyl Bowry

Jan. 28, 2013

This story appeared in Monday's edition of K-State Sports Extra

By Mark Janssen

In recent years, Kansas State’s track and field programs have been really, really good in a few events, but not across the board.

This year that’s different.

Still in the early stages of the indoor season, Wildcat track and field coach Cliff Rovelto says, “We could be very good. In terms of winning the conference, the men have a better chance than the women, but I think we could be capable of being in the top three on both sides if we can stay healthy.”

Rovelto added, “We’re young in some areas, but in this sport if you’re good, you’re good, and we could be pretty good. We have two teams that could be very competitive and we have athletes who are going to be around for a while.”

K-State demonstrated that this past weekend when both the men and the women of Wildcat track and field place third at the Bill Bergan Invitational in Ames, Iowa.

The men, ranked No. 16 in the nation, placed only behind No. 8 Minnesota and No. 10 Wisconsin. The women were third only to No. 9 Iowa State and No. 18 Wisconsin.

“I was really impressed with the young people and those new to the program,” said Rovelto. “We had a nice team returning and then we had a recruiting class that ranked in the top six in the country with our women, plus five men coming in that are really good.”

The veterans did their thing like Erik Kynard winning the high jump at 7-4.25 (2.24 meters) followed by newcomer teammate Zack Riley, who cleared 7-2.25 (2.19 meters).

Elsewhere, Ifeanyi Otuonye long jumped 24-3.50 (7.40m), which ranks second in the Big 12 this season, Carlos Rodriguez was second in the 60 at 6.70, which is the league’s second swiftest clocking, and Alex Roe was sixth in the weight throw at 58-3.25 (17.76m) with that distance ranking third in the Big 12.

On the women’s side, Sonia Gaskin was second in the 800 in 2:10.32, which is the second fastest time in the league; Jessica Carter was sixth in the weight throw at 59-5.00 (18.11m), which ranks fifth in the Big 12; and, Jacquelyn Leffler was fifth in the shot put at 50-6 (15.39m), which is seventh in school history and ninth in the Big 12 this year.

Always more than representative in the field events, where this year’s teams have taken a significant stride in improvement is in the sprints.

“We’re really encouraged by our group of sprinters, especially on the women’s side,” said Rovelto. “We have a group of six or seven, who could run really fast on our relays, and they’re all underclassmen.”

The Wildcat coach added, “We may not have a Nicole Green (school record holder), but we have as good of sprinters as we’ve ever had and the depth is better than we’ve ever had.”

Among those are:
Jasmine Gibbs, 60 meters, 7.41, school record
Ashley Williams, 60 meters, 7.55, 8th in school history
Samantha McKnight, 60 meters, 7.59, 10th in school history
Richelle Farley, 60-hurdles, 8.46, 3rd in school history
Erica Twiss, 60-hurdles, 8.56, 5th in school history
Merryl Mbeng, 60-hurdles, 8.66, 9th in school history
Ashley Williams, 300 meters, 39.65, school record
Samantha McKnight, 300 meters, 41.35, 5th in school history
Tia Gamble, 600 yards, 1:22.76, 9th in school history
Sonia Gaskin, 600 yards, 1:22.83, 10th in school history
4 x 400 Relay, 3:43.48

Of those, Mbeng, Twiss and Farley are expected point-scorers in the indoor pentathlon, while Gibbs best event is the long jump.

The same type of speed exists on the men’s side:
Carlos Rodriguez, 60 meters, 6.70, 4th in school history
Tarique Hill, 60-hurdles, 8.01, 6th in school history
Carlos Rodriguez, 200 meters, 21:14, 3rd in school history
Carlos Rodriguez, 300 meters, 33.64, school record
Jay-J Parks, 300 meters, 34.77, 2nd in school history
Chris Campbell, 300 meters, 35.09, 4th in school history
Ifeanyi Otuonye, 300 meters, 35.58, 7th in school history
Grant Loescher, 300 meters, 35.75, 9th in school history

In the longer races K-State standouts include Martina Tresch and Laura Galvan, who each rank in the top seven of the women’s 3000 and 5000, respectively, while Kyle Hanson ranks fifth in school history in the 1000 on the men’s side.

“For the first time in several years we have more events than ever before covered by individuals who could score points in the Big 12,” said Rovelto.

And that includes the field events where Kyle Wait and Cameron Savage are 17-foot pole vaulters and rank second and third in school history, while Ryan Hershberger ranks in the top 10 in the shot put and Devin Dick in the heptathlon.

For the women, Alyx Treasure is a 6-foot high jumper to rank seventh, Jaquelyne Leffler and Dani Winters are top 10 all-time in the shot put, and the same for Jessica Carter in the weight throw. In the pentathlon Merryl Mbeng and Erica Twiss rank in the top 10 in Wildcat history.

INDOOR SEASON: Feb 1-2 – at Sevigne Husker, Lincoln, Neb.; Feb. 8-9 – at Iowa State Classic; Feb. 15 – at Nebraska Tune-up, Lincoln, Neb.; Feb. 16 – KSU Open, Ahearn Field House; Feb. 22-23 – Big 12 Indoor, Ames, Iowa; March 1-2 – Alex Wilson Last Chance, South Bend, Ind.; March 8-9 – NCAA Indoor Championships, Fayetteville, Ark.

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