Wildcats Head to Husker Invitational

Kyle Hanson

Jan. 31, 2013

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State track and field is set for another highly competitive meet this weekend as a small group of Wildcats travel north to the 38th Annual Sevigne Husker Invitational. This meet brings some of the top athletes and teams in the nation to the Devaney Center each year, and this year’s edition boasts 24 teams participating over two days of action.

The Wildcats will bring four men’s pole vaulters to the meet to take on a field with 26 jumpers on Friday night. Kyle Wait leads the group for K-State as he currently ranks No. 8 on the NCAA list this season. Cameron Savage is No. 8 on the Big 12 list entering this weekend, and sophomore Tommy Brady posted a personal record two weeks ago. Senior David Taylor is coming off his best performance of the season last week at Iowa State.

Cenarda Jackson will also be competing Friday night in the women’s long jump. She posted a PR the last time she jumped at the Jayhawk Challenge and will be in a field that includes two of the top jumpers in the nation from UCF.

Saturday will see K-State’s distance runners put to the test. Seven Wildcats will be in action in the 800 meters and mile. The women will feature freshmen Tia Gamble and Sonia Gaskin in the 800 meters. Gamble will be making her K-State debut in the event after running mostly the 600 yards and on 4x400 relays this season. Gaskin is in a special invite 800 meters that will feature Illinois’ Samantha Murphy, who ranks No. 9 in the NCAA this season. Baylor’s Lizzy Whitney also will be running and currently stands No. 17 in the Big 12 Conference. Gaskin is third in the Big 12. Kyle Hanson will run for the men in a special invite 800 and sophomore Logan Smith will run an open 800 meters.

Three more Wildcats will be running the mile, with freshman Mary Frances Donnelley in another special invite event. Sophomore Erika Schiller is running the women’s open mile, and for the men freshman Blake Goodin and junior Ryan Hershner are set to run.

The Husker Invitational will have multi-events in addition to the full slate of open events and series of special invites. For fans unable to attend the meet, live results will be provided and available at huskers.com. K-State fans can also get updates by following the live event Twitter handle @kstate_gameday.

K-State Hangs with Top 10 Teams at Iowa State
K-State track and field went up against some of the top teams in the nation this weekend at the Bill Bergan Invitational for a team scored meet and came away in third place on both the men’s and women’s sides. The Wildcats posted two victories for the men’s team and a total of nine runner-up finishes combined.

The Wildcat men entered the meet ranked No. 16 by the USTFCCCA and finished behind the victorious No. 8 Minnesota Golden Gophers and No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers while tying with Iowa. The women trailed No. 9 Iowa State and No. 18 Wisconsin in the team standings as points were awarded to athletes finishing in the top six in their respective events.

Erik Kynard claimed one of the men’s wins as he soared over the bar at 2.24 meters (7-04.25) and just missed on repeating his leap of 2.29 meters (7-06.00) last week. Junior college transfer Zack Riley was also in competition with the Wildcats’ 1-2 punch leading the way. Riley cleared 2.19 meters (7-02.25) for second place.

The other win for the Wildcats came in the men’s long jump with Ifeanyi Otuonye flying through the air 7.40 meters (24-03.50) for a new personal best. He post a personal record on both his jumps on the day leaping 7.33 meters on his first attempt and shutting it down after his second to begin warming up for running events. Juco transfer Jharyl Bowry finished third with his jump of 7.30 meters (23-11.50) on his final attempt. Bowry and Otuonye rank 1-2 in the Big 12 Conference so far this season with Bowry jumping 7.53 meters last week.

A freshman came up with 14 points for the women’s team in the horizontal jumps as Alyssa Kelly continued to shine. Kelly finished third in the long jump with a leap of 5.66 meters (18-07.00), just three centimeters off her season’s best mark. She then claimed second in the triple jump to close the meet with a mark of 11.72 meters (38-05.50), which was only four centimeters short of her best.

Multi-Events Shine at Bill Bergan Invite
K-State displayed its depth in the multi-events at the Bill Bergan Invitational and posted some impressive numbers in the process. Senior Devin Dick finished second in the men’s heptathlon after two days of action and tallied personal records in three of the events along with his final score of 5,465 points to finish second place behind Texas-Arlington’s Romain Martin. Tomas Kirielius came away in third place in the heptathlon and four Wildcats were in action in the women’s pentathlon.

Kirielius claimed third place with 5,294 points for a new personal best as well, and Dick’s score moves him into ninth in school history for the heptathlon. Dick’s score also stood fifth on the NCAA list at the time. Kirielius’ mark was eighth.

The women were led by sophomore Joslyn Barnes with her second-place finish and 3,569 points. Barnes posted PRs in two of the five events and was very close in two others.

Wildcats Slip to No. 18 in Rankings
Last season, K-State track and field had a successful campaign highlighted by high jumper Erik Kynard’s silver at the London Olympics and second straight NCAA outdoor title. That momentum has carried over to the 2013 indoor season with the men’s track and field team ranked among the nation’s best again. This week the Wildcats slip two spots down to No. 18 in the latest USTFCCCA Rankings. This week the women’s team dropped to No. 50.

K-State opened the year at No. 22 in the preseason rankings and following two impressive showings from sprinter Carlos Rodriguez and pole vaulter Kyle Wait, the Wildcats moved up to No. 16 last week. Rodriguez and Wait both posted marks that ranked in the top six at that time for their respective events this season to help the Wildcats climb up the rankings.

The USTFCCCA rankings formula takes into account performances from athletes in each event and awards points based on their ranking in the event and on the strength of the performance with marks from this season and better marks from last season still counting in the formula. Eventually marks from this season will only be counted in the formula.

K-State’s men have six athletes ranked in a total of six events highlighted by Kynard. His jump of 7-07.00 (2.31m) last season ranks No. 2 in the event behind Indiana’s Derek Drouin by just two centimeters. Kynard has the highest jump of the season so far at 7-06.00 (2.29m). Drouin and Mississippi’s Ricky Robertson both jumped 2.29 last weekend as well.

This year juco transfer Zack Riley joins Kynard at K-State to give the Wildcats one of the top 1-2 combinations in the high jump. Riley is tied at No. 10 this week along with NC State’s Kris Kornegay-Gober and Virginia Tech’s Ronnie Black. Another junior college transfer in Jharyl Bowry gives K-State one more ranked in the top 10 in their respective event as Bowry comes in at No. 10 in the long jump.

Rodriguez is ranked No. 8 in the 200 meters and also is among the leaders in the 60 meters. Wait’s mark of 5.40 meters stands No. 12 according to the USTFCCCA formula, and Devin Dick stands at No. 21 in the heptathlon.

On the women’s side, combined events specialist Merryl Mbeng is ranked ninth after scoring 4,069 points in the pentathlon to finish second in her debut as a Wildcat in December at the Carol Robinson Winter Pentathlon. She is one of four Wildcats currently ranked in an event. She is joined by sophomore high jumper Alyx Treasure at No. 11 in the high jump. Erica Twiss is ranked in the pentathlon as well, and freshman Jasmine Gibbs is No. 36 in the 60 meters.

Big 12 Presence Felt in Top 25
The Big 12 Conference has long been a force in track and field, and again the league is among the best when examining the USTFCCCA Rankings. The men jump in the rankings this week with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State joining the Top 25 to give the Big 12 four teams among the national leaders. Four women’s teams continue to stand in the Top 25 for the conference. Only the SEC (7/7) and Pac-12 (6/6) have more teams ranked on either side. The Big Ten (4) is tied with the Big 12 for the men. With the SEC, Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten combined, those power conferences represent for 21 of the Top 25 men’s teams.

Texas is the top-ranked men’s team from the Big 12 holding steady at No. 11 followed by K-State at No. 18. Oklahoma State climbed 10 spots to No. 21 after achieving something no other team has done. The Cowboys had four runners clock sub 4-minute miles at the same meet. Oklahoma also moved up to No. 22 after stellar performances from the Sooners’ distance runners as well.

The women are led by Kansas at No. 2, with three event No. 1 listings. Iowa State gives the conference another team in the Top 10 at No. 10. Texas (14) and Baylor (18) round out the Big 12’s women’s rankings, giving the conference all four of its ranked teams in the Top 20.