Wildcats Trek to Colorado for Air Force Open

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State track and field will continue its stretch of road competition as the Wildcats travel to Colorado for the Don Barrett Air Force Open on Sat., Feb. 9th. K-State will field 12 men and 17 women competitors in events that start at 9 a.m. CST from the Cadet Field House on the Air Force campus. 

K-State will compete among 10 schools at the meet, including Colorado, Colorado State, New Mexico and New Mexico State. The Wildcats will look to add qualifying numbers as they did at last week’s Sevigne Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Neb.

A complete recap of the Air Force Open will be posted online at www.kstatesports.com.

Last Time Out
Kansas State had a successful outing at the Sevigne Husker Invitational on Feb. 1-2, as the women added two provisional qualifiers. Freshman Annika Schoenebeck opened the meet on Friday with the women’s pentathlon and finished the evening with 3,731 points to earn her first qualification.

After the completion of Saturday’s events, senior Donniece Parrish ran to her provisional bid in the 400M, a career first, after clocking a mark of 53.95. She shattered her previous personal best from Friday’s preliminary heat of 55.32.

Along with two provisional qualifiers, K-State’s Jason Collett took the men’s 800M title with a season-best time of 1:52.08. Running in a consolation final, Wildcats Marnyka Honeycutt, Tiara Walpool and Lauren Fisher placed one-two-three in the 200M. Honeycutt had a season-best 24.74, while Walpool ran a PR of 24.96 and Fisher placed third in 25.40.

What To Expect
Kansas State will take a full roster of 12 men and 17 women to the Don Barrett Air Force Open this weekend and will return many of its field competitors that rested last weekend. Already-qualified Loren Groves, Laci Heller and Scott Sellers will return to action in the weight throw and high jump, respectively, while Donniece Parrish will hit to the tracks again but in the 60M and 200M.

On the men’s side, sprinters Desmond McGuire, Mike Myer and Nelson Onyegbu will compete, while the women will travel with Denise Baker, Lauren Fisher, LaKeisha Herring, Marnyka Honeycutt, Parrish and Tiara Walpool. Women distance runners will sit out the competition, as the men will travel with a young group of Taylor Coate, Tyler Fennema, Casey Johnson, Clinton MacDonald and Mike Sickafoose. In hurdles, Kyle Van Horn, Stephanie Hejde, Annika Schoenebeck and Baker will race.

In field events, the men will travel light with vertical jumpers Michael Healey and Scott Sellers and horizontal jumper Emmanuel Neizer. The women will field competitors in a wider array of events, including throws with Amanda Boor, Laci Heller and Loren Groves in the weight throw, and Jenny Glodowski and Lindsay Grigoriev in the shot put. Hejde will compete in the long jump and Herring, Thomaida Polydorou and Walpool are scheduled for the triple. Entries in the high jump are Schoenebeck and Cassie Styers, as Alexandra Gonzalez and Nancy Harrington are competing in the pole vault.

Up In the Ranks
The Kansas State women continued their climb in the rankings with the release of the Feb. 6th edition of the USTFCCCA National Ranking. In the second week standings, K-State women sit at No. 17, a two-place improvement from the week one ranking of 19. The increase is due to the addition of freshman Annika Schoenebeck and senior Donniece Parrish to the NCAA Championship performance list. Also factored into the 17th-place rank is Loren Groves and Laci Heller in the weight throw and Alexandra Gonzalez in the pole vault.

The Wildcats are one of six Big 12 Conference teams to be ranked, while Texas A&M sits at third in the country. No. 7 Baylor, No. 16 Nebraska, No. 20 Kansas and No. 21 Texas round out the conference rankings. LSU continues its reign of the top with Tennessee trailing.

K-State’s men are just outside of the Top 25 with a 36th placing with the automatic qualification of junior Scott Sellers. Five Big 12 men’s teams are ranked in the top 25, as Oklahoma is No. 7 in the nation. Texas Tech is ninth, while No. 13 Baylor, No. 15 Nebraska and No. 21 Texas A&M are also in the top 25.

Parrish Breaks Through
After coming within a nose of provisional marks this season, senior Donniece Parrish broke through in a big way during the 400M finals at the Sevigne Husker Invitational on Feb. 2nd. The Florissant, Mo., native entered the weekend with a personal best of 55.72 in the 400M, which she ran at the KSU-KU-MU Triangular in 2006. During the preliminary heats on Friday, Parrish shaved .40 seconds from that mark to run a PR of 55.32. As she competed in the finals on Saturday, Parrish took more than a second from that time after clocking an NCAA provisional mark of 53.95, the fourth best time in K-State history. It sits as her fastest run in the event and her first qualifying time for an indoor event.

Parrish has been close in her runnings of the 60M and 200M this season. She ran a personal best time of 7.51 in the 60M and looks for a 7.44 qualification. In her primary event, the 200M, Parrish ran as close to the mark as possible, finishing with a 24.11 - the provisional time is 24.10.

Schoenebeck: A Fresh Athlete
Wildcat freshman Annika Schoenebeck improved by drastic measures from her first to her second pentathlon with the help of a month’s work. In December, the fresh face opened her K-State career with 3,448 points at the Carol Robinson Winter Pentathlon to place fourth. During the Sevigne Husker Invitational, the Bayern, Germany, native tallied an NCAA-provisionally qualifying total of 3,731 points. The total sits as the ninth best in school history as the freshman placed fifth in the field of 12. The freshman earned the points with two personal bests in events including a time of 9.17 in the 60M hurdles and a jump of 17-11.50 in the long jump. She also had marks of 5-03.25 in the high jump, 36-11.00 in the shot put and a time of 2:21.28 in the 800M.

A Record Event
The Kansas State record books changed in a number of locations after the completion of the Sevigne Husker Invitational on Feb. 2nd. Along with Donniece Parrish and Annika Schoenebeck (see previous notes), K-State records in the women’s 60M hurdles and the men’s and women’s 3000M changed. In the hurdles, sophomore Denise Baker finished the prelims in a time of 8.91, bettering her personal best of 9.00 from the Conference Challenge. The time sat as the eighth best in school history, but following a run of 8.86 in the finals the next day, Baker moved to the fifth best place in KSU history.

The Wildcats entered Colin Swaney and Beverly Ramos in the 3000M special invite and both ran away with a top-10 mark in the school books. Swaney clocked a time of 8:15.72 to earn the fifth best mark, while Ramos ran a 9:48.36 to record the eighth.

Correct Combination: The Women’s Story
As the men began to find the fit for their 4x400M relay team, the Kansas State women found their working combination during the Conference Challenge on January 26th. The team earned points for the Big 12 victory as they raced to a first-place finish with a time of 3:45.91. The quartet of Tiara Walpool, Donniece Parrish, Marnyka Honeycutt and Morgan Bonds finished four seconds better than KSU’s previous season best of 3:49.99 from the KSU All-Comers in December. The time from the Conference Challenge ranked as the ninth best mark in the school record books and the best time since the 2006 season.

Doubling the effort the following week, the quartet finished a shade better with a mark of 3:45.87 to place second at the Sevigne Husker Invitational. The time replaces the previous as the ninth best in the school record books.

Groves in a Groove
Wildcat thrower Loren Groves has put herself into a groove of performing well as the junior has thrown nothing short of an NCAA provisional mark since starting the season 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 toss of 66-10.00 to earn a provisional mark. Her career performance came at the Wildcat Invitational when Groves launched a school-record mark of 69-11.50, adding nine inches to the previous record by Renetta Seiler in 1998. As a sophomore, Groves threw for six NCAA provisional marks, including a previous top mark of 68-03.75 at the KSU Open on Feb. 15, 2007. This year she has tallied one automatic and three provisional tosses thus far.

Selling his Championship Case
After capturing an outdoor national title, the question to start the indoor season was if junior Scott Sellers could add an indoor championship to his resume. The native of Katy, Texas, has now twice cleared the NCAA automatic height for the NCAA Indoor Championships set at 7-04.25. Sellers also received a good preparatory trial during the Wildcat Invitational as he jumped against six well-qualified and decorated leapers during the high jump invitational. Against three Division I and two Division II All-Americans, Sellers took second in a jumpoff with Jesse Williams, former USC jumper and 2007 USA Indoor runner-up.

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. During her first competition away from Ahearn Field House, Gonzalez set a personal best at the Arkansas Invitational. The young Wildcat cleared the bar at 13-02.25 to mark the third-best height in school history. Although it was her first loss, it marked a PR by nearly three inches.

Dual Threat
Freshman Tiara Walpool was seen on the track in the first three competitions for the Wildcats, but displayed her talent on the field when she entered the triple jump at the Wildcat Invitational. In her first competition, Walpool placed second to former Wildcat Chaytan Hill after recording a mark of 39-10.50. In running events, the Dallas, Texas, native has recorded times of 7.89 in the 60M while also having a mark of 24.96 in the 200M. While at Plano East in Plano, Texas, Walpool qualified for the 200M, 400M, triple and long jump as a junior and senior, while she advanced to state in the 200M in 2007.

Polydorou Continues to Increase PR
Senior Thomaida Polydorou sat with the same personal best in the triple jump since January 2005 when she recorded a leap of 40-00.50. She matched the mark in February 2006 when she placed fourth at the Husker Invitational. At the 2007 Arkansas Invitational, the Limassol, Cyprus, native shattered that mark, deciding it had been around long enough. She finished with a top jump of 40-04.25 to earn her a fourth-place finish. Only two weeks had passed with that jump, as she added another two inches at the Conference Challenge with a leap of 40-06.25.