Home Finale KSU Open Set for Saturday at Ahearn

Tarique Hill

Feb. 15, 2013

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Indoor track and field is nearing the championship season and the K-State Wildcats will be hosting their final indoor meet of the season on Saturday with the KSU Open. Action gets underway at 11 a.m. with field events and running events start at 2 p.m. as K-State will take on teams from across the region to prepare for next week’s Big 12 Championship hosted by Iowa State.

It will be a busy day of K-State events on Saturday with the track meet, a ceremonial ground breaking for the new K-State Intercollegiate Rowing Center and a home men’s basketball game give Wildcat fans an opportunity to take in their favorite teams in multiple sports.

K-State’s men enter the meet ranked No. 24 in the nation and fresh off a record-setting performance from Carlos Rodriguez as he set a new standard in the 200 meters at K-State. The Wildcats will have most of its sprinters in action with Rodriguez on the men’s and women’s side. K-State’s throwers will be back in action for the first time in a few weeks at this home meet as they ready themselves for the conference meet.

Admission to the KSU Open is free and fans are asked to sit in the balcony seating above the track at Ahearn Field House. For fans unable to attend the KSU Open, they can get updates by following the live event Twitter handle @kstate_gameday and the hashtag #KStateTF.

Rodriguez Breaks School Record
Sprinter Carlos Rodriguez has been running strong all season and that showed at the Don Kirby Open hosted by New Mexico when he broke the school record in the 200 meters. Rodriguez crossed the line in second place behind professional runner Jeremy Dodson with a time of 21.01 seconds. That time bests the previous school record held by Mike Myer at 21.16. Rodriguez also posted a PR in the 60 meters during Friday’s Don Kirby Elite Invitational finishing in second place in 6.69 seconds.

Wildcats Stand at No. 24 in Rankings
So far this season, the K-State men’s track and field team has been ranked among the nation’s best each week in the USTFCCCA Rankings and this week the Wildcats come in at No. 24, falling two spots. After a successful campaign in 2012 highlighted by high jumper Erik Kynard’s silver at the London Olympics and second straight NCAA outdoor title, the Wildcats hope to build off that momentum in the 2013 indoor season. This week the women’s team dropped to No. 66.

There was a lot of movement in the rankings this week as it was the first time marks from only this season counted toward the USTFCCCA Rankings formula. Some marks in the multi-events were counted from last year if an athlete has not participated in a pentathlon or heptathlon yet this year. The rankings saw a new No. 1 on the women’s side for the third straight week and only six teams combined men’s and women’s in the top 50 held their position from the previous week. K-State opened the year at No. 22 in the preseason rankings and moved up as high as No. 16.

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.

K-State’s men have seven athletes ranked in a total of six events, plus one relay. Kynard is ranked No. 2 in the high jump with his clearance of 7-06.00 (2.29m) earlier this season.

This week, Carlos Rodriguez moves up the rankings in the 60 meters with a new personal best and is currently No. 7 in the 200 meters. Rodriguez also ran a leg of the 4x400 at the Bill Bergan Invitational that ranks No. 20. He along with Ifeanyi Otuonye, Jay-J Park and Chris Campbell ran 3:10.65 at the meet.

Otuonye is ranked in the long jump at No. 33 along with fellow newcomer Jharyl Bowry at No. 15. Juco transfer Zack Riley joins Kynard in the high jump at No. 17, and pole vaulter Kyle Wait is No. 14. Devin Dick completes the list at No. 28 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 three Wildcats currently ranked in an event. She is joined by sophomore Erica Twiss in the pentathlon as well, and freshman Jasmine Gibbs is No. 34 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 move to using only this year’s marks and solid performances last week from a number of men’s teams in the league helped the Big 12 make a big move up the rankings as Oklahoma State shot up to No. 3 and Texas Tech jumped 28 spots to No. 6.

This week five men’s teams are in the Top 25 and four women’s teams are among the elite. Oklahoma State’s men went from No. 23 to No. 3 this week as the Cowboys have one of the top distance programs in the nation. OSU has five runners ranked in the top 15 in the mile alone. Texas Tech zoomed up the rankings thanks to NCAA cross country champion Kennedy Kithuka’s performance in the 5,000 meters and his assistance in the DMR.

Texas joins Oklahoma State (3) and Texas Tech (6) in the Top 10 as the Longhorns come in at No. 9 for the men this week. Oklahoma (15) also moved up thanks to its strong distance program as well with the Sooners ranking multiple runners in the 3,000 meters.

The women have Kansas leading the Big 12 at No. 4 falling from the top spot this week. Iowa State gives the league two teams in the Top 10 as well, grabbing the last spot. Texas (13) is not far behind and Baylor (22) rounds out the league’s top women’s teams. Texas Tech’s women also made a big move the Red Raider men up to No. 26 this week, up 27 spots. Oklahoma (29) is nearing the Top 25 as well.

Only the Big Ten has more teams ranked on the men’s side with six teams in the Top 25. The SEC is tied with the Big 12 with five. The league is No. 2 on the women’s side as well with the SEC showing its depth with seven of the Top 25 teams.

Wildcats Shine in New Mexico
K-State sent a mixed group to the Don Kirby Elite Invitational and Open at New Mexico, and the women’s team came away with some of the best performances in school history. Sonia Gaskin placed fourth in the 400 meters with a time that ranks ninth in school history. Ashley Williams would run the No. 7 time in school history in the 200, and the 4x400 relay finished fourth with the third best time in school history.

In addition to Carlos Rodriguez and his fast times, the men’s team saw Tarique Hill continue his steady improvement through the season with a fifth-place finish in the 60 meter hurdles in 7.94 seconds to now rank fifth in K-State history. Erik Kynard also won the men’s elite high jump in one of the strongest fields assembled so far this season.