Wildcats Compete in Final Indoor Home Event

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State track and field will have its final tune-up prior to the Big 12 Indoor Championships, as the Wildcats host the KSU Open in their last home indoor meet on Sat., Feb. 23rd. The competition from Ahearn Field House will begin at 10 a.m. with the women’s weight throw and Wildcat national qualifiers Loren Groves and Laci Heller. Running events are set to get underway at 1:30 p.m. with the distance medley relay.

K-State will field entries in 10 men’s and 10 women’s events with 19 men and 18 women scheduled to compete.

Complete results and a recap will be posted on www.kstatesports.com after the day’s conclusion.

Last Time Out
Kansas State scored high marks at the Iowa State Classic that was held Feb. 15-16 in Ames, Iowa. The two-day event brought the addition of a pair of new qualifiers for the Wildcat women, as senior Morgan Bonds and sophomore Beverly Ramos registered provisional marks.

On the opening day, Ramos raced to a time of 16:36.29 in her first running of the women’s 5000M to earn her first indoor NCAA provisional qualification. The time goes on record as the fastest run on an oversized track in KSU indoor history, as Ramos’ bettered Trisha Culbertson’s top time of 17:14.42 from the 2005 ISU Classic. The time is currently the eighth best among NCAA qualifiers this season.

During the second day, the Wildcat women added Bonds in the 800M as she finished with her second-best career mark in 2:07.36. She took fourth in the event on her way to becoming K-State’s seventh female qualifier.

K-State’ Scott Sellers earned the team’s only title of the weekend as he took the crown in the men’s high jump. The junior finished with a season-best mark of 7-05.00 and also became the nation’s leader with the clearance. The height marked Sellers’ third NCAA automatic qualification of the year, as he first earned a mark at the season-opening Carol Robinson Winter Pentathlon.

Next Time Out
Kansas State’s next challenge will be the ever-anticipated Big 12 Championships. The indoor meet will return to the Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Neb., with the Nebraska Huskers as host for the eighth time in conference history. The inaugural Big 12 title event was hosted at the Center, in addition to six-straight championships from 2001-06.

The meet will run through two days: Friday, Feb. 29th and Saturday, March 1st. Friday will get underway with the combined events at 9:30 a.m. Running events are set to start at 2 p.m., while field events will open at 2:45 p.m. Saturday will begin with the conclusion to the men’s heptathlon with the final three events starting at 9:30 a.m. At 1:30 p.m. field events begin while running events get their start at 3 p.m.

The K-State women have had a strong history of competition at Big 12 Indoors, having a top finish of second in 2001. In the first eight years of the conference, the Wildcats finished no worse than fourth with five third-place finishes. The men also have a top finish of second, which they established in 2004. They also had a string of five years placing no worse than fourth.

Both teams struggled last year with their lowest finishes of Big 12 history; the women finished 10th while the men sat in 11th after the two-day event.

The Ever-Changing Ranks
After sitting at their highest ranking of 17th in the Week Two rankings, the Kansas State women’s track and field team fell out of the Top 25 in the Week Four USTFCCCA Rankings despite picking up two additional qualifiers. The women sit at 27th with less than two points separating them from the Top 25. K-State has 35.89 points, while the nation’s top team, LSU, has 186.05. Arizona State and Stanford round out the top three. The Big 12 is represented by three teams in the top 25, down from week three which contained five. No. 6 Texas A&M leads No. 10 Kansas and No. 12 Texas.

K-State’s men are outside of the Top 25 with a 44th placing with the automatic qualification of junior Scott Sellers. Sellers brings the team 23.31 points as the nation’s leading high jumper. There was a shift in the weekly rankings for the top spot as Arizona State (120.56)  took the No. 1 placing while Tennessee (90.63) fell to third. Florida State sits between the two at second with 111.76 points. Seven Big 12 teams are in the top 25: No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 7 Texas, No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 16 Texas Tech, No. 18 Baylor, No. 22 Nebraska and No. 23 Kansas.

Wildcat History at KSU Open
The Wildcats captured six event titles during the 2007 edition of the KSU Open. Leading the way was then-sophomore Loren Groves as she set a new meet record in the women’s weight throw with a toss of 67-05.50. The mark sat as her personal best entering into this season. Other current Wildcats capturing titles were jumper Thomaida Polydorou, who won the women’s long jump with a season-best effort of 18-00.50, and runner Emily Dittemore. Then-sophomore Dittemore won the 600Y in a season-best mark of 1:28.13. For the men, then-sophomore Mike Myer raced to a first-place finish in the men’s 60M with a time of 6.83. The time was his then-personal best and sat as the eighth-fastest in school history.

In the history of the meet, K-State has recorded eight of the women’s event records while the men hold seven. In 1984, Deb Pihl claimed the Ahearn Field House record for the women’s mile with a time of 4:43.10. Two men’s school records were also met during the KSU Open. In 1990, Charles Armstead recorded a time of 7.33 in the 55M hurdles for the school mark. More recently, Coby Cost threw for the men’s weight throw record in 2005 with a launch of 70-11.25.

Stock Rising in Bonds
Senior Morgan Bonds waited for the right moment to come on strong in her mid-distance events. With two 600Y and two 800M races under her belt, the Wildcat captain went into the ISU Classic in search of an NCAA qualifying time. She proved successful after clocking her second fastest time in the 800M of 2:07.36, a provisional mark, while placing fourth. The time was more than three seconds quicker than her previous season-best of 2:10.61. The Hutchinson, Kan., native will be looking for her third mid-distance title at next week’s Big 12 Championships, as she was crowned the 2007 and 2005 600Y champion.

Starting with a Statement
She opened her Wildcat career with a bang, but Beverly Ramos continues to make a statement with her sophomore campaign in distance events. Ramos qualified for the national outdoor meet as a freshman, and she is a contender now for a return to the stage. During her first running of the 5000M, Ramos raced to an NCAA provisional qualification of 16:36.29 at the ISU Classic. She was able to produce the school’s top oversized track time with the running, overtaking the previous record from 2005 (Trisha Culbertson, ISU Classic, 17:14.42). The sophomore has competed in four different distance events this indoor season and has recorded personal bests in each of them.

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. She proved the following week that she could consistently run the time as she clocked a 54.24 at the ISU Classic to take third.

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 thrice cleared the NCAA automatic height for the NCAA Indoor Championships set at 7-04.25. Sellers recorded a season-best and nation-leading height of 7-05.00 when he titled the ISU Classic. The victory was his second straight at the meet, which was the site of his school-record setting performance in 2007. Sellers also received a good preparatory trial for nationals during the Wildcat Invitational as he jumped against six well-qualified and decorated leapers in 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.

Cats Break Ground on New Class
Kansas State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto announced the signing of three future Wildcats for the 2008-09 class on February 19th. The men inked Andre McDonald (jumps/hurdles), while the women signed Jacquelyne Leffler (throws) and Emilee Morris (distance). McDonald, out of Park Hill High in Kansas City, Mo., is a four-time AAU Junior Olympics national champion as well as a two-time 2007 4A Missouri State titlist. Personal bests for McDonald include 13.96 in the 110M hurdles, 7-00.50 in the high jump and 23-10.00 in the long jump.  Leffler, a product of Northern Heights High in Allen, Kan., is a six-time 3A State champion with titles in the shot put and discus. She has thrown for PRs of 46-08.00 in the shot put and 151-08.00 in the discus. Morris, from Hutchinson (Kan.) High, took the bronze at the 2007 5A State Cross Country meet with a time of 15:08. As a junior, Morris finished second at State in the 800M (2:19.84) and third in the 1600M (5:16.06).

Looking for the One-Two Finish
Arguably one of the strongest events for the women is the weight throw with the one-two punch of Loren Groves and Laci Heller. The pair have each recorded personal bests during the course of the 2008 season and each have thrown NCAA qualifying tosses. The Wildcat duo will be looking to take their top two Big 12 Conference marks into the league championships for the first gold-silver finish. Groves leads the conference with a mark of 69-11.50, which she threw at the Wildcat Invitational to break the school record. Heller has the second-best mark in the Big 12 with a career-best of 66-10.00. Heller registered the mark at the Air Force Open to take first and earn the third-best school mark.

Conference Significance
The Big 12 Conference gained not only national recognition the weekend of Feb. 16th, but also had member schools record marks of global significance. The Texas men’s distance medley relay team recorded a world record in the event with a time of 9:25.97 at the Tyson Invitational. The effort by the Longhorns broke the world, NCAA and Randal Tyson Track Center record of 9:27.77 by Michigan in 2004, as well as the 2000 Stanford American record of 9:28.83 and 2007 Texas school record of 9:31.27. The time leads the nation by nearly 11 seconds and met the NCAA automatic qualification of 9:34.00.

For the women, Kansas’ Nickesha Anderson claimed the fastest 200M time in the world this year with a time of 22.94 at the Tyson Invitational. The junior from Hanover, Jamaica, sits as the first women in 2008 to break the 23-second barrier and also marks a new Jayhawk school record.