Wildcats Head to Big 12 Championships in Ames

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State Wildcats are ready to take on all their rivals at the Big 12 Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in Ames, Iowa this week. The Wildcats head north to begin competition on Friday from the Leid Recreation-Athletic Facility looking to improve upon last year's showing.

In 2009, the men's squad finished 10th highlighted by a first-place finish in the heptathlon while the women finished in a tie for seventh claiming the weight throw title for a fourth straight year. This year the Wildcats hope to add to their list of accomplishments in 2010 and post strong numbers at the conference championship that is sure to be full of exciting action as five men's teams and three women's are ranked in the USTFCCCA Top 25.

Friday's events begin with the women's pentathlon and men's heptathlon in the morning, and the Wildcats have a number of entrants in both competitions. Many of the men's multi-athletes have been training in various events to prep for the heptathlon but have not competed in all seven events over two days of action yet this season.

Multi-athlete Moritz Cleve is looking to defend his Big 12 title from last year when he won the heptathlon in College Station, Texas, and nearly set the school record in the process. Cleve was three points shy of the school record and posted an NCAA automatic mark as well. He went on to finish fifth at the NCAA Championship.

Rok Derzanic is another multi-athlete looking to return to form. Derzanic was an All-American in 2008 but missed most of last indoor season and did not compete at the Big 12 Championship. Sophomore Mantas Silkauskas had his coming out party at last year's Big 12 meet finishing seventh, and a pair of freshman could do the same this year in Isaac Mallory and Tomas Kirielius.

The combined events are not the only area the Wildcats bring strength to the Big 12 Championships, however. The women's team carries a lot of quality depth in the mid-distance events. Currently four athletes are in the top eight in the conference in their events. The men's group also has a trio of runners poised to make a splash in the distance events as well.

Hurdlers Jeffrey Julmis and Balazs Baji are among the conference leaders, and Julmis is ranked ninth in the nation. Denise Baker runs into the conference championship on a steam of momentum after setting a new personal best time in the hurdles at 8.47 seconds at the KSU Open just missing the provisional qualifying time.

The men's squad also bears a trio of high jumpers who are all in the top five in the conference continuing the tradition of the event at K-State. Freshman Erik Kynard, Jr. leads the way with his highest jump of 7-02.50 that ranks ninth nationally.

The women also have a trio of their own in the weight throw. Chelsie Bonds leads the group joined by Amanda Boor and Ali Pistora, who finished eighth last year at the Big 12 meet. All three of them enter the meet having just set new personal records at the KSU Open last week.

Bonds Earns Athlete of the Week
Sophomore thrower Chelsie Bonds earned the team's first Big 12 Conference Athlete of the Week award for either men or women with her amazing performance at the KSU Open. Bonds set a new personal best in the weight throw with an NCAA provisional mark of 19.02 meters (62-05). The new best was nearly two feet better than her previous best throw of 60-06.50.

At the KSU Open, Bonds opened the day with a provisional throw of 19.00 meters. She continued to hover around the provisional mark of 18.75 meters with all her throws. Bonds also marked throws of 18.74 and 18.93 to go with her two over 19.00. Three of her six throws were provisional marks.

With the performance Bonds is now ranked 27th in the nation in the weight throw and second in the conference heading into the Big 12 Championship.

- k-statesports.com -