Wildcats Travel to Ames for Big 12s

MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State Track and Field heads to Ames, Iowa this week for the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championship, set to kick off Friday, Feb. 27, in Iowa State’s Lied Recreation-Athletic Facility. Held for the third-straight year in Ames, the Wildcats will look to improve upon last season’s showing that saw the men take third overall and the women finish fifth.

Friday’s action, which opens with the pentathlon 60-meter hurdles at 10 a.m., will consist of the multi-events in the morning to early afternoon, before transitioning to several individual events in the evening. The conference meet’s final day of competition follows on Saturday, Feb. 28, with the conclusion of the men’s heptathlon, as well as the rest of the individual track and field events.

Further information on the schedule, as well as links to a live stream and results, can be found by visiting the meet central page at www.big12sports.com. For up-to-the-minute Wildcat updates, follow @kstate_gameday on Twitter under #KStateTF.

What to Watch For – Women

The K-State women enter this weekend’s meet at No. 6 in the national USTFCCCA Division I Team Rankings – their highest-ranking ever prior to Big 12s – and hold 17 top-five marks over 10 events in the conference. This year’s squad also returns 11 scorers from the fifth-place finishing team in 2014, including Big 12 champions Sara Savatovic (weight throw) and Erica Twiss (pentathlon), while five newcomers currently rank in the conference’s event top-eight in their respective events.

With an opportunity to make a run at its first indoor conference title since 1976, head coach Cliff Rovelto said it will take an enormous team effort to knock off the likes of reigning Big 12 champion No. 4 Texas, as well as other formidable opponents such as No. 8 Baylor.

“Heading into this weekend, our health looks good and the people we look to be significant scorers seem to be in pretty good position to do that so I think the women have an opportunity,” Rovelto said. “Looking at the meet on paper, Texas looks to be the favorite and then ourselves and Baylor are probably next with not a whole lot of difference between the two of us. But if, I know from our perspective, we did everything we are capable of doing and Texas faltered a bit, it’d give us a shot to win.

“I think it will be a very competitive meet and I don’t think anybody is going to run away with it.”

The Wildcats, in particular, will look to their strengths, such as in the high jump, where Akela Jones (T-1st), Kim Williamson (T-1st), Alyx Treasure (3rd) and Rhizlane Siba (5th) have formed a formidable group atop the conference leaderboard all season.

“There are certainly some pivotal events, there’s no question about it,” Rovelto said. “The women’s high jump is one for sure, the women’s weight [Savatovic (2nd), Janee' Kassanavoid (5th) and Dani Winters (6th) all currently reside in the conference top-eight] is one for sure. Those are both events where we could score a lot and they are also events where we could have a solid meet and maybe not score a lot.

“So I think those will be key with Texas in the 200-meter going to score a ton of points. The pole vault, they’re going to go out there and score points as well. They got a few events where they’re going do well and there’s not much anyone can do about it.”

Rovelto added while making a run for the conference title may be a steep task, this year’s team is well-rounded to compete to score in almost every event this weekend.

“We are a little more complete,” Rovelto said. “It’s conceivable that we could enter the meet in such a way that we pretty much have a chance of scoring in almost all of the events. There’s probably one or two events where we won’t score, but we should be able to score in a majority. We also have the flexibility where we may look to go maybe to get two higher places in one event so I do think it’s a pretty well-rounded and complete team.” 

What to Watch For – Men

This year’s men’s squad will look to utilize their blend of youth and experience to continue a stretch that has seen the men’s team finish top-five at Big 12 Indoors for three-consecutive seasons.

Younger Wildcats such as freshmen Terrell Smith (sprints), Christoff Bryan (high jump) and Nate Gipson (high jump) all have performed at high levels in their respective events this season. Upperclassmen, meanwhile, such as senior returning All-American Carlos Rodriguez and juniors Tyris Jefferson and Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye have all experienced success at conference meets over their K-State careers.

Said Rovelto, “From a quality standpoint, there’s really no reason we shouldn’t be able to compete with the majority of people. What I always said, at the end of the day when you evaluate the athletes, you have to evaluate them at the meet that matters most. And historically, they’ve all done a really good job of that and I think the group we have now will do that also.”

Entering this weekend, the men rank No. 17 nationally and No. 4 in the Midwest Region.

Rankings N’at
(Please Note: Only marks in the Top-50 DI and Top-20 Big 12 are displayed according to TFRRS – converted marks are not used)

Men

EventAthleteMarkDivision IBig 12
60mTerrell Smith6.69 aa38th6th
200mTerrell Smith21.5737th7th
4x400
3:10.9743rd6th
High JumpChristoff Bryan2.28m/7-05.751st1st

Nate Gipson21.21m/7-037th4th

Miles Bearden2.16m/7-0120th6th
Long JumpIfeanyichukwu Otuonye7.43m/24-04.5047th6th
HeptathlonReinis Kregers57773rd1st


Women

EventAthleteMarkDivision IBig 12
60mA'Keyla Mitchell7.4041st5th
200mA'Keyla Mitchell23.9624th4th
800mSonia Gaskin2:08.1231st6th
60HAkela Jones8.177th3rd

Erica Twiss8.28 aa21st5th
4x400
3:34.277th2nd
High JumpAkela Jones1.85m/6-00.75T-6thT-1st

Kim Williamson1.85m/6-00.75T-6thT-1st

Alyx Treasure1.83m/6-0012th3rd

Rhizlane Siba1.81m/5-11.25T-22nd5th
Long JumpAkela Jones6.64m/21-09.501st1st
Triple JumpAlyssa Kelly12.57m/41-0348th6th
Shot PutDani Winters17.45m/57-033rd1st
Weight ThrowSara Savatovic19.59m/64-03.2537th2nd
PentathlonAkela Jones44042nd1st

Erica Twiss411413th3rd

Sarah Kolmer368046th6th


What’s Next?

The Wildcats take a week off before concluding their indoor slate with a select group of athletes set to travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championship on March 13-14. With the top-16-ranked individuals in each event and top-12 relay squads earning qualification, K-State currently has a combined seven athletes and one relay team eligible to make the trip.