K-State Heads to Ames for Big 12s

Feb. 26, 2014

Event-by-Event Preview: Men | Women | Heat SheetsK-State AthleticsMANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State Track and Field travels to Ames, Iowa, for the third and final time this indoor season for the Big 12 Indoor Championships. Held at the Lied Recreational Center, this will be the second-straight year, and third time in the last five years, the Iowa State Cyclones have hosted the conference championship meet.

Last season saw the Texas men and Kansas women take home the Big 12 titles with 135 and 150.50 points, respectively. The K-State men scored a school-record 96 points and finished third, marking their best finish since 2004 when they took second, while the women placed seventh with a score of 41 points. The Wildcats’ two individual conference champions came from the men’s side as Erik Kynard and Jharyl Bowry took home titles in the high jump and long jump, respectively.

This season, head coach Cliff Rovelto expects as wide open and competitive meet as ever.

“After Texas, you basically got three or four schools on the men’s side and three or four schools on the women’s side that are all going to bounce around between second and fifth,” Rovelto said. “And then there are a few others a little bit further back, but it’s going to be hard for them to get into the mix.”

Rovelto said, in particular, the women’s team has great potential to make some serious noise at this season’s conference championship.

“For the women, there’s potential, because we’re going to ask a lot of a few athletes,” Rovelto said. “If they can pull it off, I think there is potential for us to get high enough to put us in the hunt to be second.

“At the start of the year, looking at the conference and looking at what we have on the women’s team, I would have not thought that we would be going into this weekend with any shot of being in the top-three, let alone doing it.”

A top-three finish for the women’s team would mark the first time since 2004 that the Wildcat women have cracked the top-three at the conference championships.  

Rovelto added much of the men’s team’s success this weekend will rely on the athletes succeeding in the high risk events.

“So much for us depends on those events that are high risk like the high jump, pole vault on the men’s side,” Rovelto said. “Those could be really big events and that’s where we could also lose some ground. If we go big in those two evens, it changes a lot.”  

The 2014 Big 12 Indoor Championships is set to start Friday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m., with the women’s pentathlon and carry over to Saturday, March 1, concluding with the women’s and men’s 4x400 meter relays. More information on the meet, including live results, team-by-team previews and the full meet schedule, can be found by visiting the Championship Central page on Iowa State’s Track and Field homepage. Live results and heat sheets will also be made available on the K-State Track and Field schedule page by clicking on the meet’s tab.

What Sophomore Slump?

• If the Wildcats are to score well at his weekend’s meet, the sophomores on both the men’s and women’s sides will be expected to be huge factors.

For the men, Tyris Jefferson, Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye and Devin Field have all excelled for K-State in multiple events. All three are part of a dominant foursome in the long jump that includes reigning conference champion Jharyl Bowry. Field not only holds the top conference mark in the long jump, but also the fifth-best mark in the triple jump, while Jefferson and Otuonye are key cogs in a 4x400 ‘A’ team that has five wins on the season.

On the women’s side, Tia' Gamble and Sonia Gaskin have been dominant on the track, while Sara Savatovic and Dani Winters are shaping up to be one the better throws duos the Wildcats have had in years. Both Gamble and Gaskin hold top-three conference times in the 600 yard run and are a part of a 4x400 ‘A’ team that has set three home meet records. Gaskin also holds the fifth-best time in the 800 meter after last week, when she set a meet record and new personal best in a time of 2:08.41.

For Savatovic and Winters, both have had stretches of three or more-straight wins this season in their respective events, the weight throw and shot put. Savatovic holds the best mark in the conference and only continues to improve, as she has set personal bests on four separate occasions this season. Along with the third-best mark in the shot put, Winters also has the sixth-best conference mark in the weight throw.

Big Spot for the Multi-Athletes

• K-State enters this weekend’s meet with athletes holding the top conference mark in both the heptathlon and pentathlon. Devin Dick represents the men’s side, as his first-place finish at the Bill Bergan Invitational not only netted him his first career, but also Big 12 Athlete of the Week recognition. The senior from Wichita, Kan., will look to become the first Wildcat to win the heptathlon since Moritz Cleve won the multi-event in 2009 in College State, Texas.

For the women, Erica Twiss is tops in the conference with her personal best performance in the pentathlon of 4,023 points also at the Bill Bergan Invitational. On the season, the senior has had a fantastic year marked by several personal bests and will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Ryann Krais, who was the last Wildcat to win the pentathlon in 2012.

Competition for both athletes will be fierce though, as Dick will compete against a talented group of Longhorns in Wolf Mahler, Christopher Irvin and potentially last season’s champion, Johannes Hock. The All-American will also have the Bill Bergan Invitational runner-up in Iowa State’s Taylor Sanderson and Baylor’s Hunter Brook and Henry Vildosola to deal with as well.

For Twiss, she is expected to face off against Texas Tech’s Shanice Stewart and Longhorn Shanay Briscoe, as well as last season’s conference champion and Bowerman Watch candidate, Lindsay Vollmer. K-State though might possess the deepest bunch in the event, with Sarah Kolmer and Joslyn Barnes both ranking in the top-five of the conference and Merryl Mbeng making a possible return. If the latter competes, the event has the potential to be busted wide open, as Mbeng was the runner-up at last season’s indoors and finished seventh at the NCAAs. 

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

AthleteEventMarkDivision IBig 12
Carlos Rodriguez60m6.7235th6th
200m21.4523rd2nd
4x4003:10.6750th4th
Zack RileyHigh Jump2.15m/7-05.0031st4th
Kyle WaitPole Vault5.22m/17-01.50T-47thT-6th
Cameron SavagePole Vault5.22m/17-01.50T-47thT-6th
Devin FieldLong Jump7.69m/25-02.7515th1st
Jharyl BowryLong Jump7.64m/25-00.7519th2nd
Ryan HershbergerShot Put18.46m/60-06.7536th5th
Devin DickHeptathlon550514th

1st

• Women

AthleteEventMarkDivision IBig 12
Sonia Gaskin800m2:08.4131st5th
Erica Twiss60m Hurdles8.2425th4th
4x4003:37.52 aa27th4th
Alyx TreasureHigh Jump1.83m/6-00.007th1st
Joslyn BarnesHigh Jump1.77m/5-09.7540th 4th
Erica TwissLong Jump6.12m/20-01.0029th 4th
Dani WintersShot Put15.85m/52-00.0032nd3rd
Sara SavatovicWeight Throw20.59m/67-06.7519th1st
Erica TwissPentathlon40239th1st
Sarah KolmerPentathlon371848th4th

What’s Next?

• The Wildcats take a week off, before the NCAA Championships arrive in Albuquerque, N.M., running from March 14-15. To qualify individual athletes must have a mark that sits in the top-16 of Division I and for relay teams, the top-12. For several K-State athletes, next weekend may not be an off, as Final Qualifier meets provide athletes their last chance to move up in the Division I rankings.