Conference Titles on the Line in Lincoln

MANHATTAN, Kan. - With nine weeks of competition complete, Kansas State track and field will travel to Lincoln, Neb., to take on the conference foes at the Big 12 Championship beginning on Fri., Feb. 29th. The two-day meet will open with the combined events at 9:30 a.m. on Friday from the Devaney Sports Center.

The Wildcat squads will be looking to improve their finish from the 2007 conference meet where the women placed 10th and the men finished 11th. Although the finishes were the lowest for each program since the start of the Big 12, K-State has a rich history of placing in the top half as the women have done so 10 of 11 years and the men on eight occasions.

The University of Nebraska and the Devaney Sports Center will be hosting the event for the eighth time, including the seventh in the last eight years.

A complete Kansas State recap will be posted on www.kstatesports.com after each day of competition. Live results can be found linked at www.huskers.com. More information regarding the Big 12 Indoor Championships can also be found at the conference website, www.big12sports.com.

Wildcats at the Conference Meet
Through the 11 years of running the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships, the title has eluded the Wildcats but K-State has had an impressive run with numerous top four finishes for both the men and women. The men have placed fourth or better during five consecutive years as the women achieved the standing the first eight years of the Big 12’s existence.

The men’s streak of top finishes started in 2001 when the Cats finished in fourth place. K-State followed that up with two-consecutive seasons of bronze-medal finishes. During 2004, the men had their highest indoor finish ever when they took the runner-up position to host Nebraska. In 2005, K-State added its third third-place standing.

The Wildcat men opened the Big 12 Indoor Championships without a titlist in 1997, but have had a first-place finisher every year since. From 2002-2004, K-State had three titles won in each of the championships. In all the men have captured 17 titles from 11 different individuals. The Wildcat men will not be returning any indoor titlist to the event this year.

During the first 10 runnings of the conference meet, the K-State women placed in the top half, including eight-straight top four finishes. Their top finish was in 2001 when the Wildcats finished short of host Nebraska for the title by 40.5 points. KSU has also recorded bronze finishes in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

The women have crowned a Wildcat champion at each of the Big 12 Indoor Championships and currently has three champions returning to the meet this season. The most golds that the women have walked away with in a single year is three; a trio won at the 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001 meets. In all, 22 Wildcat women titles have been won by 17 different student-athletes.

Both the men and women have finished higher in the standings in the seven championships that took place in Lincoln, Neb. Of the combined 13 occasions the Wildcat men and women have taken a top-four placing, 10 have been at the Devaney Sports Center.
2007 Big 12 Indoor Championship
Kansas State finished in an uncustomary position during the 2007 Big 12 Indoor Championships in Ames, Iowa, as the women took 10th and the men placed 11th. The finish was the lowest in the history of the league competition for K-State. The Texas A&M women captured their first Big 12 crown, while Nebraska earned their ninth to remain one of only two teams to take the men’s title.

The Wildcats walked away from the meet with three individual titles, including two on the women’s side. Morgan Bonds captured her second gold in the 600Y while Loren Groves gave the Wildcats their second-consecutive women’s weight throw title. For the men, Tevan Everett led to the K-State sweep of the 600Y event as he earned his first conference gold.

Visiting the Ranks
The Big 12 Conference lists seven men’s programs as well as four women’s squads in the USTFCCCA Top 25 rankings during the week of Feb. 27th. Both the Texas A&M women and Oklahoma men are atop the conference teams with a sixth ranking.

Kansas State’s highest ranking is on the women’s side at 27th, just five points outside of the top 25. No. 10 Kansas, No. 12 Texas and No. 24 Baylor round out the women’s teams in standings. As the rankings are based off of national qualifiers, all the remaining Big 12 teams except Oklahoma State have points in the system. The remaining Big 12 teams are as follows: No. 29 Texas Tech, No. 30 Missouri, No. 21 Nebraska, No. 41 Iowa State, No. 91 Oklahoma and No. 119 Colorado.

Seven men’s teams are in the top 25 with No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 7 Texas and No. 10 Texas A&M all within the top 10. No. 16 Texas Tech, No. 19 Baylor, No. 21 Nebraska and No. 25 Missouri finish the league members in the top 25. The rest of the teams have national qualifiers and are as follows: No. 28 Kansas, No. 45 Kansas State, No. 60 Colorado, No. 66 Iowa State and No. 119 Oklahoma State.

Groves Selected Big 12 Athlete of the Week
For the second time this season and third of her career, junior Loren Groves was tabbed the Big 12 Track and Field Women’s Athlete of the Week, as announced by the conference office Tuesday. Missouri’s Chris Rohr teams with Groves to earn the final recognition of the indoor season, as the Big 12 Indoor Championships are slated for a Friday, February 29th start.

Groves captured the women’s weight throw title at the KSU Open on Saturday with a meet-record throw of 69-02.75, her second NCAA automatic mark. With her fifth win of the year, Groves has now launched two marks of over 69 feet in her career with each occurring this season. The Scott City, Mo., native shattered the KSU Open record with the toss as she held the previous mark with a distance of 68-03.75 from 2007.

Groves earned the weekly accolade during the second week of nominations after recording a school-record mark of 69-11.50 at the Wildcat Invitational. Her first career honor came during the final week of the 2007 season when she originally set the KSU Open record.

The recognition is the third overall for the Wildcats this season as junior Scott Sellers was named the men’s athlete of the week to complete the K-State sweep of the award on January 22nd.

Wildcats Last Outing: KSU Open
The Wildcats wrapped up their home indoor slate on Saturday with six titles at the KSU Open from Ahearn Field House. The Wildcats opened the meet with a one-two-three finish in the women’s weight throw, including a meet-record effort from junior Loren Groves for the title.

Groves unleashed a throw of 69-02.75 to break her 2007 KSU Open record of 67-05.50. The toss is the junior’s second-best performance of her career and second NCAA automatic throw. She previously broke the school record this season with a mark of 69-11.50 at the Wildcat Invitational on January 19th.

Senior Laci Heller followed suit by throwing her fifth NCAA provisional mark of the 2008 year to take the silver position. Heller registered a toss of 64-03.00. Freshman Amanda Boor completed the top-three finish for the Wildcats with a personal-best throw of 53-05.00. The mark betters her previous career best of 52-02.00 from the Don Barrett Air Force Open in early February.

Junior Mike Myer was one of three K-State men to capture an event victory during the KSU Open. The native of Lenexa, Kan., won the 60M sprint with a second-best career time of 6.82. He qualified for the finals on Saturday with a top-preliminary time of 6.97. Freshman Desmond McGuire finished in fourth with a run of 7.08, while he had a 7.06 effort during the first heat.

Completing the Wildcat sweep of the 60M was Marnyka Honeycutt for the women. The senior earned her second 60M win of the year by clocking a time of 7.58 to win over teammate Donniece Parrish, who ran a mark of 7.69. Honeycutt raced to the fastest prelim time, 7.57, which tied the Denver, Colo., product’s career best and marked a season-best effort. She also notched the time during the 2007 Big 12 Championships. Parrish finished second in the prelims with a qualifying time of 7.64.

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 this week’s Big 12 Championships, as she was crowned the 2007 and 2005 600Y champion.

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.

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.