K-State Concludes Indoor Campaign at Nationals

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State track and field teams will finish out the indoor schedule with six qualifications to the NCAA Indoor Championships set for March 14-15 in Fayetteville, Ark. Just as one season comes to a close, the Wildcats will also be opening the outdoor year with the ESU Spring Twilight on Wed., March 12th, in Emporia, Kan.

K-State will travel a contingent of six Wildcats to the national meet, with three qualifying for each the men and the women. Two seniors, Laci Heller and Donniece Parrish, as well as two Big 12 champion juniors, Loren Groves and Scott Sellers, earned a ticket to the meet. KSU also will travel with two freshman qualifying for their first time, as Moritz Cleve and Rok Derzanic will compete in the heptathlon.

While the group of Wildcats completes the indoor season, 20 from K-State will represent the Purple and White at the ESU Spring Twilight in the first outdoor competition of the year. The action will begin with the men’s pole vault at noon on Wednesday, while running events will start at 1 p.m.

A complete recap of both the outdoor opener and indoor closer will be made available at www.kstatesports.com. Live results can be followed of the 2008 NCAA Championships at www.flashresults.com.

NCAA Qualifiers Quick Glance
Junior Sellers, the reigning outdoor high jump champion, will make his third trip to the NCAA indoor meet and fifth to a championship event. The Katy, Texas, native is the standing school-record holder after he finished with a height of 7-06.00 to win the Big 12 gold two weeks ago in Lincoln, Neb. The four-time All-American finished third in the high jump at last year’s meet and ninth as a freshman. Sellers, currently ranked first among collegiate jumpers, will compete in a field of 16, including five conference members.

Freshmen Cleve and Derzanic will compete in the two-day men’s heptathlon as each qualified with the eighth and 10th best marks in the field of 16. Cleve’s last combined events competition resulted in a silver medal at the Big 12 Championships, as he finished with the second-best mark in K-State history. Cleve’s total of 5,655 points automatically qualified the Bochum, Germany, native for his first nationals. Derzanic, of Artice, Slovenia, finished third at the conference meet in his first-ever completion of the heptathlon. Derzanic captured the bronze with an NCAA provisional total of 5,594 points to notch the third-best total in KSU history.

Groves and Heller each earned a ticket to the championships in the women’s weight throw after a season that found a new personal best for each. Groves’ top mark, which is the fourth best in the country, was a school-record toss of 70-03.00 and earned her the Big 12 weight throw crown. The junior will be making her second-consecutive appearance at nationals, as she earned her first All-America accolade as a sophomore.

Heller will travel to the indoor meet for the third time in her Wildcat career, as she earns the spot from a 66-10.00 performance at the Air Force Open on February 9th. The Meriden, Kan., native sits with the 10th best throw in the nation and will aim to earn her first indoor All-America honor. Heller’s previous efforts at the indoor championships earned her 10th place (63-00.25; 2006) and 18th (61-08.25; 2005).

Senior Parrish will be making her first nationals appearance, as the Florissant, Mo., native will compete in the women’s 400M. The senior earned her spot with a school-record run of 53.15 to place second at the Big 12 Championships. Parrish earned four NCAA provisional marks this season with her first at the Sevigne Husker Invitational with a run of 53.95.

NCAA Championship History: Women
Since the 1984 season, the Kansas State women have obtained 61 All-America certificates and 12 top 25 team finishes. Individual Wildcats have earned 18 top three finishes despite not having an indoor national titlist.

As the 2008 year qualifies three women, the trio has strong potential to earn an All-America accolade. If all three were able to earn the award, it would mark the 13th year that three or more have done so. For the past 13 years, K-State has earned more than one All-America certificate and has earned at least one in every year since 1984.

Junior Groves will return to the national stage as the only previous indoor All-American on the K-State roster. Groves and Kaylene Wagner teamed up to earn two All-America honors last season, as Groves finished sixth in the weight throw and Wagner eighth in the high jump.

K-State has previously had six Wildcats finish in the top eight in the weight throw and four All-Americans in the 400M. Groves and Heller look to bring the throwing number to eight honors, while Parrish will run for a fifth 400M award.

NCAA Championship History: Men
The Kansas State men have had a team finish of 25th or better in 18 seasons since 1965 with a top finish of fifth in 1966. The Wildcats will be looking to get back into the top 25 as they have only reached the mark two years since 1994. During 2007, KSU placed 32nd with six points from Sellers.

Since 1966, K-State has notched 59 All-America accolades and has had at least one in the last seven years. Eleven of those All-Americans were also crowned national champions with the last being Christian Smith in the men’s mile in 2006. A total of 29 placed in the top three for K-State with eight silver medals and 10 bronzes.

Sellers earned his third trip to the NCAA Championships with his automatic height of 7-06.00 and will look to earn his third indoor All-America award. Kansas State has tallied 10 All-America honors in the high jump, including eight since 1996 and five in the last four years. Wildcats have also captured two titles in the event: Kenny Harrison in 1986 and Percell Gaskins in 1993.

With freshmen Cleve and Derzanic competing in the heptathlon, they will aim to become only the second and third All-Americans in the event for K-State. Darius Draudvila has been the only K-Stater to earn an honor in the event as he finished fifth in 2005.

Opening the Outdoors
Kansas State will be traveling a number of Wildcats to the ESU Spring Twilight, set for Wednesday, March 12th. With 11 men and nine women representing K-State, many entries will be fielded in the throwing events with more than half of the K-State group. A number will also be competing in their first meet of the year, including senior Bryce Bergman in the men’s pole vault. Bergman exhausted his indoor eligibility and will begin his final outdoor season in the Purple and White. Also throwing for the first time in his final year is javelin specialist and 2008 team captain Kyle Seiler.

During last year’s outdoor opener, K-State walked away with three NCAA regional marks and six event titles in Emporia, Kan. Current Wildcats Ashley Reider and Laci Heller earned the qualifying mark in the javelin and hammer throw, respectively, while former KSU student-athlete TJ Staab did so in the men’s shot put. Seiler titled last year’s javelin, while Adam Fretwell won the 110M hurdles and Liz Rea ran to the 1500M title.

Sellers Voted Big 12 Performer of the Year
After capturing the men’s high jump title with a school-record height, Kansas State junior Scott Sellers was voted the Big 12 Men’s Indoor Performer of the Year by a poll of the league’s coaches. The Katy, Texas, native cleared a height of 7-06.00 to notch the top mark in the country among collegiate competitors.

Sellers earned his first Big 12 indoor crown on Saturday to bring his total conference championships to two. As a sophomore, Sellers took the outdoor gold with a mark of 7-07.75, the fourth best in NCAA history and 15th in United States history.

Sellers battled Nebraska’s Dusty Jonas for the title on the second and final day of the Big 12 Indoor Championships from Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday. The two entered the competition tied for the top mark in the country with a height of 7-05.00. Sellers passed over the 7-06.00 bar on his first attempt to improve his previous school record of 7-05.75 from the 2007 ISU Classic. Sellers attempted to tie the top mark in the country at 7-07.25, but missed on each of his three tries.

Wildcats Last NCAA Indoor Event
K-State had three athletes earn All-America accolades during the 2007 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Athletes earning honors were Scott Sellers (men’s high jump), Loren Groves (women’s weight throw) and Kaylene Wagner (women’s high jump). The trio also earned All-America honors from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Sellers finished third with a clearance of 7-03.25 for his second career indoor citation and an improvement over his ninth-place finish during his freshman campaign. This was the 10th All-American honor in the high jump by a K-State athlete. Sellers six points gave the Kansas State men’s team a 32nd-place finish.
Groves registered a sixth-place finish in the weight throw with a toss of 67-06.75 for her first national honor. This was the sixth All-American distinction in the weight throw for a female Wildcat.
Wagner finished eighth in the high jump with a clearance of 6-00.00. This was the first All-American honor for a female K-State high jumper since Morgan High’s sixth-place effort in 2003. The combined effort of Groves and Wagner registered four points for the women’s 50th place finish.

Last Outing: Big 12 Championships
Kansas State earned two individual titles at the 2008 Big 12 Championships the weekend of February 29th. Junior Loren Groves opened the first day of the meet with a school and Big 12 record toss of 70-03.00 to win her second-consecutive gold in the women’s weight throw. For the men, junior Scott Sellers captured an event victory in the men’s high jump also with a school-record mark, as he cleared 7-06.00 to defeat Nebraska’s Dusty Jonas in a head-to-head battle of the nation’s top-two jumpers.

K-State also had additional All-Big 12 performances, including finishing with three heptathletes in the top eight. Freshmen Moritz Cleve and Rok Derzanic finished in second and third, while junior Adam Fretwell placed seventh. In running events, Jason Collett (800M), Sam James (800M), Mike Myer (60M and 200M) and Colin Swaney (3000M) earned all-conference honors. For the women, Morgan Bonds (600Y), Alexandra Gonzalez (pole vault), Laci Heller (weight throw), Liliani Mendez (1000M), Donniece Parrish (400M), Beverly Ramos (3000M and 5000M), Annika Schoenebeck (pentathlon) and the women’s 4x400M of Tiara Walpool, Parrish, Marnyka Honeycutt and Bonds all finished eighth or better.