KSU Travels to West Coast for Nike Elite Meet

MANHATTAN, Kan. - After a successful open to the outdoor season, Kansas State will aim to continue the good fortune at the Nike Elite Meet this week in Sacramento, Calif. Six Wildcats will begin the competition on Thursday with the combined events, while the individual schedule will take place on Saturday, March 29th. All events will take place at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex, which has hosted numerous NCAA Championships in the past.

The Wildcat women have already tallied seven NCAA Midwest Regional qualifiers, including six at the Baldy Castillo Invitational last week in Tempe, Ariz. The men added Mike Myer to the list of qualifiers to bring their total to two.

A complete recap of the results of the inaugural Nike Elite Meet will be posted at www.kstatesports.com. To view the heat and flight sheets prior to Saturday’s meet, visit host Sacramento State’s website at www.hornetsports.com.

Last Out: A Trip to Tempe
Kansas State returned home from the Baldy Castillo Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., with six regional qualifiers for the women and one addition on the men’s side. The women also completed the event with six titles, while the men tallied five top-three finishes.

Laci Heller led the women’s team with a title in the hammer throw on Friday, as she captured the meet record along the way. The senior recorded a throw of 208-03 to improve her personal best of 202-01 from the 2006 Texas Relays. Junior Loren Groves came in second also notching a career mark, as she let loose a throw of 197-11. She improved to third overall in the school record books after sitting in fourth for two years with a toss of 191-00 from the 2006 Texas Relays.

The women also qualified one additional thrower and had another improve on her 2008 mark. Senior Lindsay Grigoriev reached a mark in the discus, while freshman Ali Pistora had a PR in the javelin. Freshmen Nancy Harrington and Alexandra Gonzalez each met the mark in the pole vault. One women’s qualifer came from running events, as Liliani Mendez finished with an appropriate time in the 1500M.

Mike Myer was the lone male to add a mark, as he finished with a qualifying time in the 100M.

The Elite Meet
As titled, the Nike Elite Meet will host a number of top athletes and programs that don Nike gear day-in and day-out. Kansas State will participate as the only Big 12 competitor and face such teams as Cal, Oregon and Washington State of the Pac-10, Wichita State from the Missouri Valley Conference, Long Beach State of the Big West and host Sacramento State from the Big Sky.

A number of professional athletes are also scheduled to compete, including Wildcat assistant Tom Pappas and high jumpers Jamie Nieto and Jim Dilling.

Last Trip to Sacramento
Kansas State had great reason to celebrate the last time the Wildcats competed in Sacramento, Calif., at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex. That reason being that K-State finished with an NCAA Champion as Scott Sellers took the high jump crown at the 2008 NCAA Championships last June. The fair weather allowed for the then-sophomore to take the title with a jump of 7-07.25 and become the first champion since Nathan Leeper in 1998.

Along with Sellers, the Wildcats finished with a trio of All-Americans with all being high jumpers. Senior Kyle Lancaster completed his K-State career with a fourth-place performance and secured his seventh All-America accolade. He finished out at a height of 7-03.75.

For the women, senior Kaylene Wagner also ended her Wildcat campaign with an All-America effort in the high jump. Wagner pulled out an eighth-place performance with a clearance at 5-10.75 to capture her second outdoor All-America citation.

Adam Fretwell competed in the decathlon for the Wildcat men and placed 21st with 7,058 points. Then-sophomore Ashley Reider placed 24th in the women’s javelin with a throw of 141-09, while current senior Laci Heller finished 15th in the hammer throw with a prelim toss of 187-08. K-State’s 4x400M women’s relay took 19th with a run of 3:36.28 using legs of Shunte Thomas, Donniece Parrish, Monique Coleman and Morgan Bonds, and the 4x100M finished 12th in 44.93 using Marnyka Honeycutt, Thomas, Coleman and Parrish. Beverly Ramos individually qualified in the 3000M steeplechase and placed 25th with a time of 10:26.14. Morgan Bonds ran a mark of 2:08.76 in the women’s 800M prelims to finish 21st.

Heller Returns with Her Hammer
Senior Laci Heller finished last outdoor season in the same fashion she has in the past - with a trip to nationals in the hammer throw. She looks determined to close her final campaign in the same manner after launching a personal-best throw in her first hammer competition of the year at the Baldy Castillo Invitational. The Meriden, Kan., native finished with a meet record throw of 208-03 and improved her career mark of 202-01 from the 2006 Texas Relays. The senior currently ranks second in the nation with the throw and leads the pack in the Midwest and Big 12 Conference.

Heller has appeared in three-consecutive NCAA Championships in the hammer throw. As a freshman she earned her All-America designation when she placed eighth with a throw of 199-09. During her sophomore year she placed 22nd and followed that with a 15th-place finish last season. Her top throw of 2008 is more than two feet better than her 2007 best of 201-01 from the Nebraska Invitational.

Groves Aiming for an Outdoor Groove
Junior Loren Groves established a groove during the indoor season of throwing qualifying marks and increasing her season and personal bests. The Scott City, Mo., native will look to maintain the consistent improvement during the outdoor season and qualify for her first outdoor national meet. Groves has earned two All-America awards during indoor action, including after a sixth-place finish at this year’s weight throw. She will look to capture an outdoor honor in either the discus or hammer throw. Groves opened the outdoor season with a qualifying mark in the hammer with a personal-best of 197-11, improving her previous record of 191-00. She missed a regional throw in the discus but placed fifth with a launch of 145-06.

Shaking off the Rust
Kansas State welcomed back seniors Candice Mills, Bryce Bergman and Lamar Garrett with open arms for their final outdoor session with the Wildcats. Each of the trio has recorded marks for the outdoor season, while Mills and Garrett first competed at the Baldy Castillo Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., on March 22nd. Mills clocked times in the 200M as well as being part of the 4x100M relay team. In the 200M, Mills finished fourth with a time of 24.96. She aided in the Wildcats’ first-place run in the relay, as the quartet crossed the line in 46.04.

Garrett earned his first mark of the year in the high jump as he finished in second with a 6-08.75 effort. He also competed in his first long jump competition with the Wildcats as he leaped 22-09.00 to earn sixth place. Bergman saw his first action of the season at the ESU Spring Twilight on March 12th. He took the top spot in the pole vault with a clearance of 16-00.00. Bergman also entered in the sprints and finished with a time of 11.42 in the 100M to finish eighth and also took second in the 400M with a time of 50.90.

One Race, One Regional Mark
All it took was one race for junior Mike Myer. One 100M event and the Lenexa, Kan., native was qualified for the NCAA Midwest Regionals set for May 30-31 in Lincoln, Neb. The second-place time of 10.49 wasn’t his personal best, but it currently puts Myer at 12th in the nation for the young outdoor season. He also sits at third in the conference and fifth in the Midwest Region.

The time is comparable to his season-opening run from a year ago, when the Graceland transfer raced to a time of 10.48 at the Jim Click Shootout. He eventually earned a career time of 10.37 at the Big 12 Championships during the prelims. Myer also had a top wind-aided mark of 10.36 from the conference meet when he took fourth in the finals.

The Outdoor Combination
The Wildcat women continued to show their ability in creating winning combinations in the relay teams, as both the 4x100M and 4x400M relays took first place at the Baldy Castillo Invitational on March 22nd. The 4x100M team ran a time of 46.04 using Tiara Walpool, Marnyka Honeycutt, Candice Mills and Donniece Parrish. The four have seconds to knock off to break the school record, but are very capable as the top four times in KSU history had at least one member from the current Wildcat squad running. Mills was instumental in aiding the team to the school record of 44.55 in 2006, while also helping to the fourth-best time. Honeycutt and Parrish ran on the second-fastest team, while Parrish was also a part of the third-fastest.

The 4x400M team consisting of Walpool, Parrish, Honeycutt and Morgan Bonds also won the title in Tempe, Ariz., as they raced to a time of 3:50.87. The duo of Parrish and Bonds have been used on the winning combinations that produced the top two times in school history. The school record sits at 3:33.34 from the 2007 Midwest Regionals.

Breaking in Their Javelin
While the men and women are anxious to welcome back two of their top performers with the javelin during outdoor, two Wildcats already shined in the event at the ESU Spring Twilight. Junior Cameron Traxson and freshman Ali Pistora each finished with regional qualifications in their first competitions with K-State. Traxson, a transfer from Cowley County Community College, notched a distance of 210-02 to finish third. The mark will allow the Cheney, Kan., native to participate in the NCAA Midwest Regionals set for May 30-31 in Lincoln, Neb.

Freshman Pistora tossed a rocket of a launch in her first collegiate competition, as she took first with a distance of 148-02. The mark qualified her for the regional meet and also sent her directly to the K-State history books. Pistora’s first-place throw debutted her at seventh all-time. She improved her first mark after throwing 151-00 at the Baldy Castillo to take second place in the field of 21.

A Vaulting Duo
Both Alexandra Gonzalez and Nancy Harrington became strong competitors in the women’s pole vault during the indoor season, and each has taken that intensity into the outdoor year. In their first competition of the season, each passed over the 12-07.50 bar at the Baldy Castillo Invitational. The regional-qualifying mark also sent both to the K-State record books to tied for the fourth best vault in school history. Harrington finished second in the competition, while Gonzalez took fourth.

During indoor competition, Gonzalez finished with the team’s top mark after clearing a provisional height of 13-02.25 at the Arkansas Invitational to finish 5th. Harrington took second at the Air Force Open with a mark of 12-07.50.