Track Divides to Texas, ESU Relays

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State will be looking to match its successful weekend in Sacramento as the track and field team will split to take on competitors at the Texas Relays in Austin Fri.-Sat., April 4-5, and in Emporia, Kan., for the ESU Relays on Saturday.

The Wildcats will travel 15 members to the distinguished Texas Relays, which will be in its 81st running this season. The women will take 11 individuals to participate in seven events, including three separate relays. The men will enjoy the company of four competitors with three (Lamar Garrett, Michael Healey and Scott Sellers) each taking part in one of two high jump sections.

K-State will also field entries in events at the Euler State Farm/ESU Relays on Saturday, April 5th, when 30 Wildcats participate in the one-day meet. K-State exited the meet last year with six regional qualifiers, including Eric Thomas in the discus, Kyle Seiler in the javelin and Jenny Glodowski in the shot put. Each of the trio is still looking for a qualifying mark this season and will aim to capture one this weekend.

A complete recap of each event will be posted at www.kstatesports.com. To follow live results from the Texas Relays, please visit www.texassports.com.

Last Out: To the West Coast
During last week’s competition, the Wildcats ran, jumped and threw their way to seven new additions to the qualifiers for the NCAA Midwest Regionals at the Nike Elite Meet in Sacramento, Calif. The women showed up as strong contenders after adding five additional regional marks, while the men finished with two new names with both being in the high jump.

The women were led in field events by 2006 All-American Candice Mills, who qualified for the long jump. She took the event victory after leaping 20-00.50. On the other side of the jumps, senior Thomaida Polydorou skipped her way into Regionals after recording a distance of 41-01.00 to take second.

In throws, junior Loren Groves had her first discus qualifying mark of the year with an effort of 167-06. She also improved her previous distance in the hammer throw with a first-place personal-best performance of 208-04. Senior Laci Heller finished second to Groves with her second-best career mark, a 203-10 release.

Also added for the Wildcat women were two in track events, including indoor national qualifier Donniece Parrish. The senior raced to a time of 23.66 in the 200M to take first place. Sophomore Beverly Ramos qualified in the 3000M steeplechase after winning the event in a mark of 10:29.95.

The men finished with both Lamar Garrett and Scott Sellers punching their ticket to the regional event, as both met the mark in the high jump. With a height of 7-02.50, Sellers won his first outdoor high jump competition of the season. Garrett cleared the bar at 6-10.75 to tie his personal best and finish sixth.

Deep History in the Texas Relays
Although the Kansas State teams did not travel to Austin, Texas, last year for the Texas Relays, the Wildcats have a rich history of participants and titlists in the event. During the 81 years of running, K-State has tallied 39 champions in years ranging from 1926 to 2005.

The men have brought home 32 golds from the relays, including from some of K-State’s top track and field athletes. Former Wildcat and 1972 Olympian Ken Swenson was named the 1969 Most Outstanding Performer of the meet. Additional Wildcat Olympians to earn victories at the Texas Relays include Thane Baker, who won the 100M in 1953, and 1984 Olympian Doug Lytle who won the pole vault in 1982. The men titled the two-mile relay a total of five times as the event was ran until 1977. In field events, K-State has had five titlists in the shot put with three golds from Rollin Prather and two earned by Elmer Hackney.

The women have earned seven wins with the last coming in 2005 by Breanna Eveland in the pole vault. Two-time NCAA champion and two-time Olympian Austra Skujyte won the shot put in 2002. In 1995, Gwen Wentland won the high jump with the second-best mark in the Texas Relays history at 6-04.00.

Last Trip to Texas Relays
Similar to this year’s contingent, Kansas State traveled a number of Wildcat women to the Texas Relays at their last appearance in 2006. It was also the women that came through with a number of strong performances that included personal bests and school records. Now-senior Lindsay Grigoriev competed in both the discus and shot put and finished with the title in the discus after a throw of 166-01. She also placed fifth in the shot with a toss of 46-07.25, which remains as her personal best in the event. In the hammer throw, Laci Heller finished second with a then-personal best of 202-01. The mark sat as her career best until this season’s Baldy Castillo Invitational when she threw a mark of 208-03. Loren Groves finished seventh behind Heller with a regional toss of 183-05. Now-senior Candice Mills, who will return to this year’s long jump field, took sixth in the event in 2006 with a mark of 19-11.75. During the 2005 season, Mills placed second in the long jump with a distance of 19-08.25. Breanna Eveland finished as the runner-up in the section A pole vault in 2006 with a clearance of 13-11.25. The women’s 4x400M relay set a then-school record in the preliminary heats with a time of 3:33.45; the team, which included current Wildcats Donniece Parrish and Morgan Bonds, took eighth in the finals.

Last Trip to Emporia
As the indoor season was closing, Kansas State was also opening the outdoor campaign with a number of competitors traveling to the ESU Spring Twilight in Emporia, Kan. The Wildcats returned home to Manhattan with a couple of first-time regional qualifiers with both participating in the javelin. Junior Cameron Traxson earned his first mark at KSU after transferring from Cowley County Community College, as the Cheney, Kan., native threw for 210-02 in the javelin. Freshman Ali Pistora also registered her first toss as a Wildcat as she finished first with a 148-02 effort to qualify for the NCAA Midwest Regionals.

Along with Pistora, K-State also titled six other events including two wins from each Kyle Van Horn and Kristel Williams. The two swept the hurdle events with Van Horn winning the 110M hurdles (15.86) and 400M hurdles (58.70) and Williams leading the pack in the 100M hurdles (16.16) and the 400M hurdles (1:05.03).

Sellers Returns to the Scene
The Texas Relays are quite the familiar scene to junior Wildcat Scott Sellers. Although he has only competed at the event once since joining the Wildcats in 2006, he became a fixture during his prep days at Cinco Ranch High in Katy, Texas. As a sophomore in high school in 2003, Sellers started a string of three-consecutive wins in the boys division of the high jump. During his first effort at the Relays, Sellers cleared a height of 7-01.00. He followed that performance with a first-place tie in 2004 as he and fellow Nebraska senior Dusty Jonas reached 6-11.00. As a senior, Sellers set the Texas Relays high school record in the event as he soared to a win with a mark of 7-05.00. The Wildcat junior competed in the 2006 Texas Relays as a freshman and finished third at 7-04.50 in the section A jumps.

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 fifth in the nation with the throw and is second 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 looks determined to earn the award in the hammer after throwing a personal-best of 208-04 at the Nike Elite Meet in Sacramento, Calif. The distance was one foot shy of the school record and is currently fourth in the country and leads the Midwest Region and the Big 12 Conference. Groves also finished the Nike Meet with a regional toss in the discus as she threw for 167-06 to finish second.

Partial to Parrish
After having a phenomenal indoor season, senior Donniece Parrish remains a force to be reckoned with for the Wildcat women on the track. The odds have been in her favor since qualifying for her first NCAA Indoor Championships, as Parrish has placed her name among the contenders for the outdoor sprints. Parrish opened the season with a first-place finish at the Baldy Castillo Invitational in the 100M after crossing the line in 11.87. She then followed the performance up with a personal best in the 200M at the Nike Elite Meet. She ran a regional-qualifying time of 23.66, which ties for top in the conference and the region and sits at eighth in the nation. She had a previous career mark of 23.67 from the Big 12 Championships last season. During the 2007 season, Parrish qualified for regionals on two occasions, including her first career regional time of 23.88 at the UTEP Invitational.

Continuing a High Jump Tradition
Kansas State continues a long-standing tradition of being strong competitors in the high jump, and last week’s Nike Elite Meet was the latest chapter. The meet found the men’s team with two new additions to the list of regional qualifiers as both Lamar Garrett and Scott Sellers met the mark. Sellers won the event after clearing the bar at 7-02.50, while Garrett tied his personal best of 6-10.75. Sellers’ height currently ranks third among collegiate qualifiers while being first in the conference and second in the Midwest. Garrett is second in Big 12 rankings and seventh in the Midwest Region.