Wildcats Return to Famed Kansas Relays

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State track and field team will reunite after two weeks of divided effort as the Wildcats take part in the 81st annual Kansas Relays in Lawrence, Kan. The four-day event will start on Wed., April 16th, with the multis competition and run through Sat., April 19th, when many running finals will take place.

The K-State men and women have entries in 30 events at the Relays, including a qualification for the women’s 4x100M Relay Invitational. The Wildcats will begin competition on Wednesday with Stephanie Hejde and Annika Schoenebeck participating in the heptathlon. The men will not race until Thursday, April 17th, with the 800M and 1500M.

A recap of Wildcat events will be posted following each day’s completion at www.kstatesports.com. For live results of the Kansas Relays, you may visit www.deltatiming.com.

Kansas Relays History
For nearly every year since Memorial Stadium was built on the campus of the University of Kansas, the Kansas Relays have taken place. The Stadium, built in 1923, has hosted 80 runnings of the famed Relays and drawn a wide-variety of athletes. Everyone from high school preps to seasoned Olympians have stepped foot into Memorial Stadium to become part of the historic meet.

After cancelling the Kansas Relays in 1998 and 1999 due to construction on Memorial Stadium, the Kansas Relays have had an influx of Olympic athletes. In 2000, Kansas City native Maurice Greene made an appearance, while over 30 Olympians attended the Relays in 2001.

Wildcats’ Recent Relays History
In the last three seasons, Kansas State has captured 11 event titles at the Kansas Relays, including two from senior Laci Heller. Heller earned her first hammer throw title at the meet in 2005 as a freshman and will return to the Relays as the only former KSU titlist. She threw 197-04 the following year to garner her second-consecutive win in the event.

Along with Heller, K-State finished with five event wins in 2005. Additionally, Christina Lara (1500M), Ben Delay (3000M steeplechase), TJ Staab (shot put) and the men’s sprint medley relay took home crowns. In 2006, senior Morgan Bonds teamed with Heller to take home a victory, as Bonds ran a mark of 2:09.81 in the 800M. Last year, Kaylene Wagner and Marianne Schlachter won in the high jump and triple jump, respectively.

Harrison Earns Hall of Fame Induction
Former Wildcat and 1996 Olympian Kenny Harrison was selected as a member of the 2008 Kansas Relays Hall of Fame Class. The three-time national champion earned six event wins at the Kansas Relays in the long and triple jumps. While with K-State, Harrison captured two long jump titles with jumps of 26-07.50 in 1986 and 26-08.50 in 1987. He added to that three triple jump crowns after earning marks of 52-01.50 in 1984, 55-11.00 in 1986 and 57-02.00 in 1987. In 1986, he was given the title of Most Outstanding Performer after winning both the long and triple jumps. He twice set the meet record in the triple jump and once in the long jump. Harrison still holds the record in each with a mark of 26-08.50 from 1987 in the long jump and 57-02.00 from 1987 in the triple jump.

Harrison went on to earn one long jump title at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a win in 1986. He also was a two-time champion in the triple jump after jumping to gold at the outdoor 1986 and indoor 1988. Post graduation, Harrison went on to become the ultimate champion when he leapt to an Olympic gold at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Ga. He remains as K-State’s lone individual Olympic champion.

Slightly Separated
Kansas State will compete in a somewhat divided form this week as well, but only three Wildcats will be making a trip to a destination other than the Kansas Relays. K-State will travel a trio of its off-seasoned cross country competitors to the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., on the campus of Mt. San Antonio College. Also a highly decorated event, the Mt. SAC Relays are celebrating their 50th running this season.

The first competitor for K-State will be junior Liliani Mendez in the 800M on Fri., April 18th, at 7:10 p.m. CDT. Sophomore and school-record holder Beverly Ramos will run in the 3000M steeplechase on Friday as well with an approximate start of 9:05 p.m. On Sunday, Mendez will compete n the 1500M, while Morgan Bonds is entered in the 800M for 5:45 p.m.

Last Out: UTEP Invitational
K-State traveled a small number to the UTEP Invitational on Sat., April 12th, but the Wildcats tacked on four new regional qualifiers, including three for the KSU women.

For the sprinting events, K-State added Donniece Parrish for the 100M as she raced to a personal best time and her second career regional mark in the event. Parrish placed third with a time of 11.70, which adjusts to a mark of 11.73 with the altitude addition. Parrish also improved her 200M time to a 23.57 as she placed first in the event with the PR time.

Also for the women, K-State added freshmen Nina Kokot and Tiara Walpool in jumps. Kokot finished fifth with a leap of 20-03.50 in the long jump to take fifth. It is her first regional mark as a Wildcat and places Kokot sixth on the all-time KSU record list. Walpool had a PR of 41-09.25 in the triple jump to finish fourth. The distance ties for seventh best in school history.

For the men, junior Mike Myer had a qualifying mark in the 200M as he placed fourth. Myer raced to a time of 21.09 (21.16 altitude adjusted) which marks a season-best for the junior as well as his first regional qualification of the season.

Including Parrish’s title run in the 200M, K-State won three events. Lindsay Grigoriev captured the discus win with a throw of 158-10, while Scott Sellers cleared 7-04.50 on his way to the high jump victory for the men.

Walpool Tallies First Regional Mark
A hidden weapon for the Wildcats emerged at the UTEP Invitational as freshman Tiara Walpool put together a performance that qualified her for the NCAA Midwest Regionals in May. The native of Richardson, Texas, recorded a mark of 41-09.25 in her first triple jump competition as a Wildcat during outdoor season. The distance quickly put the young Cat into the KSU history books as it ties for the seventh best mark in school history. Walpool’s only other individual marks from the season come in the 200M, as she has a PR of 24.89 from the Baldy Castillo Invitational. She also has been used in relays teams including the 4x100M and 4x200M from the Texas Relays.

Kokot Steadily Improves Long Jump
A continuous goal for any athlete is to improve with each passing week and Kansas State freshman Nina Kokot has been able to obtain that goal thus far this season. After redshirting her first indoor campaign, the freshman has emerged as a leader in field events for the women during outdoor. She opened her career with a mark of 19-06.25 at the Nike Elite Meet to take second. She moved onto the Texas Relays scene to take part in the Section A heat of the long jump and finished fifth with a jump of 19-08.00. Kokot then registered her first regional mark since joining the Wildcats as she recorded a jump of 20-03.50 to finish fifth at the UTEP Invitational.

Sellers Re-Establishes Form
After storming through the outdoor season last year and capturing numerous records and honors along the way, junior Scott Sellers had a lot to live up to in his third year at Kansas State. The native of Katy, Texas, opened his 2008 outdoor campaign with a regional mark, but finished out at 7-02.50. The mark, as impressive as it is to reach the 7-foot mark, was well below his school-record height of 7-07.75. The next week Sellers was able to return to form as he cleared the third-best mark of his career at 7-06.50 to finish second at the Texas Relays. Although finishing second marked the end to a string of four outdoor wins, he did so to Nike’s Andra Manson who cleared the bar at 7-07.75.

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 eighth 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 seventh 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. Out of three throws in the discus and the hammer, Groves has met the regional mark in all but one competition - her first discus throws at the Baldy Castillo Invitational.

Runnin’ Relay
The women’s team has had tremendous luck in inking sprinters that are great individually, but even more spectacular as part of a relay. Prior to this season, the Wildcats had five 4x400M relay teams since 2005 notch top-10 school times and six in the 4x100M. The women continued the trend of top-10 marks this season as the Wildcat quartet ran a time of 3:40.48 in the preliminary heat of the 4x400M at the Texas Relays. Despite falling as the 10th best in school history, the mark was wiped off the following day when it slipped to 11th and the team of Donniece Parrish, Marnyka Honeycutt, Lauren Fisher and Morgan Bonds earned the school’s fifth best run. The four combined for a time of 3:39.06, a NCAA regional mark, and finished fourth in the finals.