Wildcats Tune Up at Nebraska Invitational

Luke Hibbeler

May 3, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Championship meets are just around the corner for the Kansas State track and field team, and the Wildcats will head to the Nebraska Invitational on Saturday for one more chance to make improvements before hosting the 2012 Big 12 Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships next week. This will be the final chance for the Wildcats to fine tune before the postseason begins, and K-State will send a large group to Lincoln to stay sharp prior to hosting the conference meet.

K-State has 21 men and 14 women headed to the Nebraska Invitational set to compete in a variety of events. The team’s top mid-distance runners will be in action on both the men’s and women’s side as well as the sprinters. Some of the Wildcats’ jumpers will be at the Nebraska Invitational and a few of the long distance runners as well.

The meet will have live results available at huskers.com for fans wanting to follow the action away from the track.

Bozzay Bests Field at Drake Relays in Cold
Cold and windy conditions made for a difficult day at the track for the 103rd Drake Relays during Friday’s action. Senior Boglarka Bozzay came away with the best result for the Wildcats as she crossed the line first in the women’s 800 meters. Bozzay ran a solid final 200 meters of the tactical race to put the win in the bag for K-State on a day with winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour.

Despite the conditions some other Wildcats were able to perform well on Friday at Drake. Sophomore pole vaulter Kyle Wait finished in a tie for eighth as he cleared the opening height of 16-04.75 (5.00m) on his first attempt. He was only one of four competitors to clear the first bar on their opening attempt. A total of 11 athletes failed to clear a bar, posting no-height, as the conditions were difficult to handle for the entire field.

Jacquelyne Leffler was in action in two throwing events Friday and came away with one of the best performances in school history. After fouling her three attempts in the shot put to open her day, Leffler rebounded with an impressive throw in the women’s discus with a strong cross wind. Leffler finished 13th overall with her toss of 164-08 (50.19m). The throw moves her into 11th in school history.

A pair of men’s throwers was also in action Friday beginning with senior Cory Boulanger. He opened the day for the Wildcats with an eighth-place finish in the javelin. Boulanger had a throw of 196-08 (59.95m) to claim third in the first flight and qualify for the final. He did not improve on his next three throws to take eighth overall. Sophomore Ryan Hershberger was the final thrower competing for the Wildcats and he came away in 12th place in the men’s shot put.

The high winds calmed on Saturday making for much better conditions on the final day of the Drake Relays and K-State again had some strong performances.

To open the day for the Wildcats, freshman Fernando Ramon posted a new personal best in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. He held steady around 10th place through the first half of the race and then moved his way up to eighth over the final few laps to finish seventh. He clocked in at 9:09.38 which shaves about half a second off his previous best and keeps him at eighth on the all-time list at K-State.

The final running event of the day for the Wildcats was the men’s 800 meters with Armando Del Valle up against a strong field No. 15-ranked Blake Irwin of Missouri. Del Valle was able to push his way along the rail over the final 250 meters to move past some other runners in the final turn. He crossed the line in 1:50.74 to finish fourth and just off the pace of Irwin, who finished third in 1:50.43.

Homecoming for Krais at Penn Relays
Senior Ryann Krais grew up competing at the longest running track meet in America. This season she got to return to the Penn Relays and bring some of her teammates along to compete at the prestigious meet. Krais ran in five events, three of them relays at the meet she first ran at as a seventh grader. Her best finishes came in the 400 hurdles, where she took fourth, and in the shuttle hurdles. She teamed up with Richelle Farley, Mairead Murphy and Erica Twiss to run just off their school-record time and take third place in 55.47 seconds.

K-State took a total of seven Wildcats to the meet and in addition to the shuttle hurdles, competed in the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400 and sprint medley relays.

Murphy, Krais and Farley ran in the open 100 hurdles as well with Murphy posting a time of 13.86 seconds. Her time was just off her fastest time of the season from last week, finishing 16th overall and second among athletes from Big 12 schools in the event.

A pair of senior jumpers took on strong competition at Penn as well with the meet attracting some of the best talent again. TiAra Walpool was in the college women’s triple jump championship with seven of the best in the event invited. Walpool came away in fifth place as she leapt 39-10.50 (12.15m). Kim Haberman finished seventh in the long jump at 19-07.50 (5.98m). It marked her longest jump of the season that was not wind-aided and was just one centimeter off her personal best all-time.

Throwers Post Big Marks at ESU Meet Again
K-State track and field had a small group of throwers compete at the ESU Mid-Week Open prior to a busy weekend at two meets and the Wildcats came away with three wins and one runner-up finish.

The Wildcats took first place in the men’s shot put with sophomore Ryan Hershberger posting a new career best with a toss of 58-02.00 (17.73m). The mark also moves him into eighth in school history. Hershberger claimed second in the discus as well as he had a throw of 159-10 (48.71m). Alex Roe was not far behind taking fourth place at 158-11 (48.43m). Jessica Carter continued the success in the discus as she tallied another win for K-State with a PR of 166-10 (50.85m). That mark also put her among the best in school history at 10th on the list.

Jake Darrington tallied K-State’s other win as he was tops in the men’s javelin. He posted a mark of 201-05 (61.39m). It was Darrington’s best throw as a Wildcat, improving his previous best by more than 10 feet.

K-State had a large group in the women’s hammer throw led by Chelsie Bonds in fifth place. Carter took fifth and Jacquelyne Leffler finished sixth. Sara Henault posted a new PR and took 11th while Jenna Yoder was 4th. For the men, Ryan Johnson finished fifth and Roe was sixth.

Wildcats Still Among Best in USTFCCCA Rankings
The Kansas State women continue to make an impact on the national scene and remain among the top teams. This week the Wildcats fell a two spots down to No. 25 in this week’s USTFCCCA Rankings. They join seven other Big 12 Conference teams in the Top 25.

The Wildcat women opened the outdoor season at No. 19 on the preseason list with senior Ryann Krais ranked among the nation’s best in a number of events. K-State climbed four spots to No. 15 earlier in the season and now stands at No. 23 with just two weeks before the conference championship. K-State has athletes ranked in the top 10 in four events.

This week’s rankings are the second to take only marks from this season into account, except for the combined events. Teams made big moves both up and down the rankings last week and more shuffling occurred this week with a new No. 1 for the second straight week on both the men’s and women’s sides.

K-State’s women in the top 10 of their events are seniors Boglarka Bozzay (800m), TiAra Walpool (TJ) and Ryann Krais (heptathlon). Freshman Alyx Treasure (HJ) joins them among the elite in their events. Bozzay also is ranked in the 1,500 and Krais is among the top in the 400 hurdles. Senior Kim Haberman is looking to qualify for the NCAA West Regional in the long jump standing at No. 24, and Mairead Murphy is No. 27 in the heptathlon. Jessica Carter moves into the top 50 this week in the discus as well.

The men’s team fell nine spots to No. 61 this week. Erik Kynard dropped to No. 10 in the high jump to mark K-State’s only Top 10 ranking. Sprinter Carlos Rodriguez is ranked in the 200 and Mantas Silkauskas also is in the 110 meter hurdles. The pair of runners represents half of the 4x100 team that is No. 17 on the list. Five athletes are ranked No. 40 or higher in their respective field events.

Big 12 Among Top Conferences in Nation
The Big 12 Conference is known across the country as one of the top leagues in the nation with its exposure in football and basketball, but track and field is yet another sport the Big 12 can hang with the best. In this week’s USTFCCCA Rankings five men’s teams and eight women’s teams are ranked in the Top 25. Two of those men’s teams are in the Top 10 while the women boast an impressive five of the Top 15.

Two schools (Texas A&M, Texas Tech) have both their men’s and women’s programs in the Top 10 with Texas nearly joining that group as the Longhorn women are No. 1 with the men at No. 12. Kansas and Oklahoma join those schools with having both teams in the Top 25.

Only the SEC (7) has more men’s teams in the Top 25 than the Big 12 does. Four of those teams are in the Top 10. No other conference has more teams in the Top 25 than the Big 12 women. The SEC and Pac-12 are next with five apiece. Taking every team in the Big 12 into account as the USTFCCCA ranks every team, the Big 12 men’s average ranking is 30.2. The Big 12 women combine to average an impressive 18.6. The lowest ranked team in the conference for the women is Missouri at No. 49.