Wildcats Ink Seven Spring Signees

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- K-State Track and Field has announced the signing of seven additional student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2016 season. The spring signees join a 2015 recruiting class that now totals 15 athletes -- eight on the men's side and seven for the women.

The newest additions will look to bolster numerous areas for the Wildcats on both the track and in the field. For the men, they added junior college transfers Mitchell Dixon and Goabaone Earnest Mosheleketi, as well as promising high school track prospects in Devie Freeman, Joe Gorthy and Javon Patterson. The women's side, meanwhile, added sisters Shadae and Shardia Lawrence from Jamaica.

Head coach Cliff Rovelto said this year's spring signees will not only help in filling voids on the roster, but also add much needed depth throughout.

"This class is not only going to fill in holes on the roster, but come in and be productive," Rovelto said. "They're either filling holes or coming in and are as good as anyone we have in that specific area. So they're all going to have a pretty big impact on the team, for sure, in terms of filling out the team from a depth perspective. Most of them, we certainly expect, are going to be capable of scoring at the conference level and, with a few of them, we hope that translates, if not right away but fairly soon, at the national level."

On the men's side, in particular, Rovelto felt the Wildcats needed to address what will amount to plenty of roster turnover after the conclusion of this season. Along with seeing Big 12 scorers Ryan Hershberger, Alex Roe and Kyle Wait graduate this past season, K-State seniors Carlos Rodriguez, Christopher Campbell, Ivan Hartung and Zack Riley all saw or will see their eligibility come to close in 2015.

"We turned over a lot, whether through graduation or end of eligibility, on the men's side. So there was a little bit more to work with, but obviously, we needed to make that a focus," Rovelto said. "A guy like Devie may come in and be similar to [Campbell] right away, or better, I don't know. The bottom line is Chris has been on the 4x400 for four years and has been solid, dependable, so we needed to have somebody that can fill that void. Right now, we are going to need that depth and Devie, as well as Javon, can immediately help and make a significant difference."

Including the signees from this past winter, Rovelto said he feels this group will continue to make the Wildcats competitive from a team perspective at the conference level.

"I think both overall classes, for the men and the women, are good," Rovelto said. "Because of the competitiveness of the Big 12, we would love to have a complete team, where we have huge groups of bodies in all the events. But that's not an option, so we need to, as best we can, cover all the events, but not at the expense of having quality athletes at the top of the conference in certain areas."

With the 2014 recruiting class experiencing quite a bit of success so far this season -- among the highlights are freshmen A'Keyla Mitchell, Nate Gipson and Christoff Bryan all earning indoor All-American honors, while Akela Jones, also an All-American, was the Big 12 Indoors high-point scorer -- Rovelto sees potential for this group to replicate those performances.

"We've obviously had a number of athletes come in out of high school that have been successful right away -- like a Scott Sellers or Erik Kynard. Whether they were No. 1 or No. 2 in the country, it didn't matter, they were one of the very, very best in the country and there's been those kind of athletes for us over time," Rovelto said. "I think, for one, [the athletes from 2014] are those types of athletes coming out of high school -- Christoff and so forth. The good thing is they have all adapted pretty quickly and they're going to get better.

"When it comes to the athlete, there really isn't any difference in regards to how good, or bad for that matter, a program is. If the athlete buys in and works hard, it's probably going to work to some degree. If the program is good, and they're good and buy in, then you see the success like both A'Keyla and Akela are having, becoming among the best, if not the best, in the country. So we're just fortunate we have a lot of those good athletes."

Added Rovelto, "I think without question it's safe to say, when you at look at both teams on paper, our current teams for next year -- factoring in what we lost and what we've added -- both teams are better a year from now than they are now."

For more information on the signees from the winter, click the link here, while further information on the spring signees can be found below.


Men

MITCHELL DIXON | Saddleback College | Throws

After spending the past two season with Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, Mitchell Dixon brings added experience to a relatively young throws squad for the men. Also a native of Mission Viejo, Dixon has excelled in his time with the Gauchos, most recently nabbing a Southern California Championships title in the hammer throw earlier this month. Dixon has experienced most of his success in the hammer, as his personal best mark of 58.98m/193-06 is third in school history, and he has also won an Orange Empire Conference title in the event. Outside of the hammer throw, Dixon has competed in the shot put and discus, holding career-bests of 16.21m/53-02.25 and 46.59m/152-10 in each event, respectively.

Before competing with the Gauchos, Dixon was a letterman at Trabuco Hills High School in football, rugby and track and field. He competed primarily in both the shot and discus as a member of the track team.

What Rovelto says...

"Mitchell is a junior college guy who has thrown pretty well in the hammer. [Throws coach Greg Watson] is high on him, thinking he can be someone who improves upon their personal bests pretty quickly. Certainly from a conference perspective, if you have a guy improving three or four meters on his PR like Dixon, that puts him pretty near the top. We definitely envision him, along with guy like Brady Grunder [who was recruited in 2014], - their PRs are pretty similar -- as individuals that once they put the uniform on and compete with us, you'll see results. You'll see improvement right away."

DEVIE FREEMAN | Canton HS | Sprints

Devie Freeman is the second sprinter to be recruited by the Wildcats in the past two years out of the state of Mississippi -- current freshman Terrell Smith being the other. Competing at Canton High School, Freeman has experienced most of his success in the 400-meter dash, earning MHSAA 5A state titles on two occasions, while also nabbing a Regional title in 2014. Along with the success in the 400m, Freeman brings an extremely versatile skillset to the Wildcats sprint group, running in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes at the state level as well. This past season saw the Canton native earn a state title in the 100m. In regards to personal bests, Freeman's are as follows: 100m: 10.86 | 200m: 21.88 | 400m: 48.14.

What Rovelto says...

"Devie has run some good times, and he is a good athlete. We like that he has range and he's versatile -- he can be a guy that can run on the 4x100, as well as the 4x400. For a lot of track programs, having multiple guys that can just do one thing that's great does not, unless he's the best, always payoff from a team standpoint. You got to have guys that are competitive in multiple areas unless they are just among the very, very best. So we think he's going to be a solid addition, and the most attractive part about that is he hopefully can come in and help in a lot of different areas."

JOE GORTHY | Blue Valley HS | Cross Country/Distance

The lone in-state recruit out of the spring signees, Joe Gorthy joins the `Cats as a well-regarded distance runner in the Sunflower State. Competing at Blue Valley High School, the Stilwell, Kansas, native most recently both won the individual 6A Regional title in cross country, as well as helped the Tigers to an overall team title. Gorthy hails from the same program that produced current Wildcat Colton Donahue and was one of three finalists for the Metro Runner of the Year award in 2014 -- Donahue won the award in 2012. Along with being named First Team All-Metro by the Greater Kansas City Cross Country Coaches Association (GKCCCCA), Gorthy has excelled on the state and national level. At States this past season, Gorthy finished third individually, while at the Nike Heartland Regionals, which pits the nation's best against each other, he ran to a 25th-place finish.

Gorthy will also help the Wildcats in the distance events, where he ran in the 1600-meter, 3200-meter and on the 4x800-meter relay as part of the Tiger track squad. He holds an overall personal best in the 5K of 15:35.00.

What Rovelto says...

"It's obvious we need to continue to add quality to the distance for the men -- both from a cross country and track standpoint. So anytime we are able to add guys that are capable in that area, it's a good thing. Joe is somebody that's coming in, filling those holes and, in some areas, is as good as some of the athletes we already have."

GOABAONE EARNEST MOSHELEKETI | South Plains College | Jumps

The second of two junior college transfers for the Wildcat men, Goabaone Earnest Mosheleketi signs with K-State after spending the past year with South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. Originally from Lobatoe, Botswana, Mosheleketi brings a stocked resume on the international level, including competing at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona. He has seen most of his success come in the triple jump, earning Botswana national titles in 2012 and 2013.He's also medaled in the event at the Botswana Games (gold) in 2009, African Junior Championships (bronze) in 2011, Scaza Games in 2012 (silver) and Southern Senior Championships in 2013 (silver).

At the collegiate level, Mosheleketi's highlights include taking second in the long jump and third in triple jump at the Indoor National Junior College Championships in 2014. He holds personal bests of 7.68m/25-02.50 in the long jump and 16.00m/52-06 in the triple.

What Rovelto says...

"He's somebody that has performed well in the long jump, but definitely appears to possess great potential in the triple jump. He's competed well and has been jumping at a high level for a while. He's a guy, who was one of the better athletes in Africa and one of the better guys in his age group for a few years."

JAVON PATTERSON | Boyd Anderson HS | Mid-Distance

The last of the men's recruits to be highlighted, Javon Patterson brings a versatile skillset to the Wildcats mid-distance group. Hailing from Lauderhill, Florida, Patterson has excelled in the 800-meter, nabbing three Regional and four District titles competing at Boyd Anderson High School. A three-time runner-up at the state championship level in the event, Patterson has also nabbed 800m titles at the Florida Relays in 2014 and 2015. The Relays, hosted by the University of Florida at James G. Pressly Stadium on Percy Beard Track, attract more than 3,000 high school athletes to compete annually in April.

Along with individual success, Patterson will help shore up the Wildcat relay squads. Most recently, he anchored the 4x800-meter relay squad to the state title at the FHSAA 3A State Championships. Patterson holds a personal best of 1:51.04 in the 800-meter.

What Rovelto says...


"Javon is not a big guy in physical stature, but he's run well on the relays. He's going to be a guy that hopefully will not only be a scorer in the 800, but someone who can make an impact on the 4x400. His high school team has had success and he's been a part of that. He's trained at a very high level because of that and competing in Florida definitely helps that aspect. So those guys have an opportunity to train and race at a high level, and we think coming in as a freshman he will be able to build off that."

Women


SHADAE LAWRENCE | Hydel Preparatory School | Throws

Shadae Lawrence joins her sister, Shardia, as the two women's recruits for this year's batch of spring signees. Competing at Hydel Preparatory School, Lawrence has experienced a considerable amount of success in the discus throw. She is an ISSA/Grace Kennedy Athletics Boys and Girls Championships (Champs) title winner in the event in both 2014 and 2015. Also a Central American Championships winner in 2014, Lawrence's success culminated that year with a trip to the World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon. A native of Jamaica, her experience in the discus will be invaluable to a throws group that already touts top-five Big 12 returners in the shot put (Dani Winters), javelin (Danie Plank) and hammer throw (Sara Savatovic). Lawrence holds a current personal best of 48.66m/159-08 in the discus.

What Rovelto says...

"Shadae is a pretty talented discus thrower. She's thrown well for someone coming out of high school and is very athletic. She appears to be somebody who could still have a significant breakthrough from where she's at now. And we're thinking she has the potential coming in as a freshman to be pretty good."

SHARDIA LAWRENCE | Hydel Preparatory School | Jumps

Shardia Lawrence joins the Wildcats with success primarily in the triple jump. She has competed at both Hydel Preparatory and Vere Technical High School while in Jamaica, nabbing a Champs triple jump title with the latter. Lawrence's two years with Hydel have been highlighted by Champs runner-up showings in the triple jump in both 2014 and 2015. Internationally, she was a CARIFTA Games U-20 triple jump champion in 2013. In regards to personal bests, Lawrence's are as follows: TJ: 13.14m/43-01.50 | LJ: 5.87m/19-03.75.


What Rovelto says...

"Shardia's strongest event is the triple, and she can long jump as well. She's an extremely-gifted horizontal jumper and someone we hope can be a factor at the conference meet and probably the national level right away. She is that kind of an athlete and also could be someone that could help us in the short relay outdoors."