Cats Ready to Run Wild in West Regional

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State track and field team sends 18 Wildcats to Austin, Texas this week to compete in the NCAA West Regional. The Regional meet represents to initial rounds of the NCAA Championship with the top 48 athletes in each event in the regional looking to move on to the championship meet in two weeks.

The Wildcats begin the three days of action with a pair competing in the men's javelin at noon on Thursday. Sophomore Cory Boulanger returns and freshman decathlete Tomas Kirielius makes Regionals in his first year after proving to be a force in the throwing events of the decathlon. Junior Ali Pistora will also make a return to the Regionals after advancing to the NCAA Championship last year in the women's javelin.

K-State will compete in two running events on the first day of the Regional meet at Mike A. Myers Stadium with Martynas Jurgilas and Jason Coniglio each making their first regional appearance. Jurgilas is fresh off his fourth-place finish at the Big 12 Championship where he set a Lithuanian national record during preliminaries at 10.33 seconds in the 100M.

Freshman sensation Sara Stoakes hopes to keep her status as one of the nation's top young runners after winning the Big 12 title in the 800M. She will not be the only Wildcat representing K-State in the mid-distance events, however, with Jack Sachse and Armando Del Valle competing for the men in the 800M as well. Sachse finished 13th at last year's regional meet in Oklahoma.

Friday will be a full day of action for K-State with three field events and a slew of running preliminaries. Freshmen Deszo Szabo and Erik Kynard, Jr. will compete in the pole vault and high jump, respectively. Kynard is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation with his leap of 7-04.50. Nina Kokot will look to make it a double-dip and qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championship after competing in the long jump championship during indoor season.

On the track Friday, the men's 110M hurdles will feature a pair of Wildcats in an extremely deep field. Jeffrey Julmis enters the meet ranked ninth in the nation but fifth in the region after his school-record time of 13.62 at the Big 12 Championship. Balazs Baji is 14th nationally and ninth in the region. Junior Denise Baker looks to keep running strong after improving her personal record multiple times this season as she makes her first regional appearance. Martina Tresch is another freshman running into the postseason after breaking the school record in the 3000M steeplechase to finish third at the Big 12 Championship. Her time places her eighth in the nation as well. Regional finals for the 100M and 800M on Friday as well.

Eric Thomas and Beverly Ramos will be K-State's final athletes to compete with Thomas looking to advance to the NCAA Championship for a second straight year in the discus. Ramos hopes to close her career strong in the 5000M as she currently holds the fifth fastest time in the nation this season.

Regionals this season have taken a different look with the NCAA holding only two regional meets as opposed to four in the past. The top 48 athletes in all events, except multis, will compete at Regionals with the top 12 finishers advancing on to the NCAA Championship to be held in Track Town USA. This year's NCAA Championship will be contested in Eugene, Ore., hosted by the Oregon Ducks on their home track of Hayward Field.

Stoakes Strides Strong
As a true freshman, Sara Stoakes has made an immediate impact for the Kansas State Wildcats. Stoakes improved her time in the 800M each time she stepped on the track leading into the Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Dating back to indoor, she accomplished that feat five times in a row.

Stoakes took that momentum of five straight PR's to dominate the field at the Big 12 outdoor meet. She led from the starting gun, held off two charges by the field and even was pulling ahead down the final stretch to win her first Big 12 title. She also finished third at the Big 12 Indoor Championship and used that as a springboard to build her confidence. In her first outdoor race, she ran 2:08.57 to rank No. 1 in the conference. She also ran most of the race without one of her shoes. Her next race was a third-place finish at the Sun Angel Track Classic crossing the line in 2:07.08. She then went on to win the Drake Relays with a time of 2:06.15 to move into the No. 10 spot nationally.

Freshman Frenzy at Big 12 Championships
Kansas State head coach Cliff Rovelto came away from the Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships with an indication of what the future may have instore for the Wildcats as a group of freshman emerged as major players in their events at the meet.

Erik Kynard's place in the high jump ranks was already known as he entered the meet No. 3 in the nation. He went on to finish second at the Big 12 meet in a battle with Nebraska's Paul Hamilton in a rainy and cold high jump.

The most impressive performance by a freshman may have been from Sara Stoakes in the 800M. Stoakes had held the fastest time in the conference all season coming into the championship meet and proved why in a well-executed final. Stoakes led from the starting gun and held off every charge made by the field, including one on the back stretch and another in the final turn. Stoakes even pulled ahead of the field while coming down the final 100M of the race to claim one of the most grueling races as a true freshman.

Another freshman put her name on the top line of the record books to keep the trend going. Martina Tresch finish third in the 3000M steeplechase and was in second coming down the final stretch. Her time of 10:04.27 shattered the school record by more than 11 seconds and currently ranks eighth in the nation heading into regionals.

Balazs Baji ran is way onto the podium at the Big 12 Championship finishing fifth in the 110M hurdles as a freshman. He was one of two freshman to make the final in the event to keep the youth movement going. Deszo Szabo finished eighth in the pole vault, and Tomas Kirielius finished ninth in the decathlon and 13th in the javelin to the Wildcats.

As a team, the men finished 11th scoring 40 points while the women's squad claimed ninth and 30 points.