K-State Visits Lincoln for Midwest Regionals

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State track and field teams will battle for advancement to the NCAA Championships this weekend when the Wildcats travel to Lincoln, Neb., for the NCAA Midwest Regionals. The event from Ed Weir Stadium will take place over two days and is set to begin at 1 p.m. on Friday.

The meet comes two weeks after K-State completed action at the Big 12 Championships, where the women placed fifth while the men finished 10th. The Wildcats crowned senior Candice Mills and junior Loren Groves champions, as each captured their first outdoor title.

For more information on the Midwest Regionals, visit host Nebraska’s website at www.huskers.com. Live results may be found at the Huskers site as well as www.deltatiming.com. A complete recap of Wildcat results will be posted at www.kstatesports.com following each day’s completion.

Last Time Out
The track and field teams last competed at the 2008 Big 12 Championships which took place in Boulder, Colo., for the first time in conference history. The K-State women improved their 2007 seventh-place finish after earning 76.50 points to take fifth in the team standings. The Texas A&M women defended their title and took the trophy with 157 points over Nebraska who tallied 105. The Wildcat men matched their finish from a year ago and placed 10th with 38 points. The Colorado men hoisted their first Big 12 trophy with 138 points to place ahead of Texas A&M and Texas, who finished second and third respectively.

The women were led by junior Loren Groves who posted her first outdoor title performance to take gold in the women’s hammer throw. After opening the meet with the victory, Groves nearly earned the double gold after taking second in the women’s discus on the final day of competition. Also taking first and earning her first conference title was senior Candice Mills as she took the women’s long jump crown.

The women had three additional athletes place in the top three, including Laci Heller in the women’s hammer throw. Heller placed second to teammate Groves. Taking the bronze, senior Donniece Parrish raced to a personal-best time and finish in the women’s 400M. Freshman Annika Schoenebeck had a third-place effort in the women’s heptathlon after recording a personal-best in points.

For the men, junior Scott Sellers posted the only top three finish as he recorded a runner-up mark in the men’s high jump.

Rules of the Regional
In order to qualify for the NCAA Championships, student-athletes must earn their ticket through the NCAA Midwest Regionals. The top five individual and top three relay finishers will automatically qualify for the national meet. An at-large pool will be compiled from the top eight competitors not finishing among the automatic qualifiers, and seven additional student-athletes will be selected.

Currently, seven Wildcats sit in the top five in the Midwest Region in their respective events, including Loren Groves at first in the hammer throw while Laci Heller is third. Scott Sellers sits at third in the high jump and is the only male Wildcat in the top five. Donniece Parrish is fourth in the women’s 400M, while Beverly Ramos and Candice Mills are fifth in the 3000M steeplechase and long jump, respectively.

Midwest Glance
Kansas State is one of 43 programs in the Midwest Region. All Big 12 Conference teams minus Missouri will be participating in Lincoln this weekend. The following are teams that are listed in the Midwest Region: Air Force, Baylor, Colorado, Colorado State, Creighton, Denver, Drake, Houston, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Lamar, Minnesota, Montana, Montana State, Nebraska, New Mexico, New Mexico State, North Texas, Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts, Prairie View A&M, Rice, Sam Houston,  SMU, Stephen F. Austin, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, TCU, Texas Southern, Texas State, Texas Tech, Tulsa, UT-Arlington, UTEP, UT-Pan American, UT-San Antonio and Wichita State.

Current Midwest contenders leading the nation are: Leonel Manzano (Texas, Sr.) in the 1500M, Brent Vaughn (Colorado, Sr.) in the 5000M, Baylor men in the 4x400M, Dusty Jonas (Nebraska, Sr.) in the high jump, Jason Colwick (Rice, So.) in the pole vault and Shardae Boutte (Oklahoma, Sr.) in the triple jump. For the women: Simone Facey (Texas A&M, Sr.) in the 100M, Porscha Lucas (Texas A&M, So.) in the 200M, Jessica Beard (Texas A&M, Fr.) in the 400M, Irene Kimaiyo (Texas Tech, Sr.) in the 3000M steeplechase, Sally Kipyego (Texas Tech, Jr.) in the 5000M and 10000M, Blessing Okagbare (UTEP, So.) in the triple jump and D’Andra Carter (Texas Tech, Jr.) in the discus.

2007 NCAA Midwest Regionals
Kansas State opened the 2007 edition of the NCAA Midwest Regionals with two field event qualifiers on the first day, including high jump All-American Kaylene Wagner, who cleared 6-01.50. Then-sophomore Ashley Reider advanced in the women’s javelin with a career-best mark of 165-00.

On the second day from Des Moines, Iowa, the site of this year’s NCAA Championships, K-State added five individuals and one relay squad to bring the Wildcat entries to eight. In the men’s high jump, Scott Sellers added his name after taking the regional title with a height of 7-04.50. Former Wildcat Kyle Lancaster also qualified with a second-place clearance of 7-03.25. Also for the men, then-senior TJ Staab finished fifth in the shot put with a toss of 56-09.25.

For the women, current Wildcats Laci Heller and Beverly Ramos punched their tickets for nationals. Heller had a third-place effort in the hammer throw after posting a mark of 199-07. Ramos had her then-career best in the 3000M steeplechase, which stuck as the school record for nearly a year, after racing to a mark of 10:21.71 and finished fourth. The women’s 4x400M relay team of Shunte Thomas, Donniece Parrish, Monique Coleman and Morgan Bonds raced to third with a time of 3:33.34.

In team standings, the K-State women placed seventh with 38 points, while the men finished 13th with 24 points.

Groves’ Growing Title List
Prior to this season, Loren Groves’ title list was abundant in indoor competitions, as the junior had one outdoor title with a 2005 discus victory. This season has shown great improvement as the Scott City, Mo., native has added nine outdoor titles including her first six hammer throw wins. Groves opened the season with a second-place toss in the hammer, but has won each competition since. She earned her first win at the Nike Elite Meet with a then-personal best mark of 208-04. During two meets hosted by Emporia State, Groves brought home two crowns as she took the discus and hammer victories at the ESU Relays and ESU Twilight Qualifier. At the Kansas Relays, Groves captured her third overall win in the hammer and third of the season as she launched for a distance of 201-06. The win marked the third in four years that a Wildcat has captured the crown. She then earned her second school record (Groves owns the indoor weight record) after throwing a PR of 214-05 at the Ward Haylett Invite for her fourth win. At the Big 12 Championships, the junior earned her first outdoor conference title as she tossed to the hammer throw gold. She nearly doubled her efforts after registering a second-place finish in the discus. All six of Groves’ hammer throw titles have been the result of her top career marks. Four of her top five discus marks have also been recorded this season.

Closing Her Career
Wildcat senior Candice Mills is in the process of finishing her Kansas State career and with one final shot at a Big 12 title, Mills pulled in the victory in Boulder. During the second day of competition, Mills pushed for her first Big 12 crown after reaching 20-10.00. She became only the second Wildcat to win the Big 12 long jump after having taken third in 2005 and 2006. The jump marked a season best, as Mills previously had a top regional mark of 20-00.50 from the Nike Elite Meet in late March. Mills, competing in her third regional event, garnered All-America honors in 2006 after finishing fourth at the NCAA Championships. She has a career best wind-aided mark of 21-04.75 from the 2006 NCAA Midwest Regionals. Her top non-wind-aided jump was from her national appearance when she jumped to 20-11.25.

The Silver Hammer
Senior Laci Heller has remained consist with her hammer throw performances during her four years as a Wildcat, and at her final conference competition Heller maintained that composure by capturing the silver medal. In her inaugural Big 12 meet in 2005, Heller finished third and turned around to earn her first Big 12 title the following year. In the last two seasons, the Meriden, Kan., native has taken second place. The finish has brought Heller to 29 top three placings - three of which have come at the NCAA Midwest Regionals. At the 2008 regionals, she will be battling to make her fourth appearance at the national stage. Heller has one All-America accolade which she achieved in 2005 after taking eighth with a throw of 199-09.

Defense Mode
Junior Scott Sellers will be returning to the regional scene in an effort to defend his regional title and make a return trip to nationals one year after capturing the high jump championship. The native of Katy, Texas, has taken first in the event on seven occasions throughout his Wildcat career, including three times this season. The mark ties his title tally from last season when Sellers earned his three wins in the final three events: Big 12 Championships, NCAA Midwest Regionals and NCAA Championships. His top clearance this season is a height of 7-06.50 from the Texas Relays. Sellers was unable to retain his reign on the conference thrown after placing second in Boulder, Colo., two weeks ago. He finished out at 7-03.00, his third best height this season.

16 Wildcats Listed on Academic All-Big 12 Teams
Kansas State placed 16 track and field student-athletes on the Academic All-Big 12 first and second teams. The Wildcats had 13 honored with first team nominations, while three were named to the second team.

K-State senior Laci Heller (feed science management) earned her fourth career first-team honor and received the award for the third-straight year with a 4.0 grade point average. Sophomore Beverly Ramos (life science) earned first team honors to make the list for the first year. Ramos earned the distinction as the only other Wildcat to sit with a 4.0 GPA.

Also earning first team honors were senior Morgan Bonds (biology and chemistry), junior Emily Dittemore (education), junior Loren Groves (education) and senior Thomaida Polydorou (architectural engineering). Senior Jenny Glodowski (family studies) finished on the second team.

Four Wildcat men earned first team honors for the second time in their career, including junior Jason Collett (economics), junior Adam Fretwell (industrial engineering), sophomore Danny Schneider (food science) and junior Scott Sellers (finance). Senior Bryce Bergman (mechanical engineering) was listed on the second team this year for his second-career honor.

Earning their first Academic All-Big 12 first team honors were: senior Emily Burton (kinesiology), sophomore Stephanie Hejde (construction science) and sophomore Sam James (mechanical engineering). Senior Kyle Seiler (history) was listed on the second team for his first career honor.

Right at Home
Kansas State sprinter Mike Myer has pulled out his best performances of the season in locations closest to home. In his own backyard of Lawrence, Kan., Myer took the 100M win at the Kansas Relays on Sat., April 19th. The junior, who is a native of Lenexa, Kan., raced to a run of 10.42 in the prelims on Thursday to qualify with the fastest time. He went on to earn his second career outdoor win with a 10.43 in the finals. Myer continued a streak of top finishes with his third-place effort at the Drake Relays. He qualified for the final with a prelim run of 10.43 and dashed to a time of 10.47 in the finals. At the Ward Haylett Invitational hosted by K-State, Myer posted his season-best of 10.35 in the 100M to capture his second win of the year. While the time was wind-aided, Myer matched the mark at the Big 12 Championships during the prelims. He finished sixth in the finals of the 100M with a time of 10.39 and earned his second all-conference honor of the weekend with a seventh-place finish in the 200M.

A Hammer to the Record
Junior Loren Groves took a hammer to the school and facility hammer throw record on Saturday, May 3rd, at the Ward Haylett Invitational. On her first attempt, Groves earned both records with a throw of 214-01, breaking the school mark of 209-04 set by Renetta Seiler at the 1998 Big 12 Championships. The mark also broke Seiler’s 1998 throw of 196-09, which sat as the R.V. Christian Track record. On her second attempt, Groves earned her top mark of 214-05 which bettered her personal best by nearly six feet. At the conclusion of the event, Groves finished with five legal marks and each passed her throw of 208-04 from the Nike Elite Meet on March 29th.

Ramos Resets Record
At the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on May 4th, Kansas State sophomore Beverly Ramos broke the school record in the 3000M steeplechase after finishing 13th. The field in Palo Alto, Calif., contained a number of professional athletes and found Ramos as the third finishing collegiate with a time of 10:15.56. Ramos owned the previous school record of 10:21.71, which she posted at the 2007 NCAA Midwest Regionals to earn a spot at the NCAA Championships. Ramos, a native of Trujillo, Puerto Rico, broke the Puerto Rico national record with the effort on Sunday.

As a freshman, Ramos first broke the 2001 school record of 10:49.65 by Amanda Crouse-Behnke with a time of 10:41.48 at the 2007 Pepsi Invitational in her second run of the event. She continued to lower the mark during championship rundowns with a clocking of 10:36.05 at the 2007 Big 12 Championships and finished with a season best at Regionals. Entering the Cardinal Invitational with the 25th-best collegiate mark, Ramos improves to 11th in the nation and fifth in the Midwest Region. Ramos notched a previous top-time of 10:28.70 this season at the Mt. SAC Relays to finish seventh.

Walpool Making a Name for Herself
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. Two weeks later, Walpool earned her first event victory as she captured the triple jump win at the Nebraska Open April 27th. At her first Big 12 Championships, the freshman earned All-Big 12 honors after placing eighth with her second-best mark at 41-04.25.

Partial to Parrish
After having a phenomenal indoor season, senior Donniece Parrish remained a force to be reckoned with for the Wildcat women on the track during outdoor. 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. After qualifying in the 100M, 200M, 400M and as a member of the Wildcat 4x100M and 4x400M relays, Parrish will run individually in the 200M and 400M and on both relays. 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 up the performance with her first career regional qualification and PR at the UTEP Invitational with a time of 11.70. After qualifying in the 200M as well at the Nike Elite with a then-PR, Parrish dashed to a time of 23.50 at the UTEP Invitational to better her 23.66 from the Nike. She had a previous 200M career mark of 23.67 from the Big 12 Championships last season. At the Ward Haylett Invite, Parrish added a third distance to her regional resume as she raced to a then-career best in the 400M with a run of 54.54. At the Big 12 Championships, Parrish smashed her PR with a time of 52.51 in the 400M finals to take the bronze.