Track Concludes Season at NCAA Championships

MANHATTAN, Kan. - With the final competition of the NCAA track and field season, Kansas State will travel a delegation of 10 Wildcats to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, that begin June 11th. The four-day pinnacle of the season, being hosted by Drake University for the first time since 1970, will begin on Wednesday and conclude on Saturday when the men’s and women’s national champions will be crowned.

K-State will be represented by eight women and two men, including four who will be returning to the national scene after having qualified individually for at least the past two seasons. Five Wildcats will be traveling for their first individual appearance in the meet, including junior Loren Groves, who qualified for her first outdoor championships after having already earned two indoor All-America certificates. Senior Donniece Parrish will participate individually in her final outing after having qualified in the 200M and 400M as well as a member of the 4x100M relay team.

The Wildcats will first step onto the championship scene with the men’s decathlon with freshman Moritz Cleve competing in five events beginning on Wednesday at 10 a.m. The opening day will also have qualifying rounds of the women’s hammer throw, discus and long jump as well as the men’s high jump. The Wildcats will also have prelims in the 4x100M, 800M, 400M and 3000M steeplechase on Wednesday. As the decathlon wraps up on Thursday, the first two rounds of the women’s 200M will run in the early evening.

Television coverage will be provided by CBS College Sports Network (formerly CSTV) with live feed on Friday, June 13th, from 7-10 p.m. CST and on Saturday, June 14th, from 3-5 p.m.

A complete recap of Wildcat events will be posted each day of competition at www.kstatesports.com. For more information on the 2008 NCAA Championships, please visit www.ncaasports.com or host Drake’s website at www.drakebulldogs.org. Live stats will be available through the host website or at www.flashresults.com.

Wildcat Qualifiers
Kansas State will travel 10 Wildcats to the 2008 NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Eight women and two men earned their ticket to the national meet and will participate in 11 events. Four of the positions were earned with automatic qualifications out of the NCAA Midwest Regional event which took place in Lincoln, Neb., May 30-31. The remaining 12 spots were earned through at-large bids after placing in the top 25 in a descending list of the year’s marks.

K-State’s representation will be led in field events with six entries in: women’s long jump (Candice Mills), women’s triple jump (Tiara Walpool), women’s discus (Loren Groves), women’s hammer (Loren Groves and Laci Heller) and men’s high jump (Scott Sellers). The Wildcat women were the only Purple and White to qualify in track events: women’s 4x100M (Marnyka Honeycutt, Mills, Walpool and Donniece Parrish), women’s 200M (Parrish), women’s 400M (Parrish), women’s 800M (Morgan Bonds) and women’s steeplechase (Beverly Ramos). Freshman Moritz Cleve will be the lone K-State representative in the combined events as he competes in the two-day, 10-event men’s decathlon.

By year, K-State’s pool of student-athletes is primarily seniors as five of the participants will be competing for their final event as a Wildcat. K-State will also travel two juniors, two freshmen and one sophomore.

Last Time Out
During the 2008 NCAA Midwest Regional in Lincoln, Neb., Kansas State finished with four automatic qualifiers including Loren Groves who earned her first regional title in the hammer throw. She threw to the victory to mark her seventh-consecutive win in the event. Groves, a junior from Scott City, Mo., led the field by nearly five feet as she posted a throw of 207-04. Senior Laci Heller earned her fourth qualification in the hammer after she took fourth with a launch of 195-06. During that same afternoon, junior Scott Sellers earned his third-consecutive NCAA bid after placing third in the men’s high jump. The Katy, Texas, native reached a height of 7-03.25 after clearing the bar on his first attempt.

On the final day of the regional meet, K-State punched the ticket of one Wildcat as Morgan Bonds earned her third bid to nationals in the 800M. Out of Hutchinson, Kan., Bonds raced to a season-best performance with a fourth-place time of 2:06.63.

In all, K-State finished with eight women and three men earning All-Midwest Region honors as the 11 placed in the top eight and in scoring position. The women scored a total of 30 points to finish the Wildcats at 10th, while the men took 19th with 10 points. The Texas A&M men and women swept the region titles capturing 87 points on the men’s side and 116 for the women.

2007 NCAA Championships
During the 2007 NCAA Championships, Kansas State sent 10 individuals as well as two relay teams to the meet and walked away with one national title and three All-Americans. Then-sophomore Scott Sellers led the men’s high jump field with a gold-medal height of 7-07.25. The title was the first in K-State history since Nathan Leeper’s high jump win in 1998. Also competing in the men’s high jump, Kyle Lancaster closed his KSU career with a fourth-place finish after clearing 7-03.75. The placing gave Lancaster his fourth outdoor All-America certificate in the high jump. Earning the third All-America accolade and the third in the high jump, then-senior Kaylene Wagner passed over the 5-10.75 bar to finish eighth in the field.

Other qualifiers for the men were Adam Fretwell who finished 21st in the men’s decathlon and TJ Staab who missed advancing to the finals in the shot put. The women’s 4x100M relay placed 12th while the 4x400M team finished 19th in the country. Individuals in field events included 2008 qualifier Laci Heller in the hammer throw as she took 15th, Ashley Reider placing 24th in the javelin and Marianne Schlachter who finished 26th in the triple jump. Morgan Bonds raced to a 21st place finish in the women’s 800M and Beverly Ramos, competing in her first nationals, finished 25th in the women’s 3000M steeplechase.

In the team standings, the men pulled out an 18th-place tie with 15 points while the women finished in a tie for 73rd with one point. The Florida State men captured their second-consecutive outdoor title as the Arizona State women earned their first outdoor crown.

K-State’s NCAA History: Team
The Wildcat men have placed in each of the last five NCAA Championships after scoring at least a point in each meet since 2003. In that time, K-State’s top finish was a tie for 18th as the 2007 Wildcat delegation tallied 15 points from two high jumpers: Scott Sellers and Kyle Lancaster. Sellers earned 10 points with the title effort while Lancaster grabbed five team points with a fourth-place finish. Since 1921, the K-State men have finished in the top 25 on 21 occasions including four in the top 10. The men’s top finish was in 1953 when K-State tied for sixth place with 18 points in Lincoln, Neb. The most points for the Wildcat men was 25 in 1998 when K-State finished 10th in the team standings.

The Wildcat women have scored points in 18-consecutive NCAA Championships dating back to 1985. Since participating in nationals in 1976, K-State has had 12 top-25 team performances with two in the top 10. The women’s top finish was fifth in 2002 when K-State earned 30 points and named four individuals All-Americans.

K-State’s NCAA History: Individuals
Since the first women’s NCAA Championships in 1982, the Wildcat women have earned 65 All-American certificates with 16 top-three finishes. On five occasions, a Wildcat has been crowned champion on the women’s side with the last being Austra Skujyte in 2002. During that season, she earned her second-consecutive win in the women’s decathlon.

For the men, K-State has notched 56 All-Americans since the 1970 NCAA Championships. In those 56, the Wildcats have recorded 16 top-three finishes with four national champions. Three of the wins have been in the jumps with the last two in the high jump. Scott Sellers is the last Wildcat to earn a crown as he captured the gold in the high jump last season.

Making Their First Appearance
Four Kansas State Wildcats will be making their first individual appearance at the NCAA Championships, including two that will be competing in multiple events. Senior Donniece Parrish has hit the national scene as a member of the Wildcat relay teams, but will be adding two individual races this season as she earned at-large bids in the 200M and 400M. She finished with the 14th-best 400M time in the nation when she recorded a PR of 52.62 (altitude adjusted) at the Big 12 Championships. She also raced to the 21st-best mark in the 200M with a time of 23.36 at the Midwest Regional. Parrish will also be a member of the 4x100M relay team that will also consist of seniors Marnyka Honeycutt and Candice Mills and freshman Tiara Walpool.

Also performing double individual duties in her first NCAA Outdoor Championships, junior Loren Groves earned an at-large bid in the women’s discus after throwing to an automatic qualification in the women’s hammer throw. She will enter with the nation’s fifth-best mark of 214-05 in the hammer throw and the eighth best in the discus with a toss of 180-06.

The Wildcats will also have two freshmen competing in their first national meet. Walpool, racing in the women’s relay, earned her ticket with an at-large selection in the women’s triple jump. On her first effort at the NCAA Midwest Regionals, Walpool recorded a PR by over a foot with a leap of 43-02.25, the 23rd-best mark among collegiates. Freshman Moritz Cleve got into the field with the 17th-best mark in the men’s decathlon after reaching 7,391 points at the Big 12 Championships.

Making a Return Appearance
Seven of the Wildcats will be returning to the NCAA Championships, including three who will return for their third-consecutive season. Making her fourth and final appearance, senior Laci Heller will have one more shot at earning her second All-American accolade after earning an automatic spot in the women’s hammer throw. She earned her first as a freshman in 2005 and has reached the national meet in 2006 and 2007 as well. Senior Morgan Bonds will also be competing in her third-straight NCAAs after having earned her ticket in the 800M with a fourth-place finish, her second automatic. With his third-straight automatic, junior Scott Sellers qualified in the men’s high jump with a third-place jump of 7-03.25.

Additional seniors returning include Marnyka Honeycutt and Donniece Parrish who raced in last year’s qualifying 4x100M team. Each will return as a leg on the relay squad as the Wildcats finished with the 17th-best mark in the country with a time of 44.76 from the Big 12 Championships. Also running on the relay will be senior Candice Mills who missed last year due to injury. She will also be competing in her final long jump competition after earning an at-large bid with her jump of 20-10.00 from the conference meet.

Sophomore Beverly Ramos will be making her second-straight appearance in the women’s 3000M steeplechase. With the 14th-best mark, Ramos will enter with a season best of 10:15.56 from May 4th at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.

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 seven-consecutive 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, which she has since bettered on two occasions. In all, Groves has thrown further than her PR of 191-00 set in 2006 at each competition this season. The growing title list has earned the junior from Scott City, Mo., her first Big 12 outdoor crown as well as her first Regional title. In addition to seven hammer wins, Groves has added three discus victories to her resume this season. She nearly doubled her Big 12 title efforts after registering a second-place finish in the discus with a career best of 180-06. Four of her top five discus marks have 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 national 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 battled to earn her fourth appearance at the national stage with an automatic qualification. 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 national scene in an effort to defend his title, which he earned in 2007 with a top mark of 7-07.25. 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 and regional thrown after placing second in Boulder, Colo., and third in Lincoln, Neb.

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 at the Payton Jordan.

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.

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. 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. During the Midwest Regionals, Walpool jumped a foot and a half better than her previous PR with a mark of 43-02.25 to finish seventh. The mark earned Walpool her first national appearance as the 23rd best mark in the country.