`Cats Ink Eight to 2015 Recruiting Class

MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State Track and Field announced today the signing of eight athletes to its 2015 recruiting class. The Wildcats are coming off a 2013-14 campaign that saw both the men’s and women’s squads place in the top-20 at NCAA Outdoors and return nine All-Americans this season. In total, this year’s class is compiled of five women’s and three men’s athletes, with three of the total eight being international athletes.

Head coach Cliff Rovelto said this year’s recruiting class will not only help in shoring up depth in specific event areas, but bring in athletes that will be able to contribute immediately.   

“The primary goal is always to bring athletes that are capable in helping us improve as a team. Sometimes that entails bringing in people that are as good or better than the people we have presently and sometimes it has to do with replacing high-quality athletes. So part of it is filling holes and also being as complete of a team as we can be year in and year out, but not at the expense of having people that are capable of placing at the highest level for conference, and then more than likely, NCAAs too,” Rovelto said. “That always has to be the primary focus and I think we did a little bit of both. I think we got people who are going to be able to score significantly at the conference level right away and nationally right away, but I also think we were able to address some areas where we didn’t have as much depth.”

On the women’s side, the Wildcats bolstered a cross country/distance group that will see NCAA qualifier Laura Galvan, as well as senior Erika Schiller depart following this season, by adding Laina Ewoldt, Amanda Thate and Emma Wren. In the sprints, K-State added Sada Williams of Barbados, while Claudette Allen of Jamaica brings experience in multiple events (100 meters, 100-meter hurdles, 4x100 relay, as well as the long jump) to a women’s squad that will see multi-event standouts Joslyn Barnes, Sarah Kolmer and Erica Twiss depart after the 2014-15 season.

With the additions of Ewoldt, Thate, and Wren, Rovelto said he expects the trio of signees to help in keeping the Wildcats competitive come next cross country season.

“Losing someone in the quality of Laura, it’s difficult to replace somebody like that, particularly with a freshman. There is not a huge number of freshmen that are capable of qualifying for the NCAA meet as freshmen in cross country and capable of be real significant scorers at the conference level and during track, especially,” Rovelto said. “With the three freshmen that are coming in, I certainly wouldn’t anticipate that they’re going to run at the level Laura did as freshmen, but, collectively, the three of them are certainly going to push girls who were second through seventh on our team and, hopefully, that makes us a better team.”

As for Williams and Allen, Rovelto sees potential in multiple event areas for both.

“Sada is an extremely talented athlete, she’s really has only been running competitively for two years. And when you consider the times she has run in her limited background, she certainly looks like to be someone capable of running a very high level. We definitely think she has added a great deal to our team,” Rovelto said.

On Allen, Rovelto said, “One, she is a very fine long jumper, jumping over 21 feet in the event, you would expect she can come in and be very competitively immediately, but she has also run well in the 100 meter and 100-meter hurdles. How much of all of that she ends up doing for us remains to be seen, but certainly we anticipate her to be a very strong long jumper and, we hope, part of our 4x100 relay. She’s a significant addition.”

For the men, Brett Neelly and Jayce Brack join a throws group that saw All-American Ryan Hershberger, as well as Alex Roe close out their Wildcat careers this past season and will see All-American javelin thrower Ivan Hartung do the same following the 2015 outdoor season. Rounding out the eight for K-State is Jullane Walker of Jamaica, who has experience in both the 100 meter and long jump.

Similar to the women, Rovelto feels all three signees bring great deals of potential to the Wildcats.

“Jullane is a really talented guy, he’s got very good speed and somebody that will definitely run on our 4x100 and may be very competitive over the 100, 200 [meter] on the track as well, but, at the very least, he’s a quality relay guy,” Rovelto said. “He’s jumped very well in the long jump, but doesn’t have as much background there. Our perception is he has a lot of upside there, so we anticipate him coming in and being a very good long jumper as well.”

And on the throwers, Neelly and Brack, “With these two throwers, we haven’t had much in regards to the discus the past couple years, and these guys are capable of throwing the disc competitively. What they do in the shot, we’ll see and they may contribute in the indoor weight and/or hammer as well. We kind of perceive that they may be guys that could be three event guys down the road. We don’t know that for sure at this point, but they could develop into that. Certainly, at this point, they are going to each contribute in two events for us, so we obviously add depth, and they have room for improvement, but we anticipate both of them being pretty good when it is all said and done.”

This past year saw K-State ink 16 athletes total to its 2014 recruiting class – further info on that class can be found by clicking here and here. Those 16, along with the rest of the K-State Track and Field team, will kick off their 2014-15 season later this week with back-to-back home meets, starting with the Carol Robinson Winter Pentathlon on Dec. 12 at Ahearn Field House.

For more information on each individual recruit from this year’s class, see below.


CLAUDETTE ALLEN | New Longville, Jamaica | Sprints/Jumps

Hailing from New Longville, Jamaica, Claudette Allen brings experience both on the track and in the field to the Wildcats. Routinely finding success at the high school level, Allen was most recently named the most outstanding female athlete at the 2014 Champs, Jamaica’s Boys and Girls Championships, winning the long jump title and helping her high school to the overall team title in the process. Her success has translated to international competition as well, with Allen having competed at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Outdoor Championships in the long jump and Caribbean Free Trade Agreement Association (CARIFTA) Games – the latter including her nabbing silver medals in both the U-20 long jump and triple jump.

Allen joins the Wildcats with personal bests of 11.83 and 13.79 seconds in the 100 meter and 100-meter hurdles, respectively, and 6.45m/21-02.00 in the long jump and 12.69m/41-07.75 in the triple jump. She is the No. 1 ranked junior out of Jamaica in the long jump and No. 6 junior in the world, overall, in the event. Along with her individual success, she is also part of the World Junior record-holding 4x100 squad that clocked in a time of 43.95 seconds.

LAINA EWOLDT | Coram Deo Academy HS | Cross Country/Distance

One of three cross country/distance signees for the Wildcats, Laina Ewoldt joins K-State from Highland Village, Texas. Competing for Coram Deo Academy, Ewoldt has a sparkling high school competition resume that includes four state titles, two district and regional titles, as well as all-state cross country recognition. Most recently, 2014 saw Ewoldt nab Texas 3A Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) state titles for a second-consecutive season in the 800 meter and 1600 meter. Her 2014 campaign was also highlighted by district and regionals titles in both events, helping her earn Coram Deo Academy Female Athlete of the Year.

Ewoldt holds personal bests of 2:18.00 in the 800m and 5:04.00 in the 1600m, as well as the 1600m 3A state meet record with a time of 5:14.53. She has also earned Texas 3A TAPPS All-State in cross country three years running, placing top-10 at the state meet every season.

AMANDA THATE | Downers Grove South HS | Cross Country/Distance

Amanda Thate joins the Wildcats’ cross country/distance group out of Darien, Illinois where she competed for Downers Grove South High School. Thate has experience competing in several events on the track, including the 400 meter, 800 meter, 1600 meter, 3200 meter, as well as cross country. Most recently, Thate excelled in the 1600m where she placed first at the West Suburban Conference (WSC)  Gold Meet in both indoor and outdoor competition – in total, she has four first-place finishes at the conference meet in her career. To go along with 3A All-State recognition in the 1600m this past year, Thate also registered a runner-up performance in the 800m at the conference meet indoors.

In cross country, 2014 saw Thate register a first-place finish at the WSC Gold Meet, as well as top-10 finishes in both sectional and regional competition. Thate’s best finish in state competition came in 2011 where she finished 28th overall.

Thate holds personal bests of 2:20.79 (at altitude) in the 800m and 5:03.00 in the 1600m.

SADA WILLIAMS | Coleridge and Parry Secondary School | Sprints

The second of three international recruits to be highlighted, Sada Williams hails from Kirtons, Barbados. Williams joins the ‘Cats with a highly-decorated competition resume from her time at Coleridge and Parry Secondary School. 2014 was a huge year for the Barbados native, as she won the 400 meter gold medal and the 200 meter silver medal at the CARIFTA Games. Williams also registered a runner-up performance at the Barbados national outdoor meet, as well as participated at the IAAF World Junior Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, and IAAF World Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

Her success on the international stage makes her the No. 1-ranked Barbados junior in both the 200m and 400m dashes. Williams holds personal bests of 23.43 seconds in the 200m and 53.39 seconds in the 400m.

EMMA WREN | Cleveland HS | Cross Country/Distance

From Portland, Oregon, Emma Wren is the final of three cross country/distance recruits to be highlighted. Wren competes Cleveland High School, where she is state champion in the 3000 meter run, as well as a three-time All-State honoree in cross country. Wren’s 2014 was highlighted by the aforementioned Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) 5A state title in the 3000m that saw her run a personal best 10:16.29 to defeat the by a little over three seconds.

Along with her success in the 3000m, Wren is a five-time qualifier in the Nike-sponsored Oregon v. Washington Border Class, a meet reserved for the top-40 runners in each state – she has qualified for the event in three different events: 800 meter (1x), 1500 meter (2x) and 2K Steeplechase (2x). She has eight total Portland Interscholastic League (PIL) 5A District titles in three different events that includes three-straight titles in both the 3000m and as a part of the 4x400 relay squad.

Wren holds personal bests of 4:38 in the 1500m and 10:16 in the 3000m. Her times of 4:45.85 in the 1500m and 10:21.32 in the 3000m as a freshman (both at altitude) are Cleveland HS All-Time freshman records and she is also part school record-holding 4x400 and 4x800 squads.


JAYCE BRACK | Great Bend HS | Throws   

The lone in-state recruit of the 2015 class, Jayce Brack signs with K-State from Great Bend, Kansas, where he competes at Great Bend High School. Specializing in primarily the shot put and discus, Brack has excelled in both events, recording top-five Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) state meet finishes a total of four times. Brack saw his most success come this past season, where he registered a runner-up performance at states in the shot put and placed third in the discus.

Brack holds personal bests of 18.57m/60-11 in the shot put and 51.86m/170-02 in the discus. Entering his senior season, he is the No. 9 ranked returning senior in the United States in the shot put.

BRETT NEELLY | Gallatin HS | Throws

Brett Neelly joins the Wildcats out of Gallatin, Tennessee, where he competes primarily in the shot put, discus and hammer throw for Gallatin High School. This past season saw Neelly make a considerable jump, where he nabbed a Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association state title in the discus and finished second in the shot put. Along with success on the state level in 2014, Neelly set a meet record in the discus at the Great 8 Invitational, which pits Middle Tennessee’s best against each other, as well as nab the AAA Section 3 discus title.

He holds personal bests of 58-08 in the shot put, 186-09 in the discus and 155-08 in the hammer throw.

JULLANE WALKER | Calabar HS | Sprints/Jump

Jullane Walker is the last of two Jamaican recruits to be highlighted. Competing for Calabar High School, Walker has experience competing in the 4x100 relay and long jump. He was a Jamaican Boys and Girls Championship runner-up in the long jump and is a member of the 4x100 relay team that broke the World Junior record with a time of 39.35.

Walker holds personal bests of 7.42m/24-04.25 in the long jump and 10.42 seconds in the 100 meter dash.