June 13, 2014EUGENE, Ore. – K-State Track and Field kept up the strong start to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships with another batch of notable performances in day two action. Along with a first team All-American showing by Devin Field in the long jump, the Wildcats registered a record-breaking performance in the women’s 4x400 meter relay, as well as gutsy efforts by Reinis Kregers and Devin Dick in the final day of the decathlon.
Field Leaps to First Team Honors in Long Jump
Sophomore Devin Field soared to a sixth-place overall finish and first team All-American honors in the men’s long jump. Registering a leap of 7.48m/24-06.50 in the third of six attempts for the evening in the first flight, Field moved his way into the event’s final nine and remained in sixth-place for the remaining three rounds of the event.
Battling less than ideal conditions, nearly every jumper recorded a mark below their season best – something head coach Cliff Rovelto thought Field did a great job of handling.
“The bottom line is that distances don’t really make any difference, it’s all about the head-to-head,” Rovelto said. “The conditions were absolutely horrendous. The first flight had a little bit of an advantage, not huge, with somewhat tailwinds and the second flight; they were all jumping into headwinds for the most part so they struggled. But sometimes you get a break and sometimes the break works against you, but overall, these are the best guys in the country and he got sixth. That’s all anyone is going to remember from here and it’s the first time he’s ever been to this meet. It’s awesome, unbelievable.”
For Field, the long jump is the first of two events he has qualified for in Eugene, Oregon, the other being the triple jump, and it is his first career All-American honor. The Port Author, Texas, native has now made it three-straight seasons the Wildcats have had a men’s long jumper earn first team honors in the event outdoors – joining Jharyl Bowry and Mantas Silkauskas. Field is also only the eighth Wildcat long jumper ever to earn first team honors outdoors.
Women’s 4x400 Sets School Record
The women’s 4x400, consisting of Sonia Gaskin, Tia' Gamble, Merryl Mbeng and Erica Twiss, motored their way to a spot in the relay’s final, setting a new school record in the process. Clocking in at 3:33.12, the foursome took third in their heat and ensured K-State’s first-ever NCAA All-American status in the event by taking the eighth overall and final qualifying spot.
Gaskin and Gamble kicked the race off for the Wildcats, combining for a time of 1:45.83 in the first and second leg. Hanging with Texas, Penn State and Notre Dame after a 53.80 split by Mbeng, Twiss anchored the Wildcats in the fourth and final leg. The race took a major turn in the final leg when Notre Dame dropped their baton following the transfer leading to a ‘DNF’ result for the Fighting Irish. From there, Twiss took over, ending the race with a 53.49 split.
The 3:33.12 finish was the fastest time ever by a K-State 4x400 women’s squad, besting the previous school record of 3:33.34 set by Shunte Thomas, Donniece Parrish, Monique Coleman and Morgan Bonds at the 2007 Midwest Regionals.
It is the first school record set by any Wildcat this outdoor season and the first women’s outdoor record to be broken since Martina Tresch and Ryann Krais both set school records during the 2011 season in the 3000 meter steeplechase and 400 meter hurdles, respectively.
Rovelto had nothing, but praise for the record-setting squad.
“Sonia ran a really strong leadoff leg, I thought she did a really good job of finishing and putting us in position,” Rovelto said. “Then Tia’ ran her guts out and she can’t run as fast as she did herself in the first two 200 [meters] of her leg. And Merryl ran great, sub-54. Then Erica, it had been a while that she had run a 400 meter, and I thought she did a really good job considering the circumstances.
“So, as a group, the staff all felt they had a decent chance of qualifying for the final, and I did too, but I knew every single girl had to run as well as she is capable of running for it to happen, which is exactly what they all did. So I couldn’t ask for any more.”
The latest edition of 4x400 ‘A’ squad saw Rovelto swap out Sarah Kolmer, who ran at the West Prelims, with Twiss. The change only further exemplified how many options the Wildcats have when it comes to the event, something that starts with the heptathlete trio of Kolmer, Mbeng and Twiss.
“I’ve said all along that we have a lot of great kids on our team and they are all willing to do whatever they need to do to help the team,” Rovelto said. “But what that group of [heptathletes] has done has been remarkable. They have done just a phenomenal job. Sarah, Merryl and Erica have been effective in a lot of different events and they’ve all done a great job. So we have a few more options, but the reality is there’s not a lot of difference between our options, just that we have more options. Yet we have been able to pick and choose between who has been in the best state at that time and they have all been able to accept their role whether they were running or not running.
“It’s going to show that these four names are what got us to the final, but we all know from the beginning that we wouldn’t be here had Jordan [Matthews] not run as well as she did, had Sarah not run as well as she did. So I hope that they feel that they are just as much part of this because they are.”
The 4x400 will be back in action Saturday, June 14, becoming only the third-ever outdoor women’s relay team to earn first team All-American status in program history – K-State had Association for Intercollegiate Athletes for Women [AIAW] All-American squads back-to-back in 1973 and 1974.
Kregers Takes 10th, Dick 21st in Decathlon
The final day of the decathlon saw Reinis Kregers finish 10th overall, while senior Devin Dick closed out his K-State career by placing 21st overall.
Rovelto thought both athletes performed admirably.
“The [decathletes] really competed well,” Rovelto said. “Reinis had a score that would have been over 300 points better than his previous best before the conference meet and he wasn’t full strength, but he was hobbling through and toughed it out. And so did Devin.”
For Kregers, the sophomore had a stellar showing, moving from 15th to 10th-place and earning second team All-American recognition. He finished the multi-event with a score of 7,567 points, the second-highest total of his career.
The Vecumnieki, Latvia, native’s second day was highlighted by strong performances in several events. After opening day two competition with a time of 15.45 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles, Kregers placed fourth overall in the discus with a throw of 44.02m/144-05 to move from 15th to 13th place. He followed up that performance with a personal best effort in the pole vault, clearing 4.60m/15-01.00. Kregers then jumped two more spots in the overall rankings in the javelin, placing seventh with his second-best showing this season in the event – 58.86m/193-01. Sitting in 11th-place heading into the decathlon’s final event, the 1500 meter run, Kregers finished strong placing sixth in a personal best time of 4:40.66 to secure 10th-place overall – the best finish by a Wildcat decathlete since Moritz Cleve took eighth in 2011.
Joining Kregers was Dick, who registered a final tally of 6,700 points. The senior opened up competition well in the hurdles, clocking in at 15.22 for his highest scoring performance of day two before battling injuries for the rest of the afternoon. Even with the setbacks, Dick remained in the overall top-16 for much of the remainder of the day’s competition. It was not until the 1500m that he dropped from 15th to 21st-place, as he was unable to finish the race.
Despite the tough finish, the Hutchinson, Kansas, native closed out an exceptional K-State career by earning honorable mention All-American recognition to go along with his second team honors from the indoor season. In all, Dick leaves Kansas State with an exceptional career that includes two-time Big 12 titles and three-time All American honors.
Rovelto praised the senior for his attempt in the final event to secure in a spot in the top-16, as well as on a long and successful career.
“I told Devin going into [the 1500m] to give yourself that opportunity,” Rovelto said. “If you can do it, then do it, but if you can’t at least you know you tried. I’m proud of him that he lined up and did what he could and that’s all you can really ask. He has had a phenomenal career. He has won conference championships, he’s been an All-American indoor and out. For a guy that has been through what he has been through, it’s a remarkable story, he’s had a remarkable career.”
The Wildcats will continue day three action of the NCAAs tomorrow, beginning at 5:20 p.m., CT with Zack Riley in the men’s high jump. Joining Riley for K-State will be Gaskin on the track in the women’s 800 meter final. For more information, visit www.k-statesports.com.
NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships
6: Devin Field, K-State, 7.48m/24-06.50 (0.5)
8: Gaskin-Gamble-Mbeng-Twiss, K-State, 3:33.12 – School record
10: Reinis Kregers, K-State, 7,567 pts
100m: 11.45 w (2.3) – 763 pts
LJ: 6.97m/22-10.50 w (2.8) – 807 pts
SP: 13.06m/42-10.25 – 671 pts
HJ: 2.02m/6-07.50 – 822 pts – Ties personal outdoor best & T-9th-best in school decathlon history
400m: 50.89 – 774 pts
110H: 15.45 (0.6) – 796 pts
Discus: 44.02m/144-05 – 747 pts
PV: 4.60m/15-01.00 – 790 pts – Personal best & T-7th best in school decathlon history
Javelin: 58.86m/193-01 – 721 pts
1500m: 4:40.66 – 676 pts – Personal best
21: Devin Dick, K-State, 6,700 pts
100m: 11.10 w (2.2) – 838 pts
LJ: 7.33m/24-00.75 (0.0) – 893 pts
SP: 14.44m/47-04.50 – 755 pts
HJ: 1.93m/6-04.00 – 740 pts
400m: 50.75 – 780 pts
110H: 15.22 (-0.3) – 823 pts
Discus: 37.73m/123-09 – 619 pts
PV: 4.50m/14-09.00 – 760 pts
Javelin: 43.41m/142-05.00 – 492 pts