Feb. 25, 2014MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State Track and Field signed 11 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2015 season, head coach Cliff Rovelto announced Tuesday. In addition to the 11 new signees, the Wildcats also added three athletes to this season’s roster, with two of the three already competing for the Wildcats since the start of January.
Rovelto commended his staff for their work to bring in the newest batch of K-State Wildcats.
“We are very excited to have added this outstanding group of athletes to our program,” Rovelto said. “Each of them will have a significant and immediate impact on our team. Our staff has worked hard in the recruiting process and their efforts have paid significant dividends.”
In all, the 14 new Wildcats, 9 women and 5 men, hail from five different countries and four different states.
For the women…
A native of Houston, Texas, Kenija Collier is yet another addition to a deep class of jumpers for the Wildcats. Collier has excelled, in particular, in the triple jump where she is an All-American for Worthing High School. As a member of the Colts, Collier is a three-time UIL state champion in the triple jump and has a personal-best mark of 12.86m. She is currently the top-ranked triple jumper in the state of Texas and ranked as the No. 2 returning triple jumper in the U.S. and No. 4 in the country for the 2013 season.
Kayla Doll comes to K-State as one of four Kansas natives in the 2014 recruiting class. A distance runner at Garden City, Doll finished third at the KSHSAA State Championships in the 800 meter. She has also won Class 6A gold as a member of the school-recording holding 4x800 meter relay team last season. As a sophomore, Doll was part of a Lady Buffs team that won the Western Athletic Conference, finished second in the 6A regional and earned seventh-place in the state meet.
Akela Jones comes over to K-State from Oklahoma Baptist, where she was an eight-time NAIA All-American, two-time NAIA long jump national champion, two-time NAIA high jump national champion and NAIA National Outdoor Champion in the 100 meter hurdles. The multi-athlete hailing from Bridgetown, Barbados has had considerable success on the international stage as well. Jones is a three-time Caribbean Free Trade Agreement Games (CARIFTA) long jump champion, as well as a two-time CARIFTA high jump champion. The sophomore is also a four-time Barbados national champion and competed in the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain and 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France.
Currently, Jones holds top marks in the NAIA in the 60 meter (7.49), 800 meter (2:39.62), 60 meter hurdles (8.30), high jump (1.87m), shot put (14.16m) and pentathlon (4,194). She also competed in Manhattan, Kan., earlier this season at the K-State Invitational, where she finished second to Erica Twiss in the 60m hurdles, second in the high jump and seventh in the 4x400 meter relay.
Alex Miller joins the Wildcats along with Doll, as the two will remain teammates after competing all four years for Garden City High School. Individually, Miller is a two-time KSHSAA 6A state runner-up in cross country and was also a member of the school record-setting 4x800 team that won gold in 2013. The Garden City, Kan., native medaled at the cross country state meet her sophomore year, as she finished 14th and was part of the aforementioned WAC-winning Lady Buffs squad that season as well.
Hailing from Corpus Christi, Texas, A’keyla Mitchell comes to Manhattan, Kan., with an impressive résumé in the sprints category. A high school All-American for West Oso High, Mitchell is a three-time ULI state champion in the 200 meter as well as a state champion in the 100 meter. She competed in the Adidas Dream 100 meter, which pits the 10 fastest high school girls in the U.S. against each other, where she finished eighth in a time of 12.00 seconds. In the 200m, Mitchell is ranked No. 1 in Texas, the No. 2 returner in the U.S., and No. 7 overall in the country for the 2013 season. For the 100 meter, she ranked No. 2 in Texas, the No. 5 returner in the U.S., and No. 8 overall.
Rhizlane Siba comes to the Wildcats from Rabat, Morocco where she competed in the high jump. Siba competed in last year’s IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine, where she took home bronze in the high jump with a mark of 1.79m. She has also won bronze at the 2012 African Championships in Porto Novo, Benin and was a gold medalist at the 2011 Pan Arab Games in Doha, Qatar.
Kimberly Williamson, along with Jones, are the two women’s transfers for the Wildcats this recruiting class. Competing at Central Arizona College in the high jump, Williamson has been a star in international competition for her native Jamaica. Originally from Frankfield, Jamaica, she holds the national junior high jump record at 1.88m and is both a Jamaican national and CARIFTA high jump champion. Williamson also competed in her respective event at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
For the men…
NaTron Gipson joins the Wildcats as the lone male high jumper of the 2014 recruiting class. A native of Arlington, Texas, Gipson is a high school All-American for Bowie High and a ULI state champion in the high jump. Holding a personal best of 2.20m, Gipson’s accolades include winning the high jump at the 2013 AAU Junior Olympics held at Eastern Michigan University. On the national stage, he is ranked the No. 1 high jumper in Texas, the No. 2 returner in the U.S., and No. 3 overall in the country.
Nick Hinrichs comes to K-State from Olathe, Kan., where he competes in middle distance for Olathe East High School. Hinrichs is a KSHSAA 6A State Championships’ third-place finisher and has a current personal best of 1:56.24 in the 800 meter.
Lucas Moeder also joins the Wildcats as a native of Kansas, competing in the javelin for La Crosse High School. A native of La Crosse, Kan., Moeder is a KSHSAA state champion in the event and ranked No. 1 overall in the state. His personal best in the event is 59.34m.
Terrell Smith currently competes in Vicksburg, Miss., for Vicksburg High School in the sprints events. Smith’s impressive résumé includes three MHSAA state championships in the 200 meter and USATF Junior National All-American designation. He holds personal bests in the 100 meter of 10.67 seconds, 21.23 seconds in the 200 meter and is the No. 1 ranked sprinter in the state of Mississippi.
New this season…
Jason Coon, Zanri van der Merwe and Marija Stambolic joined the Wildcats this past December with Coon the only student-athlete of the trio yet to compete for K-State this season.
On the women’s side, van Der Merwe and Stambolic bring more international experience to K-State. A native of Pretoria, South Africa, van der Merwe has had considerable success for her native country as she has competed in the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships and 2009 World Youth Championships. Competing in both the long jump and sprints, van der Merwe is a South African Junior National Champion in the long jump, 100 meter and 200 meter. In Confederation of African Athletics Southern Region competition, van der Merwe is a two-time gold medalist in the 100m and two-time gold medalist in the long jump as well.
Stambolic has also had her fair share of international competition, competing in the 2010 World Youth Championships and World Youth Junior Championships, as well as the 2012 World Junior Championships.
On the season, van der Merwe and Stambolic have competed in five and six meets each, respectively. Van der Merwe’s most notable performance came on Feb. 7 in Albuquerque, N.M., for the New Mexico Classic, where she finished 3rd in the long jump with a mark of 5.38m. Stambolic, meanwhile, holds five top-five performances, including being a part of the first-place finish distance medley relay team at the Bill Easton Classic in Lawrence, Kan., in her Wildcat debut.
For the men, Coon adds depth to an impressive throws group for the Wildcats. Holding a personal best in the shot put of 18.23m, Coon competed for Schuylkill Valley High School in Leesport, Pa. He is a two-time Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 3AA Outdoor champion, as well as the 2013 PTFCA Indoor Track and Field Champion in the shot put.
Coon competed for the first time in Ahearn Field House at this past week’s K-State Open for Billy Bugs. He finished third in the shot put, ahead of both Devin Dick and Reinis Kregers, with a chuck of 15.53m.