K-State's Devin Field competes in the men's triple jump during the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships West Preliminaries at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas on May 31, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
EUGENE, Ore. – K-State Track and Field closed out the final day of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in emphatic style with the men’s and women’s teams both finishing in the top-20 for the first time since 2011.
The Wildcat men’s and women’s squads finished the championship meet in 19th and 20th-place, respectively. The 12 points for the men made it four-straight outdoor championships that they have recorded double-digit points, while the women posted their first scoring effort since 2011.
The Wildcats earned All-American honors in all four events competed in on Saturday, headlined by first team runner-up performances by Alyx Treasure and Devin Field inthe high jump and triple jump, respectively. The women’s 4x400 relay team also took home first team honors, while Ivan Hartung earned second team recognition in the javelin throw.
Head coach Cliff Rovelto heaped plenty of praise for the team as a whole, and one that he feels has a bright future.
“It’s been a really good year and we’re going to have good teams going forward,” Rovelto said. “I’m really pleased, I think our coaches do a good job and we got guys who work hard. We just got a lot of really good things going for us right now.”
He compared this season’s performance nationally to that of the 2002 squad that saw the women’s team finish fifth in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“We’ve had teams place higher in the past such as when the women took fifth at LSU. We had a lot of people have good performances in that meet, but we had people that didn’t do as well as we thought and perhaps it could have been more than it was,” Rovelto said. “We just had enough firepower, athletes, there to it up in the top-five. And I think honestly when you look at this meet, and our scoring opportunities, we only missed three from earning either first or second team All-American – that’s unbelievable.
“So to think we were going to come into this meet and all our athletes were going to perform at that level, outside of a couple instances, I think it’s hard to fault anybody for their performance. It was about as good as it possibly could be. With both teams being in the top-20, that’s hard to do, really hard to do so that was pretty remarkable as well and for all those kids to go back as All-Americans, many of them their first time here, was pretty special too.”
In terms of individual performances, the Wildcats picked up at least first team or second team All-American honors in 10 of the 13 entries. The six total first team honors garnered by K-State is the most since the 2011 men’s and women’s teams combined for six honors as well. Leading the way was the women’s team with four first team recognitions, their most since they recorded five first teamers in 2002.
Field Joins Elite Company
Devin Field concluded one of the better individual outdoor seasons in program history with a second-place finish in the men’s triple jump. The sophomore jumped from fifth to second in his final attempt of the afternoon, finishing the day with a wind-aided leap of 16.46m/54-00.00.
Field advanced to the final round of jumps after leaping 16.07m/52-08.75 in his first attempt of the day. After his fourth and fifth attempts saw him make no improvement, he out-jumped nearly the entire field for his biggest mark of the season. The Port Author, Texas, native finished behind only Florida’s Marquis Dendy and earned first team All-American honors for the second time this week.
Field said he was happy with the result, but is already looking towards next year.
“It is kind of bittersweet. I expect of myself to always do better, but I’m happy with the results and just got to plan for next year,” Field said. “Today picked up a little slow, I kept feeling what I was doing wrong and it was just a matter of me getting it right. Then I finally got it right at my last jump, but even then I know there’s more to come.
“One thing I can say is that I’m very happy that this was a good comeback season. I’m happy with all my results.”
According to Rovelto, he believes this is just the beginning of what looks to be a successful career for Field.
“Devin was remarkable,” Rovelto said. “For him to record that mark in the triple jump and I think he is a guy that is going to be in thick of it as long as he remains healthy from here on out. I know it when I saw him compete as a sophomore in high school. He’s obviously talented, but he’s also a phenomenal competitor and you just can’t teach that, you can’t coach that, it is just innate. And he just wants it that badly.
“He’s going to be great one, a really great one.”
The now two-time All-American joins elite company in K-State Track and Field history, as he is only the eighth Wildcat men’s athlete ever to earn first team honors in multiple events outdoors. Field is the first men’s athlete since Randy Melbourne in 1998 to record multiple scoring performances, as as well earn multiple All-America honors overall. He also joins Kenny Harrison as the only K-State men’s athletes to earn first teams honors in the long jump and triple jump at the same national outdoor meet.
Treasure PRs Her Way to Second-Place in High Jump
Alyx Treasure dazzled in the women’s high jump, clearing a personal best height of 1.86m/6-01.25 en route to a runner-up finish and First Team All-America honors. She went a perfect five-for-five in the first five rounds of the event, before dropping out at 1.89m/6-02.25 in three attempts. Treasure tied for second with East Carolina’s Tynita Butts, finishing behind only Georgia’s Leontia Kallenou – also the only three jumpers to have the minimum of three missed attempts.
Like Field, Treasure said she was happy to place second, but looks forward to continuing to improve as well.
“It’s bittersweet, but I’m ecstatic I got second,” Treasure said. “The height isn’t where I wanted to be yet, but I felt like I jumped really well up to [1.89m]. Then I kind of let things get into my head and rushed it a bit. I felt I should have had it, but considering everything else I jumped well at every other bar.”
For Rovelto, he knew Treasure was capable of this result and echoed her sentiments that she has plenty of room to grow.
“She did today, what I honestly thought she was capable of doing from day one,” Rovelto said. “I know she is capable of being a [1.90m]-plus jumper and she didn’t missed until [1.89m] today and even her third attempt there was good. She’s getting closer, but I also think she can be a player at a higher level also so I think we have a lot to look forward to.”
For Treasure, it ends a dominant stretch of performances this championship season in the high jump that saw her take second at Big 12 Outdoors, tie for first at West Prelims and now record the K-State women’s first runner-up performance nationally since Gwen Wentland tied for second in 1995. The first team honors are the first of her career and she is now a three-time All-American counting her indoor accomplishments. Treasure is also the first Wildcat women’s high jumper since Kaylene Wagner in 2007 to earn first team honors nationally outdoors.
4x400 Takes Home First Team Honors
The women’s 4x400 meter relay squad took home first team honors in the final event of the 2014 championships. Clocking in at 3:34.76, the squad consisting of Sonia Gaskin, Tia' Gamble, Merryl Mbeng and Erica Twiss finished eighth overall. It is the third-fastest time recorded by a women’s 4x400 this outdoor season.
Rovelto commended the group’s compete-level from qualifying to now competing in an NCAA final.
“We ran as well as we possibly could have run on Thursday,” Rovelto said. “Not a single girl could do much better than they ran then. It was beyond 100 percent and they came back today and did what they had to do. It just shows how competitive they are to get here today facing teams with that much speed.”
The All-American honors are the first of Gamble’s career, the second for Mbeng and Gaskin and the third of Twiss’ career. The foursome is only K-State’s third-ever women’s 4x400 team to earn first team honors in the event outdoors and the first-ever 4x400 team to earn All-America status overall during the women’s NCAA era (1982-present).
For Gaskin, she earned first team honors in two events this week, the other being the 800 meter, and joined Field as the other multi-event All-American for K-State. The sophomore is the first women’s Wildcat athlete since Ryann Krais in 2011 to earn multiple first team honors at an outdoor national meet and is the seventh Wildcat women’s athlete-ever to accomplishment the feat.
Rovelto said it’s no shock that Gaskin has already begun to excel this early in her career.
“In the recruiting process, we felt like [Sonia] was really, really, good,” Rovelto said. “We did all that we could do, coach [Mike] Smith went down to [see her compete], I went down there, coach [Vincent] Johnson went down there. We knew how good she was and we did everything we could do to possibly get her to Kansas State and luckily she came. So there’s no surprises, we knew how good she was.”
Hartung Places 16th in the Javelin
Ivan Hartung capped off a successful outdoor campaign with a 16th-place finish in the men’s javelin. The junior uncorked a final mark of 64.56m/211-10 in his first attempt of the afternoon, earning second team All-American honors for his effort. He was one of two throwers from the Big 12 to finish in the event’s top-16.
Said Rovelto, “Ivan wasn’t that far off of his best throw of the year [65.70m/215-07], and that’s coming off Tommy John surgery before the season, so that was a great effort.”
For Hartung, he entered this week’s meet as the first qualifier for the Wildcats in the javelin since Josh Scheer and Kyle Seiler both qualified in 2006 and his 16th-place finish is the best by a Wildcat since T.J. Turner placed 14th at the 1995 NCAA Championships. The All-American honors are also the first of his career.
With the 2014 season in the books, several Wildcats will shift their attention to the USA Championships set to run June 26-29 in Sacramento, California, and the IAAF World Junior Championships taking place from July 22-27 in Eugene. For more information, visit www.k-statesports.com.
NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships
T-19: K-State, 12 points
T-20: K-State, 11 points
8: Gaskin-Gamble-Mbeng-Twiss, K-State, 3:34.76
T-2: Alyx Treasure, K-State, 1.86m/6-01.25 – Personal best & T-4th-best in school history
2: Devin Field, K-State, 16.46m/54-00.00 w (2.7)
16: Ivan Hartung, K-State, 64.56m/211-10