Wildcats Finish Strong at Big 12 Championships Men take 4th, women claim 7th
WACO, Texas – Kansas State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto believed his men’s track and field team would be in a tight battle at this weekend’s Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and his men came away in fourth with the best combined effort in conference history. The women also had a number of shining performances to finish in seventh place over the three days of action from Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex.
The men’s team had two champions at the Big 12 championship meet and scored a total of 96 points in the 21 events. Those 96 points are the most ever scored by the men’s team at the Big 12 Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
“I think the men had a very solid meet. We were within six points of what I thought would be a great meet for us,” Rovelto said. “Our top guys took care of business as expected and we had solid performances from the majority of the team.”
After Erik Kynard won his third straight high jump title on Saturday, pole vaulter Kyle Wait successfully defended his conference title. Wait had a miss early on in the competition and then did not miss again until he was the only one left.
Wait claimed his second pole vault conference crown with a clearance of 5.34 meters (17-06.75) as the final three competitors were eliminated at that height. He cleared 5.34 on his first attempt and then elected to move the bar significantly higher when he was the only one remaining. He then took three attempts at what would have been a new Big 12 Championship meet record of 5.56 meters (18-02.75). That height would have also made Wait alone at No. 8 on the NCAA performance list this season.
“I felt like it’s what I should be doing. I had that one miss on my first bar, but it turned out pretty well,” Wait said of not missing attempts at early bars. “Coach told me to not limit myself and expect big things, so I expected myself to do well.”
The Wildcats tallied one more title on Sunday, this one going to a female.
Martina Tresch became the first Wildcat to win a women’s steeplechase title as she won a dramatic race in 10:10.82. The junior claimed her first title after redshirting last season due to injury and seeing second place snatched away from her down the final 100 meters in both her freshman and sophomore seasons at the Big 12 Championship.
This time Tresch led from the starting gun all the way until West Virginia’s Jordan Hamric got the edge with 250 meters to go. The lead was just one step going into the barrier jump in the final turn and three steps coming out of the last water jump. Tresch made the move to the outside heading to the final barrier and took the lead with a sprint to the finish.
Tresch said the victory is a significant moment for her considering her history at this meet of slowing down the stretch and getting passed by.
“It means a lot, especially because training was not what we would have hoped with a lot of ups and downs,” Tresch said. “Coming here, I wanted to sit back, but steeple is such a rough event with the barriers and the water jump. I thought, ‘OK, I’m gonna take it.’ And when she passed me with 250 to go, I was like, ‘I’m not gonna let anyone take this from me ever again.’ I’m just really happy I had it in me. She ran a great race. She did everything right. I think I was just lucky at the end to have a little bit more left.
With the 10 points scored by Tresch in her win, she and her teammates combined to score a total of 66 points to finish seventh. It was the most points K-State’s women have scored at the Big 12 Championship since tallying 76.5 in 2008 when the Wildcats finished fifth.
“The women placed as I thought as a team. We had some stumbles but others picked up the slack,” Rovelto said. “Martina ran great. Erica Twiss ran super in the 400 hurdles after doing the heptathlon and qualifying for the final over the last two days.”
The men’s fourth-place finish ties last year’s and is the second-best mark in the Big 12 era, behind only the third-place finish in 1997.
K-State’s leading scorer at the meet was sprinter Carlos Rodriguez. He finished third in the 100 meters with a time of 10.48 seconds to earn six points. He then added five more to K-State’s total with a clocking of 20.91 in the final of the 200 meters to finish fourth. Then, he came back to close the night for the Wildcats by running the third leg of the 4x400 relay that finished third.
Rodriguez did all that, in addition to running his semifinal heats on Saturday, all with an illness.
“I thought Carlos was a warrior. He had been under the weather this week and he ran very well under the circumstances,” Rovelto said.
Also performing well for the men’s team was hurdler Tarique Hill. After finishing eighth last year at the Big 12 Championship, Hill had one of the largest improvements among the Wildcats this year. He raced to a second-place finish in the 110 meter hurdles, clawing his way by runners as the race progressed and finishing in 13.88 seconds.
Hill’s time was a new personal record, shedding 0.16 off his previous best from the Mt. SAC Relays two weeks ago. His time also keeps him at ninth in school history. He was unable to catch Oklahoma’s Tre’ Lathan to get a victory as the Sooner ran 13.70.
Jessica Carter was one of the women who made a major improvement in her standing at the Big 12 meet as she finished third in the discus throw. Last year, at home she finished seventh with a throw of 49.97 meters (163-11). This time she put out a new personal best of 51.81 meters (170-00) to claim third place and move into seventh on the all-time list at K-State.
Throwing events were a strong area for the Wildcats on both the men’s and women’s side of the meet. The Wildcats opened the final day of the meet with three men in the javelin and walked away with 15 points.
Ivan Hartung claimed second in the javelin with his throw of 63.74 meters (209-01) to earn eight points. Tomas Kirielius came back to throw the javelin after finishing third in the decathlon over the first two days. He finished fifth at 62.73 meters (205-10). Jake Darrington was right behind in sixth place with a throw that was just off his PR at 61.82 meters (202-10).
Ryan Hershberger also claimed seventh place for the men’s team in the shot put later in the day with his mark of 17.17 meters (56-04.00). For the women, freshman Olivia Housholder just missed qualifying for the final in the javelin finishing 10th.
Freshmen made a significant impact on the meet for the Wildcats.
Three freshmen ran on the men’s 4x100 relay that finished eighth as Jordan Oakry, Tyris Jefferson and Ifeanyi Otuonye joined Grant Loescher.
Three freshmen ran on the women’s 4x400 relay that claimed fifth place. Sonia Gaskin, Ashley Williams and Tia Gamble ran with sophomore Sarah Kolmer, which was easily the youngest women’s 4x400 in the meet.
Gibbs would later take sixth in the 100 meters as she clocked in at 11.59 seconds. Gaskin ran to a seventh-place finish in the 800, and freshman Alyssa Kelly took seventh in the triple jump.
Otuonye and Jefferson would run with sophomores Rodriguez and Chris Campbell in the men’s 4x400 that took third place. The men clocked in at 3:09.27.
An event that went well for the women was the 400 meter hurdles. After competing in the heptathlon Friday and Saturday, Twiss qualified for the final of the event on Saturday evening and followed it up with a new PR during the final. Angela Hart ran well during semis on Saturday to grab the last spot available in the final and did not disappoint Sunday either.
Twiss ran a new PR of 58.97 seconds during the final to finish in fourth place as she held off a charge from Iowa State’s Donnise Powell. Hart was in a tight battle throughout the race behind Twiss and Powell and was able to outrun a pair of Longhorns from Texas in Alicia Patterson and Melissa Gonzalez. Hart finished sixth in 1:00.30, just off her PR pace set during the semifinals.
With the conclusion of the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the Wildcats will prepare to host the Ward Haylett Invitational. The meet will serve as a quasi last chance meet heading into the postseason. The NCAA West Preliminary Rounds are coming up in a few weeks, and athletes will be looking to move up the regional rankings to qualify.
Action for the Ward Haylett Invitational starts at 10 a.m. with field events. Running events are slated for a 1 p.m. start at the R.V. Christian Track Complex. Admission to the meet is free, and K-State will be honoring its seniors during the meet.