MANHATTAN, Kan. – With conference championship meets just two weeks away for much of the nation, some highly touted meets are slated for this weekend, and the K-State Wildcats will be in action. The Wildcats will be splitting up this weekend with one group headed to the Don Kirby Elite Invitational and Open hosted by New Mexico and another is off to the Iowa State Classic.
The Don Kirby Elite Invitational is one of the top meets in the nation this weekend with action set for Friday from the Albuquerque Convention Center. The meet will feature seven men’s teams ranked in the USTFCCCA Top 25 and five on the women’s end. K-State will be up against some of the top athletes in the nation in a number of events on Friday before more action in the Open meet on Saturday.
Perhaps the most anticipated event of the meet will be the men’s high jump. Erik Kynard and Zack Riley will be competing for K-State as they rank No. 1 and No. 12 in the nation currently. Also in the field will be Arizona’s Edgar Rivera-Morales who stands at No. 6. Five of the top 20 jumpers are entered in the field, with four of them ranking 13th or higher.
K-State is set for another meet at Iowa State with a larger group headed to Ames to compete in sprints, jumps, distance and mid-distance events. The Iowa State Classic will have non-seeded events on Friday and ramp up the competition on Saturday with seeded events. Most of the Wildcats’ distance runners will be in action with a chance to gauge themselves against strong competition from the hosting Cyclones.
For fans unable to attend the Iowa State Classic, live results will be provided and available at cyclones.com. Live results from the Don Kirby Invitational and Open will be available online as well at liverunningresults.com. K-State fans can also get updates by following the live event Twitter handle @kstate_gameday.
Events to Watch
Don Kirby Collegiate Invitational
• Men’s High Jump
The high jump competition at the Don Kirby Collegiate Invitational will be the first this season to feature a number of the top jumpers in the nation. In addition to K-State’s Erik Kynard and Zack Riley, Arizona will be bringing Edgar Rivera-Morales who is currently tied for sixth in the nation this season. Riley ranks No. 12. Five of the top 20 jumpers in the nation will be in this field and four of them are ranked 13th or higher.
• Men’s Long Jump
K-State will enter two men into the long jump at Don Kirby in another field loaded with talent. Jharyl Bowry and freshman Tyris Jefferson. Bowry currently ranks No. 1 in the Big 12 Conference and Jefferson is making his K-State debut. Bowry is No. 11 in the NCAA this season and Ohio State’s Korbin Smith is No. 12.
Iowa State Classic
• Men’s 800m
Senior Kyle Hanson takes on some of the top runners with three of the 25 entered. Iowa State’s Edward Kemboi is No. 2 and Minnesota’s Harun Abda ranks sixth on the descending order list.
• Men’s Pole Vault - Seeded
Junior Kyle Wait is among the national leaders and will be up against one of the best in Colton Ross from Stephen F. Austin. The sophomore Lumberjack is tied for sixth nationally with his mark of 5.45 meters. Wait is tied for ninth at 5.40 meters. Cameron Savage will also be in action for K-State.
• Women’s High Jump - Seeded
High jumper/multi-eventer Joslyn Barnes proved to be one of the top high jumpers in the Big 12 last year. She will be up against a strong field with other multi-events specialists and the No. 23 jumper from North Texas.
Husker Invite Brings Fast Times for K-State
K-State track and field sent a small group of Wildcats to face a competitive field at the 38th Sevigne Husker Invitational last weekend and came home with one win and three runners-up to go with handful personal bests.
Big 12 Conference outdoor champion Kyle Wait tallied his second victory of the season in the pole vault as he cleared 5.23 meters (17-01.75). South Dakota’s Kyle Ballew also cleared that height, and Wait got the win based on misses as Ballew needed two attempts to get over the bar.
Erika Schiller started the day Saturday for the Wildcats with a second-place finish in the women’s mile as she crossed the line in 5:05.89. The time marked a new personal best for the sophomore.
One Wildcat ran in a special invitational mile and came away with a sixth-place finish against a talented field. Freshman Mary Frances Donnelley finished sixth with her time of 4:57.87. K-State also ran in a special invitational 800 meters as freshman Sonia Gaskin claimed second in the women’s race and Kyle Hanson took third. Gaskin ran through the finish line in 2:10.50 to finish second. It was her fastest time and ranks ninth in school history. Hanson posted a PR in the men’s invitational 800 as he crossed the line in 1:51.89 to finish third. It bested his previous of 1:55.06.
Wildcats Stand at No. 22 in Rankings
Last season, K-State track and field had a successful campaign highlighted by high jumper Erik Kynard’s silver at the London Olympics and second straight NCAA outdoor title. That momentum has carried over to the 2013 indoor season with the men’s track and field team ranked among the nation’s best again. This week the Wildcats slip four spots down to No. 22 in the latest USTFCCCA Rankings. This week the women’s team dropped to No. 51.
K-State opened the year at No. 22 in the preseason rankings and following two impressive showings from sprinter Carlos Rodriguez and pole vaulter Kyle Wait, the Wildcats moved up as high as No. 16 two weeks ago. Rodriguez and Wait both posted marks that ranked in the top six at that time for their respective events this season to help the Wildcats climb up the rankings.
The USTFCCCA rankings formula takes into account performances from athletes in each event and awards points based on their ranking in the event and on the strength of the performance with marks from this season and better marks from last season still counting in the formula. Eventually marks from this season will only be counted in the formula.
K-State’s men have six athletes ranked in a total of six events highlighted by Kynard. His jump of 7-07.00 (2.31m) last season ranks No. 2 in the event behind Indiana’s Derek Drouin by just two centimeters. Kynard has the highest jump of the season so far at 7-06.00 (2.29m). Drouin and Mississippi’s Ricky Robertson have both jumped 2.29 as well.
This year juco transfer Zack Riley joins Kynard at K-State to give the Wildcats one of the top 1-2 combinations in the high jump. Riley is tied at No. 10 this week along with NC State’s Kris Kornegay-Gober and Virginia Tech’s Ronnie Black. Another junior college transfer in Jharyl Bowry gives K-State one more ranked in the top 15 in their respective event as Bowry comes in at No. 12 in the long jump.
Rodriguez is ranked No. 8 in the 200 meters and also is among the leaders in the 60 meters. Wait’s mark of 5.40 meters stands No. 13 according to the USTFCCCA formula, and Devin Dick stands at No. 27 in the heptathlon.
On the women’s side, combined events specialist Merryl Mbeng is ranked ninth after scoring 4,069 points in the pentathlon to finish second in her debut as a Wildcat in December at the Carol Robinson Winter Pentathlon. She is one of four Wildcats currently ranked in an event. She is joined by sophomore high jumper Alyx Treasure at No. 11 in the high jump. Erica Twiss is ranked in the pentathlon as well, and freshman Jasmine Gibbs is No. 39 in the 60 meters.
Big 12 Presence Felt in Top 25
The Big 12 Conference has long been a force in track and field, and again the league is among the best when examining the USTFCCCA Rankings. The men made a jump in the rankings last week with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State joining the Top 25 to give the Big 12 four teams among the national leaders and all four remain. Four women’s teams continue to stand in the Top 25 for the conference as well. Only the SEC (7/7) and Pac-12 (5/6) have more teams ranked on both sides. The Big Ten has five men’s teams ranked. With the SEC, Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten combined, those power conferences represent for 20 of the Top 25 men’s teams.
Texas is the top-ranked men’s team from the Big 12 holding steady at No. 11 followed by K-State at No. 22 and Oklahoma State at No. 23. The Sooners and Cowboys both made big moves last week with strong performances from their distance runners. The Cowboys had four runners clock sub 4-minute miles at the same meet, something that had never been done before.
The Kansas women claimed the top spot this week moving up from No. 2 thanks to four event No. 1 listings. Iowa State (11), Texas (14) and Baylor (19) gives the conference all four of its ranked teams among the top 20. Oklahoma stands just outside the Top 25 at No. 28.