Track squad to team up with Big 12 competitors is Conference

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The track and field team will meet with two of its usual competitors to represent the Big 12 Conference in the Conference Challenge this Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.

K-State will combine with Nebraska and Missouri to take on Colorado State, Brigham Young and Air Force, the representatives from the Mountain West Conference.

K-State coach Cliff Rovelto said the three Big 12 teams have the right tools to be successful in the meet that pits the two conferences against each other.

“These three schools are schools that are relatively complete,” Rovelto said. “We’ve been a complete team traditionally. Nebraska’s been a historically complete team. Missouri has good quality throwers and good distance runners.”

The Wildcats are entering the meet after a strong showing at last week’s Wildcat Invitational. Juniors Loren Groves and Scott Sellers were named Big 12 Athletes of the Week following the invitational. Groves broke a K-State women’s record in the weight throw with a throw of 69-11.50. The toss earned her an NCAA automatic bid. Sellers also earned an automatic bid when he cleared a height of 7-4.50 in the high jump.

The Conference Challenge will be scored as a dual meet. Each team will be able to enter two athletes in an event, and the two top performers from each conference will be scored. Rovelto said he does not mind the different format for the meet.

“Having some scored meets is nice,” Rovelto said. “In our sport, we do not have many of them anymore. In our sport, they’ve gone away from that. Most meets now are more like time trials where everyone can just run fast.”

Rovelto said meets like the Conference Challenge are important for the team, because they provide good practice competing at a scored meet before the team competes in the Big 12 and NCAA Championships.

“We always try to work in three or four scored meets in the indoor and outdoor season,” Rovelto said.

In a meet where schools are grouped together on one team, coaches can use their athletes in a way that does not put as much strain on them.

“In this case where it’s three schools from one conference competing together, you’re not forced to have all your athletes in their best event,” Rovelto said. “It’s more forgiving. You don’t have to double up as many kids.”

Despite the fact that the teams often compete against each other, Rovelto said it will not be awkward teaming up with Missouri and Nebraska. Because of how often K-State competes with these teams, many of the athletes on each team know each other and are relatively close.

Joining up with other teams is not new to the Wildcats either. Last year, the team competed in the Jim Click Shootout in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats paired up with Texas Tech to represent the Big 12 against the Pacific-10 Conference and the Southeastern Conference. The Big 12 representatives finished third in the competition.

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