In nearly every sporting event, experience is important. This is especially true when competition tightens and postseason berths are on the line.
The K-State track and field team will follow that theory, relying heavily on the services of its veterans as the Wildcats return to action today in the Big 12 Championships in College Station, Texas.
“This is a young and relatively small group that we’ve brought out here,” said head coach Cliff Rovelto. “All of the seniors and people who have scored at this level before are going to have to lead the way. All I’m looking for is for us to just go out and do what we’re capable of doing.”
Two senior Wildcats — 2008 All-Americans Scott Sellers and Loren Groves — will enter the two-day meet as reigning champions in their respective events in long jump and weight throw, respectively. Rovelto said he expects his two top seniors, as well as other upperclassmen that have conference experience, to be on top of their game at the weekend meet.
“Loren has been a conference champion twice before,” Rovelto said. “She’s been in a number of national meets, so none of this is new to her. On the guys’ side — with guys like Scott, Moritz Cleve and Adam Fretwell — those are guys that have scored well at the conference meet in the past. Hopefully they can do that again here. We expect that out of them. They’ve competed at a meet like this more than once and succeeded in the past. They’re all people that have to perform well.”
Rovelto, who has been coaching at K-State for 21 seasons, said he will particularly look to Groves, who could become just the second Wildcat to win three straight titles in the weight throw since Renetta Seiler accomplished the feat during the 1997-99 seasons.
“There’s nothing [Groves] will experience here that she hasn’t already seen before,” he said. “She’ll be nervous just like anybody, but of all the athletes in our program, she’s the one who’s proven she’s the most capable of going out and getting the job done.”
Groves, a native of Scott City, Mo., has enjoyed a solid senior campaign, recording a total of four NCAA qualifying marks.
Other Wildcats who will turn heads this weekend include Mantas Silkauskas, a freshman from Lithuania who has posted provisional qualifying marks in the heptathlon and 60 meter hurdles this season, and senior thrower Nate Brummet, who finished 11th in the weight throw in last year’s conference tournament.
Though the Wildcats will look to ride the experience of their veterans at the two-day meet, Rovelto believes there is plenty of young talent on board, which will lead to more success down the road.
“We’ve got to go out and get it done,” he said. “It’s a really young group, but we’ve just got to continue to improve. As we add more athletes to this group, both teams will continue to get better and better.”