Even with most of K-State’s top athletes not in action, the Wildcats still managed to make some noise in their final regular season meet.
Senior hurdler Denise Baker continued her consistent improvement this season, capturing a first place finish in the women’s 60-meter hurdles and breaking the meet record at the KSU Open at Ahearn Field House on Friday. Baker, who is in her fifth and final year as a Wildcat, dominated the competition in the event, crossing the finish line in 8.32 seconds – just .02 seconds faster than the meet record set by Lisi Maurer in 2006.
“(Baker) started off her first race this season a couple tenths faster than her first race of the preceding year,” head coach Cliff Rovelto said. “Almost every weekend has been a similar type of progression throughout the whole season. You just don’t see that very often, especially from someone who’s in their fifth year. I can’t say enough.”
While Baker may have stolen the show, several other Wildcats earned first-place finishes at the one-day meet. In men’s action, Ben Love finished first in the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.29 seconds, while Jeffrey Julmis won the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.83 seconds. In women’s competition, Kim Haberman won the long jump with a leap of 5.67 meters, and Mercedes Perry brought home an event title in the 400-meter, crossing the finish line in 1:00.77.
The Wildcats enjoyed a particularly solid day in the women’s weight throw, where they swept the top three spots. The trio of Chelsie Bonds, Ali Pistora and Jessica Carter all recorded throws of well over 17 meters to finish first, second and third, respectively.
“I think the kids in the weight all threw solid,” Rovelto said. “Some of them threw a little bit better than others, but they all threw solid. I think it was a good weekend for them, going into the conference meet.”
Though they didn’t win their events, Rovelto said he was also particularly impressed by Jason Coniglio and J.J. Marshall, who ran in the men’s 60-meter dash. Coniglio finished third with a time of 6.93 seconds, while Marshall was just .01 seconds slower and finished fourth. Rovelto said their recent improvement is encouraging, especially since he’ll count on them to perform well during the outdoor campaign.
“I think Coniglio and Marshall in the 60, both of them ran almost a tenth of a second faster than what they’ve run previously,” he said. “I thought that was good. Those are guys that are going to be a major part of our 4×1 relay outdoors, so taking that next step is significant, because I think that relay could be very, very good.”
The Wildcats will be back in action on Friday when they head to Lincoln, Neb., for the Big 12 indoor championships. The two-day meet, which will take place at Nebraska’s Bob Devaney Sports Center, will begin at 10:30 a.m. with the 60-meter hurdles portion of the women’s pentathlon. Individual running events will begin at 2 p.m. and field events will follow at 3:30 p.m.