After hosting the conference meet one year ago, the K-State track and field team is heading down I-35 to Baylor this weekend for three days of competition at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships in Waco.
The progress of the Wildcats’ program has been steady, and the men’s and women’s teams will both have an opportunity to raise their scores from last year’s meet.
The Wildcat women will be facing not only Texas, the Big 12 defending champions, but also Kansas, which is ranked No. 2 in the nation.
Led by Olympian and All-American sprinter Diamond Dixon, the Jayhawks will look to contend for the team title in Waco.
“On the women’s side, Texas again and Kansas will be competing for the championship much like indoors, and after that I think we are probably in the mix for fifth or sixth,” said K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto. “The event the women will probably score in bunches is the heptathlon. Again, I think we have got some sprinters that can be in the mix. I think both relays should be very competitive. There’s a lot of people who are going to be a factor in the meet.”
The heptathlon stands as one of the Wildcats’ best spots for point accumulation, with juniors Merryl Mbeng and Erica Twiss, sophomores Sarah Kolmer and Joslyn Barnes and senior Richelle Farley all competing.
K-State’s women’s team finished eighth in last year’s conference meet and will likely be able to make a jump in standings this weekend.
On the men’s side, two teams currently rank in the top 20 nationally, including conference favorite Texas, which is ranked No. 8 in the U.S.
The Wildcats finished fourth last year and will look to finish even higher this season.
“I think the men are going to be in a battle for second,” Rovelto said. “The Texas men have a very good conference-level team. I’d be shocked if they didn’t win the meet. I think ourselves, Texas Tech and Oklahoma on paper appear to be the teams competing for two through four.”
Three Wildcat men will be entering the competition with top marks, including senior high jumper Erik Kynard and sophomore sprinter Carlos Rodriguez. In the 200-meter dash, Rodriguez holds a slight edge and will be looking to claim his first individual conference championship.
Kynard will be entering the high jump competition along with junior college transfer Zack Riley. They finished in first and second place respectively in the indoor meets.
If Kynard wins, the senior from Toledo, Ohio, will stand alone as the only high jumper to win three Big 12 outdoor titles.
Action gets underway on Friday at noon at Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex and will continue through the weekend.