Olympic hopefuls on display this weekend

Then-junior mid-distance runner Sonia Gaskin (5) races ahead of then-junior sprinter Tia' Gamble (3) in the women's 800m run at the DeLoss Dodds Invitational Track & Field Meet Jan. 24, 2015, in Ahearn Fieldhouse. (File Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

After a second-place finish at the KU-KSU-WSU Showdown in Lawrence, the K-State track and field team returns to Ahearn Fieldhouse for the DeLoss Dodds Invitational.

The meet will feature 11 potential Olympic athletes participating for K-State as the Wildcats look to build off their success in the triangular.

“With all of these different schools coming in, they are bringing some really, really fine athletes,” head coach Cliff Rovelto said. “This is going to be one of the larger meets in terms of numbers that we have hosted in a number of years, and the quality of athlete in virtually every event is really, really high.”

Reigning NCAA champion and senior Akela Jones will aim for an NCAA record in the pentathlon. Last season, Jones earned the NCAA title in the heptathlon. It was just the second time Jones had competed in the event, and she now holds the school record with 6,371 points. Jones found success in her last competition and was named high-point scorer in the triangular with 21 points.

Jones set a new meet record in long jump with a jump of 21-4, besting the second-place finisher by over two feet. Jones also secured first place in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.25 seconds and second place in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.3 seconds. Jones finished out her high-point score in shot put with a fifth place finish and a throw of 44-5 1/2.

Sophomore A’Keyla Mitchell, another Olympic hopeful, also set records in her last performance. Mitchell took first in both the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash with times of 7.37 seconds and 23.95 seconds, respectively.

Senior Sonia Gaskin will also look to build on successful performances. Not only did Gaskin help the 4×400 relay team to victory with a time of 3 minutes, 45.96 seconds, she also earned a top finish in the 800 meters with a time of 2:12.85.

In high jump, junior Kimberly Williamson and sophomore Christoff Bryan led the way for the Wildcats in their last meet, and they hope to find similar success this weekend. Williamson’s last performance earned her a first-place finish with a jump of 6-1 1/2. Bryan also topped the competition on the men’s side with a jump of 7-2 1/2.

Competition for these Olympic hopefuls kicks off at 10 a.m. Friday in Ahearn Fieldhouse with the women’s pentathlon followed by the men’s heptathlon at 11 a.m. Olympic silver medalist and former Wildcat track legend Erik Kynard will compete in Saturday’s field-event action in the high jump at 11 a.m. Track events will follow at 3:30 p.m.