Wildcats smash personal records at Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational

Senior pentathlete Akela Jones jumps toward a height of 1.85m in the pentathlon high jump on her way to breaking the K-State and Ahearn Fieldhouse pentathlon records with a total score of 4,643 points at the DeLoss Dodds Invitational track and field meet Jan. 22, 2016, in Ahearn Fieldhouse. (File Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Last season, the K-State women’s track and field team was just 6.5 points away from an indoor Big 12 title. Texas prevailed over K-State in the Big 12 in 2015, and going into week two of competition this past week, the Wildcats found themselves in a familiar situation. As of Feb. 1, K-State was ranked No. 6, trailing No. 5 Texas by just 7.98 points.

“I really think losing the Big 12 last year is really driving the team to come together and train harder,” senior Akela Jones said.

Both the women and men’s teams found success over the weekend at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska. Eight athletes recorded new personal records and three Wildcats earned first-place finishes.

“We’ve got more of our good people in their better events, whereas maybe up to now they may not of even competed hardly in their best events,” head coach Cliff Rovelto said. “You’ll see better performances.”

The event took place on Friday and Saturday with the Wildcats posting strong performances on both days of competition.

On the track on Friday, two Wildcats found success in the 400-meter dash. Sophomore A’Keyla Mitchell and freshman Ranae McKenzie both set new personal records. Mitchell finished fourth with a time of 53.73 seconds and McKenzie finished 14th with a time of 56.41 seconds. Mitchell’s time was good enough for the fourth-best mark in school history.

On Friday, senior Akela Jones dominated the qualifying preliminaries for the 60-meter hurdles, topping the field with a time of 8.20 seconds.

In the field, the throwers found success in the men and women’s weight throws. For the women, junior Janee’ Kassanavoid finished third with a mark of 62-6. On the men’s side, senior Brady Grunder and junior Mitch Dixon finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Grunder posted a mark of 63-0 1/4, while Dixon was just behind him at 61-9 1/2.

K-State continued their high-caliber performances on Saturday with four more athletes setting personal bests.

After topping the competition in the preliminary round of the 60-meter hurdles, Jones finished first in the finals with a time of 8.05 seconds, setting a personal record and a new school record. Her time also tied with the second-best mark in the NCAA this season.

K-State’s 4-x-400 meter relay team of senior Sonia Gaskin, Mitchell, Jones and senior Tia’ Gamble continued its dominance with another first-place finish and a time of 3 minutes 35.91 seconds. The Wildcats’ time fell just shy of the meet record and is ninth best in Division I this season. The performance was also the third-best mark in school history.

Junior Morgan Wedekind’s performance in the mile earned her a personal best and a third-place finish with a time of 4:51.49. Another distance runner, sophomore Kayla Doll, finished the 3000-meter run in third place with a new personal record of 10:07.47.

Both the men and the women had success in the 800-meter dash. Junior Kain Ellis earned second for the men with a time of 1:50.06. On the women’s side, Gaskin took third with a time of 2:07.91.

Next week, K-State will return to action in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to compete in the Tyson Invitational. K-State will also be represented in Ames, Iowa, to compete in the Iowa State Classic.