Indoor track, field season closes at home

Freshman pole vaulter Erin Smith gets a running start in the pole vault at the DeLoss Dodds Invitational track and field meet on Jan. 23, 2016, in Ahearn Field House. Smith finished second by clearing a height of 3.35 meters. (File Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Last season, the K-State men’s track and field team finished at the bottom of the conference in the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships. The women’s team finished just 6.5 behind the top-finishing team.

With just one meet remaining before the Big 12 Championship, the Wildcats will look to continue to build their momentum as the indoor season comes to a close. The Wildcat men’s and sixth-ranked women’s team will compete in Ahearn Field House in the inaugural Steve Miller Open on Friday.

Previously, the meet was known as the K-State Open. It was renamed the Steve Miller Open after the former K-State athletics director and head track coach. Miller took over the track program at K-State in 1981 and held the position until 1987. During his time as K-State’s athletic director, Miller hired current head football coach Bill Snyder.

The meet will also feature the Deb Pihl Women’s Mile Run. An inductee in the 2004 K-State Athletics Hall of Fame class, Deb (Pihl) Torneden competed for the K-State women’s track and field team in 1980, 1983 and 1984.

Torneden is considered one of the all-time great middle distance runners at K-State. During the course of her career, she earned eight Big Eight conference titles, including the 1984 Most Outstanding Performer at the Big Eight Championships. Torneden also ran the world’s best time for the 1,000 meters in 1984. After her time at K-State, Torneden went on to qualify for the Olympic Trials in 1984, 1992, 1996 and 2000.

Last season at the K-State Open, the Wildcats saw a number of athletes break their personal records, resulting in 12 first-place finishes.

The story has been similar so far this season for K-State. Last weekend alone, 10 athletes recorded personal bests, including four first-place finishes by sophomore Colton Donahue in the 3,000-meter run, junior Kim Williamson in high jump, junior Lukas Koch in the mile run and senior Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye in long jump.

Sophomore Terrell Smith also smashed a school record in the 200-meter dash last weekend with a time of 20.93 seconds.

The meet will start at 4 p.m. on Friday in the field with women’s weight throw and women’s long jump. The Deb Pihl Women’s Mile Run will start the action on the track at 6 p.m.