In a conference packed with talent, the K-State track and field team delivered at the Big 12 Indoor Championships in Ames, Iowa over the weekend.
The men and women’s teams both finished in third place, with the men posting a score of 98.5 and the women a score of 107.42. The women’s team finished just 1.58 points away from Oklahoma State, who finished in second place. The men managed to slide into third place just one point ahead of fourth-place finishing Texas Tech.
“I think from a team perspective, our men were phenomenal,” head coach Cliff Rovelto said to K-State Sports. “I also thought the women had a solid meet as well.”
Texas topped the field on the women’s side with a point total of 147, followed by Oklahoma State at 109. For the men, Oklahoma State took the top spot with 130 points, followed by Texas with 128.5.
Day one of the Indoor Championship took place on Friday. Nearly every athlete who competed in the preliminary rounds for K-State on Friday qualified for finals on Saturday. On top of that, K-State took home three Big 12 titles in field events.
In men’s long jump, senior Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye’s first attempt at long jump was his best. Otuonye’s mark of 25-3 1/4 earned him his first-ever Big 12 title.
In women’s long jump, senior Akela Jones took the top spot in the event for the second year in a row. Her jump of 22-1 3/4 locked in not only a new Big 12 Record, but also set a new facility record at the Lied Recreation Center. The previous mark was set in 1998 by University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Shunta Rose on a jump of 21-8 3/4.
For senior Brady Grunder, it came down to his fifth attempt in the men’s weight throw. Grunder managed to slide into the top spot and earn a conference title and personal best on a throw of 67-2 3/4.
The transition into Saturday went smoothly for Jones, who finished the day with two more Big 12 titles and earned High Point Scorer of the Meet for the second year in a row. Jones built on her long jump success in field events with a high jump title on a leap of 6-4. She now has the mark to beat in Division I and is tied for the 12th-best mark in the world. Jones’ performance set a new Big 12 record, school record and Lied Recreational Center record.
Sophomore Christoff Bryan represented the men’s squad in high jump. Bryan topped the competition with a jump of 7-3 1/4, earning the first Big 12 title of his career.
Senior Sonia Gaskin also cashed in on her first-ever Big 12 title on the track in the 600-yard run. Gaskin set the time to beat in the preliminaries on Friday and held off the competition in finals with a time of 1 minute, 20.2 seconds to take the title.
Jones stayed hot from her first title of the day and earned her second title in the 60-meter hurdles. Jones’ time of 8 seconds not only earned her the top spot, but it also secured a new school record for K-State.
“There were some tremendous individual marks during the meet,” Rovelto said to K-State Sports. “It was a great weekend and I thought we did a great job.”
The track and field indoor season wraps up March 11-12 in Birmingham, Alabama, at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.