Two athletes crowned in NCAA Indoor Track and Field

Senior pentathlete Akela Jones competes in the long jump on her way to breaking the K-State and Ahearn Fieldhouse pentathlon records, with a total score of 4,643, and coming just short of breaking the collegiate pentathlon record, in the DeLoss Dodds Invitational track & field meet Jan. 22, 2016, in Ahearn Fieldhouse. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Two of K-State’s student athletes topped the competition at the 2016 Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday and Saturday. Seniors Akela Jones and Dani Winters claimed their first individual indoor titles of their careers.

Jones claimed the high jump title on a mark of 6-01.50 and Winters took shot put on a throw of 58.11.50.

“Dani and Akela being national champs is phenomenal,” head coach Cliff Rovelto said to K-State sports. “I don’t know when it has ever happened when we have two in one meet.”

It was the first time K-State has had two athletes win titles in the same meet.

The women finished the competition eighth place with a total score of 26 points. The men finished the meet in a tie for 40th with 5.50 points.

Competition began on Friday, March 11. The day didn’t start out smooth for Jones. She opened competition in the women’s pentathlon with the 60-meter hurdles. She tripped over the final hurdle to finish fourth in her section with 540 points. Jones had an explosive comeback in the high jump.

Jones’ mark of 6-06.00 was just shy of the indoor world record. She also set a new school record, NCAA Indoor Championships meet record, collegiate pentathlon high jump record and the Barbados national record.

Jones would also take first place in shot put and long jump. She did not finish the 800m, and placed 14th in the pentathlon.

“She only did one pentathlon before today’s this year,” Rovelto told K-State sports. “All of these other girls have done it many times, so there is a learning curve.”

Sophomore Christoff Bryan tied for third in men’s high jump with a mark of 7-01.75. Fellow sophomore A’Keyla Mitchell qualified for Saturday’s final in the 200-meter dash on a time of 23.26 seconds to finish second in her heat. Mitchell’s time was the second-best time of the season.

Senior Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye competed in men’s long jump. Otuonye finished 11th with a jump of 24-03.

Saturday saw Jones and Winters win their national titles.

“It really has not sunk in yet,” throwing coach Greg Watson said to K-State Sports of Winters’ performance. “She has worked and she always competes very well when we are in big meet situations. Today that was good enough for the win.”

Finishing not far behind Jones in high jump, Junior Kimberly Williamson earned first team All-American honors in the high jump. Williamson finished in third with a jump of 6-00.50.

Mitchell closed out competition for K-State on Saturday. She finished eighth in the 200-meter final with a time of 23.31. Her mark earned her All-American honors.

With the indoor season now at a close, K-State will turn their attention to the 2016 outdoor season. The season will kick off on March 18 and 19 at the UTSA Invitational in San Antonio, Texas.