12 first-place finishes highlight K-State’s track and field weekend

Senior pentathlete Akela Jones jumps in the pentathlon high jump at the DeLoss Dodds Invitational track and field meet on Jan. 22, 2016, in Ahearn Fieldhouse. (File Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

K-State track and field came away big this weekend at the John McDonnell Invitational as the team down 12 first-place finishes. K-State secured the first three wins on day one of competition and the last nine on Saturday.

It started with freshman thrower Brett Neelly in the men’s discuss. In Neelly’s third attempt, he carded a throw of 166-10, which secured him his first win of the season.

On the women’s side of discus, another freshman shined for K-State. Shadae Lawrence carded a throw of 180-01 to win the event.

The women’s long jump favored K-State. Senior Akela Jones backed up her Big 12 Athlete of the Week honor by adding another first-place finish for K-State. Jones’ jump of 21-06 tied for her own personal best in the event. Junior Zanri Van Der Merwe finished right behind Jones in second with a jump of 19-00 1/2.

Day two’s success also started with the throwers. Of the six events the Wildcats participated in, a K-State thrower finished on top in five. Freshman Tyler Merkley opened the hammer throw with a win on a mark of 200-05. Junior Kyle Smith finished in second with a throw of 190-01. Junior Janee’ Kassanavoid represented the women in hammer throw, taking the top spot in her last attempt on a throw of 188-00.

Wrapping things up for the throwers, sophomore Ally Zerbe set a new personal best on a throw of 162-09. Not only did her efforts mark her first top finish of the season, but it also was over four meters farther than her previous personal record.

For the jumpers, freshman Shardia Lawrence represented in triple jump, winning the event on a jump of 41-10.

Jones started the action on the track in the women’s 100-meter hurdles. The event was loaded with some of the best multi-event athletes in the country, including four of the top-10 collegiate heptathlon competitors. Jones finished second in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 12.94 seconds. Her time was solid enough to take the top 100-meter hurdle time in the Big 12 and the third-best time in Division I.

One of the top sprinters in the world competed unattached in the men’s 200-meter dash. Wallace Spearman holds the American indoor 200-meter dash. He finished the race with a time of 20.4 seconds. K-State’s sophomore Terrell Smith finished just 0.04 seconds behind Spearmen to finish second on a time of 20.44.

Sophomore A’Keyla Mitchell dominated the 400-meter dash, making the school’s all-time best list. She finished first with a time of 52.34 seconds.

Mitchell wasn’t done there. She ran the final leg of K-State’s first-place finishing 4×400 meter relay team, also consisting of senior Sonia Gaskin, Jones and senior Tia’ Gamble. The team finished with a time of 3 minutes, 33.57 seconds, a new season best and the fourth fastest in the Big 12.

Up next, K-State heads to Lawrence next weekend to compete in the Rock Chalk Classic.