It was good fortunes all around for the K-State track and field team on Saturday at the Rock Chalk Classic in Lawrence. Not only did the weather favor the Wildcats but they also finished the day with eight first-place finishes and another school record broken.
Overall, the K-State women placed second with 154 points, just 10 points away from top-finishing Kansas. The men finished in third with 118 points for K-State. Kansas finished on top with 205 points.
The action started in the early morning in the field with throwing events. K-State came out on fire, starting with freshman Tyler Merkley in the hammer throw. Merkley finished in second with a throw of 209-11 feet. His mark is second-best in the Big 12 this season and also shattered the previous school record of 204-5 feet that Merkley set back at the UCLA Legends Invitational.
Keeping things rolling for the freshman throwers, Shadae Lawrence recorded a new personal best in the discus throw. Her mark of 185-6 feet also earned her a first-place finish in the event.
“Shadae is also proving that she is going to be very good in discus,” head coach Cliff Rovelto said to K-State Sports. “She is having a great year for a freshman.”
The jumpers fed off of the momentum provided by the throwers and posted impressive finishes across the board. In the men’s high jump, sophomore Nate Gipson’s jump of 6-10 1/4 feet won the event and tied for his season best.
A sweep of the long jump event in both men and women further contributed to K-State’s success. Senior Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye’s mark of 25-2 3/4 feet earned the top spot among the men. For the women, junior Zanri Van Der Merwe topped the competition on a jump of 18-7 feet.
On the track, sophomore A’keyla Mitchell highlighted the action for K-State, finishing the day with two first-place finishes. Her first came in the 100-meter dash. With the wind helping to push her along, Mitchell finished with a time of 11.54 seconds. Mitchell’s second win came in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.16 seconds.
On the men’s side of the 200-meter dash, sophomore Terrell Smith’s time of 20.8 seconds added another win for K-State.
K-State sent three 4-x-400 meter relay teams to the Rock Chalk Classic; one team for the women and two teams for the men.
“The 4-x-400 relays were largely middle distance kids and combined eventers,” Rovelto said to K-State Sports. “I thought they all ran pretty well.”
The women’s 4-x-400 team consisted of senior Sonia Gaskin, sophomore Keiteyana Parks, senior Jordan Matthews and freshman Ranae McKenzie. They finished in third with a time of 3 minutes, 44.46 seconds. Kansas finished second in the women’s 4-x-400 with a time of 3:37.3 and Minnesota finished first with a time of 3:35.93.
The first of the men’s 4-x-400 teams consisted of junior Kain Ellis, junior Kaneil Harrison, freshman Devie Freemon II and freshman Nick Albus. The team finished in sixth with a time of 3:19.94, just in front of the K-State “B” relay team. K-State’s second relay team consisted of freshman Rene Perla, junior Lukas Koch, freshman Chris Sandquist and senior Logan Smith. The seventh-place finishing team had a time of 3:22.2.
K-State returns to action on Saturday at home for the Ward Haylett Invitational. The meet will take place on the R.V. Christian Track and will be the final meet before the team heads to Fort Worth, Texas, to compete in the Big 12 Championship.