K-State ready for big things at Big 12 Championships

Freshman Ariel Okorie jumps in the high jump event at the K-State track and field meet in Ahearn Field House on Feb. 17, 2017. (John Benfer | The Collegian)

It will be tough to do better than last year, but this year’s men’s and women’s track and field teams have the opportunity to top it this weekend.

The women’s team will look to repeat what they did last year, going in as the No. 12 ranked team in the country, and the men’s team will look to finish in the upper half of the men’s competition as the No. 57 ranked team.

For the women, there have been a wide range of contributors. Senior Janee’ Kassanavoid and freshman Nina Schultz have both earned Big 12 Athlete of the Week honors this season. Sophomore Shardia Lawrence and freshman Wurrie Njadoe have contributed by providing meet highlights along with top women’s efforts.

The men, who finished third last year, return two defending league champs: senior Brady Grunder and junior Christoff Bryan, who look to repeat last season’s individual and team results this weekend.

Both the men’s and women’s teams finished third last year and had five athletes win a total of seven individual conference titles, including former Wildcat Akela Jones’ high jump, long jump and 60-meter hurdle titles. Grunder won his first conference crown with a weight toss of 20.49m/67-02.75 on his fifth attempt, and Bryan claimed the first conference title of his career in the high jump with a clearance of 2.22m/7-03.25.

It should be a competitive conference championship this weekend. K-State has great momentum heading into this weekend, coming off a successful final home meet of the season. The team tied its season best for first place finishes at 17.

The Big 12 Championship is also the last chance for seven Wildcats to improve their seeding for the NCAA Championship on March 10-11 in College Station, Texas. The competition is all day Friday and Saturday in Iowa State’s Lied Recreation Center in Ames, Iowa.