Five Wildcats earn All-American Honors at Indoor National Championships

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Curling over the crossbar, K-State senior Tejaswin Shankar successfully places first in the men's high jump at 2.12 meters during the Carol Robinson/Attila Zsivoczky Pentathlon in Ahern Field House on December 7, 2018. (Archive photo by Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

On Friday, the second day of the NCAA Indoor National Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, senior Tejaswin Shankar finished in third in the men’s high jump posting a mark of 6.24 meters/7-4.25. That mark and finish secured him first-Team All-American honors.

“It felt pretty good competing at the highest level again,” Shankar said. “I think I had another bar in me and would’ve been very happy with a 2.27 clearance today, but I had to settle for 2.24 and that’s pretty much been my average this indoor season. So, I’m just looking forward to the outdoor season and getting back into training mode.”

Finishing third in the meet secures Shankar his third consecutive All-American award in the high jump event. This feat matches former Wildcat Christoff Bryan’s stretch of success from 2015-2017.

JuVaughn Harrison of LSU took home the championship for the men’s high jump with a mark of 2.30 meters/7-6.50 which also helped put LSU into the team lead at the meet. Earnie Sears of USC also matched Shankar’s mark of 2.24 meters/7-4.25 but finished in second above Shankar due to Sears hitting the mark on his first attempt.

“TJ competed very well today,” director of track and field and cross country Cliff Rovelto said. “JuVaughn Harrison was on another level from the rest of the field today, as evidenced by both his high jump and long jump.”

It was in the women’s long jump where both senior Taishia Pryce and junior Chantoba Bright earned their All-American honors with Pryce finishing in seventh and Bright in fifteenth.

Pryce’s seventh place jump was set at a mark of 6.48 meters/21-3.35, the best of the season for the senior. Bright’s fifteenth place jump was set at a mark of 6.19 meters/20-3.75 earning second-team All-American honors in the junior’s first-ever national championship appearance.

“The field was jumping very well,” Rovelto said. “Taishia looked a little more like herself. Chantoba and Vitoria (Alves) performed solidly in their first national indoor meet.”

Alves was the only Wildcat to run on the track for K-State over the weekend. The sophomore set a mark of 8.35 seconds in the women’s 60-meter hurdles. Her mark earned her second-team All-American honors in the event and is the first Wildcat since Akela Jones in 2016 to do so.

On Saturday, Shankar, Bright and freshman Rhianna Phipps all competed and earned All-American honors in the men’s and women’s triple jump events.

“I thought the ladies handled themselves very well in their first NCAA indoor meet,” Rovelto said. “The quality of competition is very high, and it takes time to reach a comfort level. [Saturday’s] triple jump event was TJ’s (Tejaswin Shankar) fifth of his life. He competed three times this year in indoors, once last year in indoors, and once five years ago in high school. He has come a long way in a short period of time.”

Shankar finished 11th in the men’s triple jump with a mark of 15.97 meters/52-4.75 earning him All-American honors in the event.

After his third-place finish in the men’s high jump on Friday, Shankar is now the first Wildcat in school history to earn All-American honors in two different events since Matas Silkauskas achieved the same feat in 2012.

“I was pretty happy with the triple jump,” Shankar said. “This was literally the third competition for the year and fifth of my life in this event. I only come from 12 strides, as I am still getting used to landing on one leg. So, being able to hover around 16 meters for the last two meets, I’m pretty excited with what’s in store for the future.”

Bright and Phipps both competed in the women’s triple jump as well, earning All-American honors in the event. Bright took home her second All-American award with her mark of 13.26 meters/43-6 in the women’s triple jump, earning her a tenth-place finish in the event.

“My first time competing at nationals was not what I expected, but I was overwhelmed living in my dream of being here,” Bright said. “Although I may not have performed to the best of my ability, I went out and gave it my all. I didn’t get to accomplish the goals I’ve set out for myself, but I must say, I’ve learned a lot from the experience, and now it’s back to the drawing board.

Phipps competed in her first-ever event at the indoor national championships during the women’s triple jump competition. With her mark of 13.18 meters/43-3 in the event, Phipps received the second All-American performance of the day for K-State as well as taking home 12th place in the event.

Bright and Phipps brought home the second and third All-American awards in the women’s triple jump for the first time since former Wildcat Shardia Lawrence did so in 2017 and 2019.

The K-State men’s and women’s teams collected a total of seven All-American honors over the weekend, taking home the most All-American accolades since the 2016 indoor meet.

K-State will prepare for the 2021 outdoor season this upcoming week in San Antonio, Texas, with the Roadrunner Invitational taking place on March 19-20.

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