Personal bests, new school record highlights track and field weekend in Nebraska

Pole Vaulter Edgaras Benkunskas vaults at the Track & Field Steve Miller Open in Ahearn Field House on Feb. 22, 2020. (Archive photo by Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

Several athletes earned some hardware over the weekend as Kansas State track and field competed at the 46th annual Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Twenty-one top-five finishes were recorded for the Wildcats over the weekend, in what Cliff Rovelto, director of track and field and cross country, told K-State Athletics was a good team effort.

“Honestly, I thought today was one of our better days our team has had in a while,” Rovelto said. “Our middle distance and distance group ran well, our long sprinters ran well, as well as our sprinters. Individually, there were some really fine performances.”

The weekend got off to a good start as K-State earned two gold medals on the first day of competition. Competing unattached was sophomore Monique Hardy, who earned first place in the weight throw with a launch of 21.24m/69-8.25. Senior Alex Ferguson also clinched a gold medal in the women’s 600-meters, clocking in at 1:31.51 — nearly two seconds faster than the second-place finisher, K-State super-senior Macy Heinz.

Friday also brought two fourth-place finishes for K-State as junior Katie Kasunic set her new personal best in the 5000-meter run at 18:01.79. Senior Tommi Hintnaus recorded a top finish in the pole vault, tying for fourth place with a vault of 3.82/12-6.25.

Day two of the meet saw more of the same, as 16 Wildcats finished in the top five. Highlighting those performances was junior Hadley Splechter, who set the new school record in the 3,000-meter with a time of 8:05.51, earning him a second-place finish. The former school record was set in 1994 by Frances O’Neil in the same meet, with a finish of 8:06.09.

The Wildcats had two other top finishers in the 3,000-meter invite session. Junior Cooper Schroeder finished in third place, running his personal best time of 8:11.69 and moving him into fifth place on the all-time in school history. Junior Kerby Depenbusch rounded out the event with an eighth-place finish, coming in at a time of 8:25.44.

Four more gold medals were on tap for Saturday — all four on the lady’s side. Junior and 2020 Olympian Shalysa Wray finished as the overall champion in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.45.

Senior Kassidy Johnson earned the win in the 800-meter run invite session with a time of 2:05.57, coming in just three seconds ahead of her teammate, junior Sydney Burton, who finished in third place. Burton ran her personal best in the event clocking in at 2:09.51.

In the women’s mile run invite session, junior Hannah Stewart came in first place, marking her new personal record at 4:47.76.

Finally, the women’s 4×400 meter relay team consisting of O’Shalia Johnson, Shalysa Wray, Alex Ferguson and Macy Heinz finished in first place with a time of 3:41.34.

Other top finishers on the ladies’ side included a silver medal finish for junior Vitoria Sena Batista Alves in the 60-meter hurdles. Batista Alves clocked in at 8.43, less than .2 seconds behind Oklahoma’s Camri Austin.

Sophomore Cailan Steward earned a third-place finish in the 5,000-meter with a time of 10:15.27, a new personal best for her.

Several personal bests were recorded for the men as they ground their way through Saturday. In the 3000-meter, freshman Thomas Hazen set his new personal best and earned a second-place finish with a time of 8:24.26. Just steps behind Hazen was senior Stephen Kielhofner, who finished with a time of 8:25.23, earning him third-place and a new personal best.

Two teammates also pushed each other in the 800-meter race, finishing less than .1 seconds apart from each other. Sophomore Jack Vincent ran his way to a fourth-place finish with a time of 1:54.52, and sophomore Will Carroll finished in fifth place marking his time at 1:54.61 — both guys recording their personal bests.

Freshman Alex Gutierrez also recorded his personal best in the men’s mile run. Gutierrez placed fifth among 18 with a time of 4:14.75.

In the men’s mile invite session, junior Mike Rohlinger finished in fifth place with a time of 4:08.77, nearly seven seconds better than his previous personal best.

Rounding out the action was a second-place finish in the men’s 4×400 meter relay. The team made up of Tim Lambert, Kyle Gale, Antonio Hanson and Sean Wilson finished just behind Oklahoma with a time of 3:10.23.

The Wildcats are back on the track Feb. 11-12 in Ames, Iowa, for the Iowa State Classic.