Track and Field completes final tune-up before Big 12 Indoor Championships

Junior Jaybe Shufelberger takes the curve en route to her first-place finish in the women's one-mile at the Steve Miller Invitational in Manhattan on Feb. 19, 2022. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State track and field team had its final meet before heading into the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships, and the Wildcats performed at a championship level.

The Wildcats took advantage of being at home after three straight weeks of meets on the road as the team competed in the Steve Miller Invitational. They saw 15 first-place finishes out of just 21 events over the weekend.

“We had a handful of personal-bests and first-places: that’s good to have,” Cliff Rovelto, director of track and field and cross country, said to K-State Athletics. “You want people performing at their best at the end of the season: that is a good thing. A lot of people that competed today, this will be the culminating meet of their indoor season. For them, it was a bigger deal than some might think. We also had some good performances by people that will be competing next week.”

Junior Kassidy Johnson earned more than just a first-place finish over the weekend, setting the new Ahearn Field House and Steve Miller Invitational record in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:06.51.

For Johnson, it was just another day. Through the eight meets that the team has competed in, Johnson has earned five gold medals in personal events, breaking three meet records. She has run to first place in the 1,000 meters at the KU-KSU-WSU Triangular, women’s one-mile run at the Deloss Dodds Invitational, Frank Sevigne Husker Invite 800-meter run, Iowa State Classic 800-meter and the Steve Miller 800-meter run.

Other long-distance runners reported first-place finishers, including a first-place finish in the 3,000-meter from junior Katie Kasunic with a time of 10:32.84. On the men’s side, junior Jack Moore cashed in with a time of 8:42.29, earning first place. Junior Jaybe Shufelberger also earned her first-place finish, running the one-mile run in 5:02.58. Competing unattached, super-senior Noah Stevenson pocketed first place in the men’s mile run with a time of 4:09.16, a new personal best.

In the mid-distance races, K-State secured three top finishes. Junior Kyle Johnston found his stride in the 1,000-meter, finishing with a time of 2:26.95 — good enough for the gold. In the 800-meter run, Kassidy Johnson secured first for the ladies, and on the men’s side, junior Hadley Splechter clocked in at 1:53.80, earning his crown as well.

Hurdlers also brought home some hardware. Junior Donovan Turner finished on top in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.10. For the ladies, Urte Bacianskaite glided her way to the win in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 9.18.

The hurdles were removed before sophomore Nathan Hassed set up in the starting blocks and sprinted down the straight-away. Hassed finished the 60-meter run in just 7.04 seconds, earning his first gold medal of the year.

Taking a lap around the track and clinching herself a first-place finish was junior Kindel Nordhus, who clocked in at 1:01.50 in the 400-meter. In the 600-yard, sophomore Jessica Caraway finished in first place with a time of 1:32.96. For the men, Will Carroll followed suit, earning first place with a time of 1:17.22.

The field events saw first-place finishes from senior Tommi Hintnaus in the pole vault, clearing 4.05m/13-3.50. A top-finisher was recorded for the men’s pole vault as well — freshman Carl af Forselles cleared 5.00m/16-4.75, earning first. Super-senior Kyle Alcine cleared the high jump bar at 2.10m/6-10.75. Competing unattached, sophomore Monique Hardy threw a first-place mark in the women’s weight throw with 22.71m/74-6.25.

Second-place finishers over the weekend included Reagan Hukill (pole vault, 3.60/11-9.75), sophomore Lacey Pavlak (weight throw, 17.81m/58-5.25), junior Cailan Steward (mile run, 5:10.26), sophomore Madelyn McCabe (60-meter hurdles, 9.26), freshman Thomas Hazen (mile run, 4:18.04), sophomore Jesse Pinkley (pole vault, 4.75m/15-7), sophomore Grace Thompson (shot put, 14.01m/45-11.75), senior Alex Ferguson (800-meter, 2:09.22), junior Gabriel Louw (400-meter, 51.95), sophomore Jack Vincent (1,000 meters 2.:28.03) and junior Helen Giefer (3,000-meter, 10:35.57).

The Wildcats travel back to Ames, Iowa, for the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday, Feb. 25, and Saturday, Feb. 26. Events will commence at 10 a.m. on Friday with the 60-meter hurdles of the women’s pentathlon and 11 a.m. on Saturday with the 60-meter hurdles of the men’s heptathlon.