Cats close out final day of NCAA Prelims

By The Mercury

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Kansas State track and field team wrapped up a solid effort at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday with five more Wildcats earning trips to Eugene, Ore.

Three of the four qualifications came from the field, as Devin Field in the triple jump, Sara Savatovic in the hammer throw and Alyx Treasure in the high jump nabbed NCAA bids.

On the track, the women’s 4x400 of Sonia Gaskin, Tia’ Gamble, Merryl Mbeng and Sarah Kolmer made it a total of 13 bids by 14 athletes for K-State in the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 11-14.

K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said the three-day meet, as a whole, could not have gone much better for the Wildcats.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot more that we could have done,” Rovelto said. “I mean, there are always more possibilities, but you’re not going to bat a thousand.

“The people that probably had the best opportunity of scoring (at the NCAAs) moved on. It doesn’t mean that the athletes who didn’t make it don’t belong there, but, overall, we did well.”

Field secured an NCAA berth in the men’s triple jump with a personal best leap of 16.30m/53-05.75 in his fifth and final attempt of the evening to finish first overall. His latest effort moved him to sixth-best in school history, as the sophomore is the first Wildcat to earn a trip to NCAA Outdoors in the triple jump since Stelios Kapsalis in 2006.

Including his qualification in the long jump, Field will also be the first Wildcat to earn All-America recognition in both the long jump and triple jump since Kenny Harrison in 1986.

The women’s 4x400 —  Gamble, Gaskin, Mbeng and Kolmer — put in an exceptional performance for the Wildcats to punch their ticket to Eugene. The foursome clocked in at 3:34.12 to place 10th-overall in an effort that saw Gaskin and Gamble combine to run the first two legs in 1:45.60, while Mbeng and Kolmer finished the last 800 meters in splits of 54.38 and 54.15, respectively.

The group of Gaskin, Gamble, Mbeng and Kolmer will be the first Wildcat 4x400 squad to compete at NCAA Outdoors since Lisi Maurer, Shunte Thomas, Donniece Parrish and Morgan Bonds represented K-State at the 2006 Championships.

Savatovic kicked off Saturday’s action in a big way by finishng fifth in the hammer throw. The sophomore punched her ticket to Eugene on her third throw of the day — 61.21m/200-10. She was one of only five throwers to register a throw 200 feet or more, as well as the lone underclassmen to move onto the national championship.

Along with Savatovic qualifying for NCAAs for the first time in her career, she will be the first Wildcat women’s hammer thrower to compete on the national stage since Loren Groves in 2009.

Treasure clinched her second career trip to NCAAs, and first outdoors, placing first overall with a final leap of 1.77m/5-09.75.

The junior high jumper tied with Texas’ Shanay Briscoe and Arkansas’ Kirsten Hesseltine for the top spot, as the trio were the only athletes to clear each bar on their first attempt. Competition was halted after the qualifying top-12 was decided at 1.77m.

Treasure will be the first Wildcat women’s high jumper to appear on the outdoor national stage since Kaylene Wagner in 2007. The 2007 outdoor season is also the last time K-State has had both a men’s and women’s high jumper competing at the national championship – Wagner, Kyle Lancaster and Scott Sellers.

Erica Twiss closed out a busy week of competition in the 100-meter hurdles final, finishing the event 19th overall in a time of 13.68 seconds.

In the women’s high jump, Joslyn Barnes and Rachel Proteau competed alongside Treasure, finishing tied for 11th and 31st, respectively.

For Proteau, she was one of only five freshmen to compete in the high jump, clearing 1.67m before bowing out at 1.72m.

The men’s 4x400 squad of Christopher Campbell, Carlos Rodriguez, Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye and Tyris Jefferson took 20th overall, clocking in at 3:10.07.

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