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K-State ready for track championship

By The Mercury

The Kansas State track and field team will close out its 2014 campaign in Eugene, Ore., at the NCAA Division-I Outdoor Track and Field Championships — which began this morning and runs through Saturday.

In all, the Wildcats enter the meet with 13 total entries, seven for the men and six for the women — the most since 2007 when K-State also had 13 entries.

K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said he expects a strong effort from both the men and women squads, which enter the final meet of the year ranked No. 18 and 24, respectively, in the latest USTFCCCA Division-I rankings — the first time both groups have been ranked in the Top 25 at the same time since 2011.

“The way I look at it, when you get to this stage, and it’s virtually impossible to predict where we’ll end up, is the number of scoring opportunities we have here and what are our best shots (in placing),” Rovelto said. “And I think if we were to max out, and I emphasize max out, everything we are capable of doing, then I think both teams could be in the Top 20, Top 15.

“For us, in our situation and with our program, if we can come into a national meet every year with a shot of doing that, then that’s pretty good for us. And I feel good about us being able to accomplish that this week.”

The Wildcats traveled to Eugene with one of the more well-rounded teams in the country, as K-State is only one of 15 schools to have both its men’s and women’s squads in the national Top 25. In fact, the Big 12, as a whole, has four of those 15 teams with only the SEC owning more at seven.

For the men, their seven scoring opportunities rank 12th out of the 145 schools set to compete this week, as they will look to continue a stretch that has seen them place in the Top 25 the past two national meets.

The men’s entries include Devin Field (long Jump / triple Jump), Ivan Hartung (javelin), Ryan Hershberger (shot put), Devin Dick (decathlon), Reinis Kregers (decathlon), and Zack Riley (high jump).

On the women’s side, their six entries are 19th out of 139 women’s squads. They will look to record a scoring performance for the first time since 2011 — also the last time both the K-State men and women recorded Top-20 finishes.

The women’s entries include Sonia Gaskin (800 meters / 4x400), Alyx Treasure (high jump), Erica Twiss (long jump), Sara Savatovic (hammer throw), Danie Plank (javelin), Tia’ Gamble (4x400), Merryl Mbeng (4x400) and Sarah Kolmer (4x400).

Rovelto said that he and the coaches aim to field both competitive men’s and women’s teams each year, but it is not an easy task to accomplish.

“It’s kind of difficult, and history has borne this out, for both teams to be good at the same time,” Rovelto said. “Part of that is as soon as one begins to outshine the other, the focus can shift and you see that happen a lot. For us, historically, we’ve never had one good and one lousy, but there certainly has been a difference between one and the other. Now you’re looking at teams that are almost identically ranked, have very similar numbers and that’s hard to do.

“So I think it has been a very good outdoor season, regardless of what happens here, but I do think we have an opportunity to do some good stuff here.”

Action was set to get started late Wednesday morning with the men’s decathlon 100-meter dash.

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