K-State track sweeps Wildcat Invitational

By The Mercury

Staff reports

K-State Track and Field enjoyed a successful day at Ahearn Field House with both the men’s and women’s teams defeating visiting Oklahoma State and Tulsa in the Wildcat Invitational.

The Wildcats’ day was highlighted by 16 combined first-place finishes and several athletes hitting top-10 school marks throughout the meet.

Keeping with the theme of the season so far, the throws’ athletes for K-State once again had a strong day. Both Dani Winters and Ryan Hershberger continued their successful ways with each winning the shot put and setting personal bests in the process.

For Winters, her throw of 15.85m/52-00.00 shattered her previous career best of 15.17m/49-09.25 and put her at No.5 in K-State’s top-10. Hershberger followed Winters by easily defeating the competition by nearly three meters with a career-best throw of 18.46m/60-06-75 – good for seventh all-time.

In the weight throw, sophomore Sara Savatovic continued her march up the K-State top-10 with a mammoth throw of 20.09m/65-11.00.

Already leading the Big 12 after her throw in the Bill Easton Classic, of 19.92m/65-04.25, Savatovic eclipsed 20 meters for the first time in her career and put herself at fourth all-time in K-State history. She is now only one of 11 girls so far this season to throw over 20 meters in Division I.

Also excelling in the field events were seniors Erica Twiss and Jharyl Bowry. Already setting personal bests in the 60m hurdles, pentathlon and high jump this season, Twiss reached another career best, this time in the long jump with a mark of 5.94m/19-06.00.

She followed up that performance with another exceptional run in the 60m hurdles, taking first in a time of 8.41 seconds.

Bowry, in the long jump, had his best jump as a Wildcat yet at 7.64m/25-00.75 and narrowly missed his career-best mark in the event of 7.74m/25-04.75 when he was competing at Barton County Community College.

Also setting a personal best in the same event was Tyris Jefferson, who jumped 7.32m/24-00.25, marking the longest jump of his career in both indoor and outdoor long jump.

Perhaps the most entertaining event of the day was the men’s and women’s high jump. The Chinese national team competitors did not disappoint as Zheng Xingjuan set the meet record in the women’s high jump with a mark of 1.90m/6-02.75.

The 24-year-old native of China attempted to match her career best mark of 1.94m/6-04.25, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

On the men’s side, Zhang Guowei put on a show eclipsing the meet record mark set by Erik Kynard at last year’s Wildcat Invitational (2.26m/7-05.00) with a jump of 2.28m/7-05.75.

He would finish the day there though, as Kynard ran away with the event soon after. Tying Guowei at 2.28m, the former Wildcat All-American set the meet record again with a jump of 2.31m/7-07.00. He attempted to beat his career-best and K-State record mark of 2.33m/7-07.75 at 2.34m/07-08.00, but could not clear the bar in three tries.

Shifting to the track, the Wildcats swept the relays as well as had several individuals come out on top in the sprints and runs categories. Yet to lose a relay this season, the group of Twiss, Sonia Gaskin, Sarah Kolmer and Tia Gamble set yet another K-State home meet record, this time with a time of 3:43.40.

Beating a time of 3:44.89 set by Nebraska in 1997, the group 4x400 time is seventh-best in school history and the eighth-best mark in all of Division I.

Gamble and Gaskin, in particular, also had tremendous success individually this afternoon. Gamble, running in the 600 yard run for the first time this season, set a personal best as well as the eighth-best mark in school history with a time of 1:22.25.

Coach Cliff Rovelto was impressed by the sophomore’s performance.

“Tia really, really had a great meet,” Rovelto said. “A really good meet. You think back to last week, Sonia is running stride-for-stride with the NCAA Champion [Diamond Dixon] in the 600 at around 1:22 and today Tia runs the same time by herself.

“She ran extremely well.”

For Gaskin, the St. George, Barbados, native added another personal best performance to her résumé this season with a first-place performance in the 800 meter. Only a sophomore, Gaskin has now set K-State top-10 marks in the 600 yard run (seventh) and 800 meter (eighth).

On the men’s side, the 4x400 group of Jefferson, Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye, Kaneil Harrison and Christopher Campbell turned in yet another solid performance, winning the relay in a time of 3:17.83. Campbell also impressed individually, as he competed in the 600 yard run for the first time since his freshman year.

The junior sprinter finished second to Oklahoma State’s Tyler Payton (1:11.88) in the event, but finished less than a second behind him at 1:12.14.

With several athletes already hitting personal bests this early in the season, Rovelto reserved some optimism on if this would be a sign of greater performances to come, but said the training has been a major component to their success.

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