Kansas State head track and field coach Cliff Rovelto announced the signing of six recruits on Wednesday, saying he thinks this group will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact.
“I think this is probably as good of a group we have signed on the initial signing period right off the bat in my time here,” Rovelto said. “We have never signed this many quality athletes on the initial date.
“The couple years when our recruiting class was ranked in the top five by Track & Field News, those classes are not as good as this class. So, I think both the men’s and women’s classes will be ranked fairly high.”
The women’s team signed three recruits with some of the nation’s best talent headed to Manhattan.
Tia Gamble is a sprinter from the Dallas, Texas area where she helped DeSoto High School to a state championship her junior year. She currently ranks sixth in the nation and first in the state of Texas in the 400-meters indoors. Last summer, Gamble won the 400-meter hurdles at the USATF Junior Championship. She then went on to be a finalist in the event at the Junior Pan Am Games. She also ran a leg of the 4x400 relay team at DeSoto in 2011 that ran the fastest time in the nation at the high school level.
With the success of one Pennsylvania native on the team in Ryann Krais, the Wildcats have signed another from the state in Jordan Mathews. She is a three-time medalist at the state championship meet, including a victory in the long jump and runner-up finish in the 400 meters. Mathews has a personal-best long jump of 19-07.50 and has been ranked No. 1 in Pennsylvania the last two years.
Jasmine Gibbs is another sprinter and long jumper the Wildcats have signed from California. Gibbs finished fifth in the long jump and 100 meters at last year’s state championship. She has a personal best mark of 19-9.00 in the long jump, which ranked 21st in the country among high school athletes last season.
“The gals are all very versatile,” Rovelto said. “All three are not contributing in only one event. They will be able to contribute in multiple events for us.”
The men’s team also signed a number of jumpers to the squad and one combined events specialist as the Wildcats add four to the recruiting class.
Tyris Jefferson signed with K-State out of Texas where he was ranked No. 6 in the state in the long jump in 2011 and is the highest ranked senior entering the 2012 season. He finished fourth at the USATF Junior National Championship and AAU Junior Olympics in the long jump last summer. In 2010, he finished seventh at the USATF Junior meet. He has a best just of 24-02.25 long jump and also has fast times in the 200 meters and 400 meters.
Jharyl Bowry is another jumper from Canada where he has seen a good amount of success in the long jump as well. In 2011, he was ranked No. 1 outdoors at the junior college level and placed second at the indoor national championship meet. He then finished fourth outdoors. Bowry also reached the finals in the 2010 Canadian National Championship and was a finalist at the 2009 Junior Pan Am Games.
Zack Riley is the third jumper in the signing class for the men and is the defending NJCCAA champion in the high jump out of Renn Lake Community College in Illinois. He has a personal best clearance of 7-5.00 and also has a long jump mark of 23-5.00. In high school he helped Herrin High School in Illinois win a state championship. He twice claimed state titles in the high jump and long jump.
“Jharyl will primarily be a long jumper, and Tyris is very versatile and could possibly be a decathlete,” Rovelto said. “Domestically, Zack Riley has the highest jump of anybody that is recruitable. He’s been pretty consistent at the 7-2.00 range and has a personal best of 7-5.00.”
Rovelto said he and his staff anticipate signing a few more athletes before the signing period ends in two weeks. The current Wildcats will be in action this weekend with a small group headed to the New Mexico Collegiate Classic and another group competing at the Sevigne Husker Invitational.