LUBBOCK, Texas — The Kansas State track and field team capped off its Big 12 Championship meet weekend on Sunday with the women finishing fifth and the men sixth on the Texas Tech campus.
K-State’s individual efforts were highlighted Devin Field’s Big 12 title in the triple jump, as well as several scoring performances.
The women’s fifth-place finish was their first time reaching the top five since 2008, while the 93 total points were the most since the 2002 group won the Big 12 title with a final tally of 121 points.
K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto was impressed with both the men’s and women’s teams — only six athletes out of the 33 that competed for the Wildcats failed to record scoring performances over the three-day meet.
“We had a really solid day,” Rovelto said. “The bottom line is that both teams scored more points than what I had projected on paper. What’s more important is sometimes you pick up points because other people stumble, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case this time. I think we picked up more points because a lot of people really stepped up.
“There were a lot of really, really great individual performances.”
Rovelto, in particular, discussed the impact that the combined events athletes on the women’s side in Joslyn Barnes, Sarah Kolmer, Merryl Mbeng and Erica Twiss have had on the team as a whole.
The foursome combined to score 32.25 points for the women.
“We have a lot of special kids, but the group of Erica, Sarah, Joslyn and Merryl — those four scored a ton of points this weekend,” Rovelto said. “They have scored a lot of points in the past couple years and it’s not like you’re talking about superstars coming out of high school. You’re talking about good kids who work extremely hard and all compete hard.
“That’s a special group. I know we have a lot of special kids, but in a lot of ways they are kind of the heart and soul of the team because they are willing to do whatever they have to do, whenever they have to do it to succeed.”
In addition to Field’s title in the triple jump, he also shined in the long jump event — finishing third.
Field dominating triple jump with a final wind-aided leap of 16.13m/52-11.00. The sophomore’s conference title was the first by a Wildcat men’s triple jumper since Stelios Kapsalis won the event in 2004.
Field’s winning mark came in his final jump of the evening, though he technically had the event wrapped up after jump No. 2.
The Desoto, Texas, native was the only jumper to eclipse 16 meters the entire event, as he jumped 16 meters or better in four of his six total jumps.
Second-place went to freshman Hayden McClain of Oklahoma, who finished with a mark of 15.84m/51-11.75.
Rovelto had plenty of praise for the sophomore’s showing.
“With Devin, he hasn’t been healthy,” Rovelto said. “For him to come in this meet and get third in the long jump and win the triple is pretty remarkable.”
Rovelto added that Field, who had primarily competed in the long jump his freshman year, may have his best performances ahead of him especially in the triple jump, likening him to former Wildcat Clifton Etheridge — a three-time All-American and five-time Big Eight Conference Champion.
“I really think Devin’s best event is the triple jump,” he said. “In a way, he reminds me a little bit of a guy we got when I first got to Kansas State in Clifton Etheridge, who was a good long jumper in high school like Devin.
“He never triple jumped until his sophomore year of college, ever, and in his first year he goes almost 53 feet. And I think Devin is similar to him, but even faster.
Field ended the meet accumulating a men’s team-high 16 total points — including his third-place finish in Sunday’s long jump. The scoring effort was the most by a Wildcat men’s athlete since Shadrack Kimeli tallied 20 points in 2001 in two events on the track.
Field’s total ranked him No. 3 all-time in K-State Big 12 performances.
Erica Twiss capped off her big weekend on Sunday with scoring performances in the 100- and 400-meter hurdles, as well as part of the 4x100 squad.
Already with a long jump title in hand, Twiss opened up her second day of action in the 4x100-meter relay with Tia’ Gamble, Jordan Matthews and Angela Hart. The foursome — running together for only the second time this season — took sixth in a time of 46.24 seconds.
In the individual events, Twiss — who had qualified for both hurdles finals Saturday night — took fourth place in the 100H. Clocking in at a wind-aided time of 13.20 seconds, Twiss’ effort was the best wind-aided time in K-State history, passing Kim Kilpatrick’s time of 13.32 seconds set at the 1989 Kansas Relays.
Notching five points to her already accumulated 10.75 points from the long jump and 4x100, Twiss followed up the school-record performance with a third-place showing in the 400 hurdles. Her time of 58.33 was a near personal best (58.20), as she held off Baylor’s Melissa Gonzalez in the final stretch of the race to secure another six points.
Twiss finished the day with 21.75 points, second to only Texas’ Morolake Akinosun’s 22.50 points for women’s high scorer of the meet.
Even without the accolade, the senior’s overall performance was one of the best in program history. Her final point tally was the most scored since Austra Skujyte notched 22.75 in 2002 in four events, as well as ranked Twiss fifth-best in school history.
“What Erica did in this meet was phenomenal,” Rovelto said. “For her to run what she did, wind aside, in the 100, win the long jump, take third in the 400 and leading off the 4x100 was great.
“And she probably could have run on the 4x400, but I don’t want kill her. But she could have and she probably would have won that award.”
Alyx Treasure and Rachel Proteau finished second and third in the high jump, respectively, for the Wildcats.
Both clearing the bar at 1.81m/5-11.25, Treasure and Proteau became the first teammates in K-State history to finish in the event’s top-three outdoors.
The shot for a conference title boiled down to Treasure, Proteau and now four-time outdoor champion Shanay Briscoe after each athlete cleared 1.76m/5-09.25.
Briscoe cleared the following height of 1.81m in her first try, while Treasure and Proteau cleared in their second and third, respectively. The missed bars were ultimately the difference as all three athletes each missed in their following three tries at 1.84m/6-00.50 and Briscoe won the title by virtue of least amount of failed attempts.
Battling blustery conditions on Fuller Track, Treasure nearly won the conference title on her final attempt the afternoon with only her leg clipping the bar in the final moments. Despite the close loss, Treasure made it back-to-back conference meets that she has finished second, while also becoming the first K-State women’s high jumper since Kaylene Wagner in 2007 to finish second in the event outdoors.
For Proteau, her final mark was a season-best, as well as the second-best mark by Wildcat high jumper this season. She was also the first freshman Wildcat women’s high jumper to score points at a conference meet since Treasure took fifth in 2012.
Kyle Wait and Tommy Brady Finish also scored for K-State, finishing second and eighth in the pole vault, respectively.
The first pair of K-State teammates to both score in the event outdoors in the Big 12 era.
For Wait, though he was unable to complete a pole vault title three-peat, he cleared a season-high bar of 5.44m/17-10.25. It was a solid meet for the senior, who missed only twice at 5.34m/17-06.25 and three more times at the winning height of 5.49m/18-00.00. Wait nearly cleared at 5.49m as well, clipping the bar in his first and third tries.
Brady, meanwhile, cleared the bar at 5.19m/17-00.25 — the first time in his career he has marked more than 17 feet. His effort was good enough for his first-career scoring performance in the event, as well as moved him No. 3 all-time in K-State history.
Laura Galvan finished sixth in the 5,000-meter run, finishing in 17:28.34 and notching three points for the women.
In relay action, the men took second and the women finished third, respectively. For the men, Christopher Campbell, Carlos Rodriguez, Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye and Tyris Jefferson nearly took home the conference title over first-place Baylor, finishing the race in a time of 3:07.02.
On the women’s side, Tia’ Gamble, Sonia Gaskin, Sarah Kolmer and Jordan Matthews clocked in at a time of 3:36.62, behind only Texas Tech and Baylor, who both recorded facility record times.
The 4x100 saw the men finish fifth, while the women placed sixth. The men’s squad, consisting of Rodriguez and Jefferson along with Magnus Scott, Jr. and Dane Steen, tallied four points, clocking in at 40.36 seconds.
For the women, Twiss and Angela Hart joined Gamble and Matthews to earn three points, finishing the relay in a time of 46.24 seconds.
Both Gamble and Gaskin had busy days on the track as well. Gamble took fifth in the 400-meter hurdles in 59.23 seconds, securing a scoring performance for the first time in her career. Gaskin, meanwhile, finished sixth in the 400 meters in 52.72 seconds.
Alyssa Kelly registered a scoring performance for the fourth consecutive conference meet in the triple jump, placing seventh.
Zack Riley tallied two points for the K-State men in the high jump, finishing seventh. His final cleared height of 2.11m/6-11.00 tied him with four other jumpers with Riley finishing last out of the bunch due to highest amount of missed attempts.
And lastly on the track, Mary Frances Donnelly took seventh in the women’s 1,500-meter run. Kyle Hanson was fifth in the 800 meters.
The Wildcats will now shift their attention to the NCAA West Regional Preliminary Rounds, scheduled to start in less than two weeks.