The No. 26 Kansas State women took a four-point lead into the final event of the Texas Invitational and never looked back as they went on to win their first meet of the 2017 season on the back of four-first place finishes and numerous top-five finishes over the course of the two-day meet.
The women finished the meet with 150 total points in their victory, while the No. 50 Wildcat men closed out the competition with 76 points to earn fourth place. Texas won the men’s side of the competition with a final score of 135 points.
“The ladies’ victory is a reflection that we have some pretty good kids,” K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said. “The teams in this meet were very good. I am sure everyone just did what their plan was this weekend and did not make any concerted effort to win. But again, there were some good teams with good athletes competing this weekend, and we were able to come out on top.”
Newcomer Jess St. John, competing in just her second meet as a Wildcat, used a clutch performance in the final event of the day to preserve the women’s victory. Her personal-best mark of 15.53m/50-11.50 in the shot put not only solidified a third-place finish in the event, but moved her to fifth place on the program’s all-time list.
K-State’s throwers continued its spectacular weekend on Saturday after breaking two school records on Friday. Sophomore Shadae Lawrence continued to make her mark as one of the top discus throwers in Division I, recording the Wildcats’ lone first-place finish of the day in the event with a season-best hurl of 59.61m/195-07. Lawrence, who never trailed in the competition, recorded her winning mark on her fifth attempt to preserve a five-meter victory.
Fellow sophomore Brett Neelly got things started in the field for the men, recording a personal-best toss in the discus throw with a mark of 53.77m/176-05 to finish in second place. Neelly came back later in the day and used a season-best mark of 17.92m/58-09.50 to earn his first victory of the season in the event.
The Wildcats’ female long jumpers all recorded personal bests and finished in the top 10 in the event. Newcomer Wurrie Njadoe paced the group, leaping 6.36m/20-10.50 in her first collegiate long jump to finish in second place. Senior Zanri Van der Merwe finished with a mark of 6.20m/20-04.25 to win third place. Sophomore Claudette Allen was the third Wildcat to eclipse the six-meter mark in the event with a leap of 6.09m/19-11.75 to take sixth place, while freshman Ariel Okorie took eighth place with a final mark of 5.97m/19- 07. High jumper Christoff Bryan missed just one time on the first five bars of his progression before three misses at 2.21m/7-03 and claimed first place with a final mark of 2.18m/7-01.75. Junior Rhizlane Siba cleared 1.78m/5-10 for third place. On the track, K-State saw four of its distance runners post solid results. Junior Lukas Koch finished runner-up in the 1500-meter run with a time of 3:50.28, followed by senior Kain Ellis, whose personal-best time of 3:50.80 was good for third place. Freshman Travis Hodge recorded a personal best in the 800-meter run, recording a time of 1:52.60 to finish in seventh place.
In the women’s 800-meter run, seniors Marija Stambolic and Paige Stratioti each recorded a pair of top-five finishes, taking in second place and fourth place with times of 2:10.18 and 2:11.80, respectively.
Junior A’Keyla Mitchell and sophomore Ranae McKenzie posted the team’s top finishes in the sprints, as Mitchell finished in fourth place with a time of 23.39 and McKenzie finished in sixth place with a personal-best 23.60 in the 400-meter dash. Njadoe also added a strong performance in the 100-meter dash, taking sixth place with a wind-aided mark of 11.50 (2.6), while junior Terrell Smith’s wind-aided mark of 20.98 (2.8) in the men’s 200-meter dash was the men’s best finish in the sprints. K-State’s next meet is the John McDonnell Invitational, hosted by the University of Arkansas on April 21-22 at John McDonnell Field.