Jones, Winters earn national titles in track and field at NCAA Indoor Championships 

K-State Athletics Communications

Akela Jones and Dani Winters are NCAA champions. (Graphic: K-State Athletics Communications)

Kansas State University saw two student-athletes bring home individual national titles on the final day of competition at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships at the Birmingham CrossPlex in March. 

Seniors Akela Jones and Dani Winters each won their first individual indoor national titles of their careers. Jones won the high jump title with a mark of 1.87/6-01.50, while Winters recorded a throw of 17.97m/58-11.50 to win shot put. It is the first time the Wildcats have had two athletes win titles in the same meet. 

Overall, the sixth-ranked women finished the competition in eighth place with a total score of 26 points, while the men finished the meet tied for 40th place with 5.50 points. 

“There were a number of tremendous things that happened today,” head coach Cliff Rovelto said. “Dani and Akela being national champs is phenomenal. I don’t know when it is has ever happened when we have two in one meet. Kim [Williamson] also had a good meet to finish third to go with Christoff Bryan’s third-place finish. A’Keyla Mitchell made the final in the 200 meter dash for the second year in a row and finished in eighth place, which is also very impressive.” 

Jones won the high jump title with a mark of 1.87m/6-01.50, tying her third-best mark of the season. The title was her first indoor national championship of her career, and her efforts earned her first team All-American honors in high jump. 

This title marks the second NCAA title of her career. She won her first title at last season’s outdoor championships, taking home the heptathlon trophy. Jones also was recognized for her outstanding 2016 indoor season as the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Co-National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, along with Georgia junior Kendell Williams.

At the 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships, Winters led all competitors in shot put after the first three rounds, recording a throw of 17.52m/57-05.75 in the third round. She steadily improved on that mark until she recorded her winning throw of 17.97/58-11.50 in the fifth round, breaking her previous best mark of 17.63m/57-10.25. She also earned first team All-American honors. 

“It really has not sunk in yet,” throws coach Greg Watson said of Winters’ performance. “She has worked and she always competes very well when we are in big meet situations. Today that was good enough for the win. She put in the work for it and was a deserved result.”

Junior high jumper Kimberly Williamson also earned first team All-American honors in the high jump, finishing tied for third place with a jump of 1.84m/6-00.50. Sophomore A’Keyla Mitchell closed out the competition for the Wildcats, running a time of 23.31 to finish in eighth place. It was her third-best time of the season and earned her first team All-American honors in the event. 

The Wildcats now turn their attention to the 2016 outdoor season, which began March 18 at the UTSA Invitational in San Antonio, Texas. 

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