Track and field breaks records at NCAA Championship

K-State Athletics Communications 

Akela Jones appears at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. She became Kansas State University's first women's athlete to win an NCAA championship since 2011 as she took the heptathlon title after scoring a K-State-record 6,371 points. (Photo: K-State Athletics Communications)

K-State track and field closed the 2015 outdoor season in style with a number of strong finishes at this year's NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, taking place in June at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Both school and national records were broken by the Wildcats as the women's team finished in a tie for ninth overall — the first top-10 finish for the 'Cats since 2002. 

"Placing in the top 10 is quite an accomplishment for our program," K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said. "Even more so when you look at the other programs and coaching staffs that ended up in the top 10 — it's very humbling." 

K-State's time in Eugene was highlighted by Wildcat junior Akela Jones. Jones was named Women's National Field Athlete of the Year by the USTFCCCA. She became K-State's first women's athlete to win an NCAA championship since 2011 as she took the heptathlon title after scoring a K-State-record 6,371 points. Her total broke former Wildcat Austra Skujyte's previous school record of 6,275 points set in 2002. 

"I'm always trying to break some record, create some history," said Jones after winning the heptathlon title. "That's what I do. I want to leave a legacy. That's all I come to do when I step on the track."

During the first day of the heptathlon, Jones broke a 30-year-old NCAA record after tallying 4,023 points over the first four events. She set the collegiate record for a day one point total, besting the previous record set by three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee of 3,942 points in 1985. 

Jones opened the heptathlon running the 100-meter hurdles in a school-record 13.10 seconds before going six-for-six in the high jump, finishing at 1.84m/6-00.50. She was the lone athlete not to miss a bar at a cleared height and moved up to No. 2 in school history in the heptathlon high jump. She had record-setting performances in six of the heptathlon's seven events and became just the sixth Wildcat women's athlete to win an NCAA outdoor title. 

Along with her history-making heptathlon performance, Jones also earned All-America honors after going six-for-six in the high jump before missing three tries at 1.87m/6-01.50. She finished the event in fourth place. 

Kim Williamson also competed in the high jump, and, after clearing a career-best 1.90m/6-02.75, she battled her way to a second-place finish, just missing out on the national title in three tries at 1.93m/6-04.25. A sophomore from Frankfield, Jamaica, Williamson transferred to K-State after spending one season at Central Arizona College. 

"Kim jumped very well," Rovelto said. "She's been a great competitor all year and will only continue to get better over the coming years as she comes to understand training more and continues to learn more about the event."

Adding to the First Team All-America honors for the Wildcats was junior Dani Winters, who finished fourth in the shot put. The reigning indoor and outdoor Big 12 Champion finished with a 17.64m/57-10.50 on her sixth and final throw of the day as she became the first Wildcat women's thrower to finish in the top five in the outdoor event since 2002. 

Along with K-State's four All-America honors, the 'Cats also had solid finishes from other athletes. Senior Alyx Treasure capped off her Wildcat career with a 12th-place finish (1.77m/5-09.25) in the high jump, junior Alyssa Kelly placed 22nd in the triple jump (12.29m/40-04w), freshman A'Keyla Mitchell nabbed a 16th-place finish in the 200-meter dash (23.12 seconds) and junior Tia Gamble placed 21st in the 400 Hurdles (59.29). 

In the women's 4x400, junior Sonja Gaskin, senior Sarah Kolmer, Gamble and Mitchell finished 17th after clocking a time of 3 minutes, 36.62 seconds.

On the men's side, four competitors represented K-State, led by junior Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye, who finished 11th in the long jump after recording a leap of 7.69m/25-02.75w, while freshman Terrell Smith placed 21st in the 200-meter dash after clocking 20.88 seconds.

The high jump duo of Nate Gipson and Christoff Bryan placed 18th and 23rd, respectively, as Gipson jumped 2.12m/6-11.50 and Bryan finished at 6-09.75. 

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