WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!
It came down to nearly the last event of the day, but Kansas State women’s track and field team won the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Lawrence. The Wildcats tallied a total of 133 points to beat out Texas for the title. This is Kansas State’s first women’s track title in 15 years.
The afternoon began with Kansas State holding onto a narrow 67-43 lead over Oklahoma. Then the women’s high jump happened. Nina Schultz cleared 1.82m on her first try, and won the event when all the others failed to match her feat. Teammate Rhizlane Siba finished third, while Shanae McKenzie and Morgan Coffman finished 5th and 7th respectively. As befits #HighJumpU, Kansas State’s dominance in the event was worth 22 points, and helped extend the Wildcats’ lead.
Next up, Shadae Lawrence took the field for the discus throw. She fouled on her first and third attempts, but on the fourth try, she threw for a mighty 62.59m. Nobody else even came close. Her mark is not only the new Big 12 record, a new national record in her native Jamaica, and the 15th best distance in the world this year, but is also among the top 10 collegiate marks of all time.
Her sister Shardia Lawrence nearly equaled the feat in the triple jump. She took the lead on her second jump of 13.79m and held on to it through the next three attempts. But on the sixth and final attempt, she was pipped by Iowa State’s Jhoanmy Luque who took first place with a leap of 13.80m. Lawrence finished in second place, and teammate Konstantina Romaiou joined her on the podium in seventh place.
A second place finish in the 4x100 relay by the team of Akia Guerrier, A’Keyla Mitchell, Ranae McKenzie, and Claudette Allen, helped Kansas State stay in the lead over Oklahoma 117-76. But with the rest of the sprint events coming up, and Kansas State not even qualifying for the 100m or 400m finals, things were about to get a bit tricky.
Texas, home to the conference’s best sprinters, made some huge gains to storm into second place, but a third place finish by Ranae McKenzie in the 400m hurdles helped the Wildcats gain some ground, and A’Keyla Mitchell won points for a fifth place finish in the 200m event.
Kansas State was now in great position for its first title in more than a decade. Leading Texas 130-118.5, all the Wildcats needed was to do better than Texas in the 5000m. That event was a wash, with neither team gaining points. But with only the 4x400 to go, the Wildcats had clinched.
Texas would go on to win the 4x400m relay to close the gap, but the Wildcats were the big winners of the day.
And now it’s time to PARTY!