Stop press edit: The 4x100 squad finished fourth in the preliminary heat, and has qualified for the finals on Saturday. Go Cats!
On May 27 in Austin, Texas, the Kansas State women’s 4x100 relay team—Akia Guerrier, A’Keyla Mitchell, Ranae McKenzie, and Wurrie Njadoe—made history. The four sprinters set a new school record, and also became the first Kansas State relay squad to ever qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Akia Guerrier is a freshman from Turks and Caicos, and is the national record holder there in the 100m, 200m, and 400m events. In 2015, she was voted Female Athlete of the Year, and participated in the IAAF World Youth Games. Most recently, she was part of the bronze medal 4x100 relay team for Turks and Caicos in the 2017 CARIFTA Games.
At Kansas State, Guerrier has performed consistently in both the 200m individual race as well as in the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams. In her best performances of the year, she took home a silver medal in the 200m at the Ward Haylett Invite earlier this spring.
Her teammate, A’Keyla Mitchell, is from much closer to home. The junior sprinter is from Corpus Christi, and in high school, she was a four-time state champion in the 200m event and a two-time state champion in the 100m event. Coming to Kansas State as the top-ranked 200m sprinter in Texas, Mitchell knew she’d have to work hard. As she put it, she "wakes up at the butt crack of dawn to train, goes to class, trains again, rehabs, homework, sleep(s).”
That dedication to hard work paid off almost instantly. In her first season in Manhattan, Mitchell burst out of the blocks in her very first collegiate meet, setting a new school record in the 60m dash (7.4s) and contributing to a win in the 4x400 relay. In her next meet, she shattered a 25-year old school record in the 200m with a sprint of 23.95s. For her efforts, she was named Big 12 Outstanding Freshman of the Year.
Mitchell has continued to improve and contribute heavily to Kansas State’s recent sprint successes. In her sophomore indoor season, she was named a first team All-American and also broke her own 60m dash record. During the outdoor season, she again set the school record in the 200m, and finished 20th at the West Preliminaries in the event.
Did you know that Kansas State’s track and field program has not one, not two, but three sets of twins? Jamaican sprinter Ranae McKenzie and her identical twin Shanae (high jump) came to Manhattan a few months apart because they wanted to train with Cliff Rovelto, but also because they couldn’t stand to be separated.
But Ranae has been top sister so far at Kansas State. After a consistent freshman season, where she performed well in the 200m and 400m and contributed to meet wins in the 4x400 relay, she broke the school record in the 400H at the West Preliminaries last season with a sprint of 57.94s. It wasn’t good enough for nationals last year, but McKenzie had announced her arrival.
It’s in her second season in purple that McKenzie has really blossomed. In the indoor season, she set new school records in the 60H (8.6s) and in the 300m event (38.75s) and in March of this year, she also set a new school record in the 200m race (23.61s).
In addition to the 4x100 relay, McKenzie has also qualified for the 400H race in Eugene. She finished fourth in the West preliminary finals, but her time was good enough for a spot at nationals.
A freshman at Kansas State, Wurrie Njadoe is from Shoreline, just north of Seattle. She left her native Gambia at the young age of 9 to come to the United States and live with her father, a former Gambian politician. He noticed her athletic talent and moved his family to Washington, where he works three jobs to provide for his family.
His hard work has inspired Njadoe to work just as hard at sports. A track and basketball star, she gave up hoops to focus on track as a junior in high school. The result? She became a seven-time state champion who set records in the 100m, 200m, long jump, and high jump events. Competing in her first Junior Olympics last summer, Njadoe won the long jump, placed second in the 100m, and third in the 200m (23.87s).
Success also paved the way for a more significant achievement. She was able to get a full scholarship at Kansas State, which has helped pay for an education she could not otherwise afford.
In her freshman year in Manhattan, Njadoe has gone from strength to strength. She set an indoor record in the 60H and 200m events earlier this year. She also managed a school record leap in the long jump (6.55m) on her way to a second place finish at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships.
In Eugene, in addition to the 4x100 relay, Njadoe also qualified for the long jump nationals after a second place finish at the West Preliminaries. She’ll be jumping later tonight in the finals.