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Big 12 Track Championships: K-State men, women in lead

Solid podium finishes put Wildcats on top for the day.

Track and Field: NCAA Indoor Championships Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This is the most important takeaway from Day 2 of the 2018 Big 12 Outdoor Track Championships:

That’s right. Both Kansas State teams are currently in the lead after two days of competition This was perhaps expected for the women’s team, especially after last year’s Big 12 title, but the men’s team’s performance has been a pleasant surprise so far.

Ironically enough, this happened on a day when no Kansas State athlete actually took gold. But several Wildcats secured podium finishes on the day, and scoring performances in various events helped put both teams on top of the standings.

Aaron Booth took silver in the decathlon partly due to first place finishes in the discus and 1500m events. His 7,508 points was a personal best, and also helped him earn his first ever podium finish in Big 12 competition. The sophomore was joined on the podium by teammates Simone Fassina (5th), Max Estill (6th), and freshman Antuane Dennard (7th). All in all, the decathletes combined for 17 of the 65 points the men have earned so far.

Mitch Dixon had finished second in the hammer throw on Day 1 to open the scoring, and on Day 2, Brett Neelly equaled the feat in the shot put to help add another eight points to the total. Later in the day, Jullane Walker and Tom Pyle set huge personal best marks to end up sixth and seventh in the long jump, both adding points in the process.

As befits #HighJumpU, Kansas State put two athletes on the podium. Freshman Tejaswin Shankar finished third with a jump of 2.19m, and teammates NaTron Gipson and Miles Bearden finished fifth and 10th respectively.

Finally, Colton Donohue wrapped up the scoring for the men with a solid fifth place finish in the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 9:23:35, his best-ever showing in a Big 12 race.

The competition on the women’s side went much the same way. The heptathletes opened the day’s scoring for Kansas State, with Ariel Okorie finishing third in the competition with a total of 5,632 points. Teammates Lauren Taubert (4th) and Morgan Coffman (6th) also had solid podium finishes. All three athletes hit new personal bests in the event, and helped add 14 points to the 22 the woman had already scored on Day 1.

Wurrie Njadoe finished fourth overall in the women’s long jump with a leap of 6.17m, with teammates Nina Schultz (5th) and Konstantina Romaiou (8th) right behind her. That was good for another 10 points for the Wildcats.

In what might be considered a huge upset, two-time Big 12 discus champion Shadae Lawrence finished in second place despite a hot start that saw her hold the lead until the sixth and final attempt when she was bested by Kansas’ Alexandra Emilianov. Neverthless, Lawrence’s silver coupled with teammate Ashley Petr’s personal best fifth place finish added 12 more points.

The final points of the day came from a trifecta of solid finishes in the 3000m steeplechase. Morgan Wedekind was top Wildcat of the day, finishing in fourth place with a time of 10:16:38. Kayla Doll and Cara Melgares finished seventh and eighth respectively to round out the scoring.

A number of Wildcats also qualified for event finals to help on the last day of competition including Nina Schultz (100H), Ranae McKenzie (400H), Lauren Taubert (400H), A’Keyla Mitchell (200m), Sydney Collins (1500m), Terrell Smith (100m, 200m), Jullane Walker (100m), and Travis Hodge (800m).

In addition to the finals of the above races, Day 3 will also feature the 4x100 and 4x400 men’s and the 4x400 women’s races, and the finals of several field events including the women’s high jump, shot put, and triple jump, and the men’s discus.

Stay tuned, and follow along HERE or by tracking the Kansas State track teams on Twitter (@KStateTFXC).