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All-America honors for Booth and Latimer at NCAAs

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The track stars won academic honors too

Lauren Taubert is now the NCAA heptathlon leader.
Lauren Taubert will be in competition in the heptathlon today.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Previously on BotC...

There are now less than 86 days between us and real live Kansas State football. BracketCat counts us down with #86 wide receiver Keenan Garber and #87 tight end Nick Lenners.

Meanwhile, Drew Schneider brings up to date with recruiting news, namely this analysis of new commit 3-star OT/DT Talor Warner.

Track

Kansas State’s track and field athletes are the only Wildcats still in competition for the season.

On Day 2 of the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships in Austin, two athletes earned All-America status. Decathlete Aaron Booth, who began the day in 10th place, finished the competition in sixth place, with a new personal best mark of 7,680 points. In the process, he bested his own personal best mark from last year’s NCAA appearance, when he finished 14th.

His teammate, Simone Fassina, was not so fortunate. Fassina, whose career at Kansas State has been marred by an ankle injury and who had to undergo two surgeries and several setbacks to finally qualify for the decathlon at the NCAA Outdoors. But things did not go his way. He injured his foot during the 400m race, did not finish that race and couldn’t compete in the remaining decathlon events.

Booth was joined in first-team All America status by Taylor Latimer, the women’s shot put Big 12 champ, who finished fourth with a throw of 17.67m. This was only her first NCAA Outdoors appearance, and she seems primed for bigger things, especially given the new mindset she acquired before the start of the season.

Other Kansas State athletes in contention yesterday delivered a mixed bag of results. Helene Ingvaldsen, the reigning Big 12 women’s hammer throw champion, couldn’t quite reach those lofty heights in Austin, finishing 21st with a throw of 60.69 m. Similarly, the 4x100 relay squad featuring Taishia Pryce, Asha Cave, Ranae McKenzie, and Lavaun Stephenson, runners-up at the Big 12s, ran a decent race and almost kept pace with their mark from the Big 12, but it wasn’t enough in a much faster field. With a time of 44.43, the team placed 20th overall.

Ranae McKenzie, the fastest collegiate 400m hurdler this season, had to contend with disappointment in Austin yesterday. She tripped during the heats in the 400H event, and did not finish. This was her last event as a Wildcat, and McKenzie ends her career as a three-time All-American and the second-fasted 400m hurdler in school history. McKenzie’s disappointment is hopefully tempered at least a bit by this news: she was named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors to go with her three-time first team conference and national academic All-America honors.

Brett Neely was named Big 12 Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year, his second-straight year winning the accolade. He’s the first male track athlete to earn the honor twice. Like McKenzie, Neely is a three-time academic all-conference honoree as well as a two-time national honoree. Neely will be in action today in the men’s discus event.

The women’s heptathlon competition begins today with Kansas State’s Lauren Taubert and Ariel Okorie both competing. Kansas State is the only school to have two athletes in both heptathlon and decathlon.

Also competing today is Tejaswin Shankar, last season’s NCAA Outdoor high jump champion. We’re #HighJumpU and Shankar has competed well so far this season, but he’s focused on chasing the perfect process rather than the perfect result this time around.

Rowing

Kansas State senior Molly Ross was named Big 12 Rowing Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year. She’s the third Wildcat to earn the award, which is the most of any school in the conference. Ross is currently a PhD student in Nuclear Engineering. She got her bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2017, when she was also named her department’s Outstanding Senior and presented several papers at academic conferences.

As a rower, Ross was part of the 2v8 boat that beat Kansas at the Sunflower Showdown this year and also came sixth at the Big 12s. She has two silver medals from competing at the Sunshine State Invitational and at SIRA.