Slate: Track athletes close out season on high note

The weekend featured personal best marks, All-America honors, and a new national champion.

We’ll begin with the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships in Austin where Kansas State just wrapped up competition for the 2018-19 season. Texas Tech won the men’s team championship, while Arkansas took the women’s title.

Shardia Lawrence is your new triple jump national champion.

She’s the first Wildcat to ever win a national title in the event, and the first Big 12 athlete to claim the title since 2004. In the process, she set a new school record of 13.99m on her last jump in a Kansas State uniform, having earlier broken the previous school record of 13.76m (set by Vannitta Kinnard way back in 1997) with a mark of 13.81 to qualify for the finals. It was, all in all, a terrific end to a terrific career at Kansas State.

Also in competition today was Ashley Petr, the Big 12 runner up in the women’s discus competition. Petr had a nice throw to start the event, but fouled on her last attempt to finish in 19th place.

The Kansas State competition at the NCAAs was closed out by Lauren Taubert and Ariel Okorie in the heptathlon. Taubert, making her NCAA Outdoor Championships debut, scored a total of 5,793 points and finished in eighth place overall. This was a career best performance for Taubert who earned first team All-American honors to go with the podium finish. Okorie scored a huge personal best in the javelin throw event on her way to a total of 5439 points and an 18th place finish.

On Friday, Tejaswin Shankar took the field to defend his high jump title from last year, but fell just short in the end. Uncharacteristically shaky early on, Shankar miffed on a couple of initial jumps and then cleaned things up in time for a two-way final round with LSU’s JuVaughn Harrison. Although Shankar did clear the winning height of 2.27m, he did it on his second attempt and had to settle for silver this time around. Still, the mark he hit was his best performance of the season, and now he has an NCAA runner-up plaque to go with the 2018 NCAA outdoor title, and 2019 Big 12 indoor and outdoor titles. #HighJumpU lives on.

Finally, a virtual standing ovation for Brett Neelly please. Not only was Neelly already an All American (and school indoor and outdoor record holder) in shot put, but this year, he qualified to compete at the NCAA Outdoors in discus. Then he killed it. A monster throw of 58.23m put him in the lead briefly, and was good enough for an eighth place finish overall, and first team All-American status. On top of all that, Neelly was also just named Big 12 Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year, graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. Major props to Neelly for a stellar Kansas State career, both on and off the field.

Source: Bring on the Cats