Jun 09, 2021 3:20 PM

13 Wildcats Vie for Glory at NCAA Outdoor Championships Starting Wednesday

Posted Jun 09, 2021 3:20 PM

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State men’s and women’s track and field teams will conclude an unprecedented season this week, as 13 individuals vie for the ultimate prize at the NCAA Outdoor Championships set for historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon from Wednesday-Saturday, June 9-12.

The four-day NCAA Championship meet will begin on Wednesday with a full slate of men’s running and field events, including the decathlon. The women began their competition on Thursday with their own running and field events, along with the conclusion of the decathlon. Friday and Saturday serve as the finals for the men’s and women’s running events, along with the heptathlon competition.

Fans can watch the entire Championship meet on the WatchESPN app with select portions appearing on ESPNU/2 on Wednesday night beginning at 7 p.m./8 p.m. CT, on ESPN2 on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., CT, on ESPN2 on Friday at 7 p.m., CT and on ESPNU on Saturday at 5 p.m., CT.

The 13 individuals (10 women, 3 men) will compete in 11 events (women’s 100 meters, women’s 400-meter hurdles, women’s discus, women’s hammer throw, women’s shot put, men’s high jump, men’s javelin, men’s and women’s long jump, women’s triple jump and heptathlon) with the Wildcats having at least two individuals competing on each day of the Championship meet.

K-State will have two competitors each in the women’s hammer throw (senior Helene Ingvaldsen and junior Shaelyn Ward) and heptathlon (seniors Ariel Okorie and Lauren Taubert), while there will be an entry in both the men’s and women’s long jump (seniors Jullane Walker and Taishia Pryce) and the first-ever competitor in the women’s 100 meters (junior Wurrie Njadoe).

The Wildcats hold the second-longest active streak of sending a heptathlete to the Championships at five years, dating back to 2015. A Wildcat high jumper has now made the NCAA Championships in 18 consecutive seasons (2003-present) with five combining to earn 16 All-America honors.

Of the 13 individuals competing for K-State, eight will be making their second consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships, which will be held for the first time since 2019 after the 2020 meet was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seven will be competing in the same event – Ingvaldsen (women’s hammer), junior Taylor Latimer (women’s shot put), Okorie (heptathlon), senior Ashley Petr (women’s discus), junior Tejaswin Shankar (men’s high jump), Taubert (heptathlon) and Walker (men’s long jump) – while the eighth – Pryce (women’s long jump) – will return to the Championships as an individual after being a part of the 4x100-meter relay team in 2019.

Ingvaldsen will be making her fourth consecutive trip (2017, 2018, 2019, 2021) to the NCAA Championships in the hammer, where she has twice earned All-America honors, including First Team distinction with a seventh-place finish in 2018. Shankar, the 2018 NCAA Outdoor National Champion, will be making his third straight appearance (2018, 2019, 2021) at the national meet, where he has earned First Team All-America accolades twice (2018, 2019), including a runner-up finish in 2019.

Junior Wurrie Njadoe, who tied the school record in the women’s 100 meters en route to qualifying for the NCAA Championships with a time of 11.40, will be making her return to the national meet for the first time since 2017 when she earned First Team All-America honors in the long jump with a mark of 6.36m/20-10.50. She missed the entire 2018-19 season due to injury before having the 2020 outdoor season cancelled due to COVID-19.

Four Wildcats (senior Kimisha Chambers (women’s 400-meter hurdles), freshman Rhianna Phipps (women’s triple jump), junior Shaelyn Ward (women’s hammer) and senior Logan Wolfley (men’s javelin) will be competing in their first-ever NCAA Championships.

Wolfley (men’s javelin) and Walker (men’s long jump) will kick things off on Wednesday night at 8:15 p.m., and 8:30 p.m., CT, while Ingvaldsen and Ward will open Thursday’s event with the women’s hammer at 3 p.m., CT.

The NCAA Championship Central link on the K-State Athletics’ website will be a hub for everything regarding the 13 qualifying Wildcats, including the schedule of events and broadcast links, athlete bios and features and all the highlights from the NCAA West Regional in College Station, Texas, May 26-29.

The Last Time

K-State sent 15 athletes to the last NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2019, which was held at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas. Then senior Shardia Lawrence helped the Wildcat women finish 16th as a team by winning the NCAA title in the triple jump with a school-record leap of 13.99m/45-10.75, which is the seventh-best mark in the event in NCAA Championships history. The women’s team has placed among the top-20 at the NCAA Championships in six consecutive seasons.

The men’s team finished tied for 26th with 12 points, which included a second-place finish by then sophomore Tejaswin Shankar in the high jump, a sixth-place finish by junior Aaron Booth in the decathlon and an eighth-place finish by senior Brett Neely in the discus.

Returning All-Americans

Three Wildcats – Taylor LatimerTejaswin Shankar and Lauren Taubert – were First Team All-Americans in their respective events in 2019. The 2018 NCAA Outdoor High Jump champion and a two-time First Team All-American, Shankar was the runner-up to LSU’s JuVaughn Harrison on misses with a mark of 2.27m, while Latimer finished in fourth place in the shot put with a toss of 17.67m./57-11.75 and Taubert placed eighth in the heptathlon with a score of 5,793 points, both in their first NCAA Outdoor appearances.

Taishia Pryce will look to match or better her effort in the long jump from the indoor season after earning First Team All-America honors on March 12 with a leap of 6.48m/21-3 ¼ to register a seventh-place finish.

Other Returning Wildcat Finishes in 2019

The other four Wildcat returners – Helene IngvaldsenAriel OkorieAshley Petr and Jullane Walker – from the 2019 Outdoor Championships did not earn First or Second Team All-America honors. Okorie was 18th in the heptathlon with 5,439 points, while Petr (discus/51.80m/169-11) and Walker (long jump/7.44m/24-05) were each 19th in the respective event and Ingvaldsen was 21st in the hammer with a throw of 60.69m/199-01.

Okorie, Taubert Set for NCAAs

Seniors Ariel Okorie and Lauren Taubert punched their tickets to the national meet in the heptathlon after posting scores that ranked among the top-24 nationally during the regular season. Taubert currently ranks eighth in the event after scoring 5,831 points at the Jim Click Invitational on April 10, while Okorie is 17th after scoring 5,661 points at the Big 12 Championships May 14-15. K-State and Duke are the only schools to have multiple entries in the heptathlon.

It will mark the second consecutive appearance for Okorie and Taubert in the event at the NCAA Outdoor Championship after each advanced in 2019. Taubert earned First Team All-America honors with an eighth-place finish with 5,793 points, while Okorie finished 18th with 5,439 points.

K-State has had an athlete earn All-America honors in the heptathlon in each of the last 5 national meets.

Throw Cats Excel

Almost half of the K-State team advancing to the NCAA Championships are from the throwing events, including a pair in the women’s hammer throw (Helene Ingvaldsen and Shaelyn Ward) and one each in the women’s shot put (Taylor Latimer), women’s discus (Ashley Petr) and men’s javelin (Logan Wolfley).

The Wildcats have now advanced more than one hammer throw in four of the last five national meets, but the first time since 2018 when Ingvaldsen was joined by Janee Kassanavoid. Latimer and Petr are both making return trips to nationals in their respective events, as Latimer is the first Wildcat to advance in the shot put in consecutive national meets since Dani Winters in 2015 and 2016.

Wolfley is the first Wildcat to advance to the national meet in the javelin since Ivan Hartung earned All-America honors with a 16th-place finish in 2014.

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, June 9

8:15 pm – Logan Wolfley, Men’s Javelin

8:30 pm – Jullane Walker, Men’s Long Jump

Thursday, June 10

3:00 pm – Helene Ingvaldsen and Shaelyn Ward, Women’s Hammer

6:46 pm – Wurrie Njadoe, Women’s 100 meters (semifinals)

7:00 pm – Taishia Pryce, Women’s Long Jump

7:30 pm – Kimisha Chambers, Women’s 400-meter Hurdles (semifinals)

7:40 pm – Taylor Latimer, Women’s Shot Put

Friday, June 11

2:00 pm – Ariel Okorie and Lauren Taubert, 100-meter Hurdles (heptathlon)

3:00 pm – Ariel Okorie and Lauren Taubert, High Jump (heptathlon)

5:00 pm – Ariel Okorie and Lauren Taubert, Shot Put (heptathlon)

6:30 pm – Tejaswin Shankar, Men’s High Jump

7:43 pm – Ariel Okorie and Lauren Taubert, 200 meters (heptathlon)

Saturday, May 29

1:00 pm – Ariel Okorie and Lauren Taubert, Long Jump (heptathlon)

2:15 pm – Ariel Okorie and Lauren Taubert, Javelin (heptathlon)

4:35 pm – Ashley Petr, Women’s Discus

5:20 pm – Rhianna Phipps, Women’s Triple Jump

5:52 pm – Wurrie Njadoe, Women’s 100 meters (if advances)

6:27 pm – Kimisha Chambers, Women’s 400-meter Hurdles (semifinals)

6:43 pm – Ariel Okorie and Lauren Taubert, 800 meters (heptathlon)

For the latest on K-State Track and Field follow @kstatesports and @KStateTFXC on Twitter or Kansas State Track & Field/Cross Country on Facebook.