Freshman helped pace Big 12 track title
By Joel Jellison
May 16, 2017
K-State Sports Information in
K-State’s Nina Schultz competes in the high jump during the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Sunday at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence.
K-State Sports Information
Schultz is named the high point scorer after the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
One of the only words that Kansas State track and field coach Cliff Rovelto could think of to describe freshman Nina Schultz’s progress this season is “unique.”
Schultz made dramatic improvements in her marks in every event she competed in this year and had personal records in five events over the weekend at the Big 12 Championships to become the first freshman in league history to take sole high point scorer honors at the meet.
Her 25-point performance helped the women win their first Big 12 outdoor title since 2002, just the third title overall.
Rovelto said Schultz had a weekend that followed the course of what she had done over the season.
“I think what’s special about her is her competitiveness,” Rovelto said Monday. “It was her first Big 12 Championship outdoors and she PRs in the javelin; both times she lines up in hurdles she PRs; she PR’d in long jump; she PR’d in high jump; and then she came back and ran in the 4x400. Every time she stepped out there she was doing better than she has before.”
Schultz, who came to K-State from Canada, said she went into the weekend with few expectations and no pressure. Instead, she went in with a desire to score as many points as possible for her team as it competed for a championship.
Around the time Schultz won the high jump with a personal best jump of 5 feet, 11.5 inches, she began to realize the magnitude of what she was accomplishing.
“I think it set in a little bit after high jump,” Schultz said. “I think I had a moment of joy for myself being able to PR and win the Big 12 Championship for the high jump, and then it really set in that I made 10 points for my team, and we were close to that title. That’s when I realized it was real.”
Rovelto said Schultz’s improvement over the last year is unheard of. She’s increased her marks by seconds and meters, and is progressing at a rate not often seen by freshman athletes.
Schultz didn’t expect it either. She figured, like most freshmen, she would struggle in her first year as she adjusted to college life and a new city.
“Coming in, I don’t think I had high expectations,” she said. “Being able to hit personal bests in all of my events has been amazing.”
Rovelto said Schultz has trained at a high level all year long, and she’s had a good group of fellow young athletes to work beside. He said her first year in Manhattan has been phenomenal.
So he wasn’t necessarily surprised by what she did at the Big 12 Championship meet. During the indoor meet she broke the Canadian junior pentathlon record.
“She’s done that throughout the year,” he said. “If you look at the NCAA indoor meet, she did that. You just don’t see many true freshmen getting the top three in the NCAA, especially in the pentathlon and heptathlon.”
The women claimed four individual titles over the weekend and grabbed three runner- up finishes on the way to scoring a program-high 133 points.
Many of the athletes who helped the Wildcats win a title will be back next season. Rovelto said he thought what his team did over the weekend was on schedule to happen next year. But he knew the ability was there all along.
“We’re good; those young kids are good,” Rovelto said. “I knew they were capable of doing it, but a lot of them just hadn’t been in a competition like that. It doesn’t take much. You lose a point or two here or a point or two here, and all of the sudden you aren’t winning. You kind of expect sometimes mental errors, sometimes physical errors — they just didn’t do that.
“They didn’t perform like people who were doing this for the first time.”
Even though the meet was in Lawrence, the K-State women celebrated the title and didn’t make it back to Manhattan until nearly 3 a.m. on Monday.
For Rovelto, the most rewarding part of winning the title on Sunday was seeing how much his team enjoyed it. He said winning the Big 12 is no easy task.
“They’re just hard to get,” Rovelto said. “We’re 20 years into the Big 12 and we’ve won four out of 60 if you include cross country and indoor/outdoor track. In the history of the Big 12 there’s only been four schools win on the women’s side.”
The next meet for the K-State track and field team comes in two weeks when the Wildcats go to Austin, Texas, for the regional meet starting May 25.