Before Sunday Kansas State University Junior Ranae McKenzie never won a BIG12 Conference title. But the Jamaican hurdler tasted victory for the first time yesterday and it could not come at a better time for the defending champions, who needed the 10 points from her victory.
The Wildcats finished with 135 points, just four points ahead of the University of Texas, the third closest finish in Big 12 history.
A strong performance on Day 2, including a silver medal from compatriot Shadae Lawrence in the discus, had helped the Wildcats build up a solid lead heading into Day 3 of competition.
But the lead was not safe for long. The Longhorns made a strong push to upstage the Wildcats down the stretch on the strength of events where the defending champs were not a factor.
McKenzie stepped up to the plate and delivered a scorching performance beating Texas’ Ariel Jones (57.08) by over one full second.
— K-State Track (@KStateTFXC) May 14, 2018
Her winning time of 56.06 seconds was a new facility record and a massive personal best, surpassing the 57.94 she set in 2016.
The mark ranks No.3 on the NCAA season ranking.
The former Manchester High School athlete becomes the first Wildcat to win this title since Ryan Krais won in 2011.
The victory cemented Kansas State’s lead and earned the Wildcats, who were leading by just 4 points before the race, a much-needed 10 points.
Having to finish in the top-six to clinch the title, McKenzie later helped to ensure the Wildcats would repeat as champions running a leg on the 4x400m relay team that finished 5th (3:37.27).