BRISTOL, Tenn. – Coming up this weekend, King University will have three student-athletes competing at the NCAA Division II Winter Festival in Birmingham, Ala. Vincent Okot will compete in the Men's Indoor Track & Field Championships on Friday while Dustin Kirk and Bryce Killian will compete in the Men's Wrestling Championships that start competition on Friday.
Men's Track & Field
Okot has had a stellar indoor season so far, and has his sights on a solid performance at the national meet.
"I'm excited and blessed for the opportunity to compete at nationals," said Okot. I'm out there to compete, not to participate. I want to thank King, my coaches, and everyone who has supported this journey."
Early in the season, Okot posted a provisional qualifying mark in the triple jump when he leaped 15.22 meters at the Buccaneer Invitational. That mark stood up and he qualified ninth for this weekend's championship. That mark set the King school record by 0.21 meters and is the top mark in Conference Carolinas and the Southeast Region this year. At the Conference Carolinas Indoor Championships, Okot set a new meet record with a triple jump of 15.06 meters.
Head coach Amanda Williamson is excited to see Okot perform at the national championships this weekend.
"The coaching staff and I are excited to send another student-athlete to the indoor national meet," Williamson said. "This will be the second time this academic year our program has been represented at the national level, first with Tanner Cook at cross country nationals. Vincent has had an immediate impact our team athletically, and by being an outstanding teammate. He's a tough competitor, and I am confident he will perform well in the triple jump."
The triple jump is scheduled to take place at 12:55 p.m. ET on Friday at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala.
For the second straight season the men's wrestling team has sent a grappler to the national tournament. This year, King is sending two wrestlers for the second time in program history with the last coming in 2011-12 when the Tornado sent four wrestlers to the national championships. Head coach Jason Moorman has confidence in both Kirk and Killian this weekend.
"We are excited to compete this weekend," said Moorman. "Both Bryce and Dustin are looking to return to King as national champions. It won't be easy, but they are as ready as they can be to bring the fight to Birmingham. I think if they stay committed to what has got them here, set the tone on their matches, and focus one round at a time, it could be a great weekend."
Kirk qualified at 133 pounds after taking a runner-up finish at the NCAA Super Region II Championships two weeks ago. The Lake Elsinore, Calif., native won eight straight matches before falling to top-ranked Michael Labry of the University of Indianapolis 3-2 in the regional championship. Kirk enters the NCAA Championships ranked third in the country and owns an 18-8 record. He will face eighth-ranked Martin Ramirez of Adams State University who is 28-10 on the season in the opening round.
"Qualifying for nationals was a good moment in my career but it was only a stepping stone to accomplish what I set out to do this weekend," said Kirk. "I'm excited about the opportunity to be able to compete with the best wrestlers in the country and look to win a national title."
Killian qualified for the NCAA Championships for the second straight season, becoming the third Tornado in school history to qualify for the NCAA Championships twice. This season has been different for Killian as he battled injuries all season before finishing runner-up at the NCAA Super Region II Championships. The Middletown, Pa., native is 6-2 on the season with his losses coming to an NCAA Division I competitor and the second-ranked wrestler in the country. On the season, Killian is 6-2 and enters the NCAA Championships ranked eighth in the country. Killian will square off with unranked Jarred Oftedahl of St. Cloud State University who is 20-5 on the season.
"This season has had a lot of adversity, but I'm excited to be able to compete at the national tournament again and use my past experiences as motivation," Killian said.
The first session of the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships is scheduled to start at 12:00 p.m. ET on Friday.