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California bomb scare alters K-State plans

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, April 18, 2013, at 9:56 p.m.

When Kansas State track and field coach Cliff Rovelto heard sirens at Cal. State-Los Angeles on Thursday, he assumed the school was conducting a routine fire drill.

Within minutes, it was easy to tell the warning sounds were for something more serious. Campus was evacuates following a bomb threat, which canceled afternoon classes at the school as well as the meet Rovelto was helping 19 Wildcats prepare for.

“We were obviously at the track right there on campus, just starting to warm up not paying much attention but the sirens kept going and never shut off,” Rovelto said. “All of a sudden, there were kids from other schools walking back from a food court who looked, I don’t want to say hysterical, but were very alarmed. They were saying ‘There’s a bomb threat, we’ve got to leave.’ ”

Police arrived moments later and the Wildcats headed back to their hotel. The team’s bus wasn’t allowed to pick them up near the track, so Rovelto had to find a location away from campus.

Rovelto has witnessed meet cancellations at the Olympics and professional levels because of similar emergencies, but never in college.

“This is the first time I had ever seen this in my 30-plus years as a coach,” Rovelto said.

Rovelto said he spent the rest of the day on the phone trying to line up replacement meets for his athletes to participate in before returning to Manhattan. The K-State track and field team is spread out across the nation this weekend, with 24 members competing in several different California meets and others heading to the Kansas Relays.

He is confident he came up with a quality schedule for those who missed out on Thursday’s meet. He doubts the experience will faze them, either.

“No one was worried, and I don’t know that we should have been,” Rovelto said. “Everything was very orderly and everybody just kind of did what they were told. It should all work out in the end, even though things didn’t go according to the original plan.”

No bombs were found.

Basketball recruit signs — The Kansas State basketball team officially announced the signing of Neville Fincher on Thursday. The 6-foot-9, 240-pounder from Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. Committed to the Wildcats in January and signed his letter of intent on Wednesday.

Fincher is the only true forward in K-State’s 2013 recruiting class, which also includes Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu and Jevon Thomas. Fincher was once expected to round-out a four-man class, but K-State has two open scholarships because of transfers.

“We’re pleased to welcome Neville to K-State,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said in a statement released by the school. “With the loss of Jordan (Henriquez) to graduation, it was important for us to sign a big guy with size and length. He has great timing for shot blocking and we think he can be a very good rebounder. He comes from a very talented prep school team at Hargrave, which has produced multiple Division I players. Even on this talented team, he found his niche whether it was blocking shots, rebounding or setting screens to help his team be successful.”

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