By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Ryann Krais wonders herself, "Why didn't I consider Kansas State to begin with?"
A product of Eagleville, Pa., a suburb of Norristown in northern Philadelphia, Krais said, "I think my mom talked to coach (Cliff) Rovelto once, but I never did."
She openly adds, "Why didn't I consider Kansas State? I have no idea."
Instead of becoming a Wildcat, she headed to Los Angeles and the campus of the UCLA Bruins. She found success as she was an All-American in the 2009 heptathlon and 2010 pentathlon, plus won the 2009 USATF Junior Championships and placed seventh in the 2010 Championships.
But for Krais, a total inner-peace was missing.
"LA just wasn't for me. I went for the weather, but was just never comfortable," said the three-time high school Nike National pentathlon champion.
Late in her sophomore season, Krais started chatting with athletes from around the country about the possibility of transferring and one name kept coming up - Cliff Rovelto, track and field coach at Kansas State.
"No one was telling me this is the place I should go, but only here's an individual who really cares about athletes and he could give me good direction," said Krais. "My conversation was, 'Here's what I've done and here's what I'm looking for. Do you know any place that would be a good fit?' I was only planning to use him as a resource."
Krais said that never did Rovelto try to talk her into attending K-State, but they only visited about her future in the multi-events.
"He never mentioned K-State, but the more I listened to his expertise it was just ridiculous not to end up here," said Krais. "Coach Rovelto is arguably the greatest heptathlon/pentathlon coach in the nation. His intelligence in every single event is just amazing, and at K-State you know you're going to be surrounded by other quality individuals with similar goals."
Krais will enter this weekend's Big 12 Indoor Championships as one of the co-favorites along with Chantae McMillan of Nebraska. McMillan has a best score of 4,378 this season, while Krais' PR is 4,041.
"I want to win, but my main focus is nationals," said Krais of the NCAA event at Texas A&M on March 11-12.
Krais' best score of 4,041 ranks fifth in K-State history only behind Austra Skujyte (4,439), JaNelle Wright (4,173), Gwen Wentland (4,115) and Jill Montgomery (4,093).
Her personal event bests include an 8.54 in the 60-hurdles, 5-9.75 in the high jump, 39-7 in the shot put, 20-1 in the long jump and 2:12.6 in the 800-meters.
"My strengths would be the hurdles and the 800," said the slenderish Krais. "My jumps could use some improvement, and the shot (laughing) is definitely my weakest event. In high school I just did the standing throw, at UCLA I did the spin, and now I'm learning how to do the glide, which is better for a multi-eventer. But I've started over from square one quite a few times in that event."
When Krais turns her attention to the outdoor heptathlon, she will add the 100 hurdles (13.5), 200 meters (24.30) and the javelin (133-0).
Of the two events, Krais said, "I definitely like being outdoors better. I'm more of a nature girl. I like being in a bigger area where you're not so closed in."
And, the Wildcat junior definitely likes the feel of the Flint Hills over being an LA girl.
"Manhattan has such a nice feel to it," said Krais, who holds the No. 2 ranking in USA history in the high school heptathlon and pentathlon and was a 14-time state champion in Pennsylvania. "People take a minute to have a conversation with you. LA people were out just doing their own thing. This is like home to me."