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17 WILDCATS OFF TO WEST REGIONAL

Also See: Baseball Opens Big 12 Championship vs. OU

17 WILDCATS OFF TO WEST REGIONAL

By Mark Janssen

The world of track and field confuses its own at times.
 
With meets measured by the metric system, coaches often times give guesstimates on what the distance is in feet and inches.

And even this weekend, K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto says, "I'm not sure what they're calling it," as the Wildcats prepare to open the NCAA West Regional in Eugene, Ore., on Friday.
 
"Some are calling it the first round, or the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament to keep it like basketball, but it really isn't," said the longtime Wildcat coach.  "Most of the coaches want what we had a few years ago with four regions, but it is what it is."
 
What it is, is this: The top 48 athletes in each event from schools located in the western half of the U.S. will meet in Eugene to compete to be one of the top 12 athletes in each event, which punches their card for the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 8-11.
 
"You can argue about the competition angle on what's fair, but my complaint is due to something else," said Rovelto, whose women's team ranks No. 17 in the nation and the men's team No. 26.  "My complaint is that most schools were out two to four weeks ago.  Most track athletes are on very small scholarships, and stretching out the season like this keeps them from getting summer jobs, or taking intersession or summer school classes.
 
"There is a tremendous amount of cost involved in keeping kids around on campus for four to five weeks after the last class takes place," reasoned the K-State coach.
 
When it comes to the competition, Rovelto says, "The simple answer is that the people who have done well all year long and rank high nationally will have a good shot of moving on.  But the reality is, what you've done all year means nothing except seeding.  You have to do whatever you do in this meet."
 
But Rovelto does worry about the frequent showers that invade the community of Eugene.
 
"When you have field events of three flights with 16 in each flight, that first flight of the lowest 16 qualifiers might start out in the sun, but by the time the last flight begins with the best performers two hours later, it could be raining," said Rovelto.  "All you can do is go out and do the best you can when your turn comes."
 
17 WILDCATS QUALIFY
K-State will have 17 entries - seven men and 10 women - entered in the West Regional on one of the most storied tracks in NCAA history on the Oregon campus.
 
The two absolute K-State headliners are Erik Kynard in the high jump and Ryann Krais in the intermediate hurdles.
 
Kynard has cleared at least 7-5 ¼ in four of his five meets this spring, which included a 7-7 effort at the prestigious Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa on April 30.  That followed an indoor season when the Big 12 champion cleared at least 7-4 ¼ in four of six meets, which included a school record of 7-7 ¾ at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark.
 
"He really has been remarkable," said Rovelto.  "He's 20 years old and just a sophomore, yet if he doesn't jump 7-5 or higher, the reaction is, 'What happened?' I would guess over 95 percent of the schools in the nation have never had anyone jump 7-5, yet we've had a run of them so the perception is that, in this case, Erik should jump that every time.  He's been amazing, but the good thing is that he's continued to work."
 
Krais owns the fifth-best time in the 400-intermediate hurdles at 56.06, plus has already qualified in the heptathlon at the NCAA Championships with her score of 5,848.  That ranks third in the nation this year, and second only to former Olympian Austra Skujyte (6,275) in K-State history.
 
"If she qualifies in the hurdles, she will be the talk of the NCAA meet because she will be trying something that just doesn't happen," said Rovelto.  "She will compete in the first day of the heptathlon, and then the next day could run the finals of the intermediates during the javelin competition of the heptathlon, and then an hour later run the 800 of the heptathlon.  If she can be competitive and pull that off, people will talk about that for a long time."
 
Krais is a junior transfer from UCLA where Rovelto said, "By her standards, she struggled the last couple years.  Out of high school, some people made the argument that she was as good of an athlete coming out of high school that year.  She's made tremendous progress.  She was running a 58.4 last year and now is at 56.06.  The only girl to beat her all year was someone that was the runner-up at the NCAAs last year."

MEN REGIONAL QUALIFIERS
(national rankings and season best times)
100 - Martynas Jurgilas, 54th, 10.39
110-Hurdles - Jeffrey Julmis, 10th, 13.53; Mantas Silkauskas, 30th, 13.79
800 - Sam James, 50th, 1:49.24
400-Hurdles - Francisco Colomar, 94th, 52.28
4 x 100 Relay - Silkauskas, Julmis, Jason Coniglio, Jurgilas, 9th, 39.46
High Jump - Erik Kynard, 1st, 7-7
Decathlon - Moritz Cleve, 18th, 7,543 (*multi-eventers automatically advance to NCAAs)

WOMEN REGIONAL QUALIFIERS
(national rankings and season best times)
100-Hurdles - Denise Baker, 46th, 13.45
800 - Boglarka Bozzay, 40th, 2:05.83; Sara Stoakes
1500 - Megan Heuer, 4:26.12
400-Hurdles - Ryann Krais, 5th, 56.06
Steeplechase - Martina Tresch, 19th, 10:14.96
10,000 - Sydney Messick, 52nd, 34:31.23
Long Jump - Nina Kokot, 10th, 21-2 ½
Javelin - Ali Pistora, 7th, 170-11
Triple Jump - TiAra Walpool, 8th, 43-9 ¼
Heptathlon - Ryann Krais, 3rd, 5,848 (*multi-eventers automatically advance to NCAAs)


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