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BIG 12 TRACK AND FIELD LOADED

Also See: Lawrence Looks for Fresh Start at K-State

BIG 12 TRACK AND FIELD LOADED

By Mark Janssen

It was back in late-February that Kansas State track and field coach Cliff Rovelto said, "In my opinion, the Big 12 Indoor Championships was the best meet the Big 12 has ever had in terms of quality and NCAA qualifiers.  Right now, the league is just loaded with outstanding athletes, and future Olympians."

Starting Friday in Norman, Okla., Rovelto fully expects another Big 12 track and field extravaganza that will rank as one for the ages.

"If the rankings are any indication, the Big 12 is the No. 1 conference in the nation," said Rovelto.  Giving the K-State women's team as an example, he said, "We're ranked No. 16 in the nation, but may place only eighth in the league meet."

In 2001 and 2002, K-State's women's team won the Big 12 outdoor title.  This weekend, Rovelto said, "Quality-wise, we're with that team right now.  As a group, this team is every bit as strong as those two, but the Big 12 has improved that much.  Teams are just that darned good."

Rovelto is putting Ryann Krais very close to the class of ex-Wildcat and Olympian Astra Skujyte.  Krais, a transfer from UCLA, ranks first in the Big 12 in the heptathlon, first in the intermediate hurdles and seventh in the 100 hurdles.

"Ryann is almost right there with Austra, but again, the Big 12 is so tough," said the Wildcat coach.  "She has the sixth-fastest time in the nation in the 400-hurdles, but three of the top 10 girls in the country are from the Big 12, so anything can happen."

Others capable of scoring event wins are Martina Tresch in the steeplechase, Ali Pistora in the javelin and Sara Stoakes in the 800, where she is the defending champion.  Boglarka Bozzay also could compete for the 800 crown.

"Sara is capable, and so is Ali, but there are two or three girls at 160-plus (feet in the javelin), so she is going to have to throw well to win," said Rovelto.

Also in it to win is Nina Kokot in the long jump.  Her best of 21-2.50 ranks third in the nation, but as Rovelto says, "There are five or six girls entered who have been over 21 feet as some point of their careers."

And, it's the same in the triple jump with TiAra Walpool, who ranks sixth in the league at 42-1.25.  "She's capable of going over 43-feet, but so are four or five other girls in the Big 12," said Rovelto.

No one has jumped higher in a meet this year than Erik Kynard, who is the leading American outdoor high jumper at 7-feet-7 inches.

Of his sophomore, Rovelto said, "Through his first two years, he is absolutely the best we've ever had. He's had three opportunities (indoor and outdoor) to be an All-American, and he has done it three times.  The only other guy we've had do that is Scott Sellers.  Some of the other great ones we've had like Kyle Lancaster and Ed Broxterman ... they never accomplished that in their first two years."

Due to an injury, Moritz Cleve has yet to compete in a decathlon this season, but will be in action this weekend.

"This will be one of those ridiculous events in the conference," said Rovelto.  "Somebody is going to come out of this weekend, who is seventh or eighth best in the country, but will be only fifth or sixth place in the league meet."

Other possible scorers in the 110-meter hurdles are Jeffrey Julmis and Mantas Sikauskas.  "Both are capable of being NCAA finalists, but there are five other guys in the league who have scored at the national meet."

In the throws, Tomaz Borovic in the hammer and Cory Boulanger in the javelin have posted marks that could score in the Big 12.

BIG 12 RECOGNIZES RECORD-SETTING RUN: Kansas State's 4x100 relay team of Mantas Silkauskas, Jeffrey Julmis, Jason Coniglio and Martynas Jurgilas has been recognized as the Big 12 Athletes of the Week.

The quartet opened the running events of the Ward Haylett Invitational last Saturday with a bang setting a school and R.V. Christian Track record with a clocking in at 39.46 seconds.

The time broke the previous school record of 39.79 set in 1991.  The previous R.V. Christian Track Complex facility record was held by Nebraska and set at the 2005 Big 12 Championship at 39.59.  K-State's time ranks fourth in the Big 12 and 13th on the NCAA list this season.

MEN'S TOP 10 IN THE BIG 12
• 100 - Martynas Jurgilas, 8th, 10.39
• 110-hurdles - Jeffrey Julmis, 7th, 13.78
• 110-hurdles - Mantas Sikauskas, 8th, 13.79
• 200 - Martynas Jurgilas, 10th, 20.84
• 800 - Sam James, 6th, 1:49.62
• High Jump - Erik Kynard, 1st, 7-7
• Pole Vault - Kyle Wait, 10th, 16-6.75
• Hammer - Tomaz Borovic, 3rd, 200-10
• Javelin - Cory Boulanger, 6th, 217-10
• Javelin - Tomas Kirielius, 8th, 213-10

WOMEN'S TOP 10 IN THE BIG 12
• 100-hurdles - Ryann Krais, 7th, 13.63
• 400-hurdles - Ryann Krais, 1st, 56.62
• 800 - Boglarka Bozzay, 3rd, 2:05.83
• 1500 - Martina Tresch, 8th, 4:22.46
• 3000-steeplechase - Martina Tresch, 5th, 10:14.96
• 10,000 - Sydney Messick, 9th, 34:56.10
• Long Jump - Nina Kokot, 2nd, 21-2.50
• Triple Jump - Tiara Walpool, 6th, 42-1.25
• Javelin - Ali Pistora, 2nd, 170-11
• Heptathlon - Ryann Krais, 1st, 5848
• Heptathlon - Julia Zeiner, 8th, 4649


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