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KRAIS, 'WOW!'

KRAIS, 'WOW!'

By Mark Janssen

In a word, the response has been "WOW" to the performance of multi-athlete Ryann Krais at last week's NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships staged in Des Moines, Iowa.
    
The junior from Eagleville, Pa., won the heptathlon positioning her as the greatest all-around female track athlete in the nation, plus placed third in the intermediate hurdles.

"Austra (Skujyte) won the heptathlon (6,061) and was second in the shot put (55-1) her senior year (2002), but outside of that, I'm not sure if I've ever heard of someone winning the heptathlon and placing in an individual event," said K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto.  "Ryann was amazing.  It's amazing that anyone would try to do it, but it's really amazing that she did do it.  That's how much faith we both had in her level of conditioning and her competitiveness.  She did it because she is who she is."
   
Rovelto said he's received a non-stop flow of texts and e-mails since Krais' accomplishment.
   
2012 USA women's Olympic coach Amy Deem said of Krais, "I'm in awe."
   
Illinois coach Tonja Buford-Bailey simply said, "Wow!"
   
And Sheila Burrell, an Olympic heptathlete, who trained and coached at K-State, said of the performance by Krais, "Wow!  That's hard to think about doing, let alone pulling it off."
   
"These are all former hurdlers or multi-eventers who know how difficult it is to compete in the events and they are in awe of what Ryann did," said Rovelto.  "She really was remarkable."
   
Krais totaled a personal-record 5,961 points, which is second only to Skujyte in Kansas State history, and came from these seven results: 13.56 in the 100-hurdles, 5-10 in the high jump, 38-9 in the shot put, 24.41 in the 200, 19-4 in the long jump, 125-7 in the javelin and 2:12.63 in the 800.
   
She was first of all heptathlon athletes in the high jump, long jump and 800 and second on the hurdles. Her high jump was a personal record, while her hurdle time and 200 clocking were the second fastest in her career.
   
"Awesome," said Krais of her finish.  "An awesome experience."
   
The week was remarkable for the Wildcat track and field teams as the women placed 13th with 19 points, and the men were 16th with 16 points.
   
That men/women total of 35 points ranked K-State 12th in the nation only behind mega-powers Texas A&M, LSU, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Stanford, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, USC, Arkansas and Texas.
   
"That's some pretty powerful names that put a tremendous amount of resources into their programs and come from geographic areas conducive to the sport," said Rovelto.  "For whatever reason, it's hard to have both teams do well at the same time, so this type of finish is pretty special."

It's the first time that both teams finished in the Top 20 in school history, including just the second time both were in the Top 25, while the Wildcats are one of only nine programs to have their men's and women's team finish in the Top 20 in 2010-11.
   
"As far as the team placing, it says this group of kids performed at a very high level and obviously prepared well," said Rovelto.  "This is a very good group of competitors and our kids have made a habit to place high at the championship level."
   
Highlighting the men's performance was sophomore Erik Kynard's 7-06.00 victory in the high jump.  It was Kynard's fourth NCAA indoor/outdoor championship event and has placings of 11th, sixth, third and now first.
   
"That says it all about how good he is and how he's matured," said Rovelto.  "What's really impressive is that he wasn't perfect technically, but still found a way to win in conditions of rain and a lightning delay."
   
"I finished sixth last year, so that in itself was a motivation coming into this meet," said Kynard, who started at 6-08.00 and cleared each bar on his first attempt until missing his first attempt at 7-06.00, but making his second for the win.
   
K-State also secured a fourth-place finish from senior hurdler Jeffrey Julmis, who was picked 10th entering the competition, but ran a 13.38.
   
"I'm not surprised because he always rises to the occasion. Jeffrey is as good of a competitor as I've ever worked with," said Rovelto. "In big meets, he places higher than predicted every time."
   
Other K-State placings included: senior Nina Kokot fourth in the long jump with a personal record and school record of 21-2 ¾; senior Moritz Cleve eighth in the decathlon with 7,838 points; and sophomore Martina Tresch 10th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
   
Other Wildcats competed at near personal records but did not place. That list included the men's 4 x 100 relay (39.74), junior Boglarka Bozzay in the 800 meters (2:05.97), and junior Mantas Silkauskas in the 100 meters.
   
Krais and Kynard will next compete in the USA Nationals in two weeks at Eugene, Ore., with the top finishers advancing to the World Games staged in Korea in August.  Also from the Wildcat program will be TiAra WalPool in the triple jump and pole vaulter Kyle Wait in the Junior Division.
   
Other K-Staters such as Nina Kokot (Slovenia), Moritz Cleve (Germany), Martina Tresch (Switzerland), Jeffrey Julmis (Haiti) and Mantas Silkauskas (Lithuania) will return to their native countries to attempt to advance to the World Games.


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