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KYNARD GREATEST OF THE GREAT K-STATE JUMPERS

Also See: 'Cats Continue Play at NCAA Championships

KYNARD GREATEST OF THE GREAT K-STATE JUMPERS

By Mark Janssen

If an all-sport historian searched Kansas State's athletics program for one area that stands out taller than all the rest, it would not be producing guards in basketball, nor would it be being a product of dual-purpose quarterbacks.

To the degree of not even being up for debate, K-State would be known as "High Jump U."
Ed Broxterman and Nathan Leeper have been Olympians; Itai Margalit, Leeper and Kyle Lancaster have been World Champions; Leeper a United States Champion; and, Percell Gaskins, Leeper and Scott Sellers (3 times) have been NCAA Champions.

In school history, eight Wildcat jumpers have cleared at least 7-4 ½ indoors, and six have cleared 7-4 ½ outdoors.
   
So which jumper is the best of them all?
   
K-State track and field head coach Cliff Rovelto points to current jumper Erik Kynard, who competes today at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
   
"He has yet to accomplish some of the things the other jumpers have, but he's also only 20 (years old)," said the longtime Wildcat coach.  "He's gifted physically, and he's just good.  He's not afraid to attack the bar, but this year he has harnessed that aggressiveness and has become more consistent at a much higher level."
   
In fact, Rovelto is calling this 2011 indoor/outdoor season the best year that a K-State high jumper has ever enjoyed.
   
In six indoor meets, Kynard twice set the school record, which included jumping 7-7 ¾ at the Tyson Invitational at the University of Arkansas, clearing 7-4 ¼ on three other occasions, and topping 7-2 ½ in all six meets.  He won the Big 12 title and was third at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
   
In six outdoor meets, he topped 7-7 at the Drake Relays, and went better than 7-5 in three other events, which included winning a Big 12 title.  The height also ranks third in the world this year and helped Kynard earn the honor of USTFCCCA (U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) Midwest Male Track Athlete of the Year.
   
"It's gotten to the point where if he doesn't go 7-5, people wonder what's wrong with him," said Rovelto.
   
To that, Kynard, a native of Toledo, Ohio, laughs as he says, "You don't take anything for granted, but 7-5 has become every day for me.  But it has happened because I work hard, have a great training staff and wonderful coaches.  This is just the outcome."
   
Last year as a freshman, Kynard's bests were 7-3 ¾ indoors and 7-4 ½ outdoors, but this year he's cleared at least 7-5 in no fewer than five events.
   
"We've had great, great high jumpers through here, but none have had this type of season," said Rovelto.  "Kyle was awfully consistent, but it was at a lower level."
   
So just how high could Kynard go this weekend?
   
"I just want to win," said Kynard, who finished 11th at indoors and sixth at outdoors at NCAA Championships a year ago.  "A winning height could be only 7-3 or 7-4, but I honestly think it will take something special."
   
Special like 7-8?
   
Flashing a smile, Kynard said, "Could be."
   
And is that realistic?
   
"Yeah, absolutely," said Rovelto.  "The margin of error is so small in that you have to have good weather conditions and things have to go right, but he has the stuff to do it."
   
"Sure," Kynard said to the question of whether 7-8 could happen.  "I jumped at it at the Drake Relays, so I know what it's like.  People expect me to jump high and I like having the bulls-eye on my back.  But I look at the bar as my competition and not individual opponents.  I try to defeat the bar."

K-STATE'S ALL-TIME OUTDOOR HIGH JUMPERS
7-7 ¾ -- Scott Sellers, 2007
7-7 - Erik Kynard, 2011
7-7 - Kyle Lancaster, 2005
7-6 ½ -- Ed Broxterman, 1996 (Olympian)
7-6 ½ -- Nathan Leeper, 1998 (Olympian)

K-STATE'S ALL-TIME INDOOR HIGH JUMPERS
7-7 ¾  - Erik Kynard, 2011
7-6 - Scott Sellers, 2008
7-5 ¼ -- Percell Gaskins, 1993
7-5 ¼ -- Kyle Lancaster, 2006
7-5 - Itai Margalit, 1993


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