K-State's Kyle Wait competes in the men's pole vault during the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Lied Recreation Athletic Center in Ames, Iowa on February 28, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
March 23, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
As he enters his final season with K-State Track and Field, senior pole vaulter Kyle Wait has set his goals high - high, but reachable.
Wait is coming off of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship meet on March 15 in Albuquerque, N.M., where his jump of 5.40m/17-08.50 had him tie for eighth overall and earned him his first career First Team All-American honor.
Though he was the only Wildcat at last weekend's national meet to garner the first-team honor, placing eighth and not breaking his personal record in the feat was something that he wasn't completely satisfied with.
"I was actually kind of, I guess, disappointed," explained Wait after the meet. "I felt like I could have done better. I know I could have done better - 18 feet - and I felt like I came up a little short of that. But I love going to nationals and competing, being at that competition itself, it's unreal."
Wait entered the NCAA meet hot off of a Big 12 Indoor Championship title where he defeated the field of 18 and tied his career-best and K-State record vault of 5.45m/17-10.50.
While he was unable to match that on the national stage, Wait said he now has to put the indoor season behind and shift all focus outside as the Wildcats' outdoor season has already begun.
Though Wait took the weekend off, K-State traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, this weekend to compete in the TCU Invitational and saw 11 athletes place in the top five of their respective events. The Wildcats will hit the road again this weekend as the team, and Wait, is set to compete in Austin, Texas, for the Texas Relays, March 26-29.
Wait has two major goals for his final days of competition with K-State: one, make it to and compete well in the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championship meet; and two, break the school record held by Doug Lytle.
While Lytle's jump of 5.71/18-08.75 in 1984 ranks No. 1 in the school history books, Wait is not far behind, as going into the 2014 outdoor season, his PR of 5.51m/18-01.00 sits at No. 2 in Wildcat history.
"My outdoor PR is 18-01, but I'd really like to jump higher than that," Wait said. "I think it'd be really cool to go for the school record by Doug Lytle. It's definitely going to be tough. I think I have strength to do it, but my technique isn't where it should be."
Wait said growing in his technique will begin with cleaning up the top half of his vault.
"You start by short runs on smaller poles and working on focusing on the jump itself," he explained. "Not so much on the run or the takeoff, because that's what I've been working on for a while - getting a good run and take off. So now it's time to work on (the top half)."
Coming in to K-State, Wait was a walk on. Now, four years later, he has surpassed all expectations and will forever be among the Wildcats' greatest pole vaulters.
"Walking on to now, it's been an amazing experience," he said. "I was a part of this team instantly. I went to track meets I didn't think I'd ever be going to, I had a lot of success and I'm still doing well. It's just amazing. I can't see myself anywhere else, the coaches here are unreal. You just can't get any better. I've had a great time and I really do think I've gotten the most out of K-State Athletics."
So, after a career full hard work and commitment to being the very best he could be, Wait's message to others is simple.
"I'd like people to know, that anything's possible, you can do anything," Wait said when asked what he'd want Wildcat fans to remember of him. "With me, walking on and then all of a sudden going to nationals, it was awesome. You can really do anything if you put your mind to it, work hard and stay focused."
*Photo above right: K-State's Kyle Wait poses for photos after placing first in the men's pole vault during the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Lied Recreation Athletic Center in Ames, Iowa on February 28, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)