SE: Erik Kynard Sets Bar High

Erik Kynard rarely looks to the past – he says he hasn’t accomplished enough yet to do so. 

A two-time NCAA Champion, three-time Big 12 Champion and Olympic Silver medalist in the high jump, Kynard has his sight set on being the greatest in the world, and he isn’t far from that goal. 

“I try not to reflect, because if you find yourself looking to the past you can get stuck there,” explained Kynard earlier this month after finishing a training session in Ahearn Field House. “I don’t think I’ve done all that I aspire to do, so I try not to look too deep into the things I’ve done in the past or the goals I’ve accomplished.”

Since his time at K-State (2009-13), Kynard has stayed in Manhattan and continues to train at his alma mater with K-State track and field and USA High Jump coach, Cliff Rovelto.

“My staying around here was a decision that both of us made,” Kynard explained. “Coach Rovelto obviously played a role in that decision. In order for me to be the best Erik Kynard, I have to have, seemingly, the best coach. Without a doubt, he is the best coach.”

Rovelto was the reason Kynard came to K-State and is the reason he stays. 

“Just the mere factor that I’m able to fail and then we can sit down and have a conversation about failing, his accountability is one of the reasons he’s played a huge part,” said Kynard. “The demographic of Manhattan, Kansas, didn’t play a huge role in me coming here in the first place, the coaching did and that’s the reason that I’ve stayed.”

While he trains in Manhattan with Rovelto, Kynard competes around the world. In the past few years, Kynard has competed in meets in Qatar, China, Switzerland, and Morocco while also competing in the United States. 

On January 23, Kynard competed in his first event of the year: the “Erik Kynard High Jump” at K-State track and field’s Wildcat Invitational in Ahearn Field House. Jumping unattached in the event named after him, Kynard placed first by posting a 2.25m/7-04.50 leap. 

While he explained his appearance at the Wildcat Invitational was “more like a training session than a competition,” his most recent competition at the Millrose Games – one of the world’s most prestigious track and field competitions – was quite the contrary. 

“Recently, in practice, he’s been fixing some things that he needed to be fixed,” explained Rovelto, “and from the video I’ve seen from Millrose, it looked like he was where we would expect to be at this point in time.”

On Feb. 20, in his debut performance at the New York City-based meet, Kynard took first place with a leap of 2.30m/7-06.5, defeating Canadian Mike Mason, who finished the event jumping a height of 2.20 meters.

With the Millrose Games behind him, Kynard is now looking forward to the USATF Indoor Track and Field Championship in Portland, Oregon, on March 12, followed by the IAAF World Indoor Championship on March 17, also in Portland. 

“He has a couple of weeks now before the US Nationals and then, assuming he makes our team, he’ll go to World Indoors in Portland the following week,” said Rovelto. “Assuming everything, health wise, between now and then goes well, I think he will be ready to defend his national championship and make the world team again, then, hopefully, compete for a medal there.” 

Along with all of his training in Manhattan and competing on the road, Kynard also spends time as a volunteer assistant coach with the Wildcat track and field team, sharing his knowledge with K-State’s athletes following in his footsteps. 

“As a volunteer assistant coach I play more of an advisor role,” said Kynard. “If questions are asked, I’ll offer my input, but I’ve never tried to undermine the coaching they’re already receiving. I try to live more exemplary and less explanatory, that’s kind of my motto I guess; to be seen, not heard. But I’ll give little nuggets of advice when I can.”

Up next for K-State track and field is a trip to Ames, Iowa, for the 2015 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships from Feb. 26-27. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s K-State Sports Extra with more information on the meet.