Wildcat Men Finish 18th at NCAA Championship

Mantas Silkauskas

March 12, 2011

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas. - The Kansas State Wildcats made an impact at what long time track and field coach Cliff Rovelto called the best NCAA Championship meet he has ever seen. The NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships saw the Wildcat men finish in a tie for 18th and the women 45th. The weekend was highlighted by Mantas Silkauskas in the heptathlon and Erik Kynard in the high jump.

Silkauskas finished seventh in the heptathlon with his score of 5,822 points breaking the school record. The depth of the heptathlon was impressive as his score was the highest score to finish seventh at the NCAA meet. The same went for third place all the way down to Silkauskas in seventh. The top eight finishers who all earned points toward their team totals all set personal bests in the event.

Silkauskas went into Saturday's final three events of the heptathlon with a small lead over the field and extended that lead with his time of 7.80 in the 60 meter hurdles. The field caught up to him in the pole vault and he ran 2:52.43 in the 1,000 meters to close the meet and hold off a charge by Washington's Jeremy Taiwo. He surpasses Attila Zsivoczky's school record of 5,786 points set in 1998. The record has been under assault the last few years with Moritz Cleve coming three points shy of the record at the Big 12 Championship in 2009.

Cleve's charge up the standings came up just short of making the top eight as he finished 10th in the heptathlon Saturday with his score of 5,722 points.

Sophomore high jumper Erik Kynard entered the championship meet ranked No. 1 in the nation with Indiana's Derek Drouin and Mississippi's Ricky Robertson close at his heels. Kynard managed to clear just 7-02.50 to finish third and earn six points for the team total. K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said a number of athletes in the field had trouble with slipping on the track surface when taking off. Drouin went on to clear Kynard's season-high mark of 7-07.75 to win the meet and third NCAA title in a row after sweeping indoor and outdoor last season. Robertson finished third clearing 7-03.75. Kynard's performance will earn him first team All-America status and keep K-State's streak of eight straight years with at least one All-American in the high jump going.

With K-State's men finishing tied for 18th with 12 points it is just off their finish two years ago when they scored 14 points and tied for 16th. The women completed their action on Friday with Ryann Krais finishing sixth in the pentathlon to earn three points toward the team total. Nina Kokot just missed scoring for the Wildcats finishing ninth in the long jump. The women finished tied for 45th with three points in the team competition. The men finished ninth in the Big 12 Conference Championship two weeks ago and this week at the NCAA Championship finished ahead of three teams that finished better than them at the conference meet.

Rovelto, in his 19th season as K-State's head coach and 23rd at the school, said he was pleased with how his athletes performed over the two days of action. All seven of the Wildcats who qualified for the meet competed well and represented the university well he added.

"Overall, this may have been among the best indoor championship meets since I've been at K-State," Rovelto said. "We had seven qualify; four of them should earn first team All-America, and six finished in the top 10. I believe this year's meet to be the best I have ever seen."

Hurdler Jeffrey Julmis came into the meet ranked fifth in the 60 meter hurdles, and that is exactly where he finished after tying his own school record of 7.72 seconds in the final. It was a tight race with him holding off Brendan Ames of Southern California who ran 7.73. Julmis is the first indoor All-American for K-State in the hurdles since Vance Rowland finished fifth in the 60 yard hurdles in 1975.

"I think all of our kids did a great job," Rovelto said. "Jeff equaled his PR, and Erik hung in there after struggling with slipping on the surface. Mantas had a great meet and competed well, as did Moritz. I was proud of the whole group."

The Big 12 showed its strength with four women's teams finishing in the top 10. Two Big 12 men's teams finished in the top 10 as well. Oregon's women won the title with 67 points, and Florida defended its men's title scoring 52 points to hold off Texas A&M.