Krais, Wildcats Wow Crowd in Multi-Events

Ryann Krais

May 12, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Entering the day, NCAA champion Ryann Krais found herself in fourth place of the heptathlon at the Big 12 Conference Track and Field Championships. She responded with her best performances of the season in two of the three final events to come from behind and win the Big 12 title on Saturday with her total of 5,661 points.

Although the day was highlighted by Krais’ victory, K-State’s men and women all both poised to have a strong Sunday with five men and women qualifying for finals in their respective events, plus the field events scheduled for tomorrow. The Wildcats have an opportunity to score a significantly higher amount of points than originally projected entering the meet.

Krais and Precious Nwokey were battling with Lindsey Vollmer of Kansas for the title, and thanks to a long jump of 18-08.00 Krais was able to put herself within striking distance. One of Nwokey’s worse events in the heptathlon followed the long jump as she transfer from Kentucky as only three competitors in the field had shorter throws in the javelin. Vollmer moved into the lead and Krais climbed into second and trailed by only 24 points headed to one of her better events. Krais needed to defeat Vollmer by at least two seconds to win the title, and she bested her by more than 12.

“Yesterday was a little bit of a disappointment but after the meet you have to look back and change your goals a little bit,” Krais said. “Instead of focusing on the number of points I wanted to score in the heptathlon it turned into wanting to come out here and being a competitor and score as many points as I could for the team.

“Going into the javelin, I was pretty pumped because I knew that was the event that was going to make the difference. I was happy with where I was standing going into the 800 even though Precious was coming up, and I knew I had to beat Lindsey. It could have been more pressure and more stressful but it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park either.”

Krais was not the only Wildcat to put on a show for the home fans on Saturday in the heptathlon. She was joined by two teammates on the podium as contributors to the team scoring. Senior transfer Mairead Murphy finished fourth with her total of 5,399 points improving her fifth-place hold in the school record book. It also gives Murphy her second Ireland national record this year after breaking the pentathlon mark indoors in February. Sophomore Erica Twiss posted PR’s in six of the seven events in the heptathlon to post a new PR overall in the heptathlon at 5,236 and finish seventh. It also puts her sixth in school history. Those performances caught much praise from Krais.

“Erica, if you look at her heptathlon, she was putting together PR after PR. She’s pretty young to the event so she doesn’t realize how amazing that is to put up multiple PR’s in a heptathlon. I just think that’s a really great sign for her and things to come,” she said. “Mairead has definitely come a long way. I know initially she was kind of hesitant to try the heptathlon. She just wanted to be a hurdler. When you’re invested in one event, it’s hard to change your identity sometimes, but I think this year has transformed her into a multi-eventer. She’s embracing it and look where it’s taking her.”

The Wildcats were not done making noise in the multi events as the tandem of Tomas Kirielius and Devin Dick proved why some in the track and field community refer to K-State as Multi U. Kirielius finished second to score eight points for the Wildcats and Dick finished third as both posted massive new PR’s in the decathlon, improving by nearly 1,000 points each.

Kirielius scored 7,508 points and will be around the projected score to qualify for the NCAA Championship. Dick tallied 7,425 points. Kirielius posted PR’s in six of the 10 events over two days, and Dick improved in six events as well. The pair celebrated together in the awards tent after the decathlon and praised each other rather than boasting on their own success with media.

K-State Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Cliff Rovelto said it was an impressive day for his multi-eventers and he is not surprised they did so well.

“Ryann had a good day. She struggled a bit yesterday and wasn’t in a good frame of mind, but she bounce back really well, and for her to make the final in the 400 hurdles is an incredible accomplishment at this meet,” Rovelto said. “Tomas and Devin, those guys were unbelievable, for them to have almost a 1,000-point PR.”

Following the multi-events, the Wildcats grabbed attention again in the second event of the preliminary heats. A trio of heptathletes ran in the 100 meter hurdles, and all three advanced. Murphy and Twiss ran their way into Sunday’s action along with Richelle Farley, who just missed scoring in the heptathlon by two points. Then, in the men’s 110 meter hurdles, Mantas Silkauskas and Tarique Hill both qualified. Both events fared better than Rovelto said he had projected.

Martynas Juriglas advanced in the 100 meters as Carlos Rodriguez just missed out in ninth place. Rodriguez, however, did advance in the 200 to give the Wildcats another chance to score points. Armando Del Valle grabbed the last spot in the final for the men’s 800 meters, and Boglarka Bozzay won her heat in the event to advance. Krais moved in the 400 hurdles as well.

In the field events, the Wildcats posted big numbers all day.

Senior Kim Haberman posted a new PR in the long jump, leaping 20-05.00 to finish fourth and earn five points for the women’s team. She entered the meet ranked fifth in the conference and had never cleared 20 feet with a legal wind in her career at K-State.

Jacquelyne Leffler also came up with a big performance when she needed it most for the Wildcats. After fouling on her first two attempts in the first flight of the shot put, she then launched the shot 53-00.25. She improved her PR by almost four feet and finished sixth in the competition with the toss after entering the meet ranked 14th in the conference.

Also, in the men’s shot put Ryan Hershberger PR’d with his toss of 59-00.75 to finish fifth. He improved by more than 10 inches and finished better than his No. 7 ranking in the league.

Silkauskas went up against two of the nation’s best in the long jump and he hung right with them. On his first attempt, Silkauskas jumped 25-08.75 to stand in second place trailing only Marquise Goodwin of Texas, who represented Team USA at the 2011 IAAF World Championships. He then shut it down to rest for the hurdles and 4x100 Sunday and his mark held at second, besting the No. 4 ranked jumper in the NCAA Bryce Lamb of Texas Tech.

All in all it was a strong day at the track for the Wildcats with the men currently standing in second place heading into Sunday’s finals with 38 points. The Texas Longhorns are leading with 60. K-State’s women are in sixth with 25 points and trail Missouri and Iowa State by just three in fifth.

Action on Sunday is set to start at 1 p.m. with the men’s pole vault as well as the women’s triple jump and discus. Running events begin at 3 p.m. with the 4x100 relays. Fans can purchase tickets for just $10 and discounted tickets are only $5 for youth and senior citizens. More than 1,300 fans packed the stands at R.V. Christian Track Complex for Saturday’s action, with more excitement to come on Sunday with some of the best teams in the nation vying for the Big 12 Conference crowns.