Wildcat Men Post Back-to-Back Top 25 Finishes

Cliff Rovelto

June 9, 2012

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DES MOINES, Iowa – The Kansas State men’s track and field team scored 12 points over three days of action at the NCAA Championships this week. With no Wildcats in action on the fourth day of the meet, K-State was forced to watch Saturday’s competition and see where the team would finish in the overall team standings. Fortunately, those 12 points were enough to hold onto a tie for 23rd place and give the men’s team back-to-back seasons in the Top 25.

Junior high jumper Erik Kynard successfully defended his title in the event as he was able to hold off Indiana’s Derek Drouin in a crowd-pleasing display of jumping. Kynard, Drouin and Florida’s Dwight Barbiasz provided one of the most exciting battles in the field events at the meet. After Drouin and Barbiasz cleared 7-05.75 on their first attempts, Kynard took three.

With Kynard first of the three in the jumping order, he then set the tone by jumping 7-07.00 on his first attempt. Drouin would follow suit, and Barbiasz would be eliminated at the height failing his three attempts. Kynard again wowed the fans when he cleared a new Drake Stadium record 7-08.00 on his first attempt. Drouin missed his first jump of the competition and put Kynard in the lead.

After Drouin passed his next two attempts, he and Kynard could not clear 7-09.25 in two chances, eliminating Drouin and giving Kynard his second title and the fifth in school history for the men’s team outdoors. Kynard took one attempt at tying the collegiate record of 7-09.75 but came up just short.

K-State’s other two points came from senior Mantas Silkauskas in the long jump. Silkauskas leapt 25-04.50 (7.73m) to finish seventh in the strong field. Silkauskas became the first Wildcat to score points in the event since 1988 and the first to finish among the top 10 since 1990.

“The quality of the meet is remarkable. It is getting more and more difficult to get to the meet and the quality of marks is the best it has ever been,” said K-State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto. “Our aim remains to finish among the top 25 every year so I am pleased with our men’s finish. We had a tough meet on the women’s side but in general I was pleased with the progress many of our women made this year.”

Also competing for the men’s team was junior Tomas Kirielius in the decathlon and sophomore Kyle Wait in the pole vault. Kirielius finished 18th with his score of 7,033 points, and Wait missed his three attempts at 5.00 meters. Both Wildcats were making their NCAA Championship debuts.

The women also had four Wildcats in action but did not score any points this year. Seniors Ryann Krais and Mairead Murphy took on the field in the heptathlon finishing 14th and 19th, respectively. Senior Boglarka Bozzay finished 21st in the 800 meters in her final meet as a Wildcat, and junior Jacquelyne Leffler came in 19th in the discus.

As noted earlier, the 23rd-place finish marks back-to-back seasons in the top 25 for the men’s team. Last year, K-State scored 16 points and tied for 16th place. In addition to the strong back-to-back seasons, it marks four of the last six years the men’s team has accomplished this feat.