Wildcats Ready for Team Element at Iowa State

Laura Lee Baird

Jan. 24, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State track and field teams will be put to the test this week at the Bill Bergan Invitational hosted by Iowa State. The meet is a team scored meet and will pit the Wildcats up against a number of strong teams from the region and give them the taste of a championship meet atmosphere. Action is set to begin Thursday with the first day of the men’s heptathlon. The heptathlon will be completed along with the women’s pentathlon on Friday before a full slate of events on Saturday from the Lied Recreation Center.

All of K-State’s multi-event athletes will be in competition for the heptathlon and pentathlon, which are not part of the team scoring of the meet. Senior Mantas Silkauskas is currently ranked third in the NCAA in the heptathlon and he will lead a group of four Wildcats into the event. Junior Tomas Kirielius looks to build off his sophomore season, and newcomers Tony Granillo and Devin Dick will make their Wildcat debut in the heptathlon.

For the women, Ryann Krais will lead a large pack of Wildcats. Krais is ranked fifth in the pentathlon after finishing sixth at the NCAA Indoor Championship last season. Six other Wildcats will be competing with her as K-State has added five newcomers to the pack along with sophomore Julia Zeiner to the fold. Erica Twiss is a redshirt freshman, and true freshmen Sarah Kolmer and Joslyn Barnes are new to the group. Transfers Richelle Farley and Mairead Murphy give K-State even more quality depth in the event where the Wildcats look to have much success in 2012.

“I like the team scoring aspect of this meet, and hopefully, it will bring out our competitive instincts,” Head Coach Cliff Rovelto said. “What I’m really looking forward to is watching the multis do a multi, even though it’s not part of the team scoring. I think the depth and quality we have in those two events is the best there’s ever been here.

“There have been good duos in the past, but our third and fourth guys are better than our previous third and fourth. The women, there have been times where we’ve had a couple good ones, but this year we got seven legit girls, and only one is a senior in that group.”

Nearly the entire roster will be in action on Saturday with the Wildcats looking to gauge where they stand against strong competition. Iowa State’s women are ranked No. 28 in the latest USTFCCCA Rankings and will rely on the strength of their distance runners. North Dakota State’s women are No. 51 and boast one of the top pole vaulters in the nation. Wisconsin will be the team many are gunning for with the Badgers’ men ranked No. 16 and the women at No. 29. Minnesota’s men will be representing the Golden Gophers and are currently 18th in the USTFCCCA Rankings. K-State comes in at No. 14 for the men as the women climbed to No. 45 this week.

Action is set to start at 1 p.m. Thursday and Friday for the multi-events. The Saturday schedule gets underway at 9:30 a.m. beginning with the weight throw. Fans can follow @kstate_gameday on Twitter for updates and live results will be available at cyclones.com.

Silkauskas Shines in Wildcat Invitational
Senior Mantas Silkauskas enters his final season as a Wildcat as one of the top combined events athletes in the NCAA, and he is showing he can be elite in more than just the heptathlon and decathlon. Silkauskas set the school record in the 60 meter hurdles during the Wildcat Invitational clocking in at 7.69 seconds. The time also is an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Indoor Championships and ranks third in the NCAA early in the season.

It was Silkauskas’ first race in the 60 hurdles this season to start the year off strong for the Lithuanian. In his first run in the 60 meter dash the previous week, Silkauskas ran 6.75 seconds, just .01 seconds off his personal best time.

Bozzay Breaks Two Records
Senior mid-distance runner Boglarka Bozzay has started the indoor season running strong. The Hungarian tallied two wins in the Wildcat Invitational leaving the field behind her in the 1,000 meters and the mile. She clocked in at 2:48.01 in the 1,000 to break the Wildcat Invitational meet record. She then crossed the line in 4:55.45 in the mile to set another meet record that day.

Wildcats Ranked No. 14 in USTFCCCA
After a successful 2011 campaign, the 2012 Wildcats are ready for another strong showing and the men’s team is already among the favorites to do well come the NCAA Championships in March. The K-State men opened the season at No. 11 in the USTFCCCA Preseason Rankings thanks to a group of All-Americans returning this season. This week the men’s team stands at No. 14 in the latest rankings.

The USTFCCCA rankings formula takes into account performances from athletes in each event and awards points based on their ranking in the event and on the strength of the performance. The Wildcats have four athletes ranked in six events to open the year led by high jumper Erik Kynard. His jump of 7-07.75 (2.33m) last season ties. Mantas Silkauskas ranks third in the heptathlon after finishing seventh at the NCAA meet last year. A number of athletes who finished ahead of him at the championship were seniors, opening the door for a new champion this year. Silkauskas also is ranked in the 60 meter hurdles and long jump. Jeffrey Julmis stands eighth in the 60 meter hurdles, and Martynas Jurgilas is 15th in the 60 meter dash.

On the women’s side, combined events specialist Ryann Krais is one of two Wildcats currently ranked in an event as she is fifth in the pentathlon with her score of 4,115 points at last year’s NCAA meet. She is joined by freshman high jumper Alyx Treasure at 11th in the high jump. Treasure leapt 5-11.50 (1.82m) in her second meet as a Wildcat. She ranks fifth in jumps from this season only.

High Jump U
K-State high jumper Erik Kynard has made a name for himself in the track and field world winning his first NCAA title last year and qualifying for Team USA at the IAAF World Championships as well. This season, the Wildcats have a female high jumper that is already jumping among the best in the collegiate ranks to further plead K-State’s case to be known as High Jump U.

Freshman Alyx Treasure opened the season with a leap of 1.78 meters in December. She followed that performance witha clearing of 1.82m to rank seventh in school history and tie for fourth on the NCAA performance list so far this season.

With Kynard’s clearing of 2.31m in December and Treasure’s jump of 1.82m, K-State is the only school with a male and female high jumper ranked in the top five on the NCAA list this season. Arizona would be the closest in challenging K-State for the High Jump U name this season with defending NCAA champion Brigetta Barrett atop the list women’s at 1.88m. The Arizona Wildcats also have a pair of jumpers tied at No. 8 on the men’s list, in All-Americans Nick Ross and Edgar Morales-Rivera.

Krais Among Track & Field Elite
Ryann Krais claimed her first NCAA title during outdoor season last year winning the heptathlon. She also finished third in the 400 meter hurdles, to complete a rare double All-American campaign in two of the sports most grueling events. For that and her prowess indoors in the pentathlon, Krais is being recognized as one of the top collegiate track and field athletes to watch this season.

Krais is listed among the others receiving mention on the first 2012 Bowerman Preseason Watch List released by the USTFCCCA. The list of 10 athletes on the Watch List is dominated by Pac-12 and SEC competitors. Six athletes from Pac-12 schools and two SEC members highlight the list. All 10 athletes on the list won at least one NCAA title in 2011, and two semifinalists from 2011 are on the list. Among the others receiving mention with Krais are LSU’s Semony Hackett, Central Missouri combined events specialist Lindsay Lettow and Moravian pole vaulter Abigail Schaffer.

The Bowerman is awarded annually by the USTFCCCA to the top male and female collegiate track and field athletes in the nation. The award was created in 2009 and is named for legendary Oregon track and field and cross country coach Bill Bowerman. It is considered the Heisman Trophy of track and field.

K-State Posts 16 Wins at Wildcat Invitational
It was another successful home meet for K-State as the teams combined for a win tally of 16 during the Wildcat Invitational. After the successes of Mantas Silkauskas and Boglarka Bozzay setting meet records, the Wildcats dominated the throwing events again. Ali Pistora claimed the women’s weight throw with her mark of 18.63 meters to move up one spot on the all-time list at K-State into seventh. Tomaz Bogovic won the men’s weight throw with his toss of 18.19m. Jacquelyne Leffler won the women’s shot put again for the Wildcats and Ryan Hershberger took first for the men’s team in the event as well.

Cameron Savage won the men’s pole vault with his best mark of the season clearing 5.05m. The mark ties sophomore Kyle Wait’s best mark of the season to also ranks in the top 10 in school history for the freshman.

Big 12 Presence Felt in Top 25
The Big 12 Conference has long been a force in track and field, and again the league is among the best when examining the USTFCCCA Rankings. A total of four men’s teams and five women’s teams are in the USTFCCCA Top 25 Rankings. The five women’s teams are the most of any conference, and Kansas (26) and Iowa State (27) are just outside the list.

Texas is the top team in the Big 12 at this point with the men standing at No. 5 climbing five spots this week. The Longhorn women also stand at No. 5. Texas A&M and Oklahoma are the other two teams with both their men and women ranked in the Top 25 to start the season. The Aggies are No. 9 in the men’s rankings and No. 11 in the women’s. OU’s men are No. 13 and the women stand at No. 19. Also ranked among the women are No. 8 Texas Tech and No. 16 Baylor. K-State’s men dropped three spots to No. 14 this week. Two men’s teams are also right outside the Top 25 with Baylor (28), Texas Tech (30) and Kansas (31) knocking on the door.