Wildcats Set to Battle at Big 12 Championships

Erica Twiss

Feb. 22, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State Wildcats are set to take on the rest of the conference this weekend when the Big 12 Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships head to College Station, Texas. Two days of action are set to get started Friday morning from the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium on campus at Texas A&M with some of the nation’s top teams competing for the league title.

The Big 12 boasts five men’s in the Top 30 while five women’s teams ranked among the Top 15 in the nation according to the latest USTFCCCA Rankings. Traditionally, the Big 12 has been one of the most competitive and deep conferences in the nation and 2012 is proving to be no different than previous years. The conference boasts some of the top athletes in the NCAA with a total of 48 men and women combined ranked in the top 10 in their respective events as most conferences enter their championship meets this weekend.

K-State enters the Big 12 Championship with a number of Wildcats looking to claim individual titles as K-State ranks No. 1 in the league in seven events. Erik Kynard is jumping higher than anyone in the nation right now and is eyeing his third overall Big 12 title. Ryann Krais is the top athlete in the women’s pentathlon and looks for her first indoor Big 12 title after finishing second in her first season as a Wildcat last year. Freshman high jumper Alyx Treasure could give K-State a shot at winning both high jump titles as she is No. 1 in the league on the women’s side as well. She is currently No. 9 in the NCAA. Mantas Silkauskas is the top Big 12 athlete in the men’s heptathlon and 60 meter hurdles this season, and Boglarka Bozzay is No. 1 in two mid-distance events.

The last time Texas A&M hosted the Big 12 Indoor Championship was 2009, and the Wildcats came away with two individual titles. K-State saw Moritz Cleve come up just shy of both the school record and Big 12 meet record in winning the heptathlon, and Loren Groves claimed her third straight weight throw title.

K-State will enter four Wildcats in the women’s pentathlon, and Head Coach Cliff Rovelto has said he anticipates the pentathlon to be one of the most competitive events at the meet and he believes his group has the ability to score a lot of points in the event. K-State could also make an impact in the men’s heptathlon with some of the top athletes in the discipline there as well.

The Wildcats have had a strong throwing program for years under the direction of Assistant Coach Steve Fritz, and this year the men and women both have three athletes ranked in the Top 10 in the conference with the opportunity to score multiple athletes in the weight throw. K-State has strong athletes in the shot put as well in 2012 that could make an impact on the meet.

Another area K-State could be a force is in the sprints and hurdles. Senior Jeffrey Julmis looks to be one of the best in the conference again after finishing third last year in the 60 meter hurdles. The women could also score in the event, and newcomer Carlos Rodriguez ran 6.71 seconds last week in the 60 meter dash to put himself fourth in the conference. Martynas Jurgilas looks to score in the 60 meters for the first time at the conference meet in his senior season.

The mid-distance events could prove to be another valuable area for the Wildcats. In addition to Bozzay, Jacob Davies, Armando Del Valle and Kyle Hanson look to make a move on he track for the men’s team.

Fans can watch the action live at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium with three different reserved seating ticket options available for $25, $30 and $40 for both days. General admission just $15. Single day tickets are also available. The Big 12 Conference will be offering free live streaming online at big12sports.com. K-State fans can keep up with the action on Twitter as well with updates throughout the two days of action on K-State’s Twitter live event feed @kstate_gameday. The Big 12 will also be tweeting from @Big12Conference and using the hashtag #Big12. Live results will also be provided by deltatiming.com. Action begins Friday with the pentathlon and heptathlon at 11 a.m. Running events are slated to start at 3 p.m., and the first field event action of the meet starts at 4 p.m.  The meet resumes Saturday at 3 p.m.

Perfect Bogey
Senior mid-distance runner Boglarka Bozzay is dominating the competition this season as the Hungarian is undefeated in eight races. Most recently, she broke the school record in the 800 meters while winning the Nebraska Tune-Up. Bozzay crossed the line in 2:05.16 to break the record held by Lysaira Roman-Del Valle. The time also was a Devaney Center facility record, giving her two such records after claiming the 1,000 meters facility record in 2011. She has now taken first place in the 800 meters four times and twice each in the mile and 1,000 meters. At two meets she pulled the double winning the 800 and mile at Bill Bergan Invitational and the mile and 1,000 at the KSU Invitational. Bozzay has been winning in commanding fashion as well with her average margin of victory of more than six seconds thanks to some crushing wins of more than 11 seconds in the 1,000 meters.

Bozzay will enter this weekend’s Big 12 Indoor Championship as the reigning Big 12 Athlete of the Week as she was recognized by the conference for her win at the Nebraska Tune-Up. It was the final athlete of the week award for the indoor season and the first for a Wildcat in 2012.

Wildcats Ranked No. 14 in USTFCCCA
After moving week last week in the USTFCCCA Rankings, this week the Kansas State men’s team drops one spot to No. 14. Last week, was the first time the rankings took take into account performances only from this season, except for multi-events. K-State’s women move up last week and hold their spot at No. 37 this week heading into the Big 12 Championship.

There was not much movement in either the men’s or women’s rankings as no teams dropped out of the Top 25. The biggest move for the men came from Ohio State with the Buckeyes climbing six spots to No. 13. Ohio State’s women also were the big mover, jumping eight spots to No. 10 on the list.

K-State has five athletes ranked in a total of six events on the men’s side , including three in the Top 10 in their events to provide the points for their No. 14 ranking. The Wildcat women have six athletes contributing to their ranking as well. Three of them also are in the Top 10.

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 after moving week.

The league is one of the most competitive with all five of the ranked women’s teams coming in at No. 13 or higher. Texas A&M leads the way at No. 5 with Kansas standing close behind at No. 7 this week. Texas climbed one spot this week just outside the Top 10 at No. 11. Texas Tech (12) and Iowa State (13) follow the Longhorns to give the Big 12 the most ranked women’s teams along with the Pac-12 and SEC.

The men did not lose any ranked teams from the Top 25 this week with four still among the best teams in the nation. Texas A&M ‘s men held their spot at No. 3 in the nation heading into the Big 12 Championship. Texas bumped up one spot to No. 5, and K-State fell one to No. 14 to give the league three teams in the Top 15. Oklahoma moved up to No. 21 after falling to No. 23 the previous week. Texas Tech is just outside at No. 30 on the list.

Kynard Flying High
Junior high jumper Erik Kynard is the defending NCAA outdoor champion and is looking for his first indoor title this season, and he is making the case to be the one everyone else will be chasing. Kynard most recently cleared 2.31 meters (7-07.00) for the second time this season in winning the New Mexico Collegiate Classic. He bested professional jumper Jamie Nieto to get the win as he cleared the bar on his first attempt at the height. Kynard’s closest competition in the NCAA so far is 1.75 inches below him, and his current jump of 2.31 meters ranks No. 7 in the world this season.

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. She currently is tied for ninth on the list and cleared 1.82m again at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic.

With Kynard’s clearing of 2.31m and Treasure’s jump of 1.82m, K-State is one of only two schools with a male and female high jumper ranked in the top 10 on the NCAA list this season. Arizona is the other school challenging K-State for the High Jump U name this season with defending NCAA champion Brigetta Barrett atop the list women’s at 1.97m. The Arizona Wildcats also have a pair of jumpers on the men’s list with Nick Ross and Edgar Morales-Rivera tied for fourth.

Multi U
Just like the high jump, the Wildcats can make the claim to having one of the best multi-event programs in the nation. Long a contender for conference and NCAA titles on both the men’s and women’s side, this year K-State is one of three schools with an athlete ranked among the Top 10 in the NCAA in the pentathlon and heptathlon. In 2009, the Wildcats became the first men’s team to have three athletes post the NCAA automatic qualifying score in the decathlon at the same meet to lay claim to the name Multi U that year.

Senior Ryann Krais showed she has what it takes in winning the NCAA outdoor title in the heptathlon. This year she is currently No. 4 in the pentathlon with her season best score of 4,074 points at the Bill Bergan Invitational. Senior Mantas Silkauskas is No. 7 in the heptathlon after posting 5,780 points at the same meet.

Only Arkansas and Wisconsin can claim Top 10 athletes in the multis along with the Wildcats. Arkansas has Makeba Alcide ranked No. 9 in the pentathlon and two men are among the elite. Freshman Gunnar Nixon is No. 1 and Kevin Lazas stands fourth. For the Badgers Dorcas Akinniyi is No. 10 among the women, and Japheth Cato is third on the men’s list.

Wildcats Build Momentum at KSU Open
It was a successful day at the track for the Kansas State Wildcats coming away with five wins and a 17 personal records as well as a handful of top 10 marks in school history at the KSU Open. The Wildcats saw improvement from their sprinters and pole vaulters for the second straight week, and the throwers had a strong showing to build momentum heading into the Big 12 Championship.

The pair of Kyle Wait and Cameron Savage put on a display in the pole vault as each improved their PR’s by a large margin to clear 5.20 meters (17-00.75) to take the top two spots. Wait claimed the win based on misses as he cleared 5.20 on his first attempt with Savage making it on his third. The mark puts the two in a tie for 35th in the nation and ranks third in school history.

Carlos Rodriguez ran his way to a win and improved his fastest time in the 60 meters clocking in at 6.71 seconds. The time moves him into fourth in school history and 28th in the NCAA this season. Samantha McKnight won the women’s 60 meters as she also improved on her PR crossing the finish line in 7.59 seconds. That time still keeps her at eighth in school history. Also for the sprinters, Martynas Jurgilas returned to form running his fastest time of the season in 6.82 seconds to take second place in the final. Dane Steen also ran 6.91 seconds in the final for his fastest time and a fifth-place finish.

In the throwing events, Tomaz Bogovic posted his best throw as a Wildcat and was just a quarter of an inch off his personal best winning the men’s weight throw at 18.64 meters (61-02.00). The mark also holds his spot in eighth in school history. Junior college transfer Ryan Johnson had his best throw since becoming a Wildcat in January finishing second with his distance of 18.34 meters (60-02.00). It also puts him 10th on the K-State list all-time. Chris Gattman finished third for the Wildcats with his best throw since transferring to K-State in January. He had a season best mark of 17.88 meters (58-08.00). Ryan Hershberger kept his consistently strong season going with a win in the men’s shot put with a new PR. He claimed the win with a toss of 17.83 meters (58-06.00) to move into eighth in school history.