Three Wildcats Head to Last Chance Meet

Kyle Wait

Feb. 28, 2013

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships are next week, and three K-State Wildcats are currently on the bubble to qualify. Those three Wildcats are headed to the Arkansas Final Qualifier on Friday in an effort to improve their best marks of the season and rank in the top 16 in their respective events to qualify for the championship meet.

Newcomers Jharyl Bowry and Zack Riley along with junior Kyle Wait will head to Randal Tyson Track Center where the meet is slated to start at noon Friday. These Wildcats will be up against many athletes attempting to do the exact same thing they are -- to improve and qualify for the NCAA Championship.

K-State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto has long argued the NCAA indoor championship meet is the most difficult meet in the world to qualify for. Unlike outdoors, there is no regional meet to serve as initial qualifying and the field at the championship site is limited to 16 athletes and not 24.

Qualifying this year is even more difficult. In the past, more than 16 athletes could qualify in an event if there was a tie at the cut-off mark. This year, an athlete’s second best performance will be counted toward a tiebreaker to cut the field down to only 16 per event and 12 relays.

Athletes across the nation will be at last chance meets or final qualifiers. Should Bowry, Riley and/or Wait qualify for the NCAA Championship, they will be familiar with the facility and jumping surface as Arkansas is playing host to the championship as well next week. Bowry (long jump) and Riley (high jump) are set to compete at 2 p.m. Friday. Wait will be in the pole vault at 6 p.m.

Fans wanting to follow the action online can get live results at Updates will also be posted on K-State’s live events Twitter handle @kstate_gameday.

Events to Watch
•  Men’s High Jump
With Erik Kynard holding the No. 1 spot in the nation, Zack Riley will be battling a strong field to see if he can jump high enough to move into the Top 16 in the nation. Heading into the meet the bubble mark is 2.22 meters, Riley missed 2.23 at the Big 12 Championship last week. He has a season best of 2.20 meters and a career best of 2.25 meters. The last time K-State had two men’s high jumpers at the NCAA Championship indoors was 2006.
•  Men’s Long Jump
Jharyl Bowry won the first men’s long jump title for the Wildcats in Big 12 history last weekend. Afterward he said the championship was bittersweet because his mark was not good enough to qualify for the NCAA Championship. He has a chance to change that in Arkansas. His best jump of 7.54 meters is 9 centimeters behind the current mark on the bubble.
•  Men’s Pole Vault
Junior Kyle Wait is just 1 centimeter off the bubble right now at 5.40 meters. However, to ensure entry he will need to vault 5.42 meters or more as there is a long list of vaulters at 5.41 meters. If Wait can clear 5.42 meters or at least tie the school record of 5.43 meters, it should help him avoid going to the tiebreaker rule for selection.

Kynard Remains on Bowerman Watch List
The USTFCCCA has updated its watch list for the prestigious Bowerman Trophy, and K-State senior high jumper Erik Kynard remains on the list of 10 student-athletes up for college track and field’s biggest award. The USTFCCCA released its Bowerman Trophy Watch List for March on Wednesday afternoon with some changes from the last update as four athletes made their debut on the list in Florida’s Marquis Dendy, Texas A&M’s Deon Lendore, Tulsa’s Chris O’Hare and Washington’s Jeremy Taiwo.

This updated list includes numerous athletes who are leading the nation in their respective events among other collegiate athletes and even some who hold the top mark in the world this season. All 10 of the student-athletes on the watch list combined to win 11 individual conference championships this weekend, including Kynard’s Big 12 record high jump.

Kynard currently holds the No. 1 jump in the NCAA this season at 2.33 meters (7-07.75). That mark was a new KSU Open meet record, tied his own school record and tied the Ahearn Field House facility record. At the Big 12 Championship this weekend, Kynard cleared 2.31 meters (7-07.00) to set a new meet record as well as a new Leid Recreational Center facility record.

K-State Posts Best Finish in Nine Years
The men’s track and field team came away from the Big 12 Indoor Championship in third place, marking the team’s best finish since taking second place in 2004. The men also finished third in 2005. K-State’s men scored a total of 96 points at the conference championship, which also is the most ever for the men in the Big 12 era. K-State’s women finished in seventh place.

Part of the reason for all those points came in the high jump where the Wildcats accomplished something no school has ever done -- finish first and second in the men’s high jump at the Big 12 Indoor Championship.

Senior Erik Kynard claimed his third straight indoor title and fifth Big 12 title overall. He set a new Big 12 meet record at 2.31 meters (7-07.00), while teammate Zack Riley finished second at 2.18 meters (7-01.75). They combined to score 18 points for the Wildcats.

Another major event for the Wildcat men was the long jump. K-State finished 1-2 in the event on the first day of action at the meet with juco transfer Jharyl Bowry claiming the first men’s Big 12 long jump crown indoors for K-State and the first indoor conference title overall since 1989 with a leap of 7.54 meters (24-09.00). Freshman Ifeanyi Otuonye took second place with his jump of 7.50 meters (24-07.25) to improve his national record for his native Turks and Caicos. Also showing well for the Wildcats was freshman Tyris Jefferson in seventh place as K-State tallied 20 points in the event alone.

K-State also shined in the combined events with three Wildcats making the podium for the men. Devin Dick entered the meet ranked No. 1 in the conference in the heptathlon and was bested by Texas freshman Johannes Hock in his first heptathlon of the season. Dick came away in second with the No. 5 point total in school history and fellow senior Tomas Kirielius finished third with a personal best as well to rank eighth. Freshman Reinis Kregers also made an impact with his first heptathlon as a Wildcat taking fifth place.

The combined events also was the women’s strength for the championship meet with newcomer Merryl Mbeng finishing second to KU’s Lindsey Vollmer. Mbeng’s score of 4,090 points ranks sixth in school history and will qualify for here NCAA Championship. Sophomore Joslyn Barnes also placed in the pentathlon with 3,918 points to finish fifth and rank 10th in school. history for the women.

Wildcats Fall to No. 32 in Rankings
Heading into what is commonly called Last Chance Week in college track and field, the K-State Wildcats have dropped six spots in the USTFCCCA Rankings to No. 32. The men’s team opened the year at No. 22 and climbed as high as No. 16 before falling out of the Top 25 for the first time last week at No. 26.

Senior high jumper Erik Kynard holds the No. 1 spot in his event after jumping 2.33 meters at the KSU Open two weeks ago. The leap puts him atop the list again ahead of Indiana’s Derek Drouin and his best mark of the season at 2.32 meters.

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. K-State’s men have eight athletes ranked in a total of six events.

K-State has three events where the Wildcats have two ranked athletes. Joining Kynard on the high jump list is transfer Zack Riley. The sophomore and NJCAA champion is ranked No. 21 by USTFCCCA this week. Long Jumpers Jharyl Bowry and Ifeanyi Otuonye represent another ranked pair in the long jump. Bowry is No. 28 with Otuonye close behind at No. 34. Heptathlon is the third event with Devin Dick at No. 18 and Tomas Kirielius at No. 23.

Carlos Rodriguez is the final ranked Wildcat, and is the only one ranked in multiple events This week he comes in at No. 12 in the 200 meters and No. 32 in the 60 meters.

On the women’s side, combined events specialist Merryl Mbeng is ranked ninth after scoring 4,090 points in the pentathlon at the Big 12 Championship to finish second. Sophomore Joslyn Barnes also is ranked in the pentathlon coming in at No. 32. Freshman Jasmine Gibbs is 42nd in the 60 meter dash.

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. The league has a total of five men’s and women’s teams ranked in the Top 25 heading into last chance week.

There were more big moves in the rankings following conference championships as Baylor’s men climbed 20 spots up to No. 20. Oklahoma’s women cracked the Top 25 this week, moving up six spots to No. 23.

The men have two teams in the Top 10 with Texas Tech sliding to No. 8 this week and Texas moving up on to No. 9. Oklahoma State slipped down five spots to No. 11, and Oklahoma holds steady at No. 21.

On the women’s side, Kansas is still the top team in the conference at No. 3. Texas is just outside the Top 10 at No. 11, up two places. Iowa State is at No. 14 this week, and Baylor moves up three places up to No. 22.

Only the SEC has more men’s teams ranked with six. The Big Ten joins the Big 12 with five men’s teams among the elite. The SEC also is the only conference with more ranked women’s teams with seven. The SEC boasts No. 1 Arkansas for the men and LSU’s women hold the top spot. In total, the power conferences of the Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 represent 19 of the men’s Top 25 and 18 of the women’s teams as well.