Wildcats Open Outdoor on Western Swing

Denise Baker

March 17, 2011

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State Wildcats begin their outdoor track and field season this weekend in San Diego as they compete in the Aztec Invitational hosted by San Diego State. Action begins on Friday for the Wildcats, and they will remain on the West Coast following the meet for a double-dip spring break trip. K-State will head to a meet hosted by Arizona State after the Aztec Invitational completing a 10-day trip.

The Aztec Invitational will have an open meet on Friday and an invitational on Saturday with Wildcats competing both days. K-State will take on athletes from all over California and across the nation. Some of the nation’s top teams will be competing with Texas A&M and BYU in the mix. A total of 48 Wildcats are making the trip to open outdoor season.

K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto is anticipating a number of personal records from his Wildcats to start outdoor after transitioning from the indoor season with many of the athletes getting faster and stronger than a year ago. Live results will be available at goaztecs.com for fans wanting to follow the action from San Diego.

K-State Men Finish 18th at NCAA Indoor Meet
The Wildcats finished the 2011 indoor season again among the top teams in the nation. K-State finished in a tied for 18th place after scoring 12 points at the NCAA Indoor Championship last week. The women’s squad tied for 45th as well thanks to Ryann Krais finishing sixth in the pentathlon.

A total of five men and two women competed for K-State with all of them earning USTFCCCA All-America status. Four of the seven were named to the first team for finishing in the top eight in their respective events. Erik Kynard finished third in the high jump while Jeffrey Julmis claimed fifth in the 60 meter hurdles tying his own school record of 7.72 seconds in the process. Mantas Silkauskas finished seventh in the most competitive heptathlon in NCAA history as his score of 5,822 was not only a school record but the highest score to finish seventh at the meet. Krais took first team honors as well with her finish in the pentathlon. Her score of 4,115 points tied for third in school history.

“Overall, this may have been among the best indoor championship meets since I’ve been at K-State,” head coach Cliff Rovelto said. “We had seven qualify; four of them earned first team All-America, and six finished in the top 10. I believe this year’s meet to be the best I have ever seen.”

Rovelto said this year’s indoor championship was the most difficult to get in than any previous year and added that just qualifying was an accomplishment in itself.

Kynard’s All-American performance gives the Wildcat men an All-American in the high jump eight straight years and have tallied 12 such performances in the last 16 years. Krais returns the Wildcat women to the scorers podium in the pentathlon for the first time since 2004 when JaNelle Wright finished fourth. Julmis gives K-State its first indoor All-American in the hurdles since 1975 when Vance Rowland finished fifth in the 60 yard hurdles.

Nina Kokot finished ninth in the women’s long jump with her leap of 20-05.75 to take home second team honors, and Martynas Jurgilas came in 15th in the 60 meter dash to also be named to the second team.

Big 12 Teams Are Best of the Best
The Kansas State men remained ranked throughout the indoor season in the USTFCCCA Rankings opening the year at No. 22 and finishing at No. 18. The Big 12 Conference again proved to be one of the premier leagues in the nation with more women’s teams ranked in the Top 10 at season’s end than any other conference. The men also had multiple teams in the Top 10 and more in the Top 25 than any conference.

Texas A&M’s men finished second at the NCAA Championship while the Texas women also finished as the runners-up. The Texas men finished 10th to give the conference two men’s teams in the Top 10. Texas A&M’s women claimed fifth with Oklahoma (6) and Baylor (10) rounding out the Top 10 for the women.

Also ranked for the men were Oklahoma (13), Baylor (16), K-State (18) and Nebraska (20) for a total of six teams in the Top 25 tying the SEC for the most. Nebraska (17) joined the group of Top 10 finishers on the women’s side to give the Big 12 five ranked teams also tying the SEC.

The Big 12 also had the highest rate of first team All-Americans at the meet. The conference had 56.6 percent of its entries finish in the top eight combining both the men and women. The SEC had an All-American rate of 48.6 percent. The Pac-10 was second among power conferences with a 54.4 percent clip.