Wildcats Seeking Big 12 Championships in Waco

Erik Kynard

May 1, 2013

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The 2013 Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships are here, and the Kansas State Wildcats are geared up for three days of action and looking to come home with a number of titles. Competition is set to begin on Friday from Waco, Texas, where Baylor will serve as this year’s host after K-State did a year ago.

Last season, the men’s team posted its best finish since the inaugural Big 12 season in 1997 by taking fourth place. This year the men’s team is in the hunt to finish in the top four again and possibly make a push for the team title if the chips fall correctly. The Wildcats have three athletes ranked No. 1 in the league in their respective events entering the meet and three others ranked No. 2 for the potential to score high.

“I think the men are going to be in a battle for second,” said K-State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto. “The Texas men have a very good conference level team. I’d be shocked if they didn’t win the meet. I think ourselves, Texas Tech and Oklahoma on paper appear to be the teams competing for two through four.

“There are a lot of events I think we can score in, not necessarily events where we can score in bunches. The decathlon is obviously an event where we can score a lot. Hopefully, we can have three scorers in the long jump. I think all the field events we should be scoring points. Hopefully, we have some good things happen and we should have some people in the mix.”

K-State’s women finished eighth a year ago and are looking to improve on that standing as Rovelto believes the middle of the pack will be very tight in the team standings.

“On the women’s side, Texas again and Kansas will be competing for the championship much like indoors, and after that I think we are probably in the mix for fifth or sixth,” he said.  “The event the women will probably score in bunches is the heptathlon. Again, I think we have got some sprinters that can be in the mix. I think both relays should be very competitive. There’s a lot of people who are going to be a factor in the meet.”

The Big 12 Championship has traditionally been a very strong meet in the past with some of the top teams in the nation. This year heading into the competition only two men’s teams are ranked in the Top 25, but a handful are just outside the list. The women, however, boast six teams ranked among the nation’s elite, including two in the Top 10.

The meet will feature Olympians as well with K-State high jumper Erik Kynard, KU’s Diamond Dixon and Oklahoma’s Tia Brooks in action.

Competition from Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex starts at noon Friday with the first day of combined events where the Wildcats will be busy in the decathlon and heptathlon. Men’s and women’s hammer throw will be an area K-State hopes to make an early impact on Friday, and the women’s pole vault and the 10,000 meters will also be held Friday.

Preliminary heats for most running events will be Saturday along with the conclusion of the combined events as well as a series of field events, including men’s high jump. Team champions will be crowned on Sunday.

Fans can purchase tickets for only $20 for all-session passes. Live results can be found online at deltatiming.com for those wanting to track the action. Updates will also be available on Twitter on K-State’s live events account @kstate_gameday or on @Big12Conference. Hashtags also will be a great way to get specialized information. Fans can track the hashtags #KStateTF for Wildcat updates from the meet or #big12tf for Tweets about the championship meet.

Events to Watch
•  Men’s High Jump
The combination of Erik Kynard and Zack Riley became the first teammates to finish 1-2 in Big 12 Conference history at the indoor championship in February. They look to make it an indoor/outdoor double for K-State. Kynard is looking to become the first man to win three Big 12 outdoor titles in the high jump.
•  Men’s Decathlon
K-State will again make an impact on the meet in this event with four athletes entered. Last year, Tomas Kirielius and Devin Dick finish 2nd and 3rd. This season, they add freshman Reinis Kregers and senior Tony Granillo to the mix looking to score even more points in the event. Isaac Murphy of Texas is the man to beat looking for a repeat.
•  Women’s Heptathlon
The Wildcats put three athletes on the podium last year at this meet and have the potential for even more this year. The tandem of Merryl Mbeng, Erica Twiss, Sarah Kolmer, Joslyn Barnes and Richelle Farley all have the ability to place in the top 8.
•  Men’s 200m
Carlos Rodriguez is ranked No. 1 in the conference at 20.72 but TCU’s Charles Silmon is close behind at 20.76.
•  4x100 Relays
Both the men’s and women’s 4x100 relays should be highly competitive. Some of the top 25 times in the nation have been posted by teams in the Big 12 this season. A women’s 4x100 has never been won by a team from outside the state of Texas, and Texas Tech and Texas both rank in the top 10 in the nation.
•  4x400 Relays
This event has traditionally been a strong one for the Big 12. Four men’s teams rank No. 12 or higher this season, including K-State. Four women’s teams are ranked in the top 10 in the event. Can anyone stop Baylor’s men? The Bears won the men’s 4x400 from 1998-2009 before Texas A&M won the last three. With the departure of the Aggies for the SEC, will Baylor reclaim its usual 4x400 crown? Both team titles will likely come down to this final event as well this year, adding to the excitement of the chase for the championship.    
•  Women’s Javelin
Four of the top 10 throwers in this event hail from Big 12 schools. And it will be a tight battle as they all rank in a row No. 4 through No. 7. Three of them are freshmen.

Men’s Track & Field Slips from Top 25
The outdoor track and field season is starting to heat up with championship season on the horizon and the K-State men have slipped out of the Top 25 for the first time. Heading into this week’s Big 12 Championships, the Wildcat men are ranked No. 30 in the nation, down six spots from a week ago. This week saw some even more major shifts in the rankings after last week was the first time marks from this season only were used in the ranking formula, except for combined events.

Senior high jumper Erik Kynard leads the way with the No. 1 ranking in his event after he posted the No. 1 jump in the world so far this outdoor season to win the Mt. SAC Relays. He cleared 2.34 meters (7-08.00) to defeat a field the included multiple Olympians. Big 12 champion pole vaulter Kyle Wait entered the outdoor season ranked No. 18 but he shot up the rankings four weeks ago after posting a new PR at the Texas Relays that ranks eighth in the NCAA this season.

Carlos Rodriguez is ranked in five different events. He has posted new PR’s in the 100, 200 and 400 meters to put him on the list in those events and he also ran a leg of the 4x100 and 4x400 relays that are currently No. 26 and No. 18, respectively.

The Wildcats have three rankings in the decathlon led by Tomas Kirielius at No. 21. Devin Dick and freshman Reinis Kregers also are among the best to give K-State three Wildcats ranked 29th or higher in the decathlon.

K-State’s women have six individuals and both relays ranked in the top 50.

Big 12 Presence Felt in Top 25
The Big 12 Conference has long been a force in track and field, and the league is again making an impact on the national rankings with six women’s teams among the Top 25 of the latest USTFCCCA Rankings heading into the conference championship.

The Kansas women were the preseason No. 1 for outdoors after taking second place indoors and fell from that spot for two weeks ago, down to No. 2. The Texas Longhorns remain at No. 10 to give the women two in the top 10. Iowa State (16), Texas Tech (17), Baylor (21) and Oklahoma (23) make it six in the Top 25.

The men took a bit of a hit this week with two teams falling out of the Top 25 to only have two among the elite teams. Texas is leading the conference at No. 8. Texas Tech is the only other men’s team ranked in the Top 25 at No. 18. Oklahoma fell six spots to No. 28 while K-State fell to No. 30(22) and K-State (24) all move down slightly. Oklahoma State (26) is just outside climbing nine spots, and TCU (35) and Baylor (36) both fell further down.

Wildcats Break Meet Records in Emporia
Kansas State went to the ESU Mid-Week Open as final tune-up for Big 12 Conference Championships and came away with five meet records and three marks that rank among the best in school history as well while winning a total of 11 events.

Erica Twiss had an impressive day for the Wildcats as she posted two new personal records to rank among the best in K-State history in both. Twiss finished second in both the 100 meter hurdles and 400 meter hurdles. She clocked in 13.86 seconds in the 100 hurdles to shave some time off her PR and rank eighth in school history. She backed that up with a time of 59.43 seconds in the 400 hurdles and moved up to fourth in school history.

K-State’s first meet record on the day went to Cameron Savage in the pole vault. He cleared 5.05 meters (16-06.75) to improve the previous meet record by half a meter. One of K-State’s other meet records came in the field events as freshman Alyssa Kelly tallied a mark of 11.78 meters (38-07.75) in the triple jump.

Sprinter Carlos Rodriguez claimed victory in the 400 meters, crossing the finish line in 47.05 seconds for a meet record. Freshman Ashley Williams ran a meet-record time in the women’s 100 meters as she bested the field with a time of 12.11 seconds. Kelly was behind her in second place at 12.64. The men dominated the 100 meters as well taking the top three spots with Grant Loescher, Dane Steen and Magnus Scott finishing in that order.

K-State had all four of its decathletes in action in a few events, tuning up for the Big 12 meet, and the group combined to post a meet record in the 4x400 relay as well. The team of Tomas Kirielius, Devin Dick, Reinis Kregers and Tony Granillo combined to run 3:21.54 and hold off Emporia State

Kynard Named National Athlete of the Week
Kansas State high jumper Erik Kynard posted the No. 1 jump in the world this season outdoors at the Mt. SAC Relays and was honored by the USTFCCCA and USATF being named the National Athlete of the Week.

Kynard was up against a very strong field with multiple Olympians and went toe-to-toe with 2011 IAAF World Champion Jesse Williams and Canadian Michael Mason with all three clearing 2.31 meters (7-07.00). Kynard was the only one of the three to clear on his first attempt and went on to jump 2.34 meters (7-08.00) on his third attempt and win the competition.

The leap of 2.34 meters is the best mark in the world so far this outdoor season and ties his own school record. Kynard also was named Big 12 Athlete of the Week for his effort.

Kynard Remains on Bowerman Watch List
The USTFCCCA announced its updated Bowerman Watch List for April on Wednesday and the list of 10 student-athletes up for college track and field’s biggest award still includes Kansas State high jumper Erik Kynard. Kynard was on the initial Preseason Watch List and again in each update throughout indoor season and now on the second outdoor update. His third-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championship and his season-high jump of 2.33 meters (7-07.75) at the KSU Open keep him on the list now. He has an outdoor best just of 2.27 meters (7-05.25) so far this year.

The Bowerman Watch List includes a number of individual NCAA titles won by the honorees, including eight during this indoor season alone.