Wildcats Set to Host Big 12 Championships

Ryann Krais

May 10, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State fans will get to see one of the best track meets in not only the state or the nation, but the world this weekend when the Wildcats host the 2012 Big 12 Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Action is set to start at 11 a.m., Friday with the women’s javelin before the first day of the heptathlon and decathlon begin at noon. Friday also will feature two throwing events and the 10,000 meters.

Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Cliff Rovelto has been outspoken on how talented the field will be in every event and has told multiple media outlets he believes 15 to 20 student-athletes competing at this weekend’s conference championship will end up representing their homeland in this summer’s 2012 London Olympic Games.

The Big 12 Championships provide a unique experience for K-State fans to see elite track and field athletes in action and root on their Wildcats, many of whom also have Olympic dreams. Highlighting the field for the Wildcats will be NCAA champions Erik Kynard and Ryann Krais. Kynard is looking to defend his Big 12 high jump title on Sunday afternoon, and Krais is defending her Big 12 crown in the 400 meter hurdles. She also will be competing in the heptathlon, which she won at the NCAA Championship last year but did not compete in at the conference meet.

Two other Big 12 champions will be in action for K-State with freshman Alyx Treasure taking on a deep field in the women’s high jump. She bested the competition at the Big 12 indoor meet in February and will be looking to double up. Also looking for her second Big 12 title of the year is senior Boglarka Bozzay. After winning the 1,000 meters indoors, she has her eyes set on the 800 meter crown this time around.

Winning an event will not be easy for any of the student-athletes as the Big 12 Conference is arguably the best in the NCAA. A total of five men’s teams are ranked in the Top 25 this week and the women boast an impressive eight of the 10 teams in the Top 25. Four of those women’s teams are ranked No. 8 or better with Texas (3), Kansas (5), Texas Tech (6) and Texas A&M (8). The men claim the No. 2 and No. 3 spots with Texas A&M and Texas Tech, respectively.

The conference combines to have 39 marks currently ranked in the NCAA’s top 10 performances of the season on the men’s side and an even stronger 44 for the women. The Big 12 women lay claim to five of the current No. 1 marks in the nation and the men of the conference have four of the best marks in the NCAA this season.

K-State has four of those women’s marks in the Top 10 currently in the NCAA. Krais is ranked No. 6 in the heptathlon, and Treasure is tied for fourth in the high jump. Fifth-year senior TiAra Walpool is 10th in the triple jump, and Bozzay is ninth in the 800.

One area the Wildcats can score significant points this weekend is in the heptathlon. In addition to Krais, the women’s group has six other athletes capable of making an impact at the meet. Last season, Julia Zeiner finished sixth as a true freshman and the only Wildcat competing in the event. This year, all seven heptathletes will be taking on the deep and talented field. Newcomers Mairead Murphy and Richelle Farley are not only strong heptathletes but among the best hurdlers in the conference. Sophomore Erica Twiss has been going strong this season, and freshman Joslyn Barnes is a force in the jumping events to give K-State a versatile group in the heptathlon.

The men’s team could have multiple Wildcats score in the 100 meters as Carlos Rodriguez and Martynas Jurgilas rank among the top sprinters in the league after last weekend’s fast times at the Nebraska Invitational. They also could make a splash in the 4x100 as the team is currently fifth in the Big 12. K-State could also have a number of Wildcats make the podium in the men’s javelin with three in the Top 10 of the conference entering this weekend’s meet. The men’s javelin is set for Friday at 1:30 p.m.

Saturday will bring a handful of more field events, with some Olympic hopefuls from other Big 12 schools in the long jump and shot put. Preliminary heats for the running events also start at 3 p.m. The second day of the combined events starts at 10 a.m. and field events start at 2 p.m. with the women’s long jump.

The excitement comes to ahead on Sunday with the finals in the running events and the talented high jump fields for both men and women. Entering the meet, four men in the Big 12 have cleared seven feet in the high jump, and four women have hit six feet or higher. The men’s and women’s discus also will boast some of the top throwers in the NCAA, and triple jump will bring excitement with No. 1 Andrea Guebelle of Kansas and No. 10 Walpool from K-State in the women’s field.

Fans can purchase single-session adult tickets for just $10 and youth/senior tickets are only $5. All-session passes are available for $20 and $10 respectively, a savings of $10 versus buying single-session each day.

K-State Gameday will be on hand to tape an episode that will air at a later date on K-StateHD.TV. The episode will feature packages with Krais, Kynard and sophomore pole vaulter Kyle Wait. The show will be hosted by Brian Smoller and Lon Floyd.

Fox Sports Net will also be at the Big 12 Championships and will air the meet on a tape delay basis. The broadcast schedule will be announced later.

Fans unable to attend the meet in person can still keep up with the action via live results provided by Delta Timing. Links to the live results will be available at deltatiming.com and the Big 12 Championship Headquarters located at kstatesports.com. Updates will also be posted on Twitter throughout the meet. Fans can get those updates by following the handles @kstate_gameday and @big12conference.

Wildcats Still Among Best in USTFCCCA Rankings
The Kansas State women continue to make an impact on the national scene and remain among the top teams. This week the Wildcats hold onto the No. 25 spot in this week’s USTFCCCA Rankings. They join seven other Big 12 Conference teams in the Top 25.

The Wildcat women opened the outdoor season at No. 19 on the preseason list with senior Ryann Krais ranked among the nation’s best in a number of events. K-State climbed four spots to No. 15 earlier in the season and now stands at No. 23 with just two weeks before the conference championship. K-State has athletes ranked in the top 10 in four events.

K-State’s women in the top 10 of their events are seniors Boglarka Bozzay (800m), TiAra Walpool (TJ) and Ryann Krais (heptathlon). Freshman Alyx Treasure (HJ) joins them among the elite in their events. Bozzay also is ranked in the 1,500 and Krais is among the top in the 400 hurdles. Senior Kim Haberman is looking to qualify for the NCAA West Regional in the long jump standing at No. 24, and Mairead Murphy is No. 30 in the heptathlon, with last year’s scores still being used for the combined events for some athletes. Jessica Carter moves into the top 50 this week in the discus as well last week.

The men’s team fell four spots to No. 65 this week. Erik Kynard dropped to No. 11 in the high jump. Sprinters Carlos Rodriguez and Martynas Jurgilas moved into the rankings in the 100 this week at No. 29 and No. 33 on the USTFCCCA list. Rodriguez also is ranked in the 200. Mantas Silkauskas is No. 36 in the 110 meter hurdles. The trio of runners represents half of the 4x100 team that is No. 16 on the list. Five other athletes are ranked No. 40 or higher in their respective field events.

Big 12 Best Track Conference in Nation
The Big 12 Conference is known across the country as one of the top leagues in the nation with its exposure in football and basketball, but track and field is yet another sport the Big 12 can hang with the best. In this week’s USTFCCCA Rankings five men’s teams and eight women’s teams are ranked in the Top 25. Three of those men’s teams are in the Top 10 while the women boast an impressive five of the Top 15 and four in the Top 10.

Three schools (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech) have both their men’s and women’s programs in the Top 10 with Oklahoma the next to threaten the double-dip. The Sooner men are No. 20 and the women are at No. 13. All five men’s teams that are ranked also have their women ranked as Kansas comes in at No. 23 for the men and No. 5 for the women.  Baylor is close to reaching this distinction as well with the women at No. 23 and the men at No. 30.

Only the SEC (7) has more men’s teams in the Top 25 than the Big 12 does. Three of those teams are in the Top 10. The Pac-12 and Big Ten also have five teams like the Big 12. No other conference has more teams in the Top 25 than the Big 12 women. The SEC and Pac-12 are next with five apiece.

While the SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten may stack up with the Big 12 when it comes to teams in the Top 25, it is not even close when examining the depth of the Big 12. Taking every team in the Big 12 into account as the USTFCCCA ranks every team, the Big 12 men’s average ranking is 28.2. The Big 12 women combine to average an impressive 18.8. The lowest ranked team in the conference for the women is Missouri at No. 51. The average ranking for the SEC men is 34.6 with the Big Ten coming in at 41.6 and the Pac-12 at 43.0. The Pac-12 women combine to average 50.8. The SEC women’s average is 53.25, and the highest ranked women’s team in the Big Ten is Ohio State at No. 24.

13 Wildcats Earn Academic All-Big 12
The Big 12 Conference announced the 2012 Academic All-Big 12 Track and Field Teams on Tuesday with 13 Kansas State Wildcats making the grade. Eleven of those Wildcats earned first team accolades and two were honored on the second team.

The women’s team had six student-athletes named to the first team with at least a 3.20 GPA. Chelsie Bonds earned first team honors for the fourth straight year, and Ali Pistora received her third first team honor. Boglarka Bozzay and Sydney Messick also made the first team for the second year in a row. Julia Zeiner made the first team in her first year of eligibility for the award. Senior Ryann Krais was named to the first team for the first time as well in her first year eligible for the award. This was Bozzay’s third overall honor receiving second team status in 2010.

On the men’s first team senior Cory Boulanger received the award for the first time. Sophomore Kyle Hanson also was a first-time member of the first team in his first year to be eligible for the award along with fellow sophomore Kyle Wait. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Hershberger earned first team honors back-to-back years. Gus Vazquez-Milan also was a repeat on the first team for the Wildcats. The two members of the second team both came from the men’s squad as Tomaz Bogovic and Luke Hibbeler each were honored for having a GPA higher than 3.00.

To qualify student-athletes must maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher either cumulative or the two previous semesters and must have participated in 60 percent of their team’s scheduled contests. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their first year of academic residence. Senior student-athletes who have participated in a minimum of two years and meet all the criteria except percent of participation are also eligible.

Wildcats Close Regular Season at Nebraska
A large group of Wildcats headed for the Nebraska Invitational last weekend as a final tune up before hosting this week’s Big 12 Championships and posted three wins and saw 11 improve their personal best marks just in time as the schedule shifts to championship season.

Sophomore Ryan Hershberger has been performing consistently of late for the Wildcats and opened the day claiming his fourth win of the outdoor season in the shot put. He posted a mark of 55-05.75 (16.91m) but was short of his best mark from the week prior.

The first running event of the day for the Wildcats was the men’s 4x100 relay and K-State came away with that win as well. The tandem of Mantas Silkauskas, Carlos Rodriguez, Dane Steen and Martynas Jurgilas combined to run 39.83 seconds and defeat the hosting Cornhuskers by more than half a second. The time also ranks fourth in school history and was the first time this group has run the 4x1 in competition. All four runners in the 4x100 also faced the field in the open 100 meters. Rodriguez claimed the victory crossing the finish line in just 10.31 seconds. Jurgilas was close at his heels finishing second in 10.33. Silkauskas took fourth at 10.39 seconds, and Steen was 10th at 10.88.

On the women’s side in the 100 meters, Samantha McKnight kept her steady pace of improvement going as she finished third and clocked in at 11.81 seconds. It marked the third time this season she has posted a personal best time. This time she also cracked the school’s top performances with her time ranking 10th in school history.

For the men in distance events, Kyle Hanson came in third in the 800 meters with his time of 1:51.05, shaving almost a full second of his personal best time. Freshman Logan Smith also ran a new PR in the 800 as he finished fourth in 1:52.78.

Sophomore Brooke Sharp posted a new personal best in the high jump as a Wildcat clearing 5-06.00 and taking fifth. Also jumping 5-06.00 to finish sixth by tiebreaker and making her K-State track and field debut was former volleyball star and women’s basketball player JuliAnne Chisholm.

Juco transfer Tarique Hill was another Wildcat to post a PR. He crossed the line in 14.37 seconds in the 110 meter hurdles to finish fourth. His time takes just a few hundredths of a second off his previous fastest time as a Wildcat and moves him closer to breaking into the school’s top 10 list. In the men’s 400 hurdles, Franciso Colomar also ran a personal best time. The Spaniard clocked in at 52.15 seconds to finish third.