K-State Track Gears Up for Big 12 Championships

Sam James

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May 12, 2011

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State Wildcats are set to take on their league rivals at the Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships this weekend in Oklahoma. The top conference in the nation for track and field will hold its championship meet at the John Jacobs Track Complex in Norman with all 12 teams battling it out over three days of action for the men’s and women’s titles beginning Friday.

K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said the indoor conference championship meet was a preview for the NCAA Championship with the high caliber athletes competing in the Big 12. This weekend’s meet will be more of the same. Nine of the 12 women’s teams are ranked in the Top 25 of the latest USTFCCCA Rankings. Five of them are ranked No. 11 or higher. K-State’s women come in at No. 16, the eighth Big 12 team on the list. The Big 12 men have eight teams in the Top 25 with K-State rejoining the list at No. 25 this week. Texas A&M stands No. 1 in the nation for the men and No. 2 for the women, who are looking to defend their four straight Big 12 titles this weekend. Nebraska’s men are the defending Big 12 champs and are looking to become the first team to win three conference titles in a row.

The Wildcats have a number of athletes who will contend for championships in their respective events beginning with the No. 1 high jumper in the nation Erik Kynard. He has the highest leap in the NCAA this season at 7-7.00 and is 4.5 inches higher than anyone in the Big 12. Sara Stoakes is the defending champion in the women’s 800 meters, and she is joined by Boglarka Bozzay among those vying for the title this year. Bozzay is ranked third in the event heading into the meet.

K-State’s Ali Pistora is ranked No. 2 in the conference and No. 6 in the nation in the javelin where she will take on a strong field. Five of the Top 20 javelin throwers in the nation hail from Big 12 schools.

The hurdle events is another area the Wildcats look to make some noise in a deep field with Jeffrey Julmis and Mantas Silkauskas each ranking in the top eight of the league. Ryann Krais is No. 1 in the league in the women’s 400 meter hurdles and also is No. 1 in the heptathlon.

Combined events is again one of K-State’s strengths where senior Moritz Cleve hopes to close his career as a two-time Big 12 decathlon champion. Two years ago, Cleve set a Big 12 Championship meet record with 8,004 points winning the title at Texas Tech. This year, Cleve is yet to compete in a decathlon but has posted strong marks in a number of events building up to this point. The conference as a whole is extremely deep in the combined events with Krais and Nebraska’s Chantae McMillan finishing in the top sixth at the NCAA Indoor Championship in the pentathlon. The Big 12 also had four of the top 10 finishers for the men in the heptathlon at the meet.

Tickets are on sale now through soonersports.com with three-day tickets and single-day tickets available, and parking at the event is free. Fans unable to attend the meet can follow the action online with live results at deltatiming.com. Updates will also be posted on the Twitter feeds @kstate_gameday and @Big12Conference throughout the competition. The meet will be aired tape delayed on May 20 on FSN with Bill Land, Carol Lewis and Grant Boone calling the action.

Both K-State Teams Ranked Among Top 25
After K-State’s women made their big push up the USTFCCCA Rankings the previous two weeks, this week the men’s team climbs its way back into the Top 25 to put K-State among the elite programs with both its men and women ranked. Over the previous two weeks the women’s squad jumped 17 spots moving from No. 33 to No. 16 with a stop at No. 25 in between. This week the women remain at No. 16, and the men come in at No. 25.

The women’s climb was made possible with strong performances from Ali Pistora, Ryann Krais and Nina Kokot.

At the Drake Relays, Krais dominated the 400 hurdles again getting the winning and breaking the school record for a second straight week. Krais clocked in at 56.62 seconds to shed nearly half a second off her previous best time and to move into fifth in the NCAA this season. She also holds the No. 2 score this season in the heptathlon after finishing second at the Texas Relays and is ranked No. 4 overall taking high scores from last season into account for other athletes.

Also, leaping her way near the top of her event was Kokot at Drake Relays. Kokot won the women’s long jump with her leap of 21-02.50 and is now third in the nation behind only Nebraska’s Mara Griva and Clemson’s April Sinkler. The mark would be long enough for a new K-State record, but it was wind-aided and not eligible.

Three weeks ago at the Kansas Relays, Pistora set a new PR in the javelin with her toss of 170-11 to rank sixth in the nation. The mark was tops in the Big 12 this season briefly as Oklahoma’s Brittany Borman inched by the following day at another meet.  

In addition to Kokot, Krais and Pistora ranking in the top 10 in their four events combined, the Wildcats also have three more athletes in the top 50. Martina Tresch stands 19th in the women’s steeplechase, while TiAra Walpool is to 27th in the triple jump. Boglarka Bozzay completes the list of Wildcat women as she is ranked 22nd in the 800 meters.

The Big 12 Conference dominates the women’s rankings with a total of nine teams in the Top 25 to again show the league is the deepest in the nation. Eight of those nine teams are all in the Top 16, including four in the Top 10. Texas A&M (2), Oklahoma (6), Baylor (9), Texas (10), Texas Tech (11), Nebraska (14), Colorado (15) and Kansas (25) are the other Big 12 women’s teams in the Top 25.

The Kansas State men moved up seven spots to No. 25 this week. The Wildcats have a total of 11 marks scored in the rankings formula. The rankings place student-athletes according to their best marks this season and marks from multi-events last year also allowed to count toward the performance list.

High jumper Erik Kynard is alone at No. 1 after leaping 7-7.00 at the Drake Relays. He raised the bar 1.25 inches from his previous best. Mantas Silkauskas joins him in the Top 10 in his respective event currently ranked eighth in the decathlon. The men’s 4x100 relay team also bolted to No. 9 this week after breaking the school record at 39.46 seconds.

Moritz Cleve is 22nd in the decathlon based on last year’s top performance. Jeffrey Julmis stands 24th in the 110 meter hurdles along with Silkauskas at 26th. Martynas Jurgilas is ranked in both the 100 and 200 meters, Tomaz Bogovic (hammer throw) and Cory Boulanger (javelin) give K-State a pair of throwers in the rankings. Sam James is new to the rankings this week after winning the 800 meters at the Ward Haylett Invitational.

The Big 12 is again one of the top conferences with seven teams ranked in the Top 25 on the men’s side. Texas A&M (1), Texas Tech (5), Texas (6) and Nebraska (8) give the men four teams in the Top 10. Baylor (13), Oklahoma (16) and Kansas (17) round out the rest for the Big 12 in the Top 25.

Men’s 4x100 Named Big 12 Athletes of the Week
The 4x100 relay tandem of Mantas Silkauskas, Jeffrey Julmis, Jason Coniglio and Martynas Jurgilas have been recognized as the Big 12 Athletes of the Week for their impressive win at the Ward Haylett Invitational. The Wildcats opened the running events of the meet with a bang that got the home crowd on its feet as the 4x100 relay team blew by Nebraska on its way to shattering the school and facility records at K-State clocking in at 39.46 seconds. Julmis and Coniglio ran key second and third legs for the Wildcats to give K-State the lead heading into the anchor leg. Jurgilas took the baton with a slight lead and pulled away from Nebraska to win by a full second over the Huskers.

The time broke the previous school record of 39.79 set in 1991. The previous R.V. Christian Track Complex facility record was held by Nebraska and set at the 2005 Big 12 Championship at 39.59. K-State’s time ranks fourth in the Big 12 and 13th on the NCAA list this season, however, three schools have multiple times on the list ahead of K-State due to different running orders, and K-State ranks as the No. 9 team when taking that into account.

Wildcats Dominate Home Meet
The Kansas State Wildcats came away from the Ward Haylett Invitational with 11 event wins and another school record in the books. K-State has had a number of records fall this season, and the men’s 4x100 relay was the latest.

The tandem of Mantas Silkauskas, Jeffrey Julmis, Jason Coniglio and Martynas Jurgilas blew by Nebraska en route to the win and the new school record time of 39.46 seconds. The women also won the 4x100 with their fastest time of the season. In addition to the 4x100 the Wildcats dominated the hurdles with Julmis and Silkauskas finishing 1-2 in the 110 hurdles. Ryann Krais and Denise Baker also crossed the line first for the women in the 100 hurdles. Jurgilas won the 200 meters as well.

Boglarka Bozzay was a force in the women’s 800 meters pulling away from the field with 200 meters to go. Bozzay clocked in at 2:05.83 to win by more than 1.5 seconds over the Nebraska double threat of Brooke and Blaire Dinsdale. Bozzay’s time ranks third in school history and puts her near the top of the Big 12 list heading into the conference championship meet. For the men, Sam James dominated the race clocking in at 1:49.62 for a new personal best. Kyle Hanson claimed the 1,500 to give K-State another victory in the distance events.

Erik Kynard jumped for the home crowd winning the high jump at 7-02.50, and Ali Pistora was victorious in the women’s javelin. Ryan Hershberger claimed the men’s shot put for another throwing win for the Wildcats.

Kynard Earns Big 12 Athlete of the Week
Kansas State high jumper Erik Kynard was again recognized by the Big 12 Conference on Tuesday being selected as the male Athlete of the Week for his NCAA-leading performance at the 102nd Drake Relays. Kynard was one of two collegiate student-athletes to be selected to compete in a special invitational high jump and he jumped the leading height of the meet and the NCAA this season while finishing second.

Kynard leapt 7-7.00 on his way to finishing second behind former Nebraska star and 2008 Olympian Dusty Jonas. Kynard finished second behind Jonas since he took more attempts to clear the height than Jonas. Both jumpers then missed all three attempts at the next height.

With his jump of 7-7.00, Kynard raises the bar for the competition 1.25 inches as he was tied with Arizona’s Edgar Rivera-Morales at 7-5.75 prior to this weekend. Mississippi’s Ricky Robertson was the other collegiate athlete in the special invite high jump with Kynard, and he jumped 7-5.75.

Kynard’s mark also ties him for second in K-State history trailing only three-time NCAA champion Scott Sellers. This is Kynard’s second Big 12 Male Athlete of the Week honor this season after claiming one during indoor season as well.

Records Fall at Drake Relays
The Wildcats came to the 102nd Drake Relays with the intent of posting strong numbers and one particular school record in their crosshairs. That record fell on during the exciting Relays Under the Lights portion of the prestigious meet with the tandem of Sara Stoakes, Meghan Heuer, Ryann Krais and Boglarka Bozzay shattering the previous record in the 4x800 meter relay en route to winning the competition.

K-State crossed the finish line in 8:34.81 to win the competition holding off a charge by the Minnesota Golden Gophers on the final lap to claim the win. K-State’s previous best in the rarely seen 4x800 was held by the grouping of Deb Pihl, Sherry Thomas, Janell LeValley and Wanda Trent set in 1981 with a time of 8:45.10. K-State assistant coach Michael Smith said earlier this week he and his sights set on breaking the record this week with three of his own distance runners on the relay team to go with combined events specialist Krais. That record fell with ease as Bozzay pulled away from Minnesota running the final 400 meters in 61.3 seconds to win by more than two seconds. Krais had arguably the most impressive leg of the race by far running her split in 2:07.1 to hand the baton to Bozzay with a slight lead over Minnesota, Nebraska and Baylor.

The following day at the meet, Krais broke her own school record in the women’s 400 meter hurdles clocking in at 56.62 seconds winning in a tight race. Krais held off Iowa State’s Kianna Elahi in her heat to get the win as she has been dominating the event all season.

Nina Kokot went on to win the women’s long jump with her impressive jump of 21-02.50 to fly past the field. The mark would have been a new school record if not for the wind as it was just above the allowable limit to be considered wind-aided and is not eligible. She faced a strong field with some of the top jumpers in the NCAA this season at Drake.