Wildcats Seeking NCAA Championships in Oregon

Jharyl Bowry

June 3, 2013

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EUGENE, Ore. –
Kansas State track and field has a total of eight entries at this week’s NCAA Championship with all of them looking to finish in the top eight and make an impact on the meet. The Wildcats have five entries on the men’s side and two on the women’s. Action begins on Wednesday and runs through Saturday from historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

The last three days of the championship will be available for viewing either online or television. Portions of the meet will be broadcast on espn3.com on Thursday and ESPNU will air the meet on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s broadcast will start at 6:30 p.m. Central with Saturday slated to start at 4 p.m.

The Wildcat men enter the championship meet ranked No. 25 in the latest USTFCCCA Rankings, taking into account only athletes competing at the meet. Senior high jumper Erik Kynard is ranked No. 1 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the world currently with his season best jump of 2.36 meters (7-08.75). Back-to-back Big 12 champion Kyle Wait is ranked No. 7 in the pole vault with his mark of 5.51 meters (18-01.00).

K-State has two men competing in the decathlon, senior Tomas Kirielius and freshman Reinis Kregers, to continue its long tradition of being one of the best combined events programs in the nation, and Jharyl Bowry is taking on the best in the long jump where he ranks No. 12 to give K-State one male athlete in three of the four jumping events.

The Wildcats also qualified their men’s 4x100 relay team with a stellar showing at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds. K-State entered that meet ranked 23rd out of the 24 relay teams in the meet. With a time of 39.85 seconds and a third-place finish in their heat, the Wildcats grabbed an automatic spot to the championship meet and enter this week ranked No. 17.

The women’s team will bring redshirt junior Martina Tresch in the steeplechase and junior Erica Twiss in the 400 meter hurdles. Tresch is making her third appearance at the NCAA Championship after missing last season due to injury. She took 10th place as a sophomore two years ago and finished 16th as a freshman at the meet, held here in Eugene. Twiss grabbed the final spot in the championship meet from the West Preliminary Rounds and is ranked No. 24 heading into the competition, and Tresch is ranked No. 16.

Kynard is seeking his third straight NCAA crown having won the last two titles held in Des Moines, Iowa, at Drake Stadium. Only two other athletes have accomplished that feat outdoors, and neither is from the modern era of high jump post-Fosbury Flop.

The last time an athlete won three straight men’s outdoor high jump titles was in 1946 when Ken Wiesner of Marquette won his third NCAA Championship with a leap of 6 feet 8 inches. Ohio State’s Dave Albritton also won three consecutive titles from 1936-38, tying all three times. Wiesmer tied for one of his titles.

“We haven’t talked about it, so I don’t know how significant it is to him. I just know he wants to win every meet he is in. It doesn’t make a difference if it’s the Wildcat Invitational or whatever, he just wants to win,” K-State coach Cliff Rovelto said.  “I don’t know how much he has thought about three in a row. I know he thinks about wanting to win the meet.

“I think it’s really hard. If you look at how many really great high jumpers there have been, and you don’t even have to look outside our program, just look at our history, there have been a lot of pretty good high jumpers here in recent years. Kyle Lancaster made a world championship team, his best finish at an NCAA meet was second. Ed Broxterman made an Olympic team, his best finish was second. Itai Margalit made three world championship teams, his best NCAA finish was second.

“There’s been a lot of guys that haven’t won, because there is always a number of guys that are always really good. I think to win multiple NCAA championships in any event is not an easy thing to do by any stretch. To win a couple in a row is pretty significant. To have an opportunity to win more than that in a row is hard to fathom.”

Kynard returns to Hayward Field where he has seen success since his freshman year when he finished sixth at the NCAA Championship. Kynard jumped here in 2011 for the West Preliminary Rounds and finished second last year when the U.S. Olympic Trials were held in TrackTown USA. That performance sparked him to his silver medal showing at the London Olympics. He also will have a fresh competition under his belt after finishing second at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday against a world-class field.

Rovelto believes his team has the ability to perform well at the NCAA Championship again this year. Even with a small group going to the meet, the Wildcats could score points in multiple events and again prove K-State is a force on the national scene.

“I think the 4x100 if they run what they are capable of, they can make the final. I think both the decathletes are training well and capable of scoring higher than what they have scored, and if they do that, they have a chance of scoring at the meet. I think all the people that are going have a chance of scoring,” Rovelto said. “On the women’s side Martina is certainly capable of making the final, and I don’t think it is that big of a leap for Erica to finish in the top 16 and potentially earn second team All-American. With her lack of background in the event, for her to do that this year would be a pretty big deal. I think the group has a pretty good chance of performing well.”

Tickets are on sale now with a variety of seating and pricing options. Fans can purchase tickets online through the Oregon Ticket Office at goducks.com. For fans unable to attend in person, the previously mentioned online and TV broadcasts are available via espn3.com and ESPNU. There also will be live results provided by flashresults.com.

Social media will be another way for fans to keep up with the championship. Updates will be provided on Twitter with fans encouraged to follow the @kstate_gameday handle and the official team hashtag of #KStateTF. Fans can also get updates from @ncaa and #NCAATF. Numerous track and field publications, blogs and websites will also provide coverage via social media. Some Twitter handles to keep an eye on are @USTFCCCA, @tandfn, @Flotrack, @RunnerSpace_com, @spikesmag and @FlashResults.

Kynard Named Midwest Field Athlete of Year
High jumper Erik Kynard has been named USTFCCCA Midwest Region Field Athlete of the Year one last time to close his K-State career, receiving the outdoor honor for a second time.

The USTFCCCA announced both field and track athletes of the year for all nine regions as well as head coach and assistant coach awards leading into this week’s NCAA Championships.

Kynard jumped 2.27 meters (7-05.25) to open his outdoor season with a second-place finish at the Texas Relays. He later would tie his school record of 2.34 meters (7-08.00) at the Mt. SAC Relays, and this Saturday, he was up against the best in the world at the prestigious Prefontaine Classic. At the Prefontaine Classic, Kynard leapt an impressive 2.36 meters (7-08.75) to finish second behind Olympic bronze medalist Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, who cleared 2.40 meters (7-10.50).

By clearing 2.36 meters, Kynard ties the No. 2 mark all-time among the college ranks and is just two centimeters behind Hollis Conway’s mark of 2.38 meters (7-09.75).

Not counting his jump at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds where the competition was halted once the field was narrowed down to 12 competitors, Kynard is averaging 2.31 meters (7-07.00) this outdoor season in five competitions.

Men’s Track Ranked No. 25 Heading to NCAA
The K-State Wildcats are ready for the NCAA Championships this week, and the men’s track and field team enters the final meet of the season ranked No. 25 in the latest USTFCCCA Rankings. The latest rankings take only athletes competing this week into account, and the men’s team has five entries, three of which rank in the top 12 in their respective event.

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. His mark has since been surpassed by a professional jumper, but he improved his best jump by two centimeters, clearing 2.36 meters (7-08.75) to finish second at the Prefontaine Classic. Big 12 champion pole vaulter Kyle Wait entered the outdoor season ranked No. 18 but he shot up the rankings seven weeks ago after posting a new PR at the Texas Relays that ranks eighth in the NCAA this season, and he is tied for seventh in the field this week. Jharyl Bowry stands at No. 12 in the long jump with his leap of 7.79 meters (25-06.75) at the Big 12 Championship.

K-State’s 4x100 relay is returning to the championship meet after the Wildcats made an appearance in 2011 in the event. The tandem of Jordan Oakry, Carlos Rodriguez, Tyris Jefferson and Ifeanyi Otuonye ran a season-best time of 39.85 to qualify through the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds. They enter the meet ranked 15th of the 24 teams in the field.

The Wildcats have two men ranked in the decathlon with Tomas Kirielius and Reinis Kregers both in the top 24 and headed to the NCAA Championship. Only five schools have multiple entries in the decathlon.

K-State’s women two athletes headed to the NCAA Championships this week, led by redshirt junior Martina Tresch making her third appearance. She is ranked No. 16. Tresch is looking to improve on her 10th-place finish from a two years ago after missing last year due to injury.

Erica Twiss is the final entry for the women as she makes her NCAA Championship debut in the 400 meter hurdles. The heptathlete is attempting to become the second K-State heptathlete to earn All-America status in the 400 meter hurdles in the last three years.

Kynard Ranks 2nd All-Time After Prefontaine
It was a matchup of the best in the world, and Kansas State senior Erik Kynard put on a show along with two of his peers at the 2013 Prefontaine Classic to come away in second place while raising the bar on his own school record. Kynard sailed over the bar at 7 feet 8.75 inches without touching the bar on his second attempt at the height to finish second behind Mutaz Essa Barshim in the elite field.

Kynard and all four other Olympic medalists from last summer were among the nine jumpers competing on Saturday at Hayward Field, and the Wildcat along with Qatar’s Barshim and Indiana senior Derek Drouin gave the fans an exciting competition to watch.

Kynard, Drouin and Barshim all cleared the first five bars of the competition on first attempts, setting the stage for drama at higher bars. With the three of them tied with the bar headed to 7-08.75 (2.36 meters), the atmosphere was primed for excitement.

Barshim went over the bar at 7-08.75 on his first attempt after Kynard and Drouin missed their first attempts. Kynard then improved on his school record of 7-08.00 when he went over the bar on his second attempt without even touching the bar. That clearance put him in second place, and then Drouin answered by clearing the bar on his third attempt.

Kynard and Drouin both could not clear the next height of 7-10.00 (2.39 meters) as the pair of seniors received special invites to compete at the prestigious Prefontaine Classic before facing off again at their final NCAA Championship on Friday. With Kynard and Drouin eliminated, Barshim elected to pass his final attempt at 7-10.00 and raise the bar one centimeter to 2.40 meters (7-10.50), which he cleared on his first try to best his own Qatar national record.

Because the meet was held prior to the final day of the NCAA Championship, Kynard and Drouin are eligible for their marks to count toward the all-time collegiate list. The two rivals are now tied with former Nebraska Cornhusker Dusty Jonas for second on the list, trailing only Louisiana-Lafayette’s Hollis Conway and his mark of 2.38 meters (7-09.75) at the 1989 NCAA Championship.

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 four men’s and women’s teams among the Top 25 of the latest USTFCCCA Rankings heading into the NCAA Championships.

The Kansas women were the preseason No. 1 for outdoors after taking second place indoors and fell from that spot briefly five weeks ago but climbed back to the top after winning its first Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks remain at No. 1 this week by a slim margin as the battle for the women’s team title is expected to be very close with Texas A&M and Florida behind the Jayhawks. Oregon’s women are ranked No. 5 and are seeking the rare triple crown after winning the NCAA Championship in cross country and indoor track and field.

The Texas Longhorns slipped one spot to No. 12, and Iowa State also fell one spot to No. 15 to give the Big 12 three in the top 15. Texas Tech climbed three spots to No. 17 this week, and all four of the women’s teams in the Big 12 that are ranked are in the top 20.

Baylor (27) and Oklahoma (34) both fell outside the Top 25 heading into the championship meet on the women’s side.

For the men, Texas is the top team at No. 8, and TCU was the big mover. The Horned Frogs climbed all the way up to No. 12 as Charles Silmon proved to be a threat to win the 100 and 200 meters while also helping qualify TCU’s 4x100 relay. Kansas moved up six places to No. 15. The Wildcats returned to the Top 25 by taking the last spot and moving up three spots.

Texas Tech and Oklahoma each fell out of the Top 25 this week, but the league has a number of teams just outside looking to make a move at the championship meet. Oklahoma (26), Texas Tech (32) and Baylor (34) are all in the top 35.

Kynard Remains on Bowerman Watch List
The USTFCCCA announced its final The Bowerman Watch List on Wednesday, and Kansas State senior high jumper Erik Kynard remains on the list of 10 male student-athletes up for track and field’s biggest award.

Kynard enters the NCAA Championship with the No. 1 jump of the season at 2.34 meters (7-08.00). His jump also is currently No. 1 in the world this season. In Oregon next week, Kynard will look to defend his title and become the first men’s high jumper to win three consecutive NCAA outdoor titles since Ken Wiesmer in 1946 for Marquette.

The six-time Big 12 Conference champion was on the initial Preseason Watch List and has remained among the 10 athletes considered for the award since. After the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships next week, the Watch List Committee will select 10 semifinals with an announcement on June 17.