Group of Wildcats Head to USA Championships

Ryann Krais

June 21, 2011


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MANHATTAN, Kan. – After their most successful season combined, the Kansas State track and field teams will send a small group of Wildcats to Eugene, Ore., this week to compete in the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships with action starting Thursday and running through Sunday. Five Wildcats will make the trek west in hopes of making Team USA and trading in their Purple and White for Red, White and Blue later this summer at the IAAF World Championships and Pan Am Junior Championships.

NCAA champions Ryann Krais and Erik Kynard are among the group heading to Oregon for USA Championships. Krais will be part of the field of 13 athletes competing in the heptathlon set to start the first of two days of competition on Saturday. Four of the athletes in the heptathlon will be collegiates with Nebraska’s Chantae McMillan just completing her senior season. North Dakota State’s Jenny Carlson will be in Oregon after finishing ninth at the NCAA meet. Central Missouri’s Lindsay Lettow swept the multis at NCAA Division II Championships winning the pentathlon indoors and heptathlon outdoors this season.

Kynard enters the men’s high jump ranked second with his leap of 7-07.75 during the indoor season. His highest outdoor jump of 7-07.00 also is the fifth-highest outdoor clearing in the world this season. Only seven jumpers have leapt higher than Kynard this season. He is set to compete at 12:20 p.m. Sunday.

TiAra Walpool will be looking to keep her strong season going in the women’s triple jump. Walpool finished fourth at the Big 12 Championship with her leap of 43-09.75, surpassing her personal best by more than seven inches. She will compete on Friday afternoon.

Two Wildcats will be competing in the USA Junior Championships as freshmen Kyle Wait and Erica Twiss look to represent Team USA in the Pan Am Junior Championships in Florida in July. Wait tied for 11th at the Big 12 Championship and posted his highest mark in the pole vault at the Kansas Relays when he cleared 16-06.75. That mark tied him for 10th in school history as well. The junior pole vault competition is slated for Saturday afternoon. Twiss will be competing in the junior level heptathlon. Her best score of the season came at the Kansas Relays when she finished eighth with her score of 4,530 points. Twiss will be the first Wildcat to compete with the first day of the junior heptathlon on Thursday.

The Wildcats will be well-represented in the heptathlon. In addition to Twiss in the junior competition, joining Krais in the senior heptathlon will be K-State coaching staff members Kasey Hill and Bettie Wade. The pair have trained with K-State coach Cliff Rovelto for two years now and served as full-time assistant coaches on the staff this past season.

To qualify for Team USA, junior athletes must finish first or second in their respective events. Senior athletes must finish in the top three to go to Daegu, Korea for the IAAF World Championships that run August 27 through September 4. The Pan Am Junior Championships are slated for July 22-24 in Miramar, Fla.

Fans can watch the USA Championships on three networks throughout the week. ESPN2 will air the meet on Friday from 10 p.m. to midnight. The network will re-air this broadcast Saturday  from noon to 3 p.m. Universal Sports will air competition from 2-3:30 p.m. before coverage moves over to its sister station NBC from 4-5 p.m. Sunday will have a similar schedule with Universal airing the meet from 2-3 p.m. and NBC providing coverage from 4-5 p.m. Live results will be provided by

K-State Women 12th on Program of Year List
The success of the Kansas State track and field and cross country programs continue to be recognized this season. The United States Track & Field and Cross Country Association announced its men’s and women’s John McDonnell and Terry Crawford Program of the Year and the K-State women come in 12th on the list.

K-State finished 25th at the NCAA Cross Country Championship this fall after qualifying for the event as a team for the first time in 10 years. Senior Sydney Messick and sophomore Martina Tresch played a key role in the Wildcats having such a strong year as each earned all-region honors as well. The women backed that performance up with Ryann Krais finishing sixth in the pentathlon indoors to finish tied for 45th. Then, the women’s team put together one of its best performances in the last 10 years finishing 13th at the outdoor championship. The Wildcats were the third Big 12 team on the list with Texas coming in fourth in the standings and Colorado standing 10th. Three more Big 12 schools were listed to give the conference six of the 18 teams to make the standings. Iowa State (13), Oklahoma State (14) and Texas Tech (15) round out the Big 12 schools.

Krais, Kynard Claim NCAA Titles
Ryann Krais and Erik Kynard became the latest Wildcats to be the best at the biggest college meet of the year. Krais dominated the women’s heptathlon claiming the lead after the second event on Thursday and never relinquishing it. Kynard flew higher than any of his competition to win the fourth outdoor men’s high jump NCAA title in school history.

The last time K-State a national champion on the men’s and women’s side was 1986 when Kenny Harrison won the men’s triple jump and Rita Graves won the women’s high jump. K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said he was excited for his two champions and how they performed on the big stage.

Krais was a force in the heptathlon as she grabbed the lead following the second event and never looked back. She finished with a 104-point victory over Clemson’s Liane Weber and defeated West Virginia’s Chelsea Carrier by 200 points, who defeated Krais at the Texas Relays earlier in the season. With her first NCAA title, Krais becomes the second woman in K-State history to win the outdoor heptathlon. Austra Skujyte won the heptathlon twice in her career as a Wildcat winning in 2001 and 2002 before going on to win silver at the 2004 Olympics.

Kynard shined even in the steady rain that felt throughout most of the high jump competition. Following a brief weather delay, the field quickly began to fall before it was only Kynard and Ricky Robertson of Ole Miss. The pair came into the meet ranked first and second, respectively, and put on a good show for the fans.

The two were the only jumpers to clear 7-03.75, each doing so on their first attempts. Then, Kynard jumped 7-05.00 on his first leap. Robertson struggled but was able to get over the bar on his third and final chance. After Kynard cleared 7-6.00 on his second attempt, Robertson failed to get over the bar and Kynard became the latest Wildcat to bring a title back to High Jump U.

K-State has now claimed a total of four men’s outdoor high jump NCAA crowns. Add the two indoors, and one women’s title outdoors K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto has built one of the most successful and respected high jump and multi programs in the nation.

Wildcats Post Best Season in School History
The Kansas State Wildcats teamed up to do something they have not done in 12 years at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Both the men’s and women’s teams finished in the Top 25 with the men scoring 16 points for a tie in 16th place. The women tallied 19 points and came in 13th. The last time both teams finished in the Top 25 was 1999 when both teams tied for 24th. It also marks the first time ever that both K-State track and field teams have finished in the Top 20 in the same year.

“As far as the team placings go, first of all, it says this group of kids performed at a very high level and obviously prepared well,” K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said. “This is a very good group of competitors as each of the scorers placed equal to or above what they were ranked coming into this meet.

“Our kids have made it a habit to place higher at the championship than we were ranked going in and that is a tribute to their ability to rise to the challenge. We are very proud of them.”

The high team finishes were made possible in part to the NCAA titles claimed by Erik Kynard in the men’s high jump and Ryann Krais in the women’s heptathlon. The pair had assistance from their teammates in making 2011 the best ever for the Purple and White.

Jeffrey Julmis helped the Wildcat men secure a spot among the elite teams in the nation with his fourth-place finish in the 110 meter hurdles in a dramatic race. Julmis came in ranked 10th in the event and qualified for the final with the fifth-fastest time in the semifinals. He crossed the line in a blazing fast time of 13.38 seconds in the final to improve his placement by one spot from a year ago and score four points for the team. The time would break his own school record of 13.50 set in the semifinals, but it cannot count as it was ran downwind with an illegal win.

Moritz Cleve finished eighth in the decathlon with his score of 7,838 points in what many familiar with the event deemed one of the deepest decathlons in NCAA history. Cleve was just 99 points shy of his score from the 2009 meet when he finished third. The meet also had 10 competitors score more than 7,800 points. Cleve posted personal records in some of the disciplines and was close in others to put together one of the best performances of his career.  

For the women, Nina Kokot finished sixth in the long jump with her leap of 21-02.75. She became the first Wildcat to score in the long jump since Candice Mills finish fourth in 2006. Kokot’s jump did not have a legal wind, but her second-best jump of the day did and was good enough to tie her for the school record as she now holds both the indoor and outdoor records at K-State.

Krais helped the Wildcats in a big way by competing in the rare double finishing third in the 400 meter hurdles. Krais broke the school record in the event for the fifth time this season during the semifinals when she crossed the line in 55.68 seconds. She then had to run the final after finishing the javelin portion of the heptathlon and one hour before the final event -- the 800 meters. Following a lightning delay that was called as the runners were getting into the blocks, Krais ran 56.06 in the final to earn six points for the team effort.

K-State Track & Field Among Elite in Nation
Heading into the NCAA Championships Kansas State has both its teams ranked in the USTFCCCA Top 25. With both teams finishing in the Top 25 at the NCAA Championship, the Wildcats cemented their status as one of the elite programs as only 15 schools had both their men and women place in the Top 25. Twelve of those schools had both in the Top 20, including K-State.

The Big 12 Conference also proved it is the top conference when it comes to track and field with Texas A&M winning the men’s and women’s titles for a third straight year. Five schools were among the 15 with both teams in the Top 25. Texas (12/8), Kansas (18/23) and Oklahoma (20/4) joined K-State and A&M with both their men and women ranked. Six teams ended up in the Top 25 for both the men and women, with Texas Tech (9) joining the men and Colorado (17) for the women. The league combined to win a total of nine titles at the NCAA Championship, three for the men and six on the women’s side.