Three Wildcat Hopefuls Chase Olympic Dreams

Ryann Krais

June 21, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - A trio of Kansas State Wildcats are preparing to chase their Olympic dreams this month. Back-to-back NCAA high jump champion Erik Kynard is hoping to qualify for Team USA this weekend and senior heptathlete Ryann Krais is set to compete on the final weekend of the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials next week. Freshman Alyx Treasure is ranked No. 2 in her native Canada and has her sites set on a spot on the Olympic team in the women's high jump as well.

The U.S. Olympic Trials begin Friday in Eugene, Ore., where action will run through July 1st at legendary Hayward Field. TrackTown USA will be buzzing with the best athletes in America looking to represent the Red, White and Blue in London this summer for the 2012 Olympic Games. The Canadian Trials are slated for June 27-30 in Calgary.

Kynard leapt a new school record at the NCAA Championships as he is the first Wildcat to clear 7-08.00 (2.34m). His mark also broke the Drake Stadium record in a dramatic high jump competition that saw the Wildcat and three-time NCAA champion Derek Drouin battle. Kynard is set to compete in the qualifying round of the high jump on Saturday at 4:20 p.m. Pacific time. The field will be narrowed down to 12 competitors at that time before jumping in the final on Monday at 5:50 p.m.

Krais won the Big 12 title in the heptathlon and also indoors in the pentathlon. At the NCAA meet, she finished 14th outdoors and fifth indoors. She has seen success in TrackTown USA, where she finished second at the 2011 USA Championship in the heptathlon. Last year, Krais scored 6,030 points to finish second and narrowly miss a spot on Team USA for the IAAF World Championships.

Treasure is one of the most decorated young athletes from Canada. She won the Canadian Junior Championship last season and then stepped up to compete against older competition and finished fifth at the Canadian Championship. She finished fifth at the Big 12 outdoor meet this season as a freshman and won the indoor crown. She enters the Canadian Track and Field Trials ranked No. 2 at 6-00.50 (1.84m). She trails Jillian Drouin, sister of Indiana Hoosier Derek Drouin, by three centimeters. The qualifying round of the high jump is slated for 5:30 p.m. June 28 with the final the following day at the same time.

One former Wildcat will be in Eugene scouting the action for Team USA. All-American and two-time NCAA runner-up both indoor and outdoor, Gwen Wentland-Mikinski is a member of the USA Track and Field coaching staff for this year's Olympic Games. She will serve as the women's assistant coach for jumps.

Two other former Wildcats will be competing for a spot on the team as well. Amy Mortimer looks to qualify in the 1,500 meters. She will run the qualifying round on June 28. Olympian Christian Smith will be running the 800 meters, hoping to make the team again after a dramatic diving finish to qualify in 2008. The first round is set for 5:20 p.m. Friday with semifinals at 4:45 p.m. Saturday. The final will be Monday at 7:47 p.m.

NBC will be providing live coverage from the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. The network will air coverage Saturday and Sunday as well as the final two days of the meet. The newly launched NBC Sports Network will also have coverage Friday and June 25-29. Check your local listings for times and to see if your cable or satellite provider carry NBC Sports Network.

The Canadian Track and Field Trials will be broadcast on CBC Sports. Check your local listings for times and to see if you get the network. The network will air two hours live on television and another two hours of live online steaming on its website.

Fans will be able to follow the action at the U.S. Olympic Trials online with live results provided by Updates will also be available on Twitter. Those wanting to stay in the know in that manner, can follow @kstate_gameday as well as @USATrack_Field. Hashtags #KStateTrack ,  #London2012 and #Eugene2012 will be used throughout the U.S. Trials. Information from Canadian Trials can be followed on @AthleticsCanada with a live results link available at

Kynard Named Semifinalist for The Bowerman
On the heels of his back-to-back NCAA titles in the high jump and his strong 2012 season, Erik Kynard was named a semifinalist for The Bowerman Award by the USTFCCCA. Kynard was announced as one of 10 semifinalists for the award. The list reads like an exclusive club with all 10 semifinalists winning at least one NCAA title this season. Two semifinalists won two events at Drake Stadium earlier this month.

The Bowerman, the Heisman Trophy of track and field, was introduced in 2009 and is presented annually to the top male and female NCAA track and field athletes in the nation and sponsored by the USTFCCCA. The award honors former University of Oregon head coach Bill Bowerman. In addition to his history of success at Oregon, he was instrumental in helping establish the system of autonomous federations to control individual sports in the United States today and also is credited with helping fuel the jogging craze in America during the 1970's. Bowerman was a cofounder of Nike and is most recognized within the company for his creation of the waffle sole by pouring rubber on a waffle iron.

The Bowerman Advisory Board will deliberate before announcing three finalists on June 29 with the winner announced in December. Kynard is the first semifinalist for the award from the Big 12 Conference in its brief history.

Krais Makes Academic All-America Team
Senior Ryann Krais has amassed a number of awards during her career for both her athletic and academic achievements. The Big 12 champion added to her trophy case this week as she was named to the Capital One Academic All-America First Team. The honor adds to her already impressive list of academic awards just this season alone. At the NCAA Championship she received the NCAA Elite 89 Award recognizing her as the top student-athlete in the classroom at the NCAA Championship meet.

The Capital One Academic All-America Team is voted on by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association and takes both academic and athletic success into account. This season, Krais won the Big 12 Championship outdoors in the heptathlon and indoors in the pentathlon. She finished fifth in the pentathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championship and 14th outdoors. Krais earned her degree in psychology this May with a 3.95 GPA.

To be eligible for Academic All-America, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.30, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing and be nominated by his or her sports information director for Academic All-District. Student-athletes selection to their respective district's first team are then eligible for voting onto the Academic All-America Team.

Kynard Keeps His Crown
High jumper Erik Kynard raised the bar for Wildcats to eventually follow in his footsteps as he successfully defended his NCAA championship and set a new school record. Kynard cleared 7-08.00 (2.34 meters) to win his second NCAA title in dramatic fashion. After missing once at 7-02.50 and twice at 7-05.75, he needed to clear 7-07.00 on his first attempt to get back in the hunt with two more jumpers remaining. He did and so did Indiana's Derek Drouin. Florida's Dwight Barbiasz missed at the height to take third place.

Kynard then soared over the bar on his first attempt at 7-08.00 and saw Drouin post his first miss of the competition. Drouin elected to pass his next two attempts at the height hoping to reclaim the lead at 7-09.25 by clearing before Kynard could. After two misses each, Drouin was eliminated giving Kynard the title. The champion elected to pass his third attempt and take one shot at tying the collegiate record of 7-09.75 (2.38 meters). Kynard's jump came just short as the crowd gave a loud cheer to the defending champion.

His jump of 7-08.00 ties for fifth in NCAA history and he is only the eighth person to jump at least that high in college.

Silkauskas Leaps to 7th Place
Senior Mantas Silkauskas closed his career as a Wildcat in grand fashion at the NCAA Championship. The Lithuanian posted a wind-legal jump of 7.73 meters to rank sixth in school history and finish seventh at the championship meet. It marked the first time since 1991 the men's team has had an All-American in the event when Charles Armstead finished 11th. It also was the first time since 1988 a Wildcat finished in the top eight to score points for the team. Olympian Kenny Harrison was the last men's team member to score in the long jump taking eighth place in 1988.

Three Wildcats Earn All-America Status
Following the college outdoor track and field season, the USTFCCCA announced its All-America teams, and three members of the Kansas State track and field teams made the list for their shining performances at the NCAA Championship.

Junior Erik Kynard and senior Mantas Silkauskas earned first team honors from the USTFCCCA for finishing in the top eight of their respective events. Senior Ryann Krais finished 14th in the heptathlon to make the women's second team.

With his All-America certificate, Kynard now owns a total of six, receiving the honor every indoor and outdoor season he has been a Wildcat. It also keeps K-State's streak of 10 straight years with an All-American in the men's outdoor high jump alive.

Silkauskas is the first All-American for the men's team in the long jump since 1991 when Charles Armstead finished 11th. The Lithuanian claimed seventh place to earn two points toward the men's team overall score when he leapt 25-04.50.

Krais ends her career with a total of seven All-America certificates after earning a total of five in her two years at K-State. She finished 14th in the heptathlon with her total score of 5,516 points. Her second team selection tallies the fifth overall All-America performance by a Wildcat in the heptathlon.

Krais Earns NCAA Elite 89 Award
Senior Ryann Krais came away with some hardware from her final NCAA Championship. After finishing 14th in the heptathlon at the track and field championship meet, the senior received one of the most prestigious awards given by the NCAA.

Krais received the NCAA Elite 89 Award during the meet, recognizing her as the top student-athlete in her sport, honoring both her academic and athletic achievements.

"I'm excited about all the support and acknowledgement I have received from my family and friends for receiving this award, but I realize it may take a few years until I can look back and realize the significance of this achievement," Krais said. "I'm glad I am able to represent K-State in this manner at the NCAA meet. It is important to me that all the people who have helped me succeed in the classroom and on the track know that I am thankful for them."

The Elite 89 Award recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's 88 championships.

Krais graduated in May with her degree in psychology and an impressive 3.95 GPA. She was recently named to the Capital One Academic All-District 7 First Team and also was an Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection this year as well. Earlier this week, the Big 12 Conference announced recipients of the 2011-12 Dr. Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarships, and Krais was among those receiving the $9,000 scholarship for graduate school.

With Krais receiving the award it marks the second time in the last two years a Wildcat has received the Elite 89 Award. In 2010, fifth-year senior Alyssa Bellinder won the award for women's cross country with her perfect 4.00 GPA.

K-State Athletics Director John Currie said winning the award is an accomplishment to be proud of and gave high praise to the track and field and cross country program for proving to be one of the top in the nation when it comes to academics.

"Ryann epitomizes the term student-athlete and we are extremely happy for her success during her K-State career," said K-State Athletics Director John Currie. "For Ryann to join Alyssa Bellinder and make it two consecutive academic years that a Wildcat student-athlete has won an Elite 89 award is a tribute to the tremendous efforts and support of the entire Kansas State faculty while having both those young women as representatives of our track and field and cross country program speaks to the priorities established under Cliff Rovelto and all of our outstanding coaching and support staff members."