May 10, 2012
This feature appeared in the Thursday edition of the K-State Sports Extra.
By Mark Janssen
To say that Ryann Krais does it all is an understatement.
When “Sports Extra” caught up with the 2011 NCAA heptathlon champion last week, she was prepping for this weekend’s 2012 Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championship at the R.V. Christian Track Complex by numbering lane boxes that will be used for warm-ups in each track event.
Then starting Friday at noon, Krais will put one of those boxes to use when she lines up for the 100-meter hurdles, which will be the first event of the heptathlon, and the 2012 championships.
The high jump, shot put and 200 meters will follow on Friday, followed by the long jump, javelin and 800 meters on Saturday, concluding the heptathlon competition around 4 in the afternoon.
But, Krais’ weekend will be far from complete. Another couple hours later, she will run a preliminary heat in the 400 hurdles, and if/when she qualifies to the finals, her weekend will conclude with the 400 hurdle finals at 5:15 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at R.V. Christian Track.
“Why not,” Krais said in reference to running the intermediate hurdles. “It’s my last year. It will be a nice way to go out.”
Too much to ask from one athlete?
Nahhhh. Last year, she won the NCAA heptathlon, plus finished third in the 400 hurdles with head coach Cliff Rovelto saying, “It was an amazing performance at that level. I’m not sure if anyone has ever done that before.”
In all honesty, Krais stands alone as a K-State student-athlete. She’s not only the defending NCAA heptathlon champion, but she’s also a 4.0 student in the classroom and a recent recipient of the Kansas State Female Scholar Athlete of the Year.
This year Krais won the Big 12 indoor pentathlon, plus placed fifth in the NCAA Indoor. It’s been a light load throughout the outdoor campaign as the Eagleville, Pa., native has a schedule designed to start her peaking this weekend, followed by the NCAA Championships on June 6-9, followed by the U.S. Olympic Trials on June 22-July 1.
“It can be difficult to have three meets of that importance in a short span of time,” Krais admitted. “As an athlete, I can be impatient at times. I always want to be at my best and PR in every event of the season, but it just doesn’t work that way. I’m sure if I had great marks right now I’d be worried that it came too early. I just know coach has the right plan.”
That’s coach Rovelto, who Krais says, “He is so good. I can’t compliment him enough. He knows how to coach on the track, but I think sometimes he helps me more mentally than technically. You have to be right in the head and he’s so good at that.”
If Krais did have a high this spring it was going home to compete in the Penn Relays in late-April where she first ran as a seventh-grader on a 4x100 relay junior high team.
“That was our state championships meet at the time, plus you got to see all the great collegiate runners from around the country, and from other countries,” said Krais of her introduction to one of America’s most prestigious track venues. “Going back as a 22-year-old was so much fun because of the support and how you had sections cheering for you.”
This weekend, Krais will have that same type of cheering as she runs on her home R.V. Christian Track.
“Your adrenalin just sky-rockets when you have fans behind you,” said Krais, who ranks first in the heptathlon with a season-best of 5,694 points, and eighth in the 400-hurdles with a best clocking of 58.23 in the Big 12.
While the marks are slightly behind last year’s seasons bests of 6,030 in the heptathlon and 55.89 in the hurdle event, her heptathlon score is second in K-State history only to Lithuania Olympian Austra Skujyte’s mark of 6,275 set in 2002.
In the heptathlon, she says, “I know I’m better than a year ago. My shot put has improved, and while my speed work hasn’t quite come together, there’s still time. But in the technical events, I’m a lot better because I’ve had another year under coach Rovelto.”
Krais’ season-bests this year are a 13.91 in the 100 hurdles, 5-6½ in the high jump, 41-9¼ in the shot put, 24.95 in the 200 meters, 18-1¾ in the long jump, 130-9 in the javelin and 2:14.09 in the 800 meters.
Of those marks, Krais says, “I’m not sure if I have an event where I’m really outstanding and above everyone else, but I’m sort of decent in all of them.”
What Krais has done is improve dramatically over the last two years. Out of high school she attended UCLA for two years, and while an All-American, she knew that better marks were within her.
“Out of high school, this is where I saw myself (best in the nation), but after two years at UCLA I wasn’t performing like I wanted to. I didn’t know who I was as an athlete,” said Krais, who graduates this weekend with a degree in Psychology. “I do know this, had I not come to K-State to train with coach Rovelto, this type of turnaround wouldn’t have happened. He’s improved me and matured me mentally and physically.”
As for being the defending national champion, Krais says, “I don’t feel pressure from anyone else, but as an athlete you’re never satisfied. You always want more. (Pausing) At times you really do need to take a step back and be more gracious for what you’ve done and let your tenacity slow down some.”
But then, slowing down is not in Krais’ personality, or, in her training of her new part Golden Retriever puppy she has named “Crash.”
“He’s a handful… a lot of puppy,” laughed Krais. “The name is a good match for his lifestyle.”
BIG 12 START TIMES (Final Events)
FRIDAY: 12 – 7:15 p.m. – Heptathlon, Decathlon, Javelin, Hammer, 10,000
SATURDAY: 10:30 – 7:05 p.m. – Heptathlon, Decathlon, Long Jump, Shot Put, Women’s Pole Vault, Track Prelims
SUNDAY: 1 – 6:40 p.m. – All other finals: 1 p.m. Field Events; 3 p.m. Track Events
All-Session Prices (3 days) --$20 Adults; $10 Youth & Senior Citizens (65)
Single-Session -- $10 Adults; $5 Youth & Senior Citizens (65)
All-session tickets are now available through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office. Purchase online or call the Ticket Office at (800) 221-CATS. All tickets are good for general admission access to the R.V. Christian Track Complex.