July 18, 2012
By Mark Janssen
Kansas State Track and Field Coach Cliff Rovelto will have ten of his athletes all across Europe starting this weekend.
Three athletes – high jumpers Erik Kynard, Jesse Williams and Jamie Hieto – will be in Red, White and Blue representing the United States of America in Monaco and then in London, England, while other ex-Wildcats at the Olympics will be wearing the colors of Lithuania (Austra Skujyte, heptathlon; Darius Draudvilla, decathlon), Jamaica (Korene Hinds, steeplechase), Puerto Rico (Beverly Ramos, steeplechase) and Haiti (Jeffrey Julmis, 110-meter hurdles).
In addition, 2012 senior Wildcat Ryann Krais and K-State volunteer coach Bettie Wade will be on the USA team that competes against Germany on Saturday and Sunday in Marburg, Germany for the Thorpe Cup. The competition, which was held in Manhattan in 2006 and 2008, features seven of the top multi-event athletes from each country.
A year ago, Wade won the individual title, while Krais was third.
Rovelto is the only coach in the United States to be in charge of the training program of all three athletes in a single event.
Of the success of Kynard, a current Wildcat, Williams, who competed for USC, and Nieto, a graduate of Eastern Michigan, Rovelto said, “There are two things I pride myself on. One, I work real hard, and two, I have a pretty good eye for things. Every high jumper has something unique that is a difference maker for that particular guy. My job is to find whatever is unique to them.
“I work hard, and in turn, they work hard,” said Rovelto. “I firmly believe that’s what separates our guys with those they are competing against. We work with more purpose, and we work harder than anyone else.”
Going into the Olympic Games, Williams, the defending World Champion, is tied for third in the world at 7-8.75, Kynard is sixth at 7-8 and Nieto is tied for 11th at 7-7. Nieto was fourth in the 2004 Olympics, while Williams made the 2008 team, but did not reach the finals.
Rovelto projects that it will take a clearance of 7-7 to make the 12-man final field and likely 7-8.5 to earn a medal. The qualifying round takes place August 5 and the finals on August 7.
Of the trio, Rovelto detailed, “Jesse is talented, but he’s a tremendous, tremendous competitor. The bigger the stage, the more he rises to the occasion.
“Erik has ability, but what sets him apart is that no one, and I mean no one, works as hard as he does,” said Rovelto. “There are a lot of guys more talented than he is who are not on this team.”
And of the 35-year-old Nieto, Rovelto said, “He’s developed into being a competitor. He’s been doing it long enough that he knows his body. He benefits from lots and lots of experience.”
While Kynard, a two-time NCAA Outdoor Champion, does not have the experience, Rovelto said that competing last year in the USA Championships, World University Games in China and the World Championships in Korea “…were huge for him in terms of experience.”
In those three events, Kynard was third at 7-5.5, 13th at 7-2.5 and 14th at 7-5.75, respectively.
JULMIS MAKING HISTORY: To Jeffrey Julmis, making the Haitian Olympic team is a bigger deal than any of the Americans making the USA team.
“It’s nothing new for Americans. They always have three entries for every event,” said Julmis, who graduated in May and completed his NCAA eligibility this indoor season. “For me, I’ll become only the second hurdler to ever go to the Olympics from my country. To me, that’s a pretty big deal.”
While Haiti does not have Olympic Trials, Julmis earned a spot on the team by running the Olympic A standard of 13.52 in the hurdles. His personal best of 13.50 at last year’s NCAA Championship gave him that mark to qualify. His season best this year is 13.53.
Julmis was born in the United States, but raised Haitian in Fort Lauderdale where he spoke Creole. While never living full-time in Haiti, Julmis speaks with great pride of his heritage.
“It’s the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Not much good is coming out of Haiti, but that’s one reason I wanted to represent them,” said Julmis. “They need someone who they can look at with pride.”
Visiting family in Haiti as a child, Julmis said, “Once I was old enough to understand what poverty was all about, I still couldn’t believe it. The electricity doesn’t run 24 hours and the TV comes and goes.”
A transfer from Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kan., Julmis became one of K-State’s big-meet performers by winning the 2012 Big 12 Indoor 60-meter hurdles, placing fourth in the 2011 NCAA Outdoors, second in the 2011 Big 12 Indoors and fifth in the 2010 NCAA Outdoors.
Julmis will run in the preliminary round on August 7 with the semifinals following on the same day and the finals on August 8.
ON TV: The Opening Ceremonies will take place in London, England, on July 27 and will be televised on NBC at 6:30 p.m. (CT). The Games will continue through August 12.
ONLINE: This year’s Olympic Games will have extensive online coverage provided by www.nbcolympics.com. NBC is boasting this year that every competition feed made available by the host broadcaster will be utilized to deliver more than 3,000 hours of live streams. There will be dedicated online feeds of multiple sports even when television coverage is not currently on.
There will be a dedicated feed from track and field, so fans can watch all the Wildcats compete live online. There also may be the option to view cameras dedicated to specific events within the track feed online. These live streams can also be viewed with the “Live Extra” app for smartphones and tablets.
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