Kynard Becomes First Three-Time Big 12 Champ
WACO, Texas – Kansas State high jumper Erik Kynard did something no other high jumper has done on Saturday and the Wildcats also put themselves in position to do something they have never done at the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Kynard won the men’s high jump with a clearance of 2.30 meters (7-06.50) to win his third straight outdoor conference title. No other student-athlete has won three Big 12 outdoor men’s high jump titles. He locked in the win when he was the only jumper to clear 2.22 meters (7-03.75). He would go on to clear two more bars after that before taking three attempts at 2.35 meters (7-08.50) and narrowly missing.
Head Coach Cliff Rovelto has strong praise for Kynard following the victory, as his senior is averaging 7-06.50 in his three meets competing outdoors this season.
“Erik jumped well. It is very difficult to maintain the level of performance he has all year,” Rovelto said. “He’s handled himself, competition and training very well. All his hard work is paying off for him. I’m very proud of him.”
While the win for Kynard was significant, a number of his teammates were also posting strong marks and scoring points in bunches for the Wildcats to put K-State near the top of the standings.
After the first two days of action and through six completed events, the K-State men currently stand in second place. The Wildcats have never finished better than third in the Big 12 Conference Championship when they did in the inaugural year with 84 points. That year the conference meet was also held on campus at Baylor in the Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex. The women currently stand in fourth place.
On his team’s potential to score more points on Sunday and make a push for second place, Rovelto said the Wildcats still have some work to do, but it could be a special day for K-State.
“We qualified the numbers we had hoped for on the track. We just have to come back and compete well tomorrow,” Rovelto said. “We picked up one more point in the long jump and three more points in the decathlon than we had predicted, which can go a long way at this meet.”
The men’s team has 11 athletes in a total of eight events plus both relays remaining on Sunday to score points. K-State will have to take advantage of its entries in the field events with the potential for scorers in only four running events along with the relays.
It was a successful day for the Wildcats in the combined events for both the men and the women. K-State had four men entered in the decathlon, and all four finished in the top eight to score points for the team total. Four of the five women entered in the heptathlon did the same.
Freshman Reinis Kregers welcomed himself to the Big 12 stage with a runner-up finish by scoring 7,406 points over the two days of action and 10 events. His score places him just outside the top 10 in school history and is currently 14th in the NCAA this season.
Kregers was joined on the podium by teammates Tomas Kirielius in third place, Tony Granillo in sixth and Devin Dick in seventh as the Wildcats combined to score 19 points in the decathlon alone.
Kirielius had a strong meet as he posted the No. 1 discus and javelin throws in school history during a decathlon. His launch of 68.35 meters (224-03) in the javelin was nearly 16 feet better than the rest of the field and gave him a significant boost in the decathlon scoring.
Kregers was consistent throughout the competition, not posting too many personal records, but improving greatly in the 1,500 meters to close the competition, which is an event where seconds can equal big points. He did post the No. 4 mark in school history for a discus throw during a decathlon at 46.00 meters (150-11).
Granillo made up ground by posting two PRs to open the second day in the 110 meter hurdles and discus. He then was near PRs in most of the other events and ran the third-fastest 1,500 meters of the competition to move up the standings from seventh into sixth during the final event. He scored a two-day total of 6,898 points. Dick claimed seventh with his point total of 6,843.
For the women, Erica Twiss, Meryl Mbeng, Richelle Farley and Sarah Kolmer found their way to the podium while Joslyn Barnes was just 30 points off the mark in ninth place.
Twiss took third place with a total of 5,338 points as she posted PRs in two of the three events on Saturday. Her long jump of 6.04 meters (19-09.75) tied her PR and ranks third in school history during a heptathlon. Mbeng was right behind in fourth place and a score of 5,141 points, which ranks 8th in school history.
Farley also had two PRs on the day in the javelin and 800 meters. She had a throw of 29.18 meters (95-09) and ran the 800 in 2:29.05. She ended the day in sixth place with 5,062 points. Kolmer finished in seventh this season with 4,938 points after having to withdraw last season with an injury. She closed the meet strong with a PR in the 800 meters, running 2:16.76, which ranks fourth in school history in a heptathlon. Barnes finished ninth with a score of 4,883 points and was only 30 points behind Baylor’s Jessica Shadley.
“The guys and gals in the decathlon and heptathlon were able to get four places for the team. They hung in there and gave all they had to give,” Rovelto said. “Erica was able to come back and make the final in the 400 hurdles, which is very impressive. Angela Hart also PR’d in the 400 hurdles to make that final.”
Another area, K-State’s men took advantage of its depth was the long jump. Newcomer Jharyl Bowry and freshman Ifeanyi Otuonye both scored for the Wildcats to give K-State the points to hold second place heading into Sunday’s action.
Bowry finished second with a leap of 7.79 meters (25-06.75) to score eight points. The mark was wind-aided; and, therefore, cannot count toward school records, which would tie him for fifth. Otuonye leapt 7.39 meters (24-03.00) to take sixth place and add three points to the team total. His mark was a new outdoor PR and breaks his own national record for his native Turks & Caicos.
The other freshmen were in action with Tyris Jefferson just missing making the final and scoring by taking ninth place with his jump of 7.21 meters (23-08.00). Devin Field took 12th place with his jump measured at 6.93 meters (22-09.00).
“The long jump went pretty well,” Rovelto said. “Anytime you can get double digit points in an event, you are doing well. Jharyl did a great job.”
K-State could not repeat that magic in the women’s long jump with a pair of freshman competing. Jasmine Gibbs took 12th place with a long jump of 5.75 meters (18-10.50) and Alyssa Kelly had some strong jumps but came away in 14th place at 5.62 meters (18-05.25) for a new personal best.
Saturday marked preliminary heats for most running events, and the Wildcats had Carlos Rodriguez advance to the final in both the 100 and 200 meters. He clocked in at 10.48 and 21.01, respectively. He also is slated to run a leg of the 4x100 relay and possibly the 4x400.
The women saw three strong times in the 400 meter hurdles, with two of them advancing to the final. Twiss ran a time of 59.99 seconds to claim an automatic bid to the final by finishing third in her heat. Freshman Tia Gamble took fourth in 1:00.55 but had to await results from the second and final heat. Hart finished fifth in her heat, but her time of 1:00.14 was fast enough to grab the last spot in the final. It also was a new PR for Hart, which ranks her seventh in school history.
Farley narrowly missed making the final in the 100 meter hurdles as she finished ninth with a time of 13.90 seconds. Hart had a PR in that event as well at 14.09 but came away in 10th place.
Gibbs ran 11.67 in her heat of the 100 meters to move onto the final while senior Samantha McKnight finished 20th overall with a time of 12.28 seconds.
In the 800 meters, freshman Sonia Gaskin led nearly the entire way in her preliminary heat that included 2012 Big 12 champion Natalja Piliusina of Oklahoma State. Piliusina and Olicia Williams of Baylor would catch Gaskin down the final 50 meters, but she would advance based on time to Sunday’s final with her clocking of 2:08.33.
The Wildcats had success in another women’s throwing event on Saturday. Jacquelyne Leffler finished seventh in the shot put with a mark of 15.97 meters (52-04.75) to score two points. It was her best mark of the season. Redshirt freshman Dani Winters finished 12th with her toss of 15.34 meters (50-04.00).
Ryan Hershberger was in action for the men in the discus throw and came away in 13th place. He had a throw of 46.85 meters (153-08).
Action on Sunday is set to start at 11 a.m. with the men’s javelin and women’s triple jump. K-State will have three Wildcats in action in the men’s javelin to open things and one in the triple jump. A total of eight field events are slated, with K-State competing in all of them. Running events begin at 4 p.m.
Fans can follow Twitter for updates from the meet. Updates will be available at the handles @kstate_gameday and @Big12Conference. The official hashtag for the meet is #Big12TF. Live results are also available online at deltatiming.com.
– k-statesports.com –