MANHATTAN, Kan. – It was Senior Day at the R.V. Christian Track Complex for 18 K-State Wildcats during the Ward Haylett Invitational, and one in particular gave the fans a show on Saturday afternoon.
High jumper Erik Kynard was competing for the final time for the Wildcats at a home meet, and he had his sights set on one goal for the day. He wanted to break the R.V. Christian Track Complex facility record in the men’s high jump, the only remaining K-State record he has yet to claim in his four years at K-State.
The senior did not disappoint as he sailed over the bar at 2.26 meters (7-05.00) on his second attempt to claim the new record. The previous record was 2.24 meters (7-04.50) held by former Olympian Ed Broxterman and set in 1998.
Kynard also received another honor on Saturday receiving the Heartbeat of the Team Award from the 299th Brigade Support Battalion. The track and field team’s partner unit from Fort Riley had representatives at the meet to present Kynard with the award which is given to a member of the team who has best demonstrated high moral character in keeping with the ideals of the U.S. Army: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.
“The award is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever won in my life. It feels like you’re part of Call of Duty or something,” Kynard said of receiving the honor. “Today, I just wanted to break the record, put on a little show and I didn’t expect to jump 2.31, but maybe I could have jumped that bar if wasn’t so windy.”
It was not just Kynard putting up big numbers for the Wildcats on Saturday. Big 12 champion pole vaulter Kyle Wait posted a mark of 5.38 meters (17-07.75) for the win and clearing two more bars than second place. Senior Cameron Savage was in fifth place at 5.03 meters (16-06.00).
Thrower Jessica Carter backed up her third-place finish at the Big 12 Championship in the discus with a throw that was only one centimeter short of that personal best throw a week ago. Carter claimed the win with a throw of 51.80 meters (169-11) in her final meet at home as a Wildcat.
Senior Jake Darrington was another thrower to take a victory in his final meet as he bested the field in the javelin. He won with a throw of 58.29 meters (191-03).
One more win went to a senior as Richelle Farley crossed the line first in the 100 meter hurdles. She ran 13.42 seconds with a strong tail wind that would nullify the time from a record-keeping standpoint.
The Wildcats saw six other wins on Saturday.
Freshman Jasmine Gibbs grabbed two of those wins as she won the women’s long jump with a leap of 6.08 meters (19-11.50). Gibbs also won the 100 meters, crossing the finish line in 11.33. Both her marks were wind-aided and cannot count toward school records. Her long jump would rank ninth and her 100 time would have broken the school record.
The men took the top four spots in the 100 and the long jump. Ifeanyi Otuonye ran the fastest time at a wind-aided 10.54, and Jharyl Bowry leapt 7.64 meters (25-00.75), also wind-aided.
“Everything went well. It was a shame that we had too much wind in some events,” K-State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto said. “I was pleased that the kids did not let the wind ruin an otherwise good day. Under the circumstances we had some very good marks. It also was nice to be able to recognize our seniors.”
Carlos Rodriguez ran an open 400 meters for the second time this season and earned a win. He finished in 46.89 seconds, not far off his previous best time. Freshman Sonia Gaskin did not win the women’s 400, coming up just short, but she did post a PR running 53.89 seconds to rank seventh in school history.
K-State’s other win came in the men’s shot put as Ryan Hershberger posted a mark of 17.26 meters (56-07.50), slightly better than his throw last week that gave him seventh in the Big 12.
The Wildcats will turn their attention toward the postseason now as they have two weeks to prepare for the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds. K-State will head to Austin, Texas, for the initial rounds of the NCAA Championship again this year with three days of action from Myers Stadium set to begin May 23. The top 48 athletes in each individual event, other than heptathlon/decathlon, will advance to the NCAA Preliminary Rounds. From there, the top 12 finishers will advance to the NCAA Championship in Eugene, Ore. The top 24 relays head to the regional meets with the top 12 advancing.