MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State fans got to witness history on Saturday afternoon at Ahearn Field House, and it was just centimeters away from being even bigger history. Senior high jumper Erik Kynard was in action at home again and he tied his own school record of 2.33 meters (7-07.75) to also tie the Ahearn Field House facility record and set a new meet record for the KSU Open.
Kynard got the large crowd pumped for the meet and used their assistance as he asked for the slow clap that is so common among track and field, and those fans nearly helped Kynard clear a new collegiate record as he took three attempts at 2.38 meters (7-09.75). Kynard’s first and third attempts were very close to clearing and he just clipped the bar on his final attempt.
“Erik jumped well,” said K-State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto. “He needed the competition and to see higher bars in a meet. His last attempt at 2.38 was pretty good.”
Kynard was feeling confident as he cleared 2.27 meters (7-05.25) on his second attempt. After that jump, Kynard walked over to Rovelto and said, “I only need one attempt.” And that’s how many attempts Kynard took at both 2.30 meters (7-07.00) and 2.33 meters.
With his clearance of 2.33 meters, Kynard is again ranked No. 1 in the NCAA for this season. He was tied at 2.29 meters (7-06.00) with Indiana’s Derek Drouin and Mississippi’s Ricky Robertson, but Drouin jumped 2.32 meters (7-07.25) last week.
The impressive performances were not limited to Kynard as eight other individuals improved where they rank in their respective events in the conference heading into next week’s Big 12 Conference Championship, and the women’s 4x400 relay also moved up the league rankings on Saturday.
K-State got big numbers out of its throwers and jumpers across the board with freshman Dani Winters posting a new personal record on her first toss in the weight throw and then again later in the competition to finish fourth. Jessica Carter followed shortly with a PR on her first toss. She too would post another PR during the competition on her last throw, which was needed after another competitor moved ahead of her during the fifth round.
Carter had a winning throw of 18.70 meters (61-04.25) to move into fourth in the Big 12 this season and seventh in school history. Freshman Sara Savatovic took third at 17.54 meters (57-06.50). Alex Roe also posted a PR for the men in winning with a toss of 17.97 meters (58-11.50). Roe already ranked fifth in the Big 12 this season and that mark widened the gap between he and the sixth-ranked thrower.
Before Kynard put on his show in the high jump, sophomore Joslyn Barnes had her best performance of the season as she won the women’s high jump at 1.73 meters (5-08.00). That mark moves her into fifth on the conference list where she is expected to compete in the high jump and pentathlon next week at the conference championship meet.
The Wildcats also dominated the long jump with newcomers Jharyl Bowry, Tyris Jefferson and Devin Field finishing 1-2-3 in the men’s competition. Jasmine Gibbs and Cenarda Jackson took the top two spots in the women’s long jump as well with Jackson posting a new PR.
Bowry earned the win with a mark just short of his season best as he still ranks No. 1 in the Big 12. Jefferson took second place in 7.12 meters (23-04.50) to move into fourth in the conference and Field made his long jump debut as a Wildcat and leapt 7.01 meters (23-00.00) to rank ninth in the conference.
K-State ran away from the competition on the track with victories in nearly every event the Wildcats were entered.
Senior Samantha McKnight posted a PR in the 60 meters for the second straight week as she has been running strong. McKnight ran the fastest time in the preliminaries and backed it up with a winning time of 7.52 seconds in the final. That time moves her into the top 10 in the conference this season and into fifth in school history.
Freshman Magnus Scott posted two PRs in the men’s 60 meters as he ran 6.91 in the prelims and then 6.84 to finish second in the final.
K-State won all three distance events the team entered with Fernando Roman putting together the best performance. Roman ran the 3,000 meters in 8:41.32 to claim victory and shave more than 20 seconds off her previous best time in the event from last season.
The Wildcats closed the meet with a K-State vs. K-State battle in the women’s 4x400 relay and the top squad accomplished its goal for the meet.
K-State entered the meet ranked sixth in the conference in the 4x400 and wanted to run a fast enough time to move into the fastest heat at the conference championship. With a time of 3:42.64, the team of Sonia Gaskin, Ashley Williams, Merryl Mbeng and Tia Gamble won the event. After using a conversion rate for the event, which K-State ran on a flat 200-meter track, the time of 3:39.73 does move K-State into fourth in the Big 12. The No. 2 team of Jordan Matthews, Sarah Kolmer, Erica Twiss and Angela Hart ran a time of 3:46.12.
“We had a number of impressive performances from our men and women today,” Rovelto said. “We had a few cement their spot on the roster we will take to the Big 12 Championship next week. It was a pretty good meet.”
The Wildcats will battle the rest of the league at the Big 12 Championship next week in Ames, Iowa. Action starts on Friday for the two-day championship meet with the Wildcat men among one of four teams in the league ranked in the USTFCCCA Top 25.