June 8, 2011
DES MOINES, Iowa – On a hot, humid day at the NCAA Championships, the Kansas State track and field teams cooked up some impressive performances to start the meet for the Wildcats. Nina Kokot ended her career on the podium in the long jump, scoring points for the women’s team, and Ryann Krais again broke the school record in the 400 meter hurdles. Senior Moritz Cleve also was one of the highlights of the day scoring nearly 4,000 points in the decathlon to put himself in good position for the last five events.
Kokot closed out her time in Purple finishing in sixth place in the women’s long jump with her leap of 6.47 meters (21-2.75) to score the first three points for K-State’s women. The mark is long enough to surpass, but the wind was right on the limit to cancel out the mark for record keeping. Kokot’s second jump of the night, however, was 6.38m (20-11.75) with a legal wind, which ties the school record and she now holds both the indoor and outdoor records at K-State.
“I think Nina had a great senior year for us,” K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said. “When you look at the long jump and see that the Big 12 winner indoors and out doesn’t even make the final, but the conference still has three of the top six, I think that says a lot about the strength of the Big 12 and how competitive that event was today.”
Junior Ryann Krais came into the meet attempting something few other athletes dream of doubling in two of the most grueling events in all of track and field at the NCAA Championship meet. Krais ranks third in the women’s heptathlon and fifth in the 400 meter hurdles and is competing in both. Krais ran the semifinal of the hurdles Wednesday night and again blazed the track. Krais was in the lead until the final straight stretch against two of other top six runners. She held off UCLA’s Turquoise Thompson and was just edged by Miami’s Ti’erra Brown at the line as Krais broke the school record for the fifth time this season in the event clocking in at 55.68 to advance to Friday’s final. Krais will begin the first day of the heptathlon on Thursday.
“Ryann was awesome,” Rovelto said. “There are only two people who have placed ahead of her in head-to-head competition all year. One of them is the NCAA winner a year ago, and the other is the NCAA runner-up. Making the final in the hurdles, means the double has already been a tremendous success. If she can place in the top eight in both would be pretty remarkable.”
Cleve is competing in his final meet as a Wildcat and he had a strong showing in all five events on the first day of the decathlon. Cleve clocked in just under his personal best to open the 100 meters with a time of 10.94 seconds. He followed that with his best mark in the long jump this season at 6.78m (22-3.00) and again came up just shy of his personal record in the shot put by six centimeters at 14.41m (47-3.50). After struggling in the high jump at the Big 12 Conference Championship last month, Cleve rebounded at the NCAA meet with his leap of 1.90m (6-2.75) with his PR just a bit higher at 1.93m. He closed the night with his fastest time not at altitude in the 400 meters clocking in at 48.41 seconds.
Heading into the final five events Cleve stands in 14th place with a strong score of 3,992 points and some of his stronger events remaining.
“I think Mo, overall, was better than I had projected,” Rovelto said. “He’s just above where I had projected and I think his numbers were reflective of where he is at in training. He had a solid day. I think if he can go out and do what he’s capable of, he could go right at 7,900 points and will be right there in it.”
Also competing for the Wildcats on the first day of the NCAA Championship was the men’s 4x100 relay tandem of Mantas Silkauskas, Jeffrey Julmis, Jason Coniglio and Martynas Jurgilas finished 14th overall after clocking in at 39.74 seconds and finishing fifth in their heat. This season marked the first time since 1973 the Wildcats had a men’s short sprint relay at the NCAA Championship meet. It was the first since the NCAA switched to the 400 meter relay in 1976 with the 1973 team competing in the 440 yard relay.
Jurgilas also ran for the Wildcats in the semifinal of the men’s 100 meter dash finishing in 22nd at 10.63 seconds, failing to make Friday’s final. Boglarka Bozzay rounded out the competitors for K-State on the first day of the NCAA Championship finishing in 14th with her time of 2:05.97. The time was just two tenths off her PR set at the NCAA West Regional Preliminary Rounds two weeks ago as she did not qualify for the final as well.
From a national standpoint, it was an exciting day on the track with some unanticipated results. A number of athletes ranked No. 1 in their respective events failed to advance to the final in their running events or score in their field events. The No. 1 ranked athletes in both the men’s and women’s 100 meters failed to move on as well as the men’s No. 1 runner in the 400. The women’s top 10,000 meter runner did not finish in the top 20, and the top women’s long jumper did not make the top 10. Some of those instances could come to have implications on the team title on the men’s and women’s side with some of the favorites to win affected.
Wednesday also was a tragic day at the NCAA Championships as Nebraska assistant coach Mark Colligan was found unresponsive in his hotel room Wednesday afternoon. He has been a member of the Nebraska coaching staff since 1987 after finishing his days of competing for the Huskers. Colligan coached five different athletes to a combined 12 national championships and has coached a total of 74 Big 12 Conference champions.
“I’ve known Mark for years,” Rovelto said. “I remember Mark as an athlete when I was just a young coach. I have always admired the job he did as a developer of talent. His throwers have had remarkable success, and he coached national champions in every throwing event.
“I looked at the results today to see how his kids did, and his javelin thrower and female discus thrower did as well as they have all season. They scored two in the men’s discus. I can’t think of a greater tribute to Mark than what his kids did today. I’m not sure when they found out what happened, but I’m sure by the time they threw they knew, and that wasn’t just adrenaline out there competing. I think what they did today was proof positive of his coaching, and I can’t think of a more flattering thing to do for their coach than that.”
K-State only has four Wildcats competing on the second day of the championship meet Thursday, but it will still be full of action. Cleve and Krais will be competing throughout the day in the decathlon and heptathlon, and Jeffrey Julmis will run in the semifinals of the 110 meter hurdles. Martina Tresch will also be looking to make the final in the women’s steeplechase.