June 10, 2011
DES MOINES, Iowa – Friday brought more rain to the NCAA Track & Field Championships, but more importantly it brought two national championships for the Kansas State Wildcats. Ryann Krais and Erik Kynard became the latest Wildcats to be the best at the biggest college meet of the year. Krais dominated the women’s heptathlon claiming the lead after the second event on Thursday and never relinquishing it. Kynard flew higher than any of his competition to win the fourth outdoor men’s high jump NCAA title in school history.
The last time K-State a national champion on the men’s and women’s side was 1986 when Kenny Harrison won the men’s triple jump and Rita Graves won the women’s high jump. K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said he was excited for his two champions and how they performed on the big stage.
“What Ryann did was remarkable. She is such a competitor,” Rovelto said. “I was impressed with how Erik competed and handled himself. Honestly, I don’t think he jumped as well as I thought he was ready to jump, which says a lot, I guess, for how far he has come.”
Krais entered the day with the challenging task of doubling up in two of the most grueling events in track and field as she had the final three events of the heptathlon to go along with running the final in the womens’ 400 meter hurdles. The hurdles final came after the javelin and just an hour before running the 800 meters to close the heptathlon.
After posting the third-fastest time in the semifinals Wednesday, Krais bolted out to the early lead in the hurdles and led until the final straight-away. She was passed by Miami’s Ti’erra Brown and then UCLA’s Turquoise Thompson caught her at the finish line to give Krais the third-place finish in 55.89 seconds.
Krais then left the field behind her in the heptathlon 800 meters right out of the gates blazing through the first 200 meters. She clocked in at an impressive 2:12.63 to just miss out on her goal of scoring 6,000 points in the heptathlon. Krais claimed the third NCAA women’s heptathlon title in K-State history with the dominant victory with 5,961 points.
“I feel so good right now,” Krais said after earning her team 16 points with her performances. “The trainers have been doing everything for me. I feel bad because I think I’m making them do more running than myself. It’s just been awesome – an awesome experience.
“Again, my biggest goal here was to come and break 6,000. I didn’t do that and I’m going to say probably because of the javelin, but you’re never going to have seven great events. If you do, you are one lucky kid.”
Kynard shined even in the steady rain that felt throughout most of the high jump competition. Following a brief weather delay, the field quickly began to fall before it was only Kynard and Ricky Robertson of Ole Miss. The pair came into the meet ranked first and second, respectively, and put on a good show for the fans.
The two were the only jumpers to clear 7-3.75, each doing so on their first attempts. Then, Kynard jumped 7-5.00 on his first leap. Robertson struggled but was able to get over the bar on his third and final chance. After Kynard cleared 7-6.00 on his second attempt, Robertson failed to get over the bar and Kynard became the latest Wildcat to bring a title back to High Jump U.
“I finished sixth last year, so that in itself was a lot of motivation coming into this meet,” Kynard said. “I worked hard, but I wasn’t very happy with how I jumped today. I’ve been very consistent throughout the season, but it was very slick out there today and that made it a bit more difficult. I told coach I was going to blow up every bar today, and I did that until I got to 2.29 meters. That was my first miss of the day, but I blew it up after that.”
Due to inclement weather Thursday evening, the final two events of the decathlon were pushed back to a third day of competition along with the final heat of the women’s 4x400 relay semifinals, all of the men’s 4x400 and the men’s 10,000 meters. The men’s long jump also was halted with four jumpers left to take their final attempt of the finals.
Moritz Cleve made his final two throws in the javelin and improved on his first throw of the day to come up just one centimeter short of his personal best at 56.09 meters (184-00) for 679 points. The throw held him in eighth place going into the final event of the competition. Cleve was running against the clock to ensure he scored enough points in the 1,500 to remain in the top eight and earn points toward K-State’s team total. Texas’ Isaac Murphy made a push to surpass Cleve on the standings, but Cleve was able to run just fast enough to hold off Murphy by 32 points and finish eighth for the Wildcats.
Cleve’s score was just 99 points shy of his point total in 2009 when he finished ninth – a testament to how strong the field was in this year’s decathlon. Cal’s Michael Morrison won the decathlon with his score of 8,118 points, and Duke’s Curtis Beach finished second with 8,084 points. Beach highlighted the final event as he ran the second fastest time in a decathlon 1,500 meters in history crossing the line in 3:59.13.
Also an example of the depth of the meet, the last time someone with a score of more than 7,800 points finished eighth at the NCAA Championship in the decathlon was 1992.
“Moritz did a great job of competing and hanging tough in rough conditions and in a remarkable field of collegiate decs,” Rovelto said. “Probably the second best collegiate decathlon ever in terms of quality depth.”
The Wildcats return to action with two athletes competing Saturday. Jeffrey Julmis runs in the final of the men’s 110 meter hurdles where he finished fifth last year. He ran a school record 13.50 seconds in the semifinal on Thursday. Martina Tresch also looks to score in the final of the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase after also running a personal record in the semifinals.
Entering the championship meet, K-State was one of 14 schools to have both its men’s and women’s programs ranked in the Top 25. Heading into the last day of action, the men are tied for 14th with 11 points, and the women are tied for ninth with 19 points.
Decathlon – Day 2 (suspended Thursday during javelin)
8th: Moritz Cleve, 7,838 points (1 team point)
110H: 14.55, 905 pts
DS: 41.78m/137-1.00, 701 pts
PV: 4.70m/15-5.00, 819 pts
JV: 56.09m/184-00, 679 pts
1500m: 4:30.46, 742 pts
Day 1 Total: 3992 pts
Heptathlon – Day 2
1st: Ryann Krais, 3585 points (10 team points)
LJ: 5.89m/19-4.00, 816 pts
JV: 38.27m/125-6, 634 pts
800m: 2:12.63, 926 pts
Day 1 total: 3585 pts
3rd: Ryann Krais, 55.89 (6 team points)
1st: Erik Kynard, 2.29m/7-06.00 (10 team points)