Saturday, November 28, 2015

Cats ready for NCAA track meet

The NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship is no walk in the park, according to Kansas State track and field coach Cliff Rovelto.

Still, Rovelto is optimistic about the athletes that will be representing the Wildcats this weekend in Nampa, Idaho, beginning Friday.

“I believe this meet is the hardest meet in the world — the world — to get into because of the limited numbers,” Rovelto said Tuesday. “The indoor world championships are going on the same time as the NCAA meet, and you can look at the women’s hurdles as an example, and there will be times at this meet that would medal at the world championships.

“Going to the NCAA indoor meet is more about opportunities to score, and the good thing is we have (six) opportunities to score. It’s not just about getting to the meet, but what you do once you actually get to the meet. It won’t, by any means, be easy for all of our kids to score. They all have to perform well, but I think they are all capable of being there.”

K-State will be sending six athletes to Idaho this weekend.

The Wildcats will be represented by three seniors on the men’s side. Erik Kynard will look for another NCAA high-jump title after winning the outdoor event last year, and hurdler Jeffrey Julmis will look to improve on his fifth-place finish from last year’s NCAA indoor meet. Mantas Silkauskas will also be competing in the hurdles, but his main event will be the heptathlon. Silkauskas finished seventh in the heptathlon in last year’s event, and broke a school record doing so. As a matter of fact, his score of 5,822 points was the highest total to ever finish seventh in NCAA history. It was without a doubt a deep year in the men’s heptathlon.

The women will be represented by senior Ryann Krais — who already has a NCAA title from last year’s outdoor championships — and senior Boglarka Bozzay, who is competing in the NCAA’s for the first time as an individual in the 800 meters. Finally, the senior women are joined by freshman Alyx Treasure, who is the sixth-ranked high jumper in the women’s field.

Both Bozzay and Treasure won the Big 12 in their events this season and both hail from different countries, with Bozzay coming from Hungary and Treasure from Canada.

Krais said she is confident she can better her pentathlon performance from last year when she finished sixth.

“I’m looking forward to putting together a whole pentathlon, having the training under my belt,” she said. “I’m going in with a lot of confidence and looking forward to seeing where that could put me.”

Krais also had high praise for Treasure making the field as a freshman — a rare feat for this event.

“It’s more difficult to get into this meet, for sure,” Krais said. “They take less and there’s not rounds really — it’s based off the best performance. So, that’s everyone in the country with an opportunity to put up a best performance.

“Alyx is pretty impressive. She’s had a lot of high-level competitions, so she knows how to handle herself and she knows how to put it together. It’s just neat for her to come from, first of all, a different country — with a very different training background — and adjust to Coach Roveto’s style and have enough confidence in herself and her ability to qualify for this meet.”

For Julmis, this will be his last event as a Wildcat.

He won the hurdles in the Big 12 Championships two weeks ago — despite being sick weeks leading into the event — and is very confident in himself and the rest representing K-State.

“I’m feeling real good about it,” he said. “I got a fresh body and fresh legs… hopefully I can do some damage. The goal is to always to finish first. My start is a lot better than it’s been in the past and I think I’m going in there with the mindset that I’m going to get off the blocks fast and finish fast… I think I can win this race.

“The talent that we are bringing — we have a national champion in Ryann Krais, a national champion in Erik Kynard, me, who has gotten top eight in every big meet… we’re deep. I think we can have the same outcomes as the Big 12s, if we put our minds to it.”

Julmis continued that his goal has always been to nab a title as a Wildcat, and wants to check that off his list in his last collegiate meet.

“It does motivate me, because I know I have to go out with a bang,” he said. “I said coming into K-State that I was going to win a national championship, and going into (NCAAs) that’s what I want to do, to win it one time for K-State and myself.”


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