AMES, Iowa — The Kansas State track and field team thought it could contend for a Big 12 title this past weekend at the indoor championship.
And though the Wildcats didn’t win, they did finish third with 96 points — the best mark for K-State since 2004 when it finished second.
The K-State women finished seventh at the Leid Recreational Center with 41 points.
“I think the things that’s exciting from a team perspective is we don’t lose very many points,” K-State head coach Cliff Rovelto said. “We have a team that a lot of young athletes scored points. We should only lose two of the men who scored for us.
“We had a lot of young guys perform at a high level. I really can’t find too much at fault with what we did on the men’s team.”
Erik Kynard was back doing what he seemingly always does now — winning. The senior high jumper set a new championship meet and facility record with his jump of 2.31 meters (7-7) to win his third straight Big 12 indoor title.
Zack Riley finished second behind Kynard, making them the first-ever teammates to finish 1-2 in the men’s high jump at the conference championship meet indoors.
Riley went over the bar cleanly at 2.18 meters (7-01.75) and narrowly missed his attempts at 2.23 meters (7-03.75), which would have put him in contention to go to the NCAA Championship.
After last week’s winter storm caused travel problems for some teams and the postponement of the meet one day, action began on Friday, and K-State and the rest of the conference put up some strong numbers to make it an exciting battle for the championship on both sides.
The depth of the conference was on display as less than 10 points separated first place from third place on the women’s side and less than 10 points was the difference between fifth place and eighth. For the men, only six points separated fourth place from seventh.
“It ended up being a little more difficult than I thought,” Kynard said of breaking the Big 12 meet record. “It took a few more tries to get it. It’s a nice facility, and it’s been quite agitating for me to jump here, so to speak, because I haven’t jumped as well here and today was an alright performance.”
Riley, who won NJCAA championship at Rend Lake College before transferring to K-State, said finishing 1-2 is a big accomplishment for he and Kynard and demonstrates why they both chose to wear purple and jump for the Wildcats.
“It completely defines K-State’s program in the high jump,” Riley said. “That’s the reason why I came here to K-State was for Coach Rovelto and everything that he’s done with the high jump.
“sI knew coming in, Erik and I would be good together, especially in conference, and I’m happy with how it all ended overall for our team.”
Just like the women’s multi-event, the men’s was an area the Wildcats dominated and scored in bunches. The trio of Devin Dick, Tomas Kirielius and Reinis Kregers combined to score 18 team points with Dick finishing second and Kirielius in third.
Kregers finished fifth in his first heptathlon as a Wildcat.
Texas freshman Johannes Hock won the heptathlon, but it was an event that had a major impact on keeping the team scores close as Jake Wolhford posted a no-height in the pole vault and did not score any points toward his heptathlon total. Wolhford was in fifth place at the time, and that allowed Kregers to move up the standings and it denied Texas the opportunity to score more points in the event.
Dick posted a score of 5,603 points to rank sixth in school history. It also will come just short of going to the NCAA Championship as it ranks No. 17 so far this season. Kirielius also posted a new PR in the event with 5,537 points. His score placed him eighth in school history. Kregers totaled 5,216 points during the two days of action in the heptathlon.
After the high jump and heptathlon, it was up to the remaining Wildcats in action to fight for the men’s first Big 12 title.
Carlos Rodriguez finished fifth in the 60-meter dash shortly after Tarique Hill was fourth in the 60-meter hurdles. Rodriguez also would go on to finish fourth in the 200 meters later to contribute a total of 10 points to the team total individually.
On the women’s side, Richelle Farley finished eighth in the 60-meter hurdles to open the running events for the team. Freshman Tia Gamble scored three points for the team in her first Big 12 meet, as she claimed sixth in the 600 yards.
Another freshman, Sonia Gaskin was fifth in the 800 meters in 2:09.26, good for four points.
Kyle Hanson ran one of the most exciting races of the day for the men in the 800 meters. Hanson led from gun and into the No. 4-ranked runner in the nation, trailing him in Iowa State’s Edward Kemboi. Over the final 50 meters it was Texas Tech’s Nick Rivera that caught him, though, along with UT’s Kyle Thompson and Tyler Payton as Hanson finished fourth in 1:53.16.
In the field events, freshman Alyssa Kelly placed fifth in the triple jump with her leap of 11.99 meters (39-04.00). Fellow freshman Jordan Matthews just missed scoring points as she came in ninth with a jump of 11.65 meters (38-02.75).
K-State’s men also made an impact in the triple jump with a trio of newcomers in action. Freshman Devin Field was fourth with a mark of 14.68 meters (48-02.00), and fellow freshman Ifeanyi Otuonye took sixth with his leap of 14.38 meters (47-02.25).
Jharyl Bowry just missed qualifying for the final and scoring points for the team, as he placed ninth at 13.89 meters (45-07.00).
Sophomore Joslyn Barnes was in action in the women’s high jump a day after finishing fifth in the pentathlon. Barnes managed to clear 1.71 meters (5-07.25) and finish eighth. She scored five points for the team at the meet.
Martina Tresch ran her fastest time of the season in the 3,000 meters, as she finished fifth and scored four points. She clocked in at 9:26.58. Her fifth-place finish also ties her placement at the 2011 Big 12 Championship.
Sophomore Erika Schiller also had a good race in the event, crossing the finish line in 9:50.40. It marks her fastest time in the event on an over-sized track.
Some Wildcats will be in action next week at NCAA Last Chance meets in an effort to post a mark ranked in the top 16 in their respective events to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championship at Arkansas in two weeks.