WACO, Texas — Kansas State high jumper Erik Kynard did something no other high jumper has done on Saturday and the Wildcats also put themselves in position to do something they have never done at the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Kynard won the men’s high jump with a clearance of 2.30 meters (7-06.50) to win his third straight outdoor conference title. No other student-athlete has won three Big 12 outdoor men’s high jump titles. He locked in the win when he was the only jumper to clear 2.22 meters (7-03.75). He would go on to clear two more bars after that before taking three attempts at 2.35 meters (7-08.50) and narrowly missing.
K-State coach Cliff Rovelto had strong praise for Kynard.
“Erik jumped well,” he said. “It is very difficult to maintain the level of performance he has all year. He’s handled himself, competition and training very well. All his hard work is paying off for him. I’m very proud of him.”
While the win for Kynard was significant, a number of his teammates were also posting strong marks and scoring points in bunches for the Wildcats to put K-State near the top of the standings.
After the first two days of action and through six completed events, the K-State men currently stand in second place. The Wildcats have never finished better than third in the Big 12 when they did in the inaugural year with 84 points.
The women are currently fourth.
On his team’s potential to score more points today and make a push for second place, Rovelto said the Wildcats still have some work to do.
“We qualified the numbers we had hoped for on the track. We just have to come back and compete well tomorrow,” he said. “We picked up one more point in the long jump and three more points in the decathlon than we had predicted, which can go a long way at this meet.”
The men’s team has 11 athletes in a total of eight events plus both relays remaining today to score points.
It was a successful day for the Wildcats in the combined events for both the men and the women. K-State had four men entered in the decathlon, and all four finished in the top eight to score points. Four of the five women entered in the heptathlon did the same.
Freshman Reinis Kregers welcomed himself to the Big 12 stage with a runner-up finish by scoring 7,406 points.
Kregers was joined on the podium by teammates Tomas Kirielius in third place, Tony Granillo in sixth and Devin Dick in seventh as the Wildcats combined to score 19 points in the decathlon alone.
Kirielius had a strong meet as he posted the No. 1 discus and javelin throws in school history during a decathlon. His launch of 68.35 meters (224-03) in the javelin was nearly 16 feet better than the rest of the field and gave him a significant boost in the scoring.
Granillo made up ground by posting two PRs to open the second day in the 110-meter hurdles and discus. He then was near PRs in most of the other events and ran the third-fastest 1,500 meters of the competition to move up the standings from seventh into sixth during the final event. He scored 6,898 points. Dick claimed seventh with 6,843 points.
For the women, Erica Twiss, Meryl Mbeng, Richelle Farley and Sarah Kolmer found their way to the podium while Joslyn Barnes was just 30 points off the mark in ninth.
Twiss took third with 5,338 points as she posted PRs in two of the three events on Saturday. Mbeng was right behind in fourth with 5,141 points.
Farley also had two PRs on the day in the javelin and 800 meters. She ended the day in sixth with 5,062 points.
Kolmer finished seventh this season with 4,938 points after having to withdraw last season with an injury. Barnes was ninth with 4,883 points.
Another area, K-State’s men took advantage of its depth was the long jump. Newcomer Jharyl Bowry and freshman Ifeanyi Otuonye both scored for the Wildcats to give K-State the points to hold second heading into today.
Bowry finished second with a leap of 7.79 meters (25-06.75) to score eight points. Otuonye leapt 7.39 meters (24-03.00) to take sixth and add three points.
The other freshmen were in action with Tyris Jefferson just missing making the final and scoring by taking ninth place with his jump of 7.21 meters (23-08.00). Devin Field was 12th.
K-State could not repeat that magic in the women’s long jump with a pair of freshman competing. Jasmine Gibbs was 12th with a long jump of 5.75 meters (18-10.50) and Alyssa Kelly had some strong jumps but came away in 14th.
Saturday marked preliminary heats for most running events, and the Cats’ Carlos Rodriguez advanced to the final in both the 100 and 200 meters. He clocked in at 10.48 and 21.01, respectively. He also is slated to run a leg of the 4x100 relay and possibly the 4x400.
The women saw three strong times in the 400-meter hurdles, with two of them advancing to the final. Freshman Tia Gamble was fourth in 1:00.55, but had to await results from the second and final heat. Hart was fifth in her heat, but her time of 1:00.14 was fast enough to grab the last spot in the final.
Farley narrowly missed making the final in the 100-meter hurdles as she finished ninth. Hart had a PR in that event as well at 14.09 but came away 10th.
Gibbs ran 11.67 in her heat of the 100 meters to move onto the final while senior Samantha McKnight finished 20th.
In the 800 meters, freshman Sonia Gaskin led nearly the entire way in her preliminary heat that included 2012 Big 12 champ Natalja Piliusina of Oklahoma State. Piliusina and Olicia Williams of Baylor would catch Gaskin down the final 50 meters, but she would advance based on time to today’s final with her clocking of 2:08.33.
The Wildcats had success in another women’s throwing event on Saturday. Jacquelyne Leffler finished seventh in the shot put with a mark of 15.97 meters (52-04.75) to score two points. It was her best mark of the season. Redshirt freshman Dani Winters finished 12th with her toss of 15.34 meters (50-04.00).
Ryan Hershberger was in action for the men in the discus throw and came away 13th.
Today’s action is set to start at 11 a.m. with the men’s javelin and women’s triple jump. K-State will have three Wildcats in action in the men’s javelin to open things and one in the triple jump. A total of eight field events are slated, with K-State competing in all of them. Running events begin at 4 p.m.
Savatovic wins title in hammer throw
Thrower Sara Savatovic came to K-State in January as an athlete the coaching staff believed could make an immediate impact for the Wildcats. She did just that Friday when the freshman won her first Big 12 Championship.
With the entire field batting windy conditions during the women’s hammer throw competition, Savatovic claimed her first conference title and the sixth in Big 12 history for K-State.
The freshman won the meet with her toss of 64.11 meters (210-04) to best the field by nearly two feet.