Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kynard dazzles in final home meet

Erik Kynard broke just about every high jump record he could during his career at Kansas State.

But there was one that had escaped him, and he wanted it badly. On Saturday, Kynard broke R.V. Christian Track Complex record for the highest jump in the facility’s history.

Since being on the Late Show with David Letterman after winning the silver medal in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Kynard needs a lot of motivation to do much else.

The bigger the stage, the bigger Kynard shows up, and his three Big 12 outdoor titles and NCAA championships are show that.

There was one thing missing though.

Kynard — and much to his surprise — didn’t own the high jump record at his own track. He was so positive he had it, he denied it when his K-State head track and field coach Cliff Rovelto mentioned it a few weeks ago. Kynard denied it so much, they had to do some research and Rovelto was right.

Kynard, one of the most decorated K-State athletes of all time, didn’t hold the highest mark in the track’s history.

On Saturday, Kynard wanted it — wearing his recognizable purple and white striped socks. It was also senior day and the last time he would be jumping in Manhattan as a Wildcat.

Kynard delivered with a jump of 7-feet-5-inches, topping the old record set by Ed Broxterman in 1998 by half an inch.

“I just wanted to break the record… just a little competitive practice and to put on a show (for the fans),” Kynard said.

After he broke the school record, Kynard attempted jumps of 7-7, but high winds made that task difficult and he missed all three tries. He does, however, still have the highest jump in the world this season with a height at 7-8.

“The wind had it’s way with me today,” Kynard said. “I moved back about seven feet from where I usually start and I tried map it out, but my geometry today just wasn’t going well. But, 2.26 (7-5) at about 80 percent interest, is not bad.”

Kynard also received the “Heartbeat of the Team” award, presented to him by the 299th Brigade Support Battalion of Fort Riley. The Ohio native said the high winds Saturday dampened his spirits about jumping, but he felt an obligation to the fans.

“I have to try really hard to be interested, especially with the weather like today when it’s really windy,” he said. “But I just had to try to care… and I know that sounds bad, but I knew people came out here to watch and I wanted to break the record at least. I didn’t want to come out here and just mess around.

“It was just practice, basically. I made some mistakes and now I know what to do when it’s windy like this.”

Overall, Kynard hopes his past, present and future success will bring more attention to the K-State program.

“People come out here to watch and it’s my job to give them something to look forward to and to get them excited,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll become more interested in K-State track and field, and not just what I’ve done.

“Now, maybe people will be like, ‘Hey, we need to heck out the track team…  maybe they have another Erik Kynard-type guy.”

With that statement Kynard has certainly raised the bar for future K-State track and field athletes. But, then again, Kynard is no stranger to raised bars. He will now look forward to defending his national title, beginning at the NCAA regionals later this month in Austin, Texas.


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