Kansas State’s Erik Kynard stepped up to compete Saturday for the first time since bringing home the silver medal from the 2012 London Olympics this past summer and did so in record fashion.
The senior not only tied the highest collegiate mark this year with his final jump of 7-feet-6-inches, but also broke both the Wildcat Invitational and the Collegiate Dual Meet records at Ahearn Field House.
The mark was enough to earn Kynard first place in the Wildcat Invitational, with his only competition of the day coming from Oklahoma State’s Buck Taylor, who was out after missing 6-9 3/4.
“It was interesting coming in because I was like, ‘Ah, how serious can I try and make this?’” Kynard said. “There was only one other guy, and the reality of the situation is, he would probably be out before I start. And he was.
“So, I had to come in, stay focused and not try to treat it as practice too much. The fans helped me out.”
Kynard cleared the first bar with ease, starting out at 6-11 and went on to clear both 7-2 and 7-4, both on his first attempts.
Continuing a tradition he began in London, before Kynard jumped he began to clap his hands in the air slowly. The audience caught on and cheered their way through Kynard’s successful first three jumps.
“I’m glad about the turn out because, regardless if it’s 5,000 people or five people in the stands, it’s my job to jump,” Kynard said, “but it’s a little easier if somebody is here to clap.”
Kynard’s final bar was raised to 7-6. Going into the meet, Kynard said he was going for a record jump, and that is exactly what he did.
The pre-jump clapping began again as Kynard stepped up for his first attempt. He missed. The same routine happened for his second attempt, but Kynard came up short again.
Kynard walked over to K-State head track and field coach Cliff Rovelto, who also coached Kynard and the Team USA high jumpers in the London Olympics, and the two talked for a few seconds before he took his final attempt.
Kynard cleared 7-6 on his third attempt, broke records and brought everyone in Ahearn to their feet. Though they were cheering about Kynard’s home victory, for Kynard the support from his fans meant a little more this weekend.
“It’s weird because Martin Luther King Jr. Day is coming up,” Kynard said. “He spoke in front of Ahearn, he got applause, and here I am inside of Ahearn getting applause, so that’s pretty surreal within itself. I’m just blessed, humbled that they’d come out and show their support.”
Kynard jumps again next weekend in Ames, Iowa, at the Bill Bergen Invitational and, as usual, said he expects to do well, setting goals for himself already.
“To jump a 2.29 again and not miss twice,” Kynard said. “And to jump higher than (7-6), that’s next for me.”