Kansas State track and field head coach Cliff Rovelto didn’t mince words. Making Team U.S.A. for this summer’s Olympic Games in London is no cruise.
“The U.S. Olympic trials is the toughest track meet in the world, period,” Rovelto said earlier this week. “It’s harder than the Olympics itself. There have been medalists at past Olympics that wouldn’t have made the U.S. team with the numbers they posted to be Olympic medalists.
“There are over 300 million people in the U.S. and a lot of competition.”
Rovelto continued that even for guys like Erik Kynard — K-State’s own super star who is currently ranked No. 4 in the world — it’s no lock.
“There’s no guarantees,” Rovelto said. “I’m confident in him, and he’s confident… but there are no guarantees in the Olympic trials.”
Still, Kynard has a good shot.
Only one other American has posted a higher jump than Kynard — Jessie Williams, a pro, with a jump of 2.36 meters, or 7-feet-10 inches — and he is one of only three other Americans who have passed the Olympic “A” automatic qualifying standard.
“I feel rather good, actually,” Kynard said. “I feel a lot better mentally and physically than last year. I just need to go out there and compete. Otherwise everything should play out well.
“But I had three misses (at the NCAA’s earlier this month) and I can’t do that at the Olympic trials.”
Even with the misses, Kynard was able to nail his second NCAA title and set a new personal record of 7-08 (2.34 meters). He’s the only Wildcat to ever reach that mark and said the showing still gives him confidence going into Saturday, when the qualifying for the Team U.S.A. high jump squad will begin in Eugene, Ore.
“One miss kept me out of the World Championship Finals last year,” he said. “But (the NCAA title) gives me confidence… most definitely.. But I just know that I’m capable, physically and mentally, to make this team. I’ve been jumping well and I’ve been working hard… I just have to go out there and do it now.”
Joining Kynard as a K-State Olympic hopeful is senior Ryann Krais in the heptathlon. Krais won the event in the NCAA’s last year and won both the indoor and outdoor title in the Big 12 meets this year. In 2011, she finished second in the USA Championships. She finished 14th at the NCAA’s.
Also looking to qualify is KSU women’s high-jumper Alyx Treasure, who is from Canada, and thus will compete in the Canadian Olympic trials. Treasure won the Big 12 indoor meet this year and was 15th in the NCAA indoor meet.
Two current Wildcats have already made Olympic squads for their respective countries.
Hurdler Jeffery Julmis will represent Haiti and Beverly Ramos will represent Puerto Rico in the 3000-meter steeplechase.
Julmis was second in the 2011 NCAA’s and is a five-time All-American. He’s also the first Big 12 hurdles champion in school history. Ramos is a combined four-time All-American and is the Puerto Rican national record holder.
Former Wildcats that will attempt to make Team U.S.A. are Christian Smith in the 800-meter, and Riley County native and 11-time All-American Amy Mortimer, who will make an attempt in the 1500-meters.