Kynard leads Wildcats to Big 12 meet

By Brady Bauman

The Kansas State track and field team will compete in the Big 12 Indoor Championships this weekend at College Station, Texas, and will bring plenty of firepower.

The men’s team is ranked No. 14 in the nation going into the meet — which begins Friday — and K-State has seven athletes ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 in their respective events.

Senior Boglarka Bozzay is tops in two mid-distance events on the women’s side, while fellow senior Mantas Silkauskas is the top Big 12 athlete in the men’s heptathlon and the 60-meter hurdles.

Ryann Krais — who won a NCAA outdoor title last season in the heptathlon — is again the top female athlete in the pentathlon and freshman Alyx Treasure goes into the meet No. 1 in the high jump on the women’s side.

Many eyes, however, will be on senior high jumper Erik Kynard.

Kynard is ranked No. 1 in the NCAAs in and his current high mark of 7-feet-7-inches is the top height in the world collegiality and is seventh overall. It was the top mark in the world until just a few weeks ago.

“He’s been great,” K-State track and field coach Cliff Rovelto said earlier this week. “He’s only competed in three meets, by design. Two of those meets he jumped 7-7, the other one he jumped 7-4.5 — he was running in the pit when the bar fell down at 7-6.5.

“He’s jumped a very high level every time he’s competed. He’s practiced well. He’s strong… he’s fit. He’s good.”

Kynard said he feels ready to go again and said that although professionals topping his height is motivating, he just worries about the numbers he puts up.

“I feel really good,” Kynard said. “It’s been awhile since I’ve had a meet… it’s been two-and-a-half weeks… but training has been going well. I’m just ready to go out there and do what I do.

“I can’t worry about (professionals). That’s outside (the NCAA’s). It is (motivating), but I really don’t look at numbers. I’m going to compete at the best of my abilities, so it really doesn’t matter what they do, it just matters what I do.”

The current Big 12 indoor record for the men’s high jump is 7-4.5 — or 2.25 meters. That mark, which has to be broken at the Big 12 Indoor Championships to count, is two-and-a-half inches shorter than Kynard’s current best.

Needless to say, he feels good about his chances to surpass it and capture his third Big 12 title.

“I think the chances are pretty high,” he said. “I didn’t know what the record was, actually. Whether I break it by 3 centimeters, 4 centimeters, an inch or a mile, if I’m going to break it, I’m going to break it. I don’t need to worry about what it is. Just go and jump high.”

While Rovelto said the primary focus for Kynard is the Olympic trials this summer, he said the 2011 NCAA outdoor high jump champion is hitting on all cylinders.

“He knows he can jump higher and his intention is to jump higher than he’s ever jumped before,” Rovelto said. “With the way he’s prepared and trained, I don’t see any why he can’t.”

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