FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The only collegiate title to elude Kansas State high jumper Erik Kynard was the NCAA Indoor Championship, and the senior took his final crack at it on Saturday afternoon, but came up short as he finished third and battled with Olympic bronze medalist Derek Drouin to the end.
K-State also saw one of the best performances in school history from combined events specialist Merryl Mbeng, as she finished in sixth place for the Wildcats in the pentathlon.
The men’s team finished in tied for 32nd with the six points scored by Kynard, improving on last year’s 44th-place finish. With Mbeng’s three points, the K-State women finished the season tied for 46th.
Kynard cleared 2.29 meters (7-06.00) on his second attempt. It was that miss that knocked him down to third, as Mississippi State’s Marcus Jackson cleared on his first attempt. After Kynard and Jackson both missed 2.32 meters (7-07.25) on their first attempts and Drouin cleared on his first, the passing game began in an attempt to clear a new bar on a first attempt and reset their three consecutive misses.
At 2.35 meters (7-08.50) Kynard and Jackson again missed with Droiun clearing on first attempt. Jackson took his final attempt and missed while Kynard passed to the next height. The bar was raised to 2.38 meters (7-09.75), a height that would be a new collegiate record. Kynard just clipped his calf on the bar to knock it off the standard on his only attempt at the height, although his hips were clearly above the bar. Drouin had three attempts at the record and his first two tries were very close to clearing like Kynard.
K-State was busy in the combined events to start the day with Devin Dick completing Day 2 of the heptathlon and Mbeng making her NCAA Championship debut in the pentathlon.
Mbeng’s score of 4,178 points is a new personal best and ranks second in school history. She surpassed JaNelle Wright’s score of 4,173 on the K-State list from when Wright finished fourth at the 2004 NCAA Championship.
Dick started the day in 13th place after the first four events from Friday’s action.
Dick finished in a tie for 14th place, as he scored 5,386 points over the two days and seven events held.
K-State will now turn its sights to the outdoor season, which begins next week. The Wildcats will travel to Tempe, Ariz., for two meets over spring break.