DES MOINES, Iowa — One Wildcat closed his career in style at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, doing something no member of the Kansas State men’s team has done since 1988 — score in the long jump.
Mantas Silkauskas jumped 25-04.50 to finish seventh and score two points toward the team total. It marks the first time since 1990 a Wildcat finished in the Top 10, when Clifton Etherridge finished 10th. It is the first time a Wildcat finished in the top eight to score points since 1988 when Kenny Harrison finished second.
“What Mantas did is great,” K-State coach Cliff Rovelto said. “He has jumped really well all year. I think a lot of people think of him as a decathlete first and then a hurdler and then a sprinter on our relay.
“Long jump is probably the fourth thing people think of him as, but the truth is he’s a great long jumper. He finished second at the Big 12 meet indoor and outdoor. He’s had a great year in the long jump and to score in this meet in any event is great.”
Tomas Kirielius made his NCAA Championship debut in the decathlon and opened strong. The Lithuanian ran a new personal-best time in the 100 meters to start the event. He clocked in at 11.14 seconds, shedding .07 off his previous best time.
After opening the decathlon with a strong number, Kirielius struggled in the long jump with jumps well short of his season best mark. He leapt 20-08.75, more than 16 inches shy of his best. Kirielius came up short of his usual marks in the shot put as well and followed that with a high jump of 6-02.75.
Kirielius closed the day the same way he finished it to take some momentum with him overnight heading into Thursday’s final five events. He ran a new personal best in the 400 meters, crossing the line in 49.91 seconds and finishing third in his heat. He finished the day with 3,679 points and standing in 19th place.
“Tomas PR’d in the 100 and he PR’d in the 400,” Rovelto said. “It was those middle three events he struggled in. He has some of his stronger events (today) and if he has a good day he still has a chance to finish in the top 16. If he can do that, that would be great coming in as one of the last to get into the meet.”
Another senior was performing for the last time in her purple uniform. After finishing 14th last year, Boglarka Bozzay ran 2:07.40 to finish seventh in her heat and 21st overall.
“Boglarka had a great senior year,” Rovelto said. “She won a Big 12 title indoors and was an All-American. Today wasn’t her best race of the season, but she has had a fine senior year for us and should be proud.”
Jacquelyne Leffler rounded out the competition on the opening day for the Wildcats and she came away in 19th place in the women’s discus. In her first NCAA Championship appearance, Leffler finished one spot ahead of where she was ranked coming into the championship meet with her toss of 162-01.
She was the first member of the women’s team to qualify for the meet in the discus since Loren Groves in 2009, and Rovelto had praise for her efforts this season.
The Wildcats were back in action for day two of the NCAA Championships on Thursday. Kirielius was set to conclude the decathlon and defending NCAA champion Ryann Krais was to take on the field in the women’s heptathlon.
K-State’s only other competitor to be in action today was defending champion Erik Kynard in the high jump.