Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
June 25, 2012The last time the nation saw Erik Kynard, Jr. he donned a cardboard gold crown after defending his NCAA men's high jump title. On Monday night during the finals of the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., the Kansas State junior made his message known at the largest national championship track meet in the world.
He's ready to head to London to compete for the real gold.
"I'm 21 years old," he said, "and I'm watching my dreams come true."
At 8:50 p.m., Kynard, donned in his customary purple track uniform, became the latest in a line of track and field athletes under head coach Cliff Rovelto to represent the United States in the Olympics.
Perhaps he summed it up best on his Twitter account a couple of days ago.
"If you just believe you can do anything?" it read.
Kynard becomes the first Wildcat to represent at the Games with remaining eligibility at K-State since Nathan Leeper did so at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
"In 2008, I was here at age 17 as a high school junior," Kynard said. "I came here for the experience and I told myself the next time I was going to come here and make the team."
The 6-foot-4, 193-pound Kynard along with 2004 Olympian Jamie Nieto and 2011 world champion Jesse Williams will represent Team USA in the men's high jump at the London 2012 Olympics, which runs from July 27 to August 12. The men's high jump qualification round is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 5 and the finals will take place on the following Tuesday. The men's high jump will take place at the 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium.
Hopefully, the weather will be more accommodating than it was amid drizzly, 59-degree conditions at Hayward Field on Monday.
Kynard, the only collegian to represent Team USA in the men's high jump, finished second overall behind Nieto, as both finished by clearing 7 feet, 5 3/4 inches. Nieto was the only competitor without a miss on the first four heights. Although Arizona junior Nick Ross finished in third-place at 7-5 3/4, he missed all three attempts at reaching the Olympic "A" standard of 7-7 -- the height a high jumper must clear at least once during the season in order to qualify to represent the United States in the Olympics.
Ross' final miss gave the third spot on the team to Williams, who reached the "A" standard long ago, but needed all of his three attempts Monday to clear 7-5 3/4.
"I always come to win, but the Trials is really just about getting on that team," Williams said immediately afterward on NBC Sports Network. "I just scraped by today but thank God I'm on the team and I'm pumped.
"This is a big wake-up call for London. I'm not going to let the weather, rain, whatever -- I'm going to start jumping in the rain. Today, I got a little flustered."
The common denominator with Nieto, Kynard and Williams? Rovelto trains all three, as Nieto and Williams train privately with the legendary K-State coach.
Kynard, a 21-year-old native of Toledo, Ohio, who only a few weeks ago announced that he would return for his senior season at K-State, entered the U.S. Olympic Trials ranked second in the nation and fourth in the world.
He becomes the latest K-State high jumper to punch his ticket for the Olympics, as Ed Broxterman and Connie Teaberry participated in the Atlanta 1996 Olympics and Leeper followed in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Despite poor weather and heavy rains at TrackTown USA on Saturday, Kynard advanced to the finals with ease as one of only four jumpers to clear all three bars cleanly with no misses.
Kynard, the back-to-back NCAA champion and semifinalist for The Bowerman Award, the Heisman Trophy of track and field, entered the U.S. Olympic Trials after his personal record-breaking jump of 7-8 at the NCAA Championships tied for the fifth-highest mark in NCAA history and made him one of only two in the world to clear that mark this year.
Zack Riley, the NJCAA champion from Renn Lake (Ill.) Community College who signed a National Letter of Intent with K-State in February, reached the finals after tying two others for 11th during the qualifying round.
Riley exited the finals early after missing all three attempts at 7-0 1/2.
Kynard missed once at 7-2 1/2 and once at 7-4 1/2, but let the nation know he was in the finals for the long haul. He joined Nieto as the only two qualifying jumpers to clear 7-5 3/4 on the first attempt.
During a practice last week in which he soared to big heights on the R.V. Christian Track on the K-State campus, Kynard revealed that he had difficulty dreaming these days -- he had already accomplished so much.
Now, he has about a month to start dreaming even bigger.
"Sure enough, I'm here," he said, "and I'm moving onto London."
Kansas State NEWS