COURTESY: K-State Sports Information
EUGENE, Ore. – Kansas State high jumper Erik Kynard was the No. 1 jumper in the world for a time this season, became the first men’s high jumper to win three straight Big 12 Outdoor Championships and improved his own school record on Saturday to a No. 2 all-time collegiate mark of 2.36 meters (7-08.75). Now he has been named USTFCCCA Midwest Region Field Athlete of the Year one last time to close his K-State career.
The USTFCCCA announced both field and track athletes of the year for all nine regions as well as head coach and assistant coach awards leading into this week’s NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. Kynard received the award for the second time in his career outdoors.
Kynard jumped 2.27 meters (7-05.25) to open his outdoor season with a second-place finish at the Texas Relays. He later would tie his school record of 2.34 meters (7-08.00) at the Mt. SAC Relays, and this Saturday, he was up against the best in the world at the prestigious Prefontaine Classic. At the Prefontaine Classic, Kynard leapt an impressive 2.36 meters (7-08.75) to finish second behind Olympic bronze medalist Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, who cleared 2.40 meters (7-10.50).
By clearing 2.36 meters, Kynard ties the No. 2 mark all-time among the college ranks and is just two centimeters behind Hollis Conway’s mark of 2.38 meters (7-09.75) at the 1989 NCAA Championship.
Not counting his jump at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds where the competition was halted once the field was narrowed down to 12 competitors, Kynard is averaging 2.31 meters (7-07.00) this outdoor season in five competitions.
The USTFCCCA announced its men’s and women’s region awards on Monday awarding an athlete of the year for track events and field events. Head coaches and assistant coaches were also recognized with awards. Complete lists and accomplishments for all nine regions can be found at ustfccca.org.
Kynard will attempt to win his third straight NCAA outdoor title on Friday after winning the last two outdoor crowns. A three-peat has not happened in men’s high jump outdoors since Ken Wiesner of Marquette in 1946.
The men’s high jump is slated to start at 3:20 p.m. Pacific from Hayward Field and is anticipated to be another head-to-head battle with Indiana’s Derek Drouin who also jumped 2.36 meters at the Prefontaine Classic.
USTFCCCA Midwest Region Awards
Track Athlete of the Year: Justin Austin, Iowa Field Athlete of the Year: Erik Kynard, Kansas State Coach of the Year: Gary Pepin, Nebraska Assistant Coach of the Year: Joey Woody, Iowa
Track Athlete of the Year: Ashley Spencer, Illinois Field Athlete of the Year: Andrea Geubelle, Kansas Coach of the Year: Stanley Redwine, Kansas Assistant Coach of the Year: Wayne Pate, Kansas