There’s one thing about Kansas State track coach Cliff Rovelto. Like it or not, he tells it like it is.
In years past there were years when the Wildcat coach has predicted his men’s or women’s teams to be sixth or seventh in the Big 12 … on a good day.
This year, however, Rovelto says of his men’s team, “This is as good a men’s team that I’ve ever had here from a conference perspective. (Pause) Honestly, it could be the best team ever at Kansas State. We have people all over our Top 10 all-time rankings, we have people who can win events, and we have events where we might have two of the top three or four placings, or three of the top four or five.”
That’s the thinking of the K-State track guru entering this week’s Big 12 Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships slated for Iowa State University on Friday and Saturday.
On the men’s side, he says, “I think Texas might have a slight edge on paper, but we’re right there, and Oklahoma and Texas Tech are right on our heels. I think those will be the top four and there’s not a huge gap between them.”
K-State finished eighth in last year’s indoor meet and has not been in the league’s top half since placing fifth in 2006. The Wildcats highest ever finish was a second in 2004.
For the KSU women’s team, “We’re a very, very good team, but I think we’ll be a great team a year from now. Right now we just don’t have enough bodies to compete to win a title like we do for the men.
“We have three girls (Alex Treasure, high jump; Laura Gavan, distances; and Shannon Parr, multi-events) who could be significant scorers for us, but are not competing due to injury. I really think we’re looking at the fifth or sixth range for a team finish,” said Rovelto.
The Wildcats were ninth a year ago and last top-half finish was a fifth in 2005. KSU’s highest ever Big 12 finish was a second in 2001.
POSSIBLE BIG 12 CHAMPIONS:
Olympic Silver Medalist Erik Kynard will be out to defend his Big 12 indoor title with a nation-leading clearance of 7-7 3/4 this past weekend in Ahearn Field House.
“Erik’s ready to jump high. He’s been in four competitions and has averaged over 7-6 in those meets. That’s pretty good,” said Rovelto. “He needed the competition this past week to see higher bars in a meet. His last attempt at 2.38 (7-9) was pretty good.”
The Wildcat in the spotlight on the track will be Carlos Rodriguez, who set the school record in the 200 this year at 21.01, plus has a 6.69 clocking in the 60.
“He’s run really, really fast, but I know he can run faster,” said Rovelto. “He’s run well in big meets back in Puerto Rico, so I don’t think the Big 12 will bother him. He’s run faster than anyone else on a flat 200 track, and he’s run faster than anyone on a banked 200 track. He’s clearly the best 200 runner we’ve ever had, and only behind Terence Newman in the 60. He’s good now, but is only going to get better.”
Other league leaders in their individual events are Kyle Wait in the pole vault (17-8 ½ ) and Devin Dick (5,465) in the heptathlon.