Kansas State University sophomore Erik Kynard Jr. has been added to the “watch list” for collegiate track and field’s top award, The Bowerman.
Kynard, a Kentucky Invitational high jump champion as a high school athlete, rose to the watch list after clearing 7-7 3/4 in the Tyson Invitational, Feb. 12, at Arkansas. Only two other collegiate athletes ever have jumped high indoors, Hollis Conway and Brian Brown.
Kynard is unbeaten in five competitions this season, including the Big 12 Championships, and has cleared 7-3 3/4 or higher in each.
The 10 athletes now on the watch list:
Jeshua Anderson, Washington State, sr., from Woodland Hills, Calif.
IN 2011: His season best in the 400-meter dash of 46.93 places him in the collegiate top 35. The outdoor season is where Anderson is expected to shine when he can compete in his specialty event – the 400-meter hurdles.
Robby Andrews, Virginia, soph., from Englishtown, N.J.
IN 2011: Has yet to compete officially. Ran unattached and successfully was the “rabbit” for Bernard Lagat’s attempt to break the American two-mile record.
Sam Chelanga, Liberty, RS sr., from Nairobi, Kenya
IN 2011: In his first 5K of the indoor season, Chelanga recorded a then world-leading and current collegiate-leading time of 13:41.35 on his home 200-meter, flat track on Jan. 29. Chelanga notched a would-be collegiate leader of 7:48.24 in the 3,000 meters at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix where he finished fourth in a professional-loaded field. Because no collegians were involved in that competition. Chelanga tallied a 7:50.92 clocking at 3,000 meters in placing fifth overall at the Flotrack Husky Classic. Chelanga added to his tally of Big South Championships with a mile crown (4:16.88) this season.
Will Claye, Florida, jr., Phoenix
IN 2011: Claye stand second nationally in the triple jump with a season’s best of 56-4 (17.17 meters) achieved in finishing runner up to teammate Christian Taylor at the SEC Championships. Claye is also eighth in the country in the long jump, having notched a season best of 26-1 (7.95m) in taking third at the Tyson Invitational. Claye added a third-place showing in the long jump at the SEC meet, placing behind only Arkansas’ Tarik Batchelor and LSU’s Zedric Thomas -– both members of the national top five of the event this year.
Jeff Demps, Florida, soph (indoor)/junior (outdoors), from Winter Garden, Fla.
IN 2011: After opening the season with a 6.57 in winning the Virginia Tech Elite, Demps has twice more clocked sub-6.60 in the 60 meters, including when he won the SEC title in the event for the second straight year with a 6.55. Demps ranks No. 2 nationally in the 60, behind only Oklahoma’s Mookie Salaam (6.54).
Mason Finley, Kansas, soph., from Salida, Colo.
IN 2011: Finley has three wins in the books so far in 2011 in his signature event -– the shot put. His opener, a 67-11½ (20.71m) heave to win at the Missouri-Kansas dual leads the rest of Division I by more than two feet feet. Last weekend, at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, Finley was upset by Nebraska’s Luke Pinkelman who now stands No. 2 on the descending order list (65-10¼, 20.07m).
Walter Henning, LSU, sr., frm Kings Park, N.Y.
IN 2011: Henning continues not to miss in the weight throw. The LSU strongman has won 10 straight against collegiate competition with the 35-pound weight –- four of which have come in the 2011 season, including his third straight SEC crown. At the LSU Twilight on Feb. 18, Henning notched his season-best throw of 76-6¼ (23.32m). Henning’s personal best in the event is 78-1 (23.80m).
Kirani James, Alabama, soph., from Gouyave, Grenada
IN 2011: On every occasion in which he has stepped on the track for the 400 meters this season, James has set a new world-leading mark. Starting on Feb. 12 when he ran 45.47 (oversized) to win Notre Dame Meyo Invitational, then on Feb. 26 for the preliminary round of the SEC Championships when he ran 45.37. And, for the trifecta, James, who is 18, clocked 44.80 in the SEC finals to not only set another world record, but it also set a new world junior all-time best. The time places him in the top five of the all-time world indoor list and only Kerron Clement’s (Florida) world record of 44.57 set in 2005 stands as a better all-time collegiate mark.
Erik Kynard Jr.
Erik Kynard Jr., Kansas State, soph., from Toledo, Ohio
IN 2011: Kynard leaped on to the scene with a 7-7¾ (2.33m) clearance in winning the high jump at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 12. Only two other collegians (Hollis Conway and Brian Brown) in indoor history have jumped higher than Kynard. The sophomore has won all five competitions in which he has entered this year, including the Big 12 Championships. Kynard has won each of those competitions by clearing at least 7-3¾ (2.23m).
Christian Taylor, Florida, jr., from Fayetteville, Ga.
IN 2011: Taylor sent quite a message in winning the SEC Championships triple jump on his final attempt. With a mark of 56-11½ (17.36m) that not only won the event for the third straight time and set an SEC record, he became the third all-time best collegian indoors in the event. Only Charlie Simpkins (Baptist, 17.50m, 57-5, 1986) and Mike Conley (Arkansas, 17.40m, 57-1, 1985) have jumped farther in indoor collegiate history than Taylor. The Gator also finished eighth at the SEC meet in the long jump and has a season’s best in the event of 25-0 (7.62m), good for the national top 25.
The Bowerman Advisory Board appointed four of its members to comprise The Bowerman Men’s Watch Committee and another four of its members to make up The Bowerman Women’s Watch Committee. The committee will release their next men’s update on Wednesday, March 16. The three men and three women finalists will be named late June.