Erik Kynard defends high jump crown
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Kansas State high jumper Erik Kynard was busy scarfing down a double cheeseburger with small fries and a soda Thursday before the NCAA national meet when he noticed a paper crown meant for kids over his shoulder.
As the defending national champion, Kynard thought it'd be fitting if he brought the crown to Drake Stadium and passed it on to whoever might take his title.
Indiana's Derek Drouin came close, but Kynard left the stadium with that paper crown firmly planted atop his head.
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Kynard held off Drouin, a likely Olympian for Canada, with a winning jump of 7 feet, 8 inches to repeat as national champion. Kynard thrilled the crowd by passing on his final attempt at 7-9¼ to take one stab at 7-9¾, the collegiate record, but he couldn't clear the bar.
"It was all or nothing. I only had one to begin with, so I was like 'If I'm going to go out, I'm going to out with a bang,' " Kynard said. "I just thought I'd put it up there and see what it looked like. I didn't expect it to look that high."
Kynard's failed last try even distracted the decathletes being honored on a nearby podium and highlighted the second day of the four-day meet -- for some the last stop before the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Boise State's Kurt Felix, who'll compete for his native Grenada in the London Games, won the decathlon with 8,062 points.
Tim Glover defended his 2011 title in the javelin with a throw of 268 feet, though he missed the meet record set back in 1998 by less than a foot. Southern Illinois's Jeneva McCall won the women's hammer throw in 225-3.
TCU's Whitney Gipson took the long jump in 22-4½, while LSU star Kimberlyn Duncan topped her own world-leading time in the 200 meters by qualifying for the finals in 22.19 seconds.
Texas A&M's Natosha Rogers won the day's only track final, the 10,000, in 32:41.63. Rogers turned up her pace on the final turn and blew past co-favorites Aliphine Tuliamuk of Wichita State and California's Deborah Maier.
The 10 points Rogers gave the Aggies will come in handy as they try to hold off the likes of LSU and Oregon for a fourth straight national team title.
Glover's winning throw came on the fourth of six attempts. The 268-footer was a personal best and fell 8 inches shy of breaking the mark set by Arizona's Esko Mikkola in 1998.
It was also nearly 33 feet longer than his previous attempt as Glover struggled with his early throws.
"After I looked up and said, 'All right.' I saw the bottom of it just kept carrying, and all day they've been dying. So that one I knew, it was a good one," Glover said.
McCall's victory in the hammer capped a season in which she never lost to a collegiate opponent. Still, McCall wasn't happy about her winning distance.
McCall will try to go for a double Friday in the shot put.
"I don't really feel like a champion in this event (Thursday) because of how it went. I feel like a survivor more than a champion," McCall said.
Duncan knows that, at least personally, the collegiate outdoor championships aren't nearly as important as the Olympic Trials.
But the faster she runs, the better it is both for her Olympic chances and LSU's attempt to win yet another team title.
Duncan qualified second in the 100 at 11.11 on Wednesday, just behind Oregon star English Gardner, and was even faster in the 200.
"As long as the time keeps dropping, that gives me confidence because that means I'm ready to go. I feel like I'm peaking at the right time. I feel like I'll be ready to go when I have to run the final."
Brianne Theisen, who is going for her third straight NCAA heptathlon championship, topped the field after the first day with 3,803 points. Theisen typically scores higher on the second day of the heptathlon, and she'll be tough to beat Friday if she fares well in the long jump.
Theisen set the meet record of 6,094 two years ago.
Texas leads the men's team race with 19 points, while Stanford tops the women's standings with 22 points. But those will likely change significantly starting on Friday now that the vast majority of qualifying is over with.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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