JETTA FRASER Enlarge
Erik Kynard went on three college recruiting trips this fall.
He visited Ohio State. He took a trip to the University of Arkansas. He went to Kansas State University.
The defending Division I state high jump champion and lone prep athlete to compete in the 2008 Olympic Trials high jump competition knew after the three college visits where he would like to spend his collegiate years.
The limber and lanky 6-foot-5 Kynard opted to pass on his home state's university and the NCAA's top track and field program to attend Kansas State.
"It is Kansas State," said Kynard, who recently verbally committed to the Big 12 university located in Manhattan, Kan.
The choice for a college by the Rogers senior was well-thought out with his No. 1 desire being to find the best place to enhance his high-jumping skills. Kansas State and its track coach, Cliff Rovelto, met those requirements.
Rovelto is revered as one of the best high jump coaches in the world. Four of his high jump pupils competed in the 2008 Olympic Trials. His resume includes coaching 36 All-Americans and 22 conference champions.
Two professional high jumpers, Jesse Williams and Jamie Nieto, train under Rovelto's watch. Williams won the 2008 Olympic Trials and Nieto won the 2004 Olympic Trials.
"He's made a lot of difference for athletes in the past," Kynard said. "You just look at history. You look at where somebody has been and where a program has been and figure out where it's going."
Kynard qualified for this year's Trials by clearing 7 feet, 3 3/4 inches in an indoor meet at the University of Findlay. He claimed his first state title a few months later with a winning jump of 7 feet.
Rogers track coach Eric Browning, whose specialty is the jumping events, believes his track and field standout made a wise selection.
"We looked at the coach and the quality of the jump coach," Browning said. "He was just the guy that we were most comfortable with, especially with Erik having a legitimate chance at becoming a professional track athlete. That's one of his goals and I think that's a realistic goal, so this was the school that we felt like offered him the best opportunity to really improve."
Attending KSU will not only allow Kynard to train under a top coach, he'll have an opportunity to train alongside some of the top talents like Williams and Nieto.
"A lot of schools were considered, but when I was at the Olympic Trials and talking to all the different athletes they only said one name," Kynard said.
Browning attended the Trials with Kynard and considered the trip to Eugene, Ore., as valuable to Kynard deciding on KSU as his trip to the university.
"I was a firm supporter of Kansas State about the time we left the Trials," Browning said. "He [Kynard] was heavily leaning toward Kansas State. That was the beauty of that experience because he was able to talk personally to all those guys that were competing and get their feelings.
"A lot of them had gone to different colleges and then chose to come to this guy as a coach after they had an opportunity to do whatever they wanted. That spoke volumes because these guys chose not to stay with their college coaches and they chose to go to this guy."
Kynard said making his decision now allows him to focus on finishing his high school career. He is already training for the
indoor track season.
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