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High jumper Bryan cops midwest region award

Published:Sunday | March 8, 2015 | 3:00 AMLeighton Levy
Christoff Bryan

National junior high jump record holder Christoff Bryan was among three persons from Kansas State University honoured by the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) in its annual regional awards announced on Friday.

Bryan and Barbados' Akela Jones were each named Field Athlete of the Year, while their head coach, Cliff Rovelto, was named Midwest Region Coach of the Year.

Bryan, who is in his freshman year at Kansas State University following a successful high school career at Wolmer's, in mid-February cleared a personal best and new national junior record of 2.28m, which is the top jump in Division One this season.

With the mark, Bryan, the 2012 CAC Junior champion, became the third jumper from Kansas State and the third since the world-rated Erik Kynard in June 2013 to be named Field Athlete of the Year. Bryan is also on pace to match Kynard, who, in 2013, swept indoor and outdoor honours. Kynard, with a height of 2.37m, was ranked sixth in the world in 2014.

The soon-to-be 19-year-old Bryan, a three-time Carifta Games champion, said he was proud of his achievement. "My teammate Tommy Brady just told me about it and showed me," said Bryan on Friday night. "It's quite an exciting achievement for me in just my first year. But I am still remaining humble and focused for the NCAA meet next week."

Preparing for the indoor nationals has been going well. "I've been feeling good and cleared a new training personal best yesterday (Thursday) of 2.21m. My knee is getting better so that is where my mind is right now," he said.

Asked whether his award would provide him with a psychological boost for the coming outdoor season, Bryan said he wasn't thinking that far ahead. "I haven't started thinking about outdoors as yet. I am waiting until after the National Indoors before I start focusing on outdoors," said the Jamaican, who is expected to face off against Texas Tech's Jacorian Duffield and Marquette's Wally Ellenson, who have also both cleared 2.28m so far this season.

Jones and Bryan swept the regional field awards for the first time in KSU's history. It was her second award this past week as she was also named the Big 12 Co-Performer of the Week last Wednesday. The Barbadian, who transferred from Oklahoma Baptist, has been dominant this season finishing the indoor season with the number one marks in the long jump and the number two pentathlon mark.

Rovelto, who had already been named Big 12 coach of the Year, was honoured for an outstanding 2014/2015 season that saw KSU's men's and women's squads combine to send 11 entries into next weekend's NCAA Division One Indoor Championships.