As jonfmorse so cruelly and coldly showed us yesterday with his cursed facts and objectivity, it was a less than spectacular year overall for the K-State women in the Big 12 conference. However, there were some dazzling highs and several standout performances that still gave these Wildcat women a lot more to be proud of than, say, the Classy Cats. Or the Cowgirls of Oklahoma State.
Fortunately, volleyball was played in the fall, because it would be feel wrong to put any other team first on this list. It may not have been the best overall season ever, but the Wildcats had an accomplishment so outstanding that it merits that coveted above-the-jump space.
Hopefully you've already heard what Kansas State did in the NCAA tournament this year, but I'm going to repeat it. KSU went to Lincoln and became the first team to eliminate No. 2 Nebraska from the NCAA tournament before the Sweet 16 since 1993. Read that last sentence again.
Kansas State also became the first team to win at Nebraska twice. Ever. In case you're not grasping the magnitude of this 5-set win yet, it was may have been a bigger upset in the college volleyball world than the 2003 Big 12 Championship was in football.
It almost didn't matter that the Wildcats got blown away by Pepperdine in three straight games their next match, though I have to admit I was a little disappointed. Coach Suzie Fritz would be the first to admit that it wasn't her team's best effort, but even that night she was able to put things in perspective and realize what a great season her team had.
It was only the third time the ‘Cats have ever made the Sweet 16, and it came largely thanks to the kills of sophomores Lilla Porubek and Kaitlynn Pelger, along with the sets of junior Caitlyn Donahue. With a grand total of zero seniors on the roster, there's good reason to believe this team can do a better job of living of to its clearly amazing potential every match and improve on its 22-11 overall record that included no winning streak better than 2 games in conference play.
The narrative for K-State women's cross country was basically the same as the men, or at least it would have been without Martina Tresch. The junior finished 47th at the NCAA championships and 9th at the Big 12 championships while running light years ahead of her teammates.
Even with one of the top runners in the conference, the ‘Cats still finished 9th at the conference championships and didn't crack the top 13 in any of their other three meets this season. The most impressive part of Tresch's season was that she recorded a personal best at the NCAA championships, helping her finish 25 spots of where she was last season.
Deb Patterson's team started Big 12 play hot with a win over No. 9 Texas A&M that kicked off a four-game win streak. Sadly, that was followed by a three-game losing streak and the Wildcats never really got back on track, finishing 9-9 in conference play with and later suffering an embarrassing 31-point loss at College Station.
Those struggles led directly to two hopeless games in the postseason, beginning with a relatively respectable 21-point loss to the eventual champion Baylor Bears in Kansas City. K-State then got an eight-seed and beat Princeton before playing a forgettable game against the team coached by the biggest douche in college basketball.
The future isn't quite as bright here as K-State loses two senior starters, including leading scorer Jalana Childs. On the plus side, Brittany Chambers returns and will look to improve on her 14 points and six rebounds per game as KSU's dominant guard in her senior year.
It wasn't a bad season for the women's golf team, but it would be wrong to say that it was much of an impressive season, either. Back-to-back second place finishes in Manhattan and Columbia in the fall seem nice, until you look at the rest of the competition and realize the two teams to beat K-State were Arkansas Little-Rock and Texas State, respectively.
To be fair, I wouldn't know if one or both of those teams are actually really good, and it's worth noting that K-State shot its best round as a team (-1) since 2002 on the final day in Columbia on what is a quite difficult course. Sadly, the Wildcats wouldn't come close to matching that score (to be fair, no team shot a round that low) as they finished 8th at the Big 12 championships at Lawrence Country Club.*
*Hilariously, Kansas finished last on its own course. K-State beat kU six out of seven times this season, so at least that's something.
Hanna Roos led K-State with a 15th place finish at the Big 12 championships, but it was sophomore Ginna Misenhelter who carried KSU. She had the lowest average round and led the team in four of the first five tournaments but struggled towards the end of the season, particularly in an absolutely miserable first two days in Lawrence that led to her finishing tied for last on the team and 44th overall.
The K-State tennis team couldn't quite match its best year in school history that it experienced in 2011, when Petra Niedermayerova was named Big 12 Player of the Year and led the team to its most wins and highest end-of-year ranking ever. But the sophomore whose name I'm not going to spell out again due to space concerns did finish as the No. 1 ranked player in the Central Region once again and became the first Wildcat to reach the Round of 16 since 1998.
It's just a shame that it was a woman from Texas A&M that not only took her title of Big 12 Player of the Year but also ended her season in straight sets. Fortunately, she's still got two years of eligibility remaining.
As a team, K-State took a pretty significant step backward, finishing 8-14 to give the team half the wins it had in 2011. At least the Wildcats crushed Kansas 6-1 for the only one of their four conference wins that wasn't a 4-3 decision.
Karla Bonacic finished 16-5 at No. 2 singles and was ranked 102nd in the country at the end of the season, but it was clearly a huge dropoff in talent after that as the Wildcats were a combined 5-37 at No. 3 and No. 4 singles. That's almost the equivalent of forfeiting two games in a seven-game series, which is always going to make it tough (but not impossible) to win, even when you have Lebron James and Dwyane Wade on your team.
I found it a bit sad that Sarah Snodgrass of Prairie Village lost all nine of her matches this year as she struggled to prove her worth among her all-European teammates. It's also of note that next year will be the 30th for coach Steve Bietau, so let's hope some new recruits will be impressed by that large, round number.
It was perhaps fitting that an uninspiring year for the K-State track and field team ended with Ryann Krais finishing 14th in the heptathlon at the NCAA championships. While that would be a great result for almost anyone else and still merits plenty of praise, it wasn't close to the best effort of the senior who entered the event as the defending national champion.
Krais did manage to bring home the team's lone Big 12 title, which at least helped the Wildcats tie Iowa State for eighth place, 20 points ahead of Oklahoma State. But other than Boglarka Bozzay, who won several 800s and finished fifth at the conference championships, there weren't a lot of bright spots for this team.
I'm sorry if this offends anyone, and I have nothing but respect for these athletes who I'm sure are working very hard, but it's really hard for me to even pretend to care about either equestrian or rowing. Plus, there's a lot of terminology and numbers I only vaguely understand.
K-State took third (out of four teams) at the Big 12 championships, and then sixth (out of IHaveNoIdeaHowManyTeams) at the NCAA championships, which was apparently disappointing.
It's probably worth noting that Sam Etsell earned honorable mention All-American Honors and was a unanimous selection in something at the Big 12 championships, but I'm not going to pretend to know what all that means. Meredith Finch also got Most Outstanding Player for something at the NCAA championships.
The rowers rowed hard, I'm sure, as the top boat finished sixth at the Conference USA championships, which equaled the team's place out of nine teams. Traci Smiley earned All-Conference honors, which I'm sure made her smile.
Kansas State repeated its annual feat of being the only school in all of Division I to go without a loss in both softball and soccer. Yet again, this accomplishment didn't earn K-State an at-large bid and went unnoticed in the mainstream media. Disgraceful.