Non-revenue sports is a big umbrella that covers a wide variety of sports: baseball, women's basketball, golf, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. I tried to cover as many sports as possible, and as most of these sports have a long history at Kansas State, I also tried to cover as much time as possible. It was fairly easy to select the initial candidates for this region, as the group includes national Hall of Fame members, Olympic medalists, and players with jerseys now hanging from the rafters in Bramlage Coliseum. But then I had to fill in the blanks, and here the task became much harder. The seedings are irrelevant here, as I think it's impossible to assess some of these individuals against each other. In the end, I erred on the side of history rather than achievement and chose a few individuals who were perhaps only important in hindsight.
Unfortunately, a few deserving athletes were left out, including basketball great Shalee Lehning who had her jersey retired in 2009, volleyball standout Lauren Goehring who is the only AVCA first team All-American in school history and the all-time leader in hit percentage, former assistant track coach and Olympic decathlete Steve Fritz, and paralympian Kevin Saunders who was voted "the world's greatest all-around wheelchair athlete," and is the namesake of the football team's "Never Give Up" award.
Without further ado, here's your bracket:
(1) DeLoss Dodds vs. (16) Ward Haylett
DeLoss Dodds needs little introduction, but before his long tenure as athletic director at Texas, the native of Riley, Kansas was athletic director (1977-1981), head coach of track and field (1963-1976; six Big Eight titles), and star athlete at Kansas State (Big Eight champion; quarter-mile; 1959). Dodds was inducted into the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2006, and has been in the Kansas State Hall of Fame since 1995.
Ward Haylett arrived in Manhattan in 1928 to coach the track team and stayed in that position for 35 years. During his tenure, the school won seven conference championship and Haylett coached shot putter Elmer Hackney (national champion; 1938, 1939) as well as sprinter Thane Baker (Olympic gold medalist; 1956). He was also an assistant coach for the United States Olympic team in 1948 and a three-time member of the US Olympic committee. Haylett has been inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, and Kansas State's indoor track is named for him, as are three athletic invitational events. Oh, and he also coached the Kansas State football team for three seasons.
(8) Nicole Ohlde vs. (9) Kendra Wecker
What can be said about Nicole Ohlde and Kendra Wecker that has not already been said hundreds of times? Ohlde is possibly the most decorated basketball player in school history. A consensus two-time first-team All-American (2003, 2004), Ohlde helped lead Kansas State to a Big 12 title in 2003, and left the school as the all-time leader in scoring (2161), rebounds (970) and blocked shots. She was drafted sixth overall by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2004 WBNA draft and had a seven-year career in professional basketball. She won a WNBA title with the Phoenix Mercury in 2009. Retired from the sport since 2011, she now works as a personal trainer in Manhattan and runs a basketball camp in her hometown of Clay Center.
Wecker is only slightly less feted than Ohlde. At 10, she was already a great athlete, making the finals of the NFL Punt, Pass, Kick competition competing against boys on an equal basis. She went on to feature in a promo spot for NFL Play. She would lead her Marysville team to an undefeated season and state championship in 2000-2001, and also win a gold medal in the javelin throw for the United States at the NACAC Under-25 Championships in 2000. At Kansas State, she was a consensus first-team All-American (2005) and the winner of the Lowe's Senior CLASS award for the nation's best senior player. Wecker rewrote most of Ohlde's records and became the first Kansas State player--and only the second player ever in the conference--to score 2000 points and 1000 rebounds in her career. Drafted in the first round by San Antonio, injury problems kept Wecker from a lengthy pro career. Retiring after the 2008 season, she was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame as "the greatest all-around Kansas female athlete."
(5) Priscilla Gary vs. (12) Tammie Romstad
Priscilla Gary was Kansas State's first-ever Kodak All-American and also a Wade Trophy finalist as a senior in 1982-1983. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Gary was a two-time all-Big Eight first team player and finished her Wildcats career with 1,169 points and 172 assists. She averaged 18.3 point per game over her career, the highest in school history. In 1998, she became the first woman to be inducted into the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame. Gary's efforts helped propel Kansas State to its only Elite Eight appearance in 1983, and the school retired her jersey in 2009.
Tammie Romstad also had several firsts to her credit. She was the first Kansas State women's basketball player to be named an All-American when she was selected to the third team by the AWSF in 1982. Playing all four years in Manhattan, she helped the Wildcats to four straight 20-win seasons and two NCAA Tournament appearances, including the very first one in 1982. Romstad finished her career as K-State’s all-time leading scorer with 1,548 points and second in career rebounds with 779. She currently ranks seventh in both categories, while her career scoring average of 15.2 ranks fifth. Her jersey was retired alongside Gary's in 2009.
(4) Jim Colbert vs. (13) Earl Woods
If it seems odd to compare a professional golfer with a college baseball player, well...
Everything associated with Kansas State golf is named after Jim Colbert. That's pretty much all you need to know, but here are the relevant other facts. Colbert was runner-up at the 1964 NCAA Championships and went professional in 1965. He has eight PGA Tour wins and 20 wins on the Champions Tour. He helped design the Colbert Hills golf course in Manhattan, voted the best public course in Kansas. In 1998, he was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Earl Woods' significance to Kansas State is mostly a function of history. In 1950, the Manhattan native broke the Big Seven's color barrier when he appeared as a catcher in a baseball game in 1951. He would go on to earn two varsity letters in 1952 and 1953, and despite offers to play for the Kansas City Monarchs, he would stay on at Kansas State, graduating in 1953 with a degree in sociology. He later became a commissioned officer in the United States Army and served two tours of duty in VietNam, including with the special forces. He retired with the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1974, and his son, Eldrick "Tiger" Woods was born the next year. The rest is history.
(6) Thane Baker vs. (11) Kenny Harrison
Thane Baker was the first real track star in Kansas State history. Coached by the legendary Ward Haylett, Baker won a silver medal at the Olympics in Helsinki in 1952 and the NCAA Championships in 1953, both in the 200 m event. Baker was a four-time All-American at Kansas State and won several Big Eight titles. In 1956, he won the AAU title in the 200 m and later that year, he won a silver medal in the 100 m and a bronze in the 200 m before taking gold in the 4x100 m relay. He would go on to a long career in the United States Air Force, retiring as a colonel in 1983. The track in his home town of Elkhart, Kansas is named after him, and Baker is enshrined in the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame.
Kenny Harrison was the first Kansas State athlete to be inducted into the Kansas State University Athletics Hall of Fame, and is the most decorated athlete in school history. An 11-time All-American, he won three NCAA individual titles (indoor long jump (1986); indoor triple jump (1988); outdoor triple jump (1986)) at the NCAA Championships, the only such instance in school history. He was also a 7-time Big 12 champion in the indoor and outdoor long jump and triple jump events, and still holds the school record for indoor and outdoor long jump and outdoor triple jump. Sidelined by injury, Harrison missed the 1992 Olympics, but returned in 1996, taking the triple-jump gold medal in Atlanta. He was inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame in 2013.
(3) Suzie Fritz vs. (14) Petra Niedermayerova
Now in her 14th season as head coach at Kansas State, Suzie Fritz is synonymous with Wildcats volleyball. She has coached the team to ten 20-win seasons and 10 appearances in the NCAA Tournament (including two appearances in the Sweet Sixteen). She won the school's first-ever conference title in 2003. She is the winningest coach (278-156) in school history, and a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
Petra Niedermayerova is probably the best-known tennis player in school history. A two-time ITA All-American (2012; 2013), she also won the Big 12 singles champion at the No. 1 position as well as ITA Freshman of the Year in 2011. A four-time selection to the All-Big 12 team, she was Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in 2011. A four-time Academic all-conference and All-American player, Niedermayerova is a doctoral student in economics at Boston University.
(7) Austra Skujyte vs. (10) Erik Kynard
A native of Birzai, Lithuania, Austra Skujyte became the first woman in school history to win multiple NCAA championships when she won the heptathlon in 2001 and 2002, along with a runner-up finish in the shot put in 2002. At the Athens Olympics in 2004, Skujyte became the first Kansas State woman to win an Olympic medal when she took silver at the heptathlon. She is the only Kansas State athlete to participate in four different Olympics, and her score of 6599 (London; 2012 (5th place)) is her personal best score. She was named Commander of the Order for Merits to Lithuania in 2004 and now works as a coach for the Lithuanian Sports Administration.
Erik Kynard is a two-time NCAA champion in the outdoor high jump (2011, 2012) and also a runner-up (2013). He is also a two-time Big 12 champion indoor champion in the event (2012, 2013), and an outdoor Big 12 champion (2013). In 2012, while still a student at Kansas State, Kynard won a silver medal at the Olympics in London. He is also the 2013 USA champion in the outdoor high jump and the 2014 champion in the indoor event. Kynard also appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2012, who showed impressive restraint by not noting Kynard's resemblance to some guy who plays basketball.
(2) Cliff Rovelto vs. (15) Brad Hill
Cliff Rovelto has been coaching track at Kansas State for 27 years now, including 23 years as head coach, so I think we can finally forgive him for being a Jayhawk. A full accounting of Rovelto's successes at Kansas State would require its own post, so suffice to say he's pretty much the most successful coach in school history. In 2001, he was honored as the women's outdoor National Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track Coaches Association, and is an internationally recognized authority in combined events, coaching several international athletes to success, including Skujyte. He is also a well-known coach for jumping events, working with elite jumpers like Kynard and Harrison as well as coaching 14 individual athletes to 18 combined appearances at the Olympics.
In eleven seasons at Kansas State, Brad Hill has engineered a turnaround that may only have one parallel at Kansas State. A perennial bottom-feeder when he arrived, the BatCats have since become one of the region's best college baseball teams, and Hill's teams have produced 15 All-Americans, most recently Jared King and Ross Kivett in 2013. The school's first-ever Super Regional appearance has happened on his watch, as has the first conference championship since 1933. He is a two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year honoree, as well as a two-time ABCA Coach of the Year (Midwest Region).
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