Early April is always slow, but things are starting to heat up again as we blunder through Tax Day. Lots of little bits of news to get to, so we'll get right to it -- with a trigger warning, because we will be discussing a matter which is inextricably tied to politics but has major implications for our beloved alma mater.
In case you missed it, K-State has a new interim president. He's kind of a big deal. (And don't miss ksuwildkat's story in the comments about meeting the General in Qatar. It's great.)
How do you know it's tax day? Football returns to the top spot in the Slate, that's how. Ken Corbitt at the Capital-Journal reports that fixing the leaky defense that plagued the Cats last year is Job One this spring, while the Star's Kellis Robinett focuses on the linebacking corps -- the defense's strongest unit last year, and one returning all its key parts in 2016.
The Wildcats (14-19, 1-8) are on their way to Morgantown for a three-game weekend set with West Virginia (17-14, 4-4). David Statman at the Daily Athenæum reports that West Virginia is in flux, with players not even sure who's going to be in the lineup as Randy Mazey tinkers with things; last Sunday, Mazey threw a team full of freshman against Furman to send a message.
The Big 12 announced the winners of its basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards yesterday. On the men's side, the honor went to Perry Ellis, presumably because he's amassed over 27,000 college credits in his time at Kansas. More importantly, the women's award went to K-State junior Kindred Wesemann. The star point guard has earned a GPA of at least 3.20, which is our clever way of noting that they didn't actually announce her GPA but it had to be that high to even be considered. She's the second Wildcat to win the WBB honor, following Brittany Chambers in 2013.
Only seven times in NCAA history has a woman cracked the 6,300 point mark in the heptathlon. Only three of those occasions have been outside the NCAA Track and Field Championships proper. Akela Jones is now one of those three, recording a 6,307 yesterday afternoon to win the heptathlon at the Mt. SAC Relays.
She started on Wednesday by setting a day-one collegiate record, racking up 4,063 points while setting her own personal best marks in the 200m and high jump; the 1.95m jump also broke the Kansas State record formerly held by Gwen Wentland (1.93m). Yesterday, she won the long jump, set a personal best in the javelin throw, and then took the starting line with a shot at history. Had she run the 800m about four seconds faster, Jones would have recorded the best regular-season heptathlon in NCAA history. As it is, Jones merely settled for the best score in the world so far this year.
The team as a whole is in action this weekend at the KT Woodman Invitational in Wichita, starting at noon today.
Meanwhile, in Sports Extra, Kelly McHugh-Stewart visits with the multi-lingual apartment of the tennis team's Iva Bago (Croatia) and track teammates Tia' Gamble (USA), Sara Savatovic (Serbia), and the graduated Laura Galvan (Mexico). This is a funny and charming piece, so your benevolent despot insists you not skip it.
Grant Robbins has announced the signing of French freshman Matthieu Caron to the 2016 class. Caron is a member of the French National Team (no qualifying adjectives, the main squad), and won the Scottish Boys U-16 in 2013.
The men will be in Iowa City this weekend for the Hawkeye Intercollegiate.
Academic awards poured in at Colbert Hills yesterday as well. Kyle Weldon earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors for the third time, and it's not a cheapie: Weldon is a civil engineering major. The women got in on the act as well, with Katherine Gravel-Coursel (advertising) and Scotland Preston (mass communications/economics) both earning first-team nods with 4.0 GPAs, while Madison Talley (elementary education) earned a second-team honor.
The Wildcats (9-10, 1-5) finally get to play at home again after a long stretch on the road; indeed, they won't play away from Mike Goss Tennis Stadium again until the Big 12 Championships. First up: the Sunflower Showdown on Saturday afternoon against a strong Kansas squad (14-5, 4-2).
We're not dead yet. K-State (5-10) beat Delaware State 10-6 in Waco in the first round of the NCEA Championships. Today, the Cats take on top-ranked Auburn in the quarterfinals. There's reason to hope for an upset; the two teams have met this season, Auburn winning at Timbercreek Stables by a narrow 10-9 margin.
Soccer news: Mike Dibbini announced the signings of Aly Rocha from Huntington Beach, Calif., and Tatum Wagner from Bixby, Okla. Wagner, who was a top-100 recruit out of high school, is transferring in from Tennessee.
Syeda Rubaiyat Aziz, a civil engineering doctoral candidate at K-State, is developing a crash prediction model for rural highways in conjunction with KDOT. Neat stuff.
And now... the politics. Please leave your partisan comments on some other website; we're only presenting this as added insight into why K-State may have a hard time finding a long-term qualified candidate to serve as Kirk Schulz's permanent replacement. Marcel Harmon, vice president of the USD 497 Board of Education in Lawrence, has dropped a brutal assault on Sam Brownback's "war against education" on Salon (via AlterNet). This piece largely concerns itself with the impact of HB 2741 on local school districts, but the measure will also affect the state's public post-secondary institutions, so it's something you may very well be interested in perusing.