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New look for Kansas State football?

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WBB’s Shaelyn Martin is Big 12 scholar-athlete of the year

NCAA Football: Cactus Bowl-Kansas State vs UCLA Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Although spring itself seems nowhere in sight, the annual spring game is just around the corner, so it’s hardly a surprise that football is dominating the Kansas State news cycle today.

But first things first: we recognize some purple power happening on the other side of the world. As reported earlier this morning, Kansas State sophomore track phenom Nina Schultz took silver at the Commonwealth Games in Australia this morning.

This is the best performance at an international meet by a Kansas State athlete since Erik Kynard, Jr. brought home a silver medal in high jump at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Schultz’s Kansas State teammate Jess St. John then hit a monster throw of 17.32m in the shot put finals, nearly half-a-meter better than her previous best of 16.90 set just two days ago in the shot put qualifying rounds. With a new personal best and a new national record for Antigua & Barbuda, St. John placed an unexpected and very respectable seventh in a loaded field.

Congratulations, Nina and Jess!

With the preliminaries out of the way, we can now get down to business, which around here usually means one thing:

Footbaw

There’s been plenty of discussion in our comments sections already around what Andre Coleman and Blake Seiler bring to the table and how they represent a new direction for Kansas State football. Although we won’t get the real picture until the 2018 season kicks off (and maybe not even then), the players are already seeing some subtle changes.

There’s also been a shift in the nature of spring practices, with the players noticing a different energy. As quarterback Alex Delton notes, “this is by far the most intense spring we’ve had.”

Teammate Alex Barnes agreed.

Practices are definitely a lot more intense and there's a lot more emphasis on speed, play calls, and repetition. It's going to be a new look this year and it's going to be pretty exciting.

For his part, Bill Snyder is less concerned about novelty and energy and more focused on continuity. In complimenting the young assistants on their work, Snyder noted that the coaches are already familiar with each other and mesh well together.

The football team’s possible new look, especially on defense, was also a theme in Kellis Robinett’s weekly K-State Q&A, and it’s safe to say he’s as excited as we are. In particular, a shift from the soft pass coverage Kansas State used under former defensive coordinator Tom Hayes might be welcome against pass-happy Big 12 teams.

Is that (gasp!) respect for Kansas State in the air? Well, maybe. It’s too early to tell and who knows what drives prognosticators, but there’s some sense that any finish lower than third in the Big 12 will be a disappointment for the Wildcats.

Basketball

The women’s basketball team put in a decent showing at the WNIT this year, and part of the reason was consistent play from Shaelyn Martin. But Martin is also a star in the classroom, and yesterday, she became the third Kansas State women’s basketball player to win Big 12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors. She joins Kindred Wesemann who won just last year and Brittany Chambers who won the inaugural award in 2013. She’s also a three-time all-Big 12 first team academic player with a 4.0 GPA.

Baseball

The BatCats hit the road today for the first game in a series against Texas Tech. The series opener is tonight at 6:30PM at Dan Law Field in Lubbock.

Kansas State and Texas Tech are on opposite trajectories so far this season. The Red Raiders (26-8, 5-4 Big 12) have won their last two series, while the Wildcats (15-18, 2-7 Big 12) are on a six-game losing skid.

Right hander Justin Heskett will get the start for Kansas State, and the game will be broadcast on FOXSports Southwest.

Golf

Coming off a second place finish at the Tiger Invitational—the best of the season so far, the men’s golf team is in Iowa this weekend for the Hawkeye Invitational. K-State’s lineup for the tournament will feature JC Campbell, Jacob Eklund, Jeremy Gandon, Ben Fernandez and Roland Massimino.

The tournament was originally scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, but due to weather concerns, the players will try to get through 18 holes on Friday afternoon and then 36 holes on Saturday beginning at 9 AM.

Tennis

The freshmen tennis players at Kansas State are excited about playing both in-state rivals this weekend, even though all four of them—Anna Turco, Rosanna Maffei, Margot Decker and Maria Linares—are not from Kansas.

Both opponents are ranked, with Wichita State a couple of spots ahead of Kansas State at 34, and archrival Kansas at 17. A win would help boost Kansas State’s own ranking.

Play begins later today at Wichita State.

Track and Field

In addition to the handful of Kansas State athletes in Australia this week, the rest of the track team is in action. Following stellar results at the Jim Click Shootout, the track teams are in Austin this weekend for the Texas Invitational.

Between the men and the women, Kansas State has the top eight marks in the Top 10 nationally this season, including six marks that lead the Big 12 conference.

Competition begins with hammer throwers Janee’ Kassanavoid and Helene Ingvaldsen in action later today. Lightning has delayed the start of the events in Austin.