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Sunflower Disappointment

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But track and baseball teams have a winning weekend.

Lauren Taubert is now the NCAA heptathlon leader. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball

Kansas State lost to Kansas 62-58 in the men’s basketball version of the Sunflower Showdown. It was the Wildcats’ ninth consecutive loss, the longest losing streak in 20 years, and the latest setback in a frustrating season.

But surprisingly, the team discovered something of a spark in the loss. The upperclassmen put in their best performance in weeks, and the Wildcats were still very much in contention in the waning seconds of the game, and had several runs to close the gap and even to take the lead early in the second half. That it wasn’t quite enough against No. 1 Kansas was maybe inevitable, but the next two games are potentially winnable.

Meanwhile, the women took on No. 2 Baylor and doomed by a slow start, the Wildcats lost 83-58. A strong rally in the third quarter was not enough to overcome the Bears’ 44-18 halftime lead.

It was, however, a record-setting game for Peyton Williams and Ayoka Lee. The two have combined for the most rebounds in school history (602), overtaking the previous record (587) by Nicole Ohlde and Kendra Wecker. Williams now has 297 rebounds this season, the most for a senior season ever. Meanwhile, Lee is the first freshman in school history to pass the 300-rebound mark, and only the fifth Wildcat to ever reach that mark in a single season.

Baseball

If you’re disappointed by Kansas State basketball, have no fear. The BatCats are here! Kansas State played a doubleheader against Farleigh-Dickinson this weekend and swept their opponents, first with a decisive 8-1 win and then a 12-1 clobbering in the second game.

Terrence Spurlin, Cameron Thompson, and Kamron Willman all homered on the day, the first of the season for each player. Spurlin also led the team with five hits over the two games.

The BatCats were even more impressive in the series finale on Saturday, combining their run totals from the two Friday games for a 20-1 victory, in a game that actually went all nine innings (often the run-rule is in effect for non-conference games that end the series). A 7-run 4th inning gave Jordan Wicks his second win of the season, and the surprising stat of the game is that for all the scoring, the BatCats only managed to send one over the outfield wall when junior-transfer Zach Hogueisson recorded his first four-bagger as a Wildcat in the 8th inning.

Track

Yes, Kansas State is still a track school. At the Big 12 Indoor Championships in Ames, the women’s team finished in third place (91 points) and the men’s team finished fifth (76 points).

On Day 1, Lauren Taubert won the indoor pentathlon with a total of 4,161 points. She is the school’s first winner in the event since Erica Twiss in 2014. Teammate Ariel Okorie finished in third place to give the Wildcats 16 points in just the first event. A solid performance in the weight throw event, with Wildcats Helene Ingvaldsen, Shaelyn Ward, and Ashley Petr finishing 2-3-4 also added to the team’s points total.

On the second day, sophomore Kassidy Johnson ran a career best 2:44.89 in the 1000m race to take gold and also set a new school record in the process. This is her first Big 12 indoor title after finishing runner-up last season.

The men’s team had one of its better performances at this meet, with Aaron Booth and Edgaras Benkunskas finishing third and fourth respectively in the heptathlon. But Kansas State is still #HighJumpU, and 21 of the team’s 76 points came in that event. Junior TJ Shankar took first in the event to win his second-straight Big 12 indoor title, which puts him in the company of former Wildcats Erik Kynard and Christoff Bryan. Teammates Kyle Alcine and Taylor Smith joined him on the podium, finishing third and fourth respectively.

The track and field squads will now take a week off before heading to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque.