In an unsurprising turn of events given the small number of Kansas State athletes who qualified for the 2021 NCAA Indoor Championships, the two teams combined to register only eight points with the men finishing tied for 31st and the women tied for 45th.
However, it wasn’t all bad news. All five Wildcat athletes who earned invitations also earned All-America recognition. Four of those were reported on Saturday by wildcat00; Tejaswin Shankar earning first-team honors for his third-place finish in the high jump and Taishia Pryce also making the first team for finishing seventh in the long jump. Those two Friday results would be the only points scored by K-State, as the men finished with six points and the women with two.
Second-team honors went to Vitoria Alves in the 60m hurdles and to Chantoba Bright in the long jump, also as reported by Double Ought. Bright added another second-team nod on Saturday in the triple jump as did Rihanna Phipps and, on the men’s side, Shankar.
The team isn’t getting much of a break, though. The outdoor season begins this very weekend at the Roadrunner Invitational in San Antonio.
K-State almost... almost... pulled off a weekend sweep down in Houston. Having won Friday’s game against Northern Illinois 4-3 on a walk-off, they opened their Saturday doubleheader by causing even more anxiety.
The Cats got on the board first with a Zach Kokoska homer in the first inning, and Carson Seymour (1-1, 3.79) provided six innings on the hill, allowing no runs. Unfortunately, the first Northern Illinois batter of the seventh, Kam Smith, tripled off reliever Brett Wozniak and then scored on a wild pitch. That was the only damage, however, and K-State made it to the top of the tenth still tied at 1. With one out, Kokoska singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. Nick Goodwin struck out, bringing Dylan Phillips to the plate. Phillips drilled a homer to right center to make it 3-1 Cats, and Eric Torres threw a perfect bottom half of the inning to salvage the win.
The evening game Saturday was much more pleasant. Phillips doubled in Cameron Thompson in the top of the first, but Bradley Gneiting evened the score for Rice in the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot to straightaway center. Jordan Wicks (3-0, 1.78) got the Cats to the seventh with no further damage. By the time he left, the game was well in hand. Home runs by Kaden Fowler in the fifth and Thompson in the seventh bookended a pair of sixth-inning runs courtesy of a two-run double by Dom Hughes, and while Tyler Eckberg did surrender a heavily-manufactured run in the eighth, the Cats went into the ninth with a 6-2 lead. They added a couple more just to be sure, as Thompson singled and moved to second on a Phillips groundout before scoring on a Goodwin single. Three straight walks pushed Goodwin across the plate for an 8-2 lead before Rice escaped the inning. The Owls added a meaningless unearned run in the bottom half to close the books.
The final game of the weekend was delayed seven and a half hours due to weather. The Cats, attempting to extend their winning streak to six games, got a brilliant outing from Connor McCullough (1-0, 0.74), who went 61⁄3 innings and allowed only two baserunners. Caleb Littlejim came on in relief, and went the rest of the way without surrendering an earned run.
That, of course, highlights the problem. In the eighth, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and an intentional walk put Rice runners at first and second with two outs. A ground ball to short was ruled a hit, which would have loaded the bases... but a hurried throw to first went awry and the runner from second base scored. The Cats offense remained dormant, going down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, resulting in a 1-0 loss.
Once again, a nails effort by McCullough went for naught. C-Mac, on the season, has thrown 241⁄3 innings in four starts, allowed only two earned runs, and has struck out 28 batters against seven walks. And despite this, he’s only 1-0 and K-State is 2-2 in his starts. It’s maddening.
But taking three of four is nothing to sneeze at, either, so we’ll call the weekend a success. This coming weekend, the recipient of one of those stupid wins will be in Manhattan for a three-game set as the BatCats (11-5) take on New Mexico (5-8) at Tointon starting Friday.
K-State got another shot at Kansas Saturday, this time at Rock Chalk Park. At least the Cats came away with a draw, albeit of the scoreless variety. Next up is the closed friendly against the team which currently holds Brookelynn Entz’s draft rights, Kansas City NWSL, on Saturday; their next “real” match will be the following Sunday at Missouri.
Against Saint Louis (7-7) on Sunday, Aliyah Carter posted a double-double Sunday with 13 kills and 10 digs and Jayden Nembhard added a dozen kills herself. Those numbers are more impressive when you consider they came in only three games, as the VolleyCats (11-7) grabbed the brooms and swept the Billikens out of Bramlage 25-19, 25-18, 25-22.
Saturday’s task will be more difficult as the ladies host 23rd-ranked Creighton (8-2) at 6:00. Although K-State still has a two-match set against Wayne State (NE) at Bramlage next weekend, Wayne State is a Division II school so the Wildcats are using the Creighton match for Senior Day. Abigail Archibong and Megan Vernon will be honored post-game.
Looks like K-State’s venture into the top 50 will be short-lived, as the Cats (4-4) lost for the second time this weekend in a 4-3 setback at 49th-ranked TCU (8-5) on Sunday.
They’ll be back on their home courts Sunday as Kansas (5-5) comes to town.
Just getting underway as we publish, the men’s golf team is in Austin for the George Hannon Collegiate at the University of Texas Golf Club. Rounds one and two are today with the final round tomorrow. Every Big 12 team except Kansas and Iowa State will be involved, alongside New Mexico State, Arkansas-Little Rock, Florida Atlantic, New Mexico, and Texas-Arlington. You can follow along at golfstat.com.