Hoo-boy. This was a brutal weekend to be a Kansas State sports fan. Being the kind and generous folks we are, we’ll get you started with the good news.
Track and Field
At the Jim Click Shootout in Tucson, against a fairly strong field of Power 5 schools, K-State racked up ten event wins and 23 podium finishes over the weekend. As we noted Saturday, the first of those wins was Lauren Taubert’s NCAA-leading performance in the heptathlon. On the final day, she was joined by Jullane Walker in the men’s 200m, Hadley Splechter in the men’s 3k steeplechase, Vitoria Alves in the women’s 100m hurdles, the women’s 4x100m relay team of Wurrie Njadoe, Shalysa Wray, Chantoba Bright, and Kimisha Chambers, the women’s 4x400 relay team of O’shalia Johnson, Chambers, Taubert, and Wray, Tejaswin Shankar in the men’s high jump (of course), Bright in the women’s long jump, and Jah Strange and Rhianna Phipps sweeping the triple jump events.
The linked article is very heavy on pointing out the all-time K-State top ten results posted by the team this weekend — 16 listings on those lists will now read “April 10, 2021, Tucson” — but very short on any information regarding the current national placement of any of the weekend’s winners. There were some non-victorious performances of note, however.
K-State didn’t get a win in the women’s 100m, but Njadoe, Alves, and Bright did finish 2-4-5. Njadoe also took second in the women’s 200m. Along with Walker’s win in the men’s 100m, these are notable achievements for the Wildcats as the sprints have never been the school’s strong point.
Technically, Johnson won the women’s 400m, but it’s not being recorded as such; she posted the best time among collegiate competitors in the event. K-State had a nice showing in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, with Kassidy Johnson, Hannah Stewart, and Cara Melgares finishing 2-3-4. In the men’s high jump, Kyle Alcine and Devon Richardson finished 3-4 behind Shankar.
We reported Saturday that K-State had won the 1v4+ and 2v4+ races at the Tulsa Triangular, and here you can read the official release and roll your eyes at the words “earned a second-place finish in the [2v8+]” since you already know there were only two boats in that race.
Seriously, we don’t know if anyone in the athletic department reads the Slate, but if so somebody please do something to stop this sort of thing. It’s one thing to support the school, the teams, and the athletes; it’s another entirely to use the word “earned” to describe “losing a two-team race”. Giving the context that they only lost by 15 seconds — which is a reasonably good fight in this sport! — is how you applaud the crew’s effort, not by painting coming in second as an accomplishment.
After 36 holes at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational in Albuquerque, Niamh McSherry sits atop the leaderboard with a two-stroke lead at 7-under par. McSherry shot a brilliant 66 in the first round, the fourth best women’s round in school history, before a 1-under afternoon trip around the course which was sufficient to hold off the 4-under second-round charge of Denver’s Camille Enright. That performance left K-State tied for fourth with New Mexico State, three shots off co-leaders Denver and Pepperdine.
Reid Isaac is tied for 16th at 1-over, a stroke ahead of teammate Napua Glossner, who’s tied for 23rd. Unfortunately, the back end of the team struggled over both rounds yesterday; Heather Fortushniak and Haley Vargas are tied for 56th at 10-over, and that’s the big difference between the team being in fourth place and leading the event.
The action resumes at 8:30 CT with McSherry teeing off as part of the first group; all five of K-State’s players will be in the first four flights off the first tee, with Isaac’s group teeing off at 7:39, Vargas and Glossner in the same group at 7:48, and Fortushniak in the fourth group at 7:57.
And now... the bad stuff.
K-State finally played the final home game of their weird 2020 season on Saturday. Despite having beaten Iowa State in their conference matchup and finishing ahead of them in the Big 12 standings, K-State was unable to find the net on Saturday while the Cyclones did — on accident. Tavin Hays had a one-on-one with Wildcat keeper Alaine Werremeyer. Werremeyer blocked her shot, Hays deflected the ball back toward the net, Shannon Dukes cleared for K-State... but the clearance hit Hays and ricocheted back into the net.
That was all Iowa State (3-6-4) needed in a 1-0 win over the Wildcats (3-8-2).
The 2020 season finally comes to a close on Saturday in Norman as the Cats take on Oklahoma.
By the time Carson Seymour was chased from Saturday’s game two against Texas, the game was essentially over. Seymour was tattooed for seven runs in 21⁄3 innings, and the Wildcat offense consisted entirely of a sixth-inning Nick Goodwin homer which made a 13-0 game 13-1. Texas eventually took the game, and the series, in a 15-1 decision; Seymour falls to 2-3 on the season.
Sunday’s contest was better, but only somewhat. Connor McCullough (2-2) really only made three mistakes on the afternoon. Unfortunately, all three happened with a runner on base, and all three left the yard. But it was still only 6-2, the Wildcat runs coming on a Zach Kokoska homer — his 12th — and Goodwin scoring after Chris Ceballos struck out as a result of a throwing error by Texas shortstop Trey Faltine, and have fun imagining how that happened.
Then, to add insult to injury, Kasey Ford — who was sporting a gaudy 0.50 ERA coming into the day — gave up three runs in the eighth inning in relief, pushing that ERA back up to 0.94. Those three runs were the final tallies in a 9-2 Texas win. The Longhorns are now 25-8 (10-2 Big 12); the Wildcats fall to 17-14 (2-7).
Opposing player to keep a sharp eye on the rest of the year: Texas DH Ivan Melendez homered on Friday, homered on Saturday, and homered twice on Sunday. He’s cleared the fence in six straight games.
The BatCats return to Tointon tomorrow to begin a two-game series with Northern Colorado, which may be the tonic to wash the taste of this weekend sweep away.
So much for home court advantage. In a match delayed a day by weather, K-State fell 5-2 to #10 Baylor (18-3, 5-1 Big 12) on Saturday. There was one bright spot in that match: Karine-Marion Job did knock off Baylor’s top player, ITA #57 Mel Krywoj, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. Maria Linares also won a thriller, taking the first set against Jessica Hinojosa before losing the second in tiebreakers; the third set also went to tiebreakers before Linares emerged with the win.
Sunday, it was Texas foiling the Wildcats yet again. The second-ranked Longhorns (20-1, 7-0 Big 12) did not even lose a set to K-State (7-9, 2-5) in a 7-0 sweep.
This weekend will wrap up the regular season as the Cats host #47 Oklahoma State on Friday and #25 Oklahoma on Sunday.
The editorial board of the Kansas City Star went off with both barrels on the Big 12 and its member institutions in the wake of Kansas hiring Travis Goff as its new athletic director, pointing out that the league’s athletic directors are uniformly white men. Given that there are 52 women and 55 Black people serving as athletic directors among the 347 schools in Division I, it’s not an entirely unwarranted criticism — especially since, as noted, half the athletes are women and a majority are Black.
That said, the editorial does fail to detail how many women and/or people of color are serving as primary assistant ADs, although you do not want to turn your gaze to K-State’s athletic department trying to find senior AD staff who aren’t white males. Other than Jill Shields, the senior women’s administrator — a position mandated by the NCAA to be held by a woman — you won’t find any.
Perhaps if and when the time comes for another AD hire, K-State should consider taking the lead on this. It’s not like it would be new territory for the Wildcats, who broke the Big Eight color barrier in numerous sports in the 1950s.