We have reached that part of the calendar where very few Slates will be absent NCAA post-season discussion, which means the long hot sportless summer is almost upon us. The goal, of course, is to delay the onset of that truly awful condition as long as possible.
The first domino to fall: men’s golf. Tim Tillmans has qualified to represent Kansas State in the NCAA men’s regional at Karsten Creek in Stillwater May 17-19. The team as a whole just missed qualifying, unfortunately. The top five teams in the regional advance to the NCAA championship, as well as the top individual in the regional whose team does not advance. So Tillmans doesn’t have to win the event — just beat everyone who didn’t already carry their team to Stillwater.
That wasn’t the only golf news to drop yesterday. Three men — Ryan Bender, Jakob Eklund, and Riccardo Leo — were named to the Big 12 All-Academic golf team, as were five members of the women’s team: Briony Bayles, Heather Fortushniak, Reid Isaac, Niamh McSherry, and Haley Vargas. Bender, a sophomore, and seniors Eklund and Isaac all posted 4.0 GPAs on the way to the honor. K-State tied for the conference lead in perfect GPAs among their combined golf teams. The three male players have earned the honor every year they have been eligible (true freshmen and incoming transfers are not), as has Vargas; it’s Isaac’s third award and the second for the other ladies.
More on the weekend tomorrow, but for now the Eagle’s Kellis Robinett reports on K-State’s NCAA chances and the opinion of Pete Hughes on the matter.
Track and Field
Kansas, whose men are ranked 14th this week, and sudden addition BYU — whose men’s team is ranked second in the nation, with their women ranked ninth — will be the guests of honor at this weekend’s Ward Haylett Invitational. Likely due to BYU’s addition, the event has been moved back to begin at 3:00 this afternoon rather than on Friday.
There is no decathlon or heptathlon this weekend; Thursday’s events will include the men’s discus, both javelins, and the first phase of the women’s long jump competiton. On Friday, the action won’t begin until 5:00; on the field, both hammer throws and pole vaults will take place, along with the men’s high jump. The runners will take center stage later in the evening, with both 400m, 1500m, and 5k races taking place. Everything else is set for Saturday starting at 10:00 in the morning, including a break for recognition of K-State’s senior athletes at noon.
The meet will be a double-dual, so a big weekend for the Wildcats could be a big boost to their respective profiles. The men are currently ranked 43rd, while the women sit 27th.
K-State has a new head of compliance. Julie Owen, who’s had stops at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wright State, and Oklahoma before spending the last decade at Ole Miss, will join Gene Taylor’s staff as an associate athletic director over the summer.
“But wait,” you’re thinking, “wasn’t Ole Miss embroiled in scandal sometime in the last ten years?” Why yes. Yes, they were. But the director of compliance at the time was Matt Ball, who had brought Owen to Oxford with him when he moved over from Oklahoma. When Ball — now overseeing compliance for Auburn basketball, woof — was reassigned following the Hugh Freeze debacle, Owen was promoted, and the move was hailed as a wise one at the time.