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SLATE: Ultimately, a disappointing NCAA Track Championships for Kansas State

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WBB is all over the news feed this weekend, and a Klieman grad assistant moves on

The only Wildcat to score any points this year.
The only Wildcat to score any points this year.
Photo by Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

We’ve been spoiled. On many occasions in the last several years, the Kansas State women’s track team has actually stamped their mark on the leaderboard in the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships. As recently as 2016, the team posted a top-ten finish.

Not this year. At the 2021 meet in Eugene, the K-State women failed to score a single point, something which last transpired in 2013. Indeed, it’s the first time since 2014 that the women failed to score at least 16 points; from 2014-2019 the women’s team had at least one second-place finisher in every championship as well as four national champions. This weekend, not one Wildcat woman finished in the top eight of any event.

It’s an incredible disappointment for a squad which has had some stellar performances over the course of the season. While none of the qualifying members of the team were particular favorites to win a national title, every qualifier had posted results that indicated a good shot at a podium finish.

And they didn’t perform that badly. Five K-State women managed to earn second-team All-America recognition, with both Lauren Taubert and Ariel Okorie doing so in the heptathlon by finishing 15th and 16th on Saturday — the first time in Wildcat history that two women earned the honor in the same year.

Ashley Petr finished 15th in the discus, while on Thursday Taishia Pryce finished 16th in the triple jump and Taylor Latimer came in 13th in the shot put for K-State’s best placing of the weekend on the women’s side. Latimer and Taubert have justification for feeling the most disappointment; in the last NCAA championships in 2019, Latimer took fourth in the shot put and Taubert finished eighth in the heptathlon.

The men, on the other hand, have not generally threatened the leaderboard at the annual meet, with the exception of whichever Wildcat is competing in the high jump. That hasn’t changed. The Wildcat men scored eight points, all of them the result of one event. Tejaswin Shankar took second in the high jump on Friday, his third straight top-two finish in the outdoors including the 2018 national title. If not for LSU’s JuVaughn Harrison, who has won four straight national titles between indoor and outdoor, Shankar would be the most decorated Wildcat track athlete ever.

Shankar is thus K-State’s only first-team All-American in outdoor track this season. As we reported Thursday morning, he’s joined by second teamers Logan Wolfley (javelin) and Jullane Walker (long jump).

Next up for the Wildcats, or at least some of them: Olympic Trials, the US version of which will take place in Eugene over ten days starting on Friday.

Women’s Basketball

It’s weird to find this subheading in the two-hole in June, but there’s actually a bunch of news to share this fine morning.

The big news, which was announced Thursday, is that K-State will host one half of the preseason WNIT this fall. On November 12, 14, and 15 the Wildcats will host Western Kentucky, North Carolina A&T, and Tennessee-Martin in a four-team round-robin. On November 19, as the conclusion of the event, K-State will travel to Raleigh to take on North Carolina State. The Wolf Pack, for their part, will welcome Florida, Towson, and Wofford on the same days the Wildcats play.

Speaking of North Carolina State, on Saturday K-State’s 3x3 squad of Emilee Ebert, Cymone Goodrich, Ayoka Lee, and Rachel Ranke beat the Wolf Pack 21-17 to finish 2-1 in their pool at the USA Basketball 3x3 Nationals. Unfortunately, they were knocked out in Sunday’s quarterfinal by eventual champion Force 10 in a 19-15 loss, finishing in sixth place overall.

On Friday, Jeff Mittie hired Mike Nicholson, formerly the top assistant at Central Missouri and winner of the 2021 NABC Division II Assistant Coach of the Year award, as women’s basketball chief of staff. Nicholson was on the staff for a Division II national title in 2018 and a final four appearance this spring.

Football

Things just seem to lead into one another this morning; this time it’s from one directional Missouri school to another. Missouri Western has hired K-State graduate assistant Fred Wyatt as their new defensive line coach, according to Brandon Zenner at the St. Joseph News-Press. Wyatt has spent two years in Manhattan helping with the defensive backs; his dad, Buddy, is K-State’s own defensive ends coach.

At the Tulsa World, veteran columnist Bill Haisten muses on the first 25 years of the Big 12, and argues that there have been three defining traits to the league. You’ll like one of them.

And, of course, since we last spoke BracketCat has poured out four more days worth of countdown and AMS brought you the news regarding the probable expansion to 12 teams, sooner rather than later, of the College Football Playoff. You can find all of that on the front page if you missed it over the weekend.