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SLATE: Official competition officially underway!

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The SoccerCats kickoff the 2021-22 athletics slate tonight.

Kansas State midfielder Brookelynn Entz (8) dribbles upfield while forward Tatum Wagner (44) looks on during K-State’s 2-0 victory over Omaha on August 30, 2017. Adam Stewart/Special to Bring on the Cats

Soccer

The Kansas State Wildcats official 2021-22 athletics season kicks off tonight, as the SoccerCats welcome in the Wildcats of Weber State for a 7pm kickoff from Buser Family Park in Manhattan. K-State finished the strange 2020 season at 3-9-1, but went 3-6-0 in Big 12 play for their best ever finish. The Wildcats are buoyed to start their 6th season by the return of super(duper)-senior Brooklyn Entz, who was drafted last spring by NWSL Kansas City, but is holding off signing her contract until after this season (BTW, thanks KC for being flexible!). You can watch the game on Big 12 Now on the Deathstar ESPN+, with Brian Smoller (play-by-play) and Oscar Montenegro (analyst) on the call.

Basketball

K-State women’s basketball finalized their 2012-22 schedule yesterday, as they learned their opponent for the Big 12/SEC Challenge. And they just so happen to have gotten stuck with one of the best teams in the nation, South Carolina. The Gamecocks made last year’s Final Four (falling to eventual national champ Stanford), their third appearance in the semifinals all-time and their first since winning the national title in 2017, and have made the NCAA Tournament every year it’s been held since 2012. Oh, and to make matters worse, the game is in Columbia, South Carolina.

Down in the southwest, late K-State men’s basketball player Nick Pino, a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico (who was a three-year standout for head coach Tex Winter and the Wildcats from 1965-68), was recently inducted into the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted back in 2019, but due to COIVD, the 2020 induction ceremony was delayed until last Sunday, August 15th, 2021. Pino was nicknamed “Nick the Stick” due to his 7’1” frame, and was a leader on the 1968 Big 8 title team that advanced to the Sweet 16 in Winter’s final year in Manhattan.

Football

K-State Assistant Head Coach/Cornerbacks Coach Van Malone spoke with the media on Tuesday, and of course had a lot to say about the defense and the defensive backfield, but also spoke on the current situation with the Big 12 and recruiting, as well as stand-outs on offense. We also learned that they call TJ Smitth “The Wasp”, “because he’s always stinging people”. We saw some of that last season before he got hurt, and it will be great to get him back on the field.

Running back Joe Ervin is also shining in fall camp after taking the “opt out” option last season, and he feels great about where things are going heading into the season. It’s good news for Deuce Vaughn, who will have a true complementary back that was missing last season.

Over at The Athletic, David Ubben took part in a series of essays about 50 things the writers at The Athletic are looking forward to with the return of a “regular” college football season. Ubben’s talked about the Pub Crawl Band at K-State, and the return of the “Friday night buzz” to college towns ($). Oh yeah, I’m quoted (h/t to Luke T for setting that up).