First, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Moore, Okla., as they deal with the aftermath of yesterday afternoon's terrible storms, especially the parents who have lost or are missing young children from the schools hit by the tornadoes. Our baseball team was en route to its hotel in OKC in advance of the Big 12 Championship during the storm, and we were relieved to learn that they arrived safely. I also traded text messages late last night with Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione and then our Big 12 ADs visited by phone this morning with conference officials and the Oklahoma City All-Sports Association regarding the status of this week's tournament. Tim Brassfield, Executive Director of the All-Sports Association, was very appreciative of the support and sensitivity to the situation displayed by our conference staff and coaches and shared with us the strong desire from his fellow Oklahoma City leaders that the championship continue to be played this weekend. It was then determined that the tournament be delayed one day and proceed with an altered schedule beginning Thursday. Click here for the conference's full release with an updated schedule of games.
To have such a tragic occurrence come on the heels of a wonderful Wildcat weekend is indeed humbling, but I do want to congratulate Coach Brad Hill and our Big 12 Champion baseball team following a title-clinching series win over Oklahoma this past weekend. And hats off to the 7,600-plus fans that attended the series - Friday night's atmosphere during our dramatic walk-off win was special. We are also in position to potentially host a NCAA Regional here in Manhattan May 31-June 3. Stay tuned for more information and tune into the NCAA selection show on ESPNU next Monday at 11 a.m. In the meantime, click here to watch our special Big 12 Champion baseball video.
Also today in Oklahoma City, the conference announced postseason honors and awards for baseball with a total of seven players being named First Team All-Big 12 as well as Wildcat picks for Coach of the Year (Brad Hill), Player of the Year (Ross Kivett), Freshman of the Year (Jake Matthys) and Scholar Athlete of the Year (Jared King) --- which now gives us three Big 12 Scholar Athletes this year! Click here for our full release on the awards.
I couldn't be more proud of all 450 student-athletes plus all of our coaches
and staff for the year that we have had - both on the playing field and in the
classroom. Did you know that K-State is just the second Big 12 school and
fourth major conference program since the BCS era began in 1998 to win league
titles in football, men's basketball and baseball during the same academic
year? Only Texas (2005-06), Stanford (1999-2000) and Louisville (2012-13) have
accomplished the same feat. Click
here for a Sports Extra story on the 2012-13 athletics season.
Fifty-six Wildcat student-athletes graduated this past weekend and we awarded many of them with their senior K-State rings during our annual spring graduation reception Friday evening. We then handed out five more rings to baseball seniors prior to Sunday's game and just completed a luncheon today for our rowing team graduates, who were away at competition this past weekend.
today's luncheon several members of the K-State College of Architecture,
Planning and Design were on hand to present the Henry Adams Medal to senior
coxswain Samantha McCloud. This very special recognition is awarded to the
highest ranking graduate of the College of Architecture, which happens to be
K-State's highest nationally-ranked college! We congratulate Samantha and her
teammates and also salute the faculty members for taking time to participate in
the ceremony. It's another example of the supportive and caring environment
provided by K-State's dedicated faculty. Click
here for full coverage of graduation weekend!
Here are a few more updates from around the department:
The West Stadium Center construction continues to change rapidly on a daily basis as we close in on 100 days before the 2013 season opener! The project continues to run on schedule, and it is exciting to see the progress our construction managers Mortensen/GE Johnson make each day. Click here for the latest photo gallery of the project. Also, if you have driven past Bill Snyder Family Stadium this week, you will notice some work being done on the east side of the stadium. With the new lighting system put in place on the west side, we made the decision to replace the two light poles on the east side with new light standards that will be affixed to the top of the upper-deck structure. The addition of this lighting system will greatly enhance the stadium's appearance while tremendously improving the lighting levels, providing our fans, student-athletes and television viewers with a better viewing and playing experience!
Catbacker Tour Underway
Our annual 30-stop Catbacker Tour got underway last week with the "Western Swing" in Dodge City, Garden City, Scott City and Colby. When the tour is over in August, we will have traveled more than 8,500 miles visiting our terrific fans. The tour, a joint partnership between the athletics department and K-State Alumni Association, is one of the most unique and sustained programs of its kind in the country and we appreciate the grass-roots support of our entire fan base. Our passionate fans continue to buy tickets and sell out stadiums and arenas each year, and it is very important for us to go out and connect with them each summer. For information on each of the events or to follow the tour at each stop, visit Ahearn Fund.com
Last week was another extremely busy one - I enjoyed visiting with K-Staters in Houston and the DFW area Monday and Tuesday before making the trip to Scott City on Wednesday for the 50th K-State Fry! It was an honor to join alumni association CEO Amy Button Renz in presenting a special commemorative watch to long-time Scott City volunteer leader Dr. Jerry Doornbos.
Tuesday morning in Houston I enjoyed an early visit with 2010 graduate and former Wildcat hoopster Chris Merriewether whose career with Phillips 66 is off to a tremendous start - and that K-State work ethic is burning strong in Chris- the 6:30 a.m. breakfast time was his idea not mine!
Later that day I had the special opportunity to share dinner in Irving with our two current members of the PGA tour- Aaron Watkins and Robert Streb along with Robert's wife Maggie, herself a K-State grad. Aaron and Robert both played well later in the week in the Byron Nelson Classic, each missing the cut by just one stroke.
It was fascinating to hear more about the day-to-day grind of professional golf and their experiences. Aaron, Robert and Maggie (Aaron's wife Jessica was back in Phoenix with their 20 and 2 month old daughters!) are all passionate K-State fans and follow the 'Cats closely. If you are in the DFW area get out and follow them on the course later this week at the Colonial in Fort Worth.
Rowers Close Season Strong
The Wildcat rowing team closed their season on Saturday with a fifth-place team finish at the Conference USA Championships in Tennessee. The 1st Varsity 4 won its preliminary heat in the morning racing session to advance to the Grand Final where it the bronze medal, while the 1st Varsity 8 moved to the Grand Final by finishing third in its preliminary heat and sixth in the final. Individually, Allison Dorau earned all-conference honors following the weekend.
Track and Field/Tennis Eye Postseason Runs
Both our track and field and rowing programs have begun postseason competition as Coach Rovelto's squads head to Austin for NCAA Regional action before heading to Eugene, Oregon, for the NCAA Championships June 5-8. A strong contingent, including our four Big 12 Champions, will compete next week in Austin for a berth in the NCAA Championships. Meanwhile tennis duo Petra Niedermayerova and Karla Bonacic, following several weeks of preparation on our new outdoor tennis courts, will compete in the NCAA Championships this week in Illinois. Good luck to all of our student-athletes competing!
That will do it for today. Please continue to keep the victims of yesterday's storms in your thoughts and prayers. Have a safe week.