June 22, 2012
By Mark Janssen
It was a year of overcoming the odds for the women’s side of K-State Athletics in 2011-12 as solid finishes proved the pollsters wrong in multiple sports. The following are Sports Extra’s picks for the top athletes and moments of the just completed Wildcat athletic season.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Petra Niedermayerova earned a pair of NCAA victories to reach the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tennis Championship and become only the third All-American in school history.
A product of Brno, Czech Republic, Niedermayerova ended the year ranked No. 26 in the nation and the top player in the Central Region. Niedermayerova won 24 matches, which included nine against ranked players. Her ITA All-American honor was added to a number of accolades this season, including All-Big 12 honors in both singles and doubles, Capital One Academic All-District VII At-Large Team honors and Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors.
FIVE OTHERS NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN: Ryann Krais won the Big 12 indoor pentathlon and the outdoor heptathlon, plus was a two-time All-American. Brittany Chambers faced game plans all season designed to stop her first, but she still found a way to lead the team with a 16-point scoring average. Meredith Finch was named Outstanding Player on the Flat at the National Collegiate Equestrian Association Championship. Rower Traci Smiley was named to the second-team Central All-Region team for the second year in a row and was an All-Conference USA performer for her efforts with the 1st Varsity 8 boat. Sophomore Kaitlynn Pelger was named All-American by Volleyball Magazine, plus was honorable mention All-American by the AVCA.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Alyx Treasure arrived at K-State from Canada and immediately made a splash by high jumping 6-foot to win the Big 12 indoor title. She later added a 15th place finish in the NCAA Indoor, earning second-team All-American honors. At the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Treasure finished fifth by clearing 5-10.75. Treasure will compete in the Canadian Track & Field Olympic Trials next week.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Mairead Murphy was third in the Big 12 indoor pentathlon and fourth in the Big 12 outdoor heptathlon. Her respective point totals of 3,934 and 5,399 were national records for her native country of Ireland, while she finished 19th in the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship. In addition, Murphy was also sixth in the 100-meter hurdles at the Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championship.
TEAM OF THE YEAR/COACH OF THE YEAR: SUZIE FRITZ’S K-STATE VOLLEYBALL team’s expectations were shattered as the Wildcats were tabbed to finish only eighth among the nine teams that play Big 12 volleyball. Fritz led K-State to a fourth-place finish, which included victories over highly ranked Texas A&M and Oklahoma. The Wildcats ended the year with 22 match victories and ranked No. 22 in the nation.
TEAM MOMENT: K-State’s volleyball season was capped by not only reaching the NCAA Tournament, but also scoring a victory over No. 2 Nebraska on the Cornhuskers’ home floor in a historic five-set thriller – 25-22, 22-25, 31-29, 22-25, 15-11 – that advanced the Wildcats to the Sweet 16. The win over the No. 2 Cornhuskers marked the highest ranked team that K-State had ever defeated. It was also NU’s first loss on its home court in the first two rounds of NCAA Tournament play.
INDIVIDUAL MOMENT: Petra Niedermayerova won not one, but two NCAA tennis matches to advance to the Sweet 16. Niedermayerova’s biggest win came over No. 16 Diana Nakic of Baylor, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a match lasting over three hours. Niedermayerova entered the competition ranked No. 29 in the Campbell/ITA National singles rankings. With the two wins, she became only the second player in school history (the first since Yana Dorodnova in 1999) to the reach the Round of 16 in the NCAA Singles Championships.
GIFTED ACADEMICALLY AS WELL AS ATHLETICALLY: Kansas State senior Ryann Krais not only placed 14th at the NCAA Outdoor Championship in the heptathlon, but she also received the NCAA Elite 89 Award, which recognized her as the top student-athlete in her sport of track and field. Krais was also named a First Team Capital One Academic All-American and received the Dr. Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship from the Big 12.
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.