SE: It Has A 'Ring' To It

Baseball celebrated its first league title in 80 years on Friday night, joining its brethren in football and men's basketball to accomplish the feat.

May 20, 2013

This feature appeared in the May 20 edition of the K-State Sports Extra.

By Mark Janssen

Diamonds are said to be a girl's best friend, but it will be the guys flashing the glitz and glitter of championship rings next fall on the K-State campus from accomplishments during the current 2012-13 student-athlete academic year.
Football: Big 12 champions for the first time since 2003 and only the second crowning since 1934. Head coach Bill Snyder was named the Chuck Neinas Big 12 Coach of the Year and the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year.
Men's Basketball: The program's first Big 12 championship and first regular-season conference title since winning the Big Eight in 1977 ... yes, that's 36 years! Head coach Bruce Weber was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Coach of the Year.
Baseball: The program's first Big 12 title and first league title since 1933 ... yes, that's 80 years! And the first non-Texas school to win the conference championship in baseball since Nebraska in 2005. Head coach Brad Hill is sure to be the Big 12 Coach of the Year.
Yes, yes, yes! That's over 150 Wildcats that will be flashing new championship diamonds next year for being No. 1 in the Big 12 in 2012-13.
In the Big 12 era, only Texas in 2005-06 accomplished such a feat. K-State and Texas join Stanford (1999-2000) and Louisville (2012-13) as BCS schools to collect such a remarkable trifecta since the BCS era began in 1998.

That's how unusual, not to mention remarkable, this most recent K-State achievement is.

Sure, K-State has been known through the years for getting more bang for its buck spent whether in hiring coaches or financing sports, but honestly, scoring the football-basketball-baseball golden trifecta in this era of parity in intercollegiate sport is ... well ... almost ridiculous.

It's a season that ... well ... t-shirts were made for.

Like football and basketball before it, Brad Hill's baseball team is the latest to enter a season ranked in the lower half of the Big 12 preseason poll, but emerge as the league's No. 1 team.

Just as happened in football and basketball, the Diamond `Cats played with a true Wildcat grit overcoming 6-0 and 4-0 deficits in the final two series to win pivotal games that led to the Big 12 titles.

One can play the "no-respect" card, but remember in baseball it was a poll of the coaches who should know the teams the best that penciled in K-State to finish seventh.
It's the hope here that the baseball accomplishment, and this total season, is being cherished by the entirety of the Wildcat nation.
But wait!
Let's not forget the other headlines that Wildcats made in 2012-13.
Athletics director John Currie constantly talks about a "world-class student-athlete experience," and these student-athletes in turn have given purple-clad fans everywhere a "world-class cheering experience."
Consider the other Wildcat heroics from 2012-13:
• Senior Erik Kynard won an Olympic Silver Medalist in the high jump and currently leads the world with his jump of 7-8.

• Quarterback Collin Klein was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and was the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

• Linebacker Arthur Brown was a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

• The football `Cats were ranked No. 1 nationally during the season and ended up playing in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

• The volleyball team reached the NCAA Tournament.

• Sophomore Laura Galvan set a Wildcat 6K cross country record at the NCAA Championships.

• Senior Rodney McGruder was an honorable mention All-American and All-Big First Team.

• Senior Brittany Chambers set K-State scoring records in earning All-Big 12 honors in women's basketball and was selected in the second round of the WNBA Draft. She was also an honorable mention All-American.

• Junior Petra Niedermayerova in singles play, and Niedermayerova and senior Karla Bonacic in doubles action will mark just the second time in K-State history, where the Wildcats have been represented in both areas in the same year at the NCAA Championships. Niedermayerova became the first Wildcat in school history to earn All-America honors twice.

• Senior Curtis Yonke had a Top 10 finish at the Big 12 golf championship.

• The women's equestrian team earned national reserve championship honors for the third time in four seasons.

• Five Wildcats - Jharyl Bowry, Martina Tresch, Kyle Wait, Sara Savatovic and Kynard - all earned Big 12 championships in track and field.

Is that enough to be ecstatic about?

Nahhhhh ... let's go on.

How about $100 million in facility improvements between the West Stadium Center, the Basketball Training Facility, plus the Intercollegiate Rowing Center and a new six-court tennis stadium complex.

Oh, and let's don't forget this.

Baseball still has the opportunity to win the league's postseason tournament, advance to its first-ever Super Regional, and perhaps the College World Series.

And, Mr. Kynard, who already has a three-peat in the Big 12 high jump, will go after a third golden performance next month at the NCAA Championships.

All together now, a standing ovation for all Kansas Staters who made first downs, 3-pointers, returned serves, jumped over bars, ran fast and jumped far, scored rib-rattling tackles, rode with grace and elegance, and rolled in putts.

There's still plenty of cheering yet to do this spring in baseball, track and tennis, but fresh from a Big 12 baseball run, this serves as the first of several "Sports Extra" salutes to the greatest academic year in athletics in K-State history.

There's never been one like it before.


They'll have the rings to show for it.