SE: Kynard Repeats as Top Male Athlete of the Year

High jumper Erik Kynard earns Sports Extra's nod for the top male athlete of the year.

June 21, 2013

This feature appeared in the June 21 edition of the K-State Sports Extra.

By Mark Janssen

Here’s an invitation for you to pick that K-State Male Athlete of the Year for the 2012-13 academic year: Collin Klein, Rodney McGruder, Erik Kynard, Ross Kivett; or, Kynard, Kivett, Klein, McGruder; or, McGruder, Klein, Kivett, Kynard; or, Kivett, Klein, McGruder, Kynard.  

That’s what kind of year it was individually at Kansas State, which helped lead to an unprecedented three Big 12 Conference championships in football, basketball and baseball during the 2012-13 academic year. Oh yes, that’s not to mention Kynard’s Silver Medal won at the London Olympics.

Unquestionably, the July-to-June athletic year will go down as the greatest in the history of Kansas State Athletics.  

Paid the big bucks to make such decisions, here’s “Sports Extras” Top 10 Male Wildcat Athletes for 2012-13.  

We go with Erik Kynard as a repeat winner.

How can one go away from an Olympic Silver Medal, becoming “High Jump U’s” all-time record holder at 7-8 ½, a two-time Big 12 Conference jump champion, and twice an NCAA All-American.  

For the entirety of the indoor-outdoor season, Kynard averaged over 7-feet-6 inches in all meets competed in. Head coach Cliff Rovelto called that collective effort as “hard to believe.”  

Quarterback Collin Klein’s season stands as the very best Wildcat sports year … for someone who didn’t win an Olympic medal.  

Klein led the Wildcats to the Big 12 title, a Fiesta Bowl appearance and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. The Wildcat quarterback rewrote the K-State record book when it comes to touchdowns scored. He served as the Wildcats’ physical, emotional and spiritual leader.  

A .360 hitting second baseman, Ross Kivett starred as K-State’s baseball team leader as he was voted as the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year in the historic 45-win 2013 season.  

A 10th round draft choice of the Cleveland Indians, Kivett was pivotal in the Wildcats winning the first league title in baseball in 80 years, the first Super Regional ever, and coming within one game of making the College World Series.  

How can a First Team All-Big 12 talent like Rodney McGruder rank fourth on this list?

Well, see the “Triple K’s” of Kynard, Klein and Kivett.  

McGruder, a part of a school-record 101 wins during a four-year career, put the team on his shoulders as the Wildcats won a conference title for the first time since 1977. He averaged 15.7 points for the year and ended his career as the one of only two players to rank in the Top 10 in both career scoring (7th) and career rebounding (8th).

Completing  Top 10 Male Athletes of the Year are…  

5)   Arthur Brown … would someone else other than me please tell Brown, the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year and a second-round draft choice of the Baltimore Ravens, that he’s fifth on our list.   

6)  Jake Matthys … the Big 12 Freshman of the Year won nine games, plus saved nine as K-State’s closer.  

7)  Kyle Wait … defended his Big 12 pole vault title, plus earlier in the season cleared 18-1 to rank second in K-State history. He placed seventh at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to be the school’s first point scorer in the event since Olympian Doug Lytle in 1982.  

8)  Carlos Rodriguez … set K-State sprint records in his first season as a Wildcat. Rovelto says that Rodriquez has the best range – 100 to 400 meters – as any sprinter in school history.  

9)  Austin Fisher … the shortstop burst onto the scene as a sophomore by hitting a team-leading .361 with 20 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 38 RBI in 60 games. A First Team All-Big 12 selection, he finished in the top 10 of the Big 12 in eight offensive categories and was a semifinalist for the Gregg Olsen Breakout Player of the Year Award.

10)  Ty Zimmerman … the strong safety was named an All-American for the first time in his career in 2012, earning third team honors from the Associated Press. He made 50 tackles for the Big 12 champions, including three for losses, while grabbing five interceptions.  

Baseball … league champs for first time in 80 years
Basketball ... league champs for first time in 36 years
Football … league champs for only the third time in school history