SE: Happy Holidays from Sports Extra

Dec. 23, 2011

By Mark Janssen
K-State Sports Extra

Dear Wildcat Nation:
As the calendar races toward the end of the year, it's common for those in the writing world to piddle with year-end stories ... the best of the best in 2011-type writings.

While doing that piddling, and trying to put my creaking memory bank to work, the Story of the Year for 2011 became quite simple.

No, not just the on-going football year that won't end until January 6, or the heroics of Frank Martin/Jacob Pullen, or the ladies of Deb Patterson and Suzie Fritz, or the individual heroics in track and field and tennis, but the story of this year is what K-State's 16 sports teams did collectively.

Disagree with me if you wish, but I challenge you to find a better calendar year in Kansas State Wildcat sports history. I truly believe that the January 2011 to December 2011 12-month period has never been rivaled in terms of story lines, and success.

That's ever, ever!

For starters, let's do an all-sports title in the Big 12 for what many schools are their ticketed sports of football, volleyball, plus men's and women's basketball.

The champion is ... (create own drum roll) ... Kansas State!

Yes, in those sports, K-State was second in football, tied for third in men's and women's basketball, and placed fourth in volleyball. Using 1 point for placing 1st and 10 points for finishing 10th, that gives the Wildcats 13 points.

Nearest to them is Texas A&M with 15, Texas with 16.5 and Baylor with 17.5 ... and at the most southern portion of the standings it's Kansas in ninth with 27 points and Texas Tech in last with 32.5.

In fact, K-State was the only school in the league to finish in the top half of the league standings in all four of those sports, and remember, those placings came in a season where all but men's basketball was picked to finish eighth or ninth in the league's preseason polls.

When the final gun sounded completing each season, the `Cats finished No. 8 in the nation in football (and could improve), and in the Top 25 in men's basketball and volleyball.

It's all pretty darn amazing stuff, isn't it?

K-State went 6-1 against Kansas in those four sports, and 12-9 (yes, 4-0 in football) against the four Texas-based schools.

With all of that being said, let's relive a collection of the ultra-highs from 2011 when Santa seemed to come monthly to those in the Wildcat Nation.

Frank Martin "stared" his Wildcats to a magical year that included 23 wins with one of those being an 84-68 spanking of No. 1-ranked Kansas in Bramlage Coliseum. Adding an exclamation point to this personal year was notching career win No. 100 last month with a win at Virginia Tech.

Not to be outdone, Deb Patterson hit a historic number of her own with her 300th K-State win on March 9 against Iowa State. More meaningful than that, however, was victory No. 299, which was a 71-67 victory over No. 5 Texas A&M seven days earlier. It was an A&M team that just happened to go on to win the national title.

The spotlight moment included Brittany Chambers swishing seven treys and scoring 35 points in the win over the Aggies, and Jacob Pullen twice scoring 38 points. The first came against Kansas, and the second in his final game as a Wildcat versus Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament when he broke the all-time scoring record of Mike Evans.

On a handful of other 2011 rosters K-State had arguably the best to have ever played for the Purple and White.

In women's tennis, Wildcat freshman Petra Niedermayerova was named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Niedermayerova won 24 matches, which included nine in Big 12 play to win top honors at No. 1 singles.

Baseball was back in the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row with James Allen being an All-American, Jared King a Freshman All-American and Nick Martini (including games played in 2010) had an astonishing string of reaching base in 93 consecutive games - an NCAA record.

June only brought more golden performances as Erik Kynard won the NCAA high jump at 7-feet-6-inches and Ryann Krais won the NCAA heptathlon competition, plus finished third in the 400 meter hurdles in a near historic double of two of the most physically demanding events in track. Both Wildcats were also Big 12 outdoor blue-ribbon winners (Krais in the 400-hurdles), and Kynard also won the title in the Big 12 indoor championships back in February.

Oh, not to be forgotten was the fact that K-State track and field coach Cliff Rovelto served as head coach for Team USA's men at the Pan America Games this past August. Through his coaching, K-Staters like Jeffrey Julmis, Martina Tresch and Nina Kokot set school records and competed at an All-American level.

It only got better in the fall season with Bill Snyder's guys pulling one upset after another starring Collin Klein. No game was more memorable than on Nov. 12 against Texas A&M in ... count them ... four overtimes (53-50) with Klein accounting for ... count them ... six touchdowns.

And talk about exciting games/matches, Suzie Fritz's gals continued K-State's list of mega-exciting wins by stunning No. 2 ranked Nebraska on its home floor in the NCAA Tournament in a marathon match that included games of 25-22, 22-25, 31-29, 22-25, 15-11 games. Like other names previously mentioned, Kaitlynn Pelger earned All-American honors and established herself as one of the best to have ever played for the `Cats as just a sophomore.

Never has there been a more exciting K-State football game; never has there been such a volleyball match in Wildcat history.

There were so many other record-setting performances and continued growth in the other purple sports programs in a year where the Wildcats truly turned heads nation-wide.

It all made for a calendar that former Wildcat announcer Dev Nelson would have certainly called a "rip-snortin, hoot-n-nang, double-barrel, deeee-eeeeep dish dilly" of a 2011 calendar year.

"Sports Extra" hopes you've read with pride this recap on the 2011 calendar year and relive it with family and friends during this Christmas and holiday season.

Have a great holiday season.

Mark

P.S.   Next week we'll be naming a top 10 male and female athletes of the 2011 calendar year. Take time and make your own and we'll compare lists next week.

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 at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com. For those who would like to share Sports Extra with a friend or family member, or change your current email address, click here.