SE: K-State Through The Decades | Part Three

K-State Athletics established a new way to engage former student-athletes from around the state, region, nation and world with the launch of the Varsity K Club earlier this fall. Since the first K-State football team took the field in 1896, over 10,000 men and women have represented 20 sports programs by wearing K-State uniform. The Varsity K Club provides an exclusive opportunity for former student-athletes to reconnect with past teammates and stay up to date with recent K-State Athletics news and events. 

Leading up to the Varsity K Club’s inaugural All-Sport Reunion Weekend taking place this Friday and Saturday, K-State Sports Extra has given its readers a quick look back at K-State Athletics’ past 119 years. 

Through this three-part, weekly series, K-State Sports Extra has hit on key events, spotlighted former student-athletes and recognized major K-State Athletics’ moments from throughout the years. To read Part 1, highlighting K-State Athletics’ days from 1986-1959, please click here. For Part 2, highlighting 1960-1989, please click here

Nearly 250 former student-athletes have already signed up for the All-Sports Reunion Weekend! For information, please contact Matt Giller at mgiller@kstatesports.com. For more information on the Varsity K Club and to learn how you can get involved, please click here.

A Look Through the Years | 1990-2015
1990-99 - With the arrival of Bill Snyder, K-State Athletics took on a different feel in the 1990s. Once a strong basketball school, the success of K-State became identified on the gridiron. Snyder steadily led a moribund football program into the national spotlight, culminating with annual 11-win seasons by the end of the decade. During the 1990s, All-Americans such as Jaime Mendez, Chad May, Chris Canty, Martin Gramatica, David Allen, Michael Bishop, Jeff Kelly and Mark Simoneau helped make K-State football a household name and the Powercat a nationally recognized mark.In 1998, the Wildcats enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in school history, claiming the program’s first No. 1 ranking. Facilities also began to change during the 1990s with the addition of the first Vanier Football Complex, the football indoor practice facility, and a new east side upper deck and suites addition to the football stadium.

The 1990s also brought the hiring of two of the longest-tenured coaches in K-State history with Deb Patterson (women’s basketball) and Cliff Rovelto (track and field). In track and field, Kenny Harrison became one of the most decorated athletes in K-State history as the 11-time All-American won three individual national championships in the long jump and triple jump, and he went on to win a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics. The tennis team garnered unprecedented success as well with Yana Dorodnova becoming the school’s first ITA All-American and advancing to the quarterfinals of the 1998 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Singles Championship.

2000-09 – Snyder continued his success with the Wildcats into this decade and, along with All-Americans Terence Newman, Quincy Morgan and Ell Roberson, the Wildcats laid the groundwork for the 2003 season where K-State claimed its first Big 12 Championship. That season, led by two-time All-American Darren Sproles, the Wildcats upset No. 1 Oklahoma, 35-7, in the Big 12 title game to give the program its second-ever conference title and first since 1934.

Two other programs garnered Big 12 Championships that season as head coach Suzie Fritz guided the Wildcat volleyball team to the Big 12 crown, led by First Team All-American Lauren Goehring. The K-State women’s basketball team, led by All-Americans Kendra Wecker, Nicole Ohlde, and later Shalee Lehning, also won Big 12 titles during the 2003-04 and 2007-08 campaigns, part of an eight-year stretch that saw the program average 24 wins per season.

The men’s basketball team enjoyed a revival midway through the decade and was highlighted by the play of Michael Beasley, who went on to earn National Player of the Year honors from two publications and a First Team All-America honors. In 2009, the Wildcats embarked on a 29-8 campaign that ended in the Elite Eight, led by All-American and career scoring record holder Jacob Pullen.

In track and field, Rovelto’s legendary tutelage continued with the Wildcats claiming back-to-back Big 12 outdoor championships in 2001 and 2002, led by four-time All-American Austra Skujyte, who would become the only female athlete to ever compete in the heptathlon in four Olympic Games. A silver medalist in 2004 in Athens, Skujyte remains the only female athlete in program history to win multiple national championships. On the men’s side, this decade saw the rise of the high jump under Rovelto with Scott Sellers claiming three national championships and Nathan Leeper winning a national title and competing in the 2000 Olympic Games.In baseball, Brad Hill’s squad enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2009, led by All-American and Big 12 Pitcher of the Year AJ Morris. The Wildcats enjoyed a 43-win season and made the first of three NCAA Tournament appearances over a four-year stretch, the first three postseason apperances in school history.

It was also during this decade that K-State Rowing and K-State Equestrian were officially added as varsity sports, bringing K-State’s official varsity sports total to 16.  

2010-15 – Though we’re only halfway through this current decade of K-State Athletics, it has already revealed remarkable achievements. After a brief three-year hiatus, Snyder returned to the sidelines as the head coach, and in 2012, led by All-American and Heisman trophy finalist Colin Klein, the Wildcats won their second Big 12 Championship en route to their second BCS bowl appearance.

Also in 2012, Bruce Weber was hired as men’s basketball coach and led the Wildcats to the 2013 Big 12 Championship, their first conference title since 1977. Led by All-American Rodney McGruder, the Wildcats won 27 games and made their fourth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.Completing the trifecta in 2012-13, the Wildcat baseball team also leaped into the national spotlight during this decade as, led by All-American and Big 12 Player of the year Ross Kivett, the Wildcat baseball team won the Big 12 regular season title and hosted an NCAA Regional for the first time in program history. The Wildcats would end the season with a program-record 45 wins and a first-ever appearance in a Super Regional.

In track and field, Rovelto coached the three-man USA high jump squad through the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Among those were silver medalist and eight-time All-American Erik Kynard. Kynard won six Big 12 titles and two national championships while at K-State.The Wildcat Equestrian team, under the leadership of head coach Casie Maxwell, won three Reserve National Championships over four years, while, in tennis, two-time All-American Petra Niedermayerova led the Wildcats to new heights by claiming a top-15 spot in the ITA Singles Rankings in 2012 and earning the Big 12 Player of the Year award in 2011.

A total of $195 million in athletic facility improvements have also been accomplished during this decade with the addition of the Ice Family Basketball Center, Mike Goss Tennis Stadium, Intercollegiate Rowing Center, West Stadium Center at Bill Snyder Family Stadium and, most recently, the Vanier Family Football Complex. 

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Lauren Goehring (Cost), Volleyball 2000-03
When former K-State volleyball All-American Lauren Goehring (Cost) was inducted into the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame in October 2013, it was a proud moment for the entirety of the K-State volleyball program.

Goehring became the first volleyball player inducted into the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame in the program’s 39-year existence. During her senior season, Goehring led the Wildcats to a memorable year – one highlighted by K-State volleyball’s first and only Big 12 Championship.

“It was such a proud moment for our program,” said K-State head volleyball coach Suzie Fritz. “There have been a lot of players over the course of that time come through here, and I know Lauren was really honored by it and humbled by the whole experience. We were really proud of it as a program and really proud of her.”

It was a season to remember. The 2003 Wildcats, led by Fritz, finished the year 30-5 and, despite holding a No. 3 national ranking during the season, finished the year ranked 11th nationally. Along with its first-ever conference title (18-12, Big 12) the Wildcats earned a berth in the Sweet 16.

“We had a really good chemistry and we all had the same goal in mind,” Goehring said. “Everything just fell into place; it was the best. We had good teams before that too. The seniors, when I was a freshman, taught us so much, but everything lined up that senior year.”

After that 2003 season, Goehring was named to the AVCA First Team All-America team and is the only Wildcat to be named Big 12 Player of the Year. She finished her career with the best hitting percentage (.354) and with the most career kills (1,212) by a middle blocker in school history.

“To get that award, to become an All-American, you can’t do it alone,” Goehring said. “I had a really great team that I played with, and everything just lined up. To be honored with Big 12 Player of the Year – it was a tough conference, it’s always a tough conference – that was just a lot of fun.”

From being selected twice to the All-Big 12 First Team (2002, 2003) to becoming K-State volleyball’s only player to receive both First Team All-America and Big 12 Player of the Year honors, Goehring will forever go down in Wildcat history.

“She was an important part of where we were trying to get the program to at that time, being more competitive in the Big 12 and on the national perspective,” Fritz said. “(2003) was one of the first times when we had been pretty consistently ranked in the top 20 and she was a big part of that.

“Lauren was extremely athletic and extremely competitive. Her attention to detail is what really what stands out for me, and even better is that she is a wonderful human being – she was at the time and she is now. She’s just very humble, very unassuming. She’s a very kind and considerate person and she was a great teammate.” 

Note:
We’re sorry! K-State Sports Extra recently realized it did not publish information on the many highlights of the 1950s. We have updated K-State Sports Extra’s feature ‘K-State Through the Decades | Part 1’ with this information and have also provided it below:

1950-59 - The 1950s were a historic era for K-State Athletics. Harold Robinson, the first African-American student-athlete at K-State, capped off his career in 1950 by becoming the first African-American student-athlete to earn an athletic scholarship in the history of the Big 7. Earl Woods, the father of Tiger Woods, broke the color barrier in Big 7 baseball history in 1952, playing two seasons with the Wildcats.  

In track and field, one of the greatest athletes in K-State history, Thane Baker, won 10 Big 7 titles and an NCAA Championship from 1951-53.  He also earned four medals in two Olympics during this decade, including silver in the 220-yard dash at the 1952 Olympics and a gold medal as part of the 400-meter relay team in 1956.  

On the football field, the Wildcats were led by three-time All-American Veryl Switzer and went a combined 13-6-1 from 1953-54. 

Along with the opening of Ahearn Field House in 1950, men’s basketball took off under Hall of Fame coaches Jack Gardner and Tex Winter. The Wildcats were led by All-American Ernie Barrett and advanced to the school’s second Final Four and the National Championship game, falling to the Kentucky Wildcats. Winter took over as head coach in 1953 and would later lead the 1957-58 team, featuring two-time All-American Bob Boozer, to the Final Four. A year later, Winter’s 1958-59 team finished the season 25-2 and ranked No. 1 in the nation.  



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