SE: Top Moments of February 2016

At the end of every month during the athletic year, K-State Sports Extra glances back at the month’s best plays, victories and moments. February was filled with impressive individual performances and big team wins. It was an exciting month, to say the least.   

  Here are the moments K-State Sports Extra recognizes as the best of February 2016: 

10. K-State announces 22 players as part of 2016 Signing Class
For the 25th time in his Hall of Fame career, Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder released the Wildcats’ annual recruiting class on February 3, with the announcement of 22 student-athletes who plan on joining or have already joined the K-State football program in 2016. 

This year’s signing class includes 17 players from the high school ranks, four community-college players and an FBS graduate transfer who will be immediately eligible. Additionally, running back Justin Silmon was awarded a scholarship and will count toward the Class of 2016. Of the class, seven are currently enrolled at K-State and will participate in April’s spring practices, which culminate with the Purple/White Spring Game on April 23. 

“I think we did (fill immediate needs),” said Snyder in reply to the press conference’s first question about the class. “We filled immediate needs if our perceptions are accurate, but we’ll find that out in a period of time. It’s not a closed class right now; we still have a couple of visits left. Overall, we have more offensive players than defensive players, but we lost more on offense. So if it pans out the way we hope it does, I think we got reasonably close to fulfilling our needs.” 

To read K-State Sports Extra’s story on this year’s class, please click here

9. Women’s basketball snaps streak at Ames with win
K-State women’s basketball used double-double performances from Breanna Lewis and Kaylee Page to end a seven-game losing streak at Hilton Coliseum on February 25, snapping streak in a big way by winning 68-53. It was the largest margin of victory for K-State at Iowa State since the 1992-93 season. 

Lewis registered 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting, a career-high 16 rebounds and six blocks, while Page tallied 13 points, a career-high 10 assists and six rebounds. 

For a full box score and more on the Wildcats’ win in Ames, please click here

8. Men’s golf shoots 7-under in final round to claim fourth
Kansas State men’s golf junior Jack Rickabaugh birdied three of his final five holes during the final round of the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate on Feb. 23, to propel the Wildcats to a fourth-place finish in their first competition of the spring. 

K-State entered the final 18 holes at Magnolia Gross Crossings Golf Course in fifth place at 1-over par, but posted its second-best round of the year by carding a 7-under par 281 to claim fourth place with a three-round total of 6-under par 858. 

“I am really proud of how the guys competed this week,” said head coach Grant Robbins. “We did a great job today of keeping the ball in play and had lots of good birdie looks. We finished off the round much better, which is something we have been stressing all year.” 

For more on the Wildcats’ appearance at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate, please click here.
  
7. Women’s golf cards top-three finish in Arizona
The Kansas State women’s golf team notched its second top-three finish of the season as the Wildcats finished the Westbrook Invitational in third place following final-round play on Feb. 22. As a team, the Wildcats shot an even-par final round and tallied a 54-hole score of 3-under par 861 as they went on to defeat four ranked teams, including No. 16 San Diego State. 

The Wildcats were led by sophomore Connie Jaffrey, who tied for third, while junior Katherine Gravel-Coursol finished eighth. 

"This was a first-class field and the ladies did very well," K-State head coach Kristi Knight said. "I am proud of their effort. We have always known that those scores were there, so we have the potential to be very dangerous in the near future." 

For more information on the tournament, please click here

6. Baseball opens season with shutout
Tyler Moore hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning and was backed up a combined shutout twirled by four K-State pitchers as the Wildcats opened the 2016 season with a 1-0 victory over UC Riverside on Feb. 20, at the Riverside Sports Complex in Riverside, California. 

The win for the Wildcats was their first shutout in a season opener since 2007 and first 1-0 win in 19 years. The victory also snapped their four-game losing streak to Big West Conference opponents. 

The shutout effort by the K-State pitching staff was led by starter Corey Fischer, who limited the Highlanders to three hits over five-plus innings in a winning decision. The senior also struck out five, which fell one shy of his career-high that was set in his first outing of the 2015 season against Saint Louis. 

To continue reading about the Bat Cats’ season opener, please click here.

5. Women's basketball upsets No. 21 Oklahoma
For the 10th consecutive season, K-State women’s basketball defeated an opponent ranked among the Associated Press top-25 as the Wildcats used a 25-point fourth quarter to defeat No. 21/21 Oklahoma, 87-71, on Feb. 9. 

“We answered their runs and that is something you have to do if you are going to win a game against a quality ranked opponent,” said K-State head coach Jeff Mittie after the game. “Then you have to make shots in critical times of the game and I thought we did that tonight.” 

K-State was led by junior guard Kindred Wesemann with a game-high 26 points, including a 6-of-8 effort from beyond the arc. Junior Breanna Lewis joined Wesemann with 15 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. 

For stats, highlights and more from the Wildcats’ win over Oklahoma, please click here

4. Ana Garcia Navas earns Big 12 Player of the Week honors
With a pair of singles and doubles wins to lead the Wildcats to a 14-0 weekend on Feb. 20 and 21, freshman Ana Garcia Navas earned the first Big 12 Player of the Week award by a K-State tennis athlete since 2011, the conference office announced on Feb. 24. 

A native of Valencia, Spain, Garcia Navas moved up to the No. 1 position in singles for the first time and notched straight-set wins over Mary Meyers of Air Force (6-0, 6-2) and Mariel Ante of Drake (6-1, 6-3). The two singles victories improved her record to 5-2 in dual matches and 11-6 over the fall and spring. 

For more on Garcia Navas and her recent award weekend, please click here

3. Women's basketball celebrates Senior Day 
K-State women’s basketball celebrated its four seniors – Bri Craig, Stacey Malone, Megan Deines and Antoinette Taylor – on February 27, with a special senior day celebration in Bramlage Coliseum. Following the Wildcats’ close 63-52 loss to the No. 4 Baylor Bears, the four seniors and their families were honored on their home court before their passionate fans one final time. 

“I don’t know that I’ve ever had this unique of a class in terms of the different ways they came to the program,” said K-State head coach Jeff Mittie. “In a lot of cases, a senior class is made up of roommates who came together as freshmen, were recruited together, but this class is just very unique.”  

For K-State Sports Extra’s feature ‘Different Paths, Same Celebration’ please click here

2. K-State track and field earns seven individual titles at Big 12 Indoor Championship
The seventh-ranked K-State track and field women’s squad put up a strong overall performance on February 26-27, at the Big 12 Indoor Championship, finishing in third place with a total team score of 107.42 points. Additionally, the men’s squad also recorded a third-place finish with a total score of 98.50 points. In all, the Wildcats claimed a total of seven individual titles on the weekend. 

“I think from a team perspective, our men were phenomenal,” head coach Cliff Rovelto said after the meet. “We scored more points than I thought we would score. I also thought the women had a solid meet as well. There were some tremendous individual marks during the meet. It was a great weekend and I thought we did a great job.” 

Senior Akela Jones led the way, earning three Big 12 titles as she won the women’s long jump (6.75m/22-01.75, a Big 12 Indoor Championship record), the women’s high jump (1.93m/6-04.00), and the women’s 60-meter hurdles (8.00, K-State record). Her three titles in the meet, coupled with her second-place finish in the 4x400 meter relay, earned her high point scorer of the meet honors for the second consecutive year. 

Along with Jones, senior Sonja Gaskin posted a time of 1:20.20 to win the women’s 600-yard run, sophomore Christoff Bryan won the high jump title with a leap of 2.22m/7-03.25, senior Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye won the men’s long jump title with a mark of 7.70m/25-03.25 and senior Brady Grunder won the weight throw title with a toss of 20.49/67-02.75. 

For a complete look at this year’s Big 12 Indoor Championship meet, please click here

1. Men's basketball knocks off top-ranked Oklahoma
On February 6, K-State men’s basketball knocked off on the No. 1 team in the nation. Led by the hard work, determination and poise of junior forward Wesley Iwundu, K-State defeated No. 1/2 Oklahoma, 80-69. 

“It’s big for us, it’s big for K-State,” Iwundu said as he flashed a smile during the postgame press conference. “That’s the No. 1 team in the nation, it doesn’t get any better than that. They’re the best team in the country and we just beat them, so we have every reason to hold our heads up high and enjoy it for the next couple of days.”  

The win proved Bramlage Coliseum a tough place for top-ranked teams as it marked the Wildcats’ fourth victory over No. 1 ranked teams on their home court, including their third in a row. K-State defeated No. 1 Texas, 71-62, on January 18, 2010, and topped No. 1 Kansas, 84-68, on Feb. 14, 2011.  

To read K-State Sports Extra’s recap of that game, please click here.