Sweat Joins Elite Company

Editor's Note: The following story appeared in Thursday's edition of Kansas State Official Sports Reporter and was written by OSR's Mark Janssen. Official Sports Report will be honoring Kansas State's five senior basketball players this week with each having a unique story from their Wildcat career. Saluted in Senior Day games Saturday will be Kari Kincaid and Ashley Sweat from the women's team, and, Chris Merriewether, Luis Colon and Denis Clemente from the men's side. We hope you enjoy their reflection on their days as a Wildcat.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kendra Wecker, Nicole Ohlde ... Ashley Sweat.

That's the company Kansas State senior Ashley Sweat is entering in Saturday's Senior Day in Bramlage Coliseum when the Wildcats will play Nebraska in a 12 p.m. start.

"Never did I feel my name would ever be in that mix.  It's such a special privilege, but I don't think I'm the kind of player they were," said Sweat, a native of McPherson. "It's interesting on how their games were so different. Ohlde could hit outside shots, but she was known for how smooth she was in the post, and then Wecker had such a great off the dribble jump shot and was a do anything type player. And then you have Laurie (Koehn) up there who was the best shooter in the history of the game."

And Sweat's game?

Laughing, she said, "I just do whatever by picking up some points here and there. You could define my game by saying 'awkward.'  I'm certainly not as athletic as a Kendra Wecker, and not as smooth as Nicole, so I guess I just hung around and got things done."

Sweat admits to being amazed that her 1,756 career points (going into Wednesday's game at Colorado) rank only behind Wecker's 2,333 and Ohlde's 2,241, and that her rebounding total of 587 ranks 14th in KSU history.

"Wow ... that's really incredible," she said. "I attribute a lot of that to my coaches and my teammates. I've wondered at times how many of those points came from Shalee Lehning assists. I've had such incredible teammates through the years.

"Those girls who are ahead of me are girls I looked up to growing up, so to have my name mentioned with theirs is something I'm really humbled by," Sweat said.

Sweat says she didn't idolize any of the K-Staters who came before her, but she adds, "I just loved watching that team play. I didn't have a hero, but I was a fan of the program. When those girls came along, they paved the way to where all Kansas girls wanted to be like them and play where they played. Everybody wanted to be a Wecker, an Ohlde and a Koehn.

And now teenage girls want to be a Sweat.

Laughing, "Now, that's strange. That's a really cool thing and I do hope I've set a solid example on and off the court."

Sweat has definitely been that. She's a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, and last week was named as a third-team Academic All-American.

Sweat, who has been a part of 78 Wildcat victories, says her career has gone "soooo fast," with the highlight being winning the 2008 Big 12 Championship just one season after the Wildcats finished last in the league standings.

"That was special not only that we won, but because no one expected us to be good. We were last the year before, so we were just on our own battling the odds all year," said Sweat. "We were always behind the scenes but had such an amazing chemistry on and off the court."

Her one individual moment that she'll be telling future kids about will be the Texas game that season, which was a 77-74 victory in overtime on the Longhorns home floor.

"I remember we were so on that game and I remember making a shot at the end to move it into overtime," Sweat said. "It wasn't a game-winner, but it was a shot that gave us more time to win the game. That was really cool."

Whenever the final buzzer sounds on this season, Sweat has come to the decision that it will be her last. Instead of trying the WNBA, her focus will be using her kinesiology degree to get into graduate school to pursue a career as a physician's assistant.

"This will be it," she said. "It's why I'm really savoring these last few games. It's just an amazing experience.  It's been such a privilege. You get to do things some people will never do in a lifetime, and I got to do it in four years.

"There have been all the basketball experiences, being around my best friends every day, and then the coolest experiences away from basketball," she continued. "I went parasailing in Cancun when we played in a tournament, and I went to shows in Las Vegas when we were in a tournament.  The experiences have been just awesome."

Especially the one that goes: Wecker, Ohlde ... Sweat.