Sports Extra: Fritz High on K-State's "Temperament"

K-State hosts the Varney's Invitational this weekend and will look to improve on its 2-2 start.

Sept. 1, 2011

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By Mark Janssen


So far, it’s one of the areas that Kansas State volleyball coach Suzie Fritz likes best about this 2011 team.

“The temperament of this team to last year has changed dramatically,” said the 11th year K-State coach. “Through experience, we have a cohesiveness and confidence to our temperament. Is that leadership? Maybe. But the truth of the matter is we’re having a complete effort right now that is very pleasing. Every single kid is invested into what we’re trying to do.”

While it’s easy to say that’s what every team should have every season, Fritz says it’s not always that easy.

“It’s really difficult in any organization to have everyone on the team on the same page,” said Fritz. “It’s something every coach strives for, but it really is uncommon. No matter what you do, some teams connect and some don’t, no matter how hard you work at it. Right now, I don’t think it’s anything magical that we’re doing, but we have great focus and commitment, and each individual has invested into the program.”

It’s that “temperament” that Fritz is choosing to focus on instead of the customary word of “leadership” heading into this weekend’s Varney’s Invitational in Ahearn Field House.

Every team wants the “L” word, but Fritz says, “More than leadership, we have a team that is working hard. There seems to be a chip on our shoulder that we want to get something done.”

From that, she continues, “I believe, and I think they believe, that there’s the ability to improve and succeed.”

Fritz says she’s not so sure if the “temperament” comes from so many members of this roster playing a role last year when the Wildcats went 6-14 in the Big 12 and 12-19 overall.

“Do they feel like they have something to prove? Ask me that in six months. I don’t know,” Fritz said. “I think we were a pretty good volleyball team by the end of last year, but it just took us a while to get going. We didn’t have the success we wanted last year, and I do feel that this year’s team wants to be better. Last year maybe we just weren’t quite ready.”

Last year’s team played with nine freshmen on the roster, plus a selection of sophomores.

While this 2011 team does not have a senior, it does have nine individuals with considerable NCAA and Big 12 experience.

Varney’s Invitational:  This year’s tournament begins at 10 a.m., on Friday with Idaho playing BYU, followed by K-State playing Georgia Southern at 12:30.

The second set of games on Friday will have BYU playing Georgia Southern at 5 p.m., and K-State meeting Idaho at 7:30.

Saturday, Georgia Southern and Idaho play at 11 a.m., and K-State duals BYU at 2 p.m.

All matches will take place in Ahearn Field House.

Kynard 14th at World Championships
The marathon track season of K-State high jumper Erik Kynard came to an end Monday with a 14th place finish at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Kynard cleared 7-5 ¾, but did not reach the finals due to missing at 7-4 ½ on his first attempt.

“Erik had a phenomenal year. For a 20-year old kid to come within an eyelash of making the final at the world championships is pretty special stuff,” said K-State coach Cliff Rovelto. “We've been blessed to have some special jumpers in our program and none were able to get this far at this young age.”

Other former Wildcats competing at the World meet were Korene Hinds and Beverly Ramos in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Ramos placed 18th while representing Puerto Rico, while Hinds was 20th while representing Jamaica.

Austra Skujyte of Lithuania placed eighth in the heptathlon with a score of 6,297.

Distance Runners Open Season at Wichita    
K-State cross country coach Michael Smith says of this weekend’s opener at the Wichita State Gold Dual Classic, “We’ll learn a lot about our base level of fitness, but also how competitive some of our people are. At times, you only learn that by racing.

“You always gain from experience,” said Smith of his Wildcats who will be running against Wichita State and UMKC. “We have four of our top women returning who know how to compete, but for the others this will be somewhat of an understanding of what it takes, and what you have to do when it counts.”

K-State is expected to be led by Martina Tresch and Boglarka Bozzay on the women’s team, while Armando Del Valle and Adam Porter are expected to be the front-runners for the men.

With the men’s team, Smith said, “We’ll be trying to get out of the basement of the Big 12. We finally have some older, stronger guys who are more prepared to run at the Big 12 level. I think we’re in position that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. So many of these guys were walk-ons three years ago and now they’ve matured into men.”

The women’s team is coming off a 25th place showing at the NCAA Championships a year ago.

“That has helped us in recruiting quite a bit,” said Smith. “Several members on this team now have an understanding on what it takes to get to that level.”

K-State’s 2011 Cross Country Schedule: Sept. 3 – at Wichita State; Sept. 24 – at Minneapolis, Minn.; Oct. 16 – Pre-Nationals at Terre Haute, Ind.; Oct. 29 – Big 12 Championships at College Station, Texas; Nov. 12 – Midwest Regionals at Joliet, Ill.; Nov. 21 – NCAA Championships at Terre Haute, Ind.

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