2012-13 K-State athletics season makes case for most successful year ever

Emily DeShazer | Collegian A rodeo club member practices roping a calf late one evening in October.

At K-State, there are many things to love about the campus. Whether it is the great education, the positive atmosphere or the home-like feeling, there are many things to like about K-State. Add in one of the most successful athletic programs in the country, and there is never a dull moment on campus.

Before the school year had even started, Erik Kynard took silver in the high jump in the 2012 Olympics. This was just a sign of things to come.

The sports year got off to a great start when Collin Klein, Arthur Brown and company took the field on Sept. 1, 2012, to take on the Missouri State Bears. That 51- 9 victory over the Bears was the start of an amazing journey for the football team, capped off with a Big 12 championship and a berth in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. While those players captured the heart of the Manhattan community, they weren’t the only team achieving success in the fall.

The K-State volleyball team, coming off a season that saw the biggest upset in school history en route to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, brought back all but one of its members.

A school-record 12-0 start had the Wildcats ranked No. 11 in the country entering Big 12 play. Led by the leadership of All-American candidate Kaitlynn Pelger, Kathleen Ludwig, Caitlyn Donahue and Alex Muff the team had its second consecutive 20-win season and made it back to the NCAA tournament.

The fun for K-State fans was just beginning, as the next semester included some great performances on the hardwood, as well as a national championship appearance in equestrian.

There were lots of fans wondering how the men’s basketball team was going to be under new coach Bruce Weber, and the early start of the season created more questions. However, that all changed on Dec. 22, 2012.

With eventual Elite Eight contestant Florida coming into the Sprint Center in Kansas City, the Wildcats got their first marquee victory under coach Weber, defeating the Gators 67-61 to instill confidence in the Wildcat faithful.

That confidence grew as the Wildcats continued through Big 12 play, capping the regular season off with a share of the Big 12 title, their first conference title in 36 years.

While the season did not end exactly the way that fans or the team wanted it to, the Wildcats showed that they will continue to make some noise in the conference.

Meanwhile, the K-State women’s team was finishing off an impressive run of their own. Despite being severely outsized with only seven active players on their roster, the Wildcats competed in every single game and made an appearance in the WNIT, where Brittany Chambers took the team on an impressive ride.

In the first round, Chambers scored a school-record 42 points over Texas Southern. Her strong play helped the Wildcats make a run to the Final Four of the WNIT, before falling to runner-up Utah.

Chambers was drafted with the 22nd pick in the WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks.

The Wildcat equestrian team made a run to the national title, finishing as the National Reserve champion.

Senior Hannah Ribera was named the Most Outstanding Player in horsemanship at the National Collegiate Equestrian Association championships.

With the baseball team near the top of the Big 12 standings, the Wildcats have a chance to become the first Big 12 team ever to win championships in football, men’s basketball and baseball in the same season.

The K-State family has been successful this season, to say the least.

Mark Kern is a senior in print journalism. Please send comments to sports@kstatecollegian.com.