Fans get hyped at Texas Bowl pep rally

A K-State fan talks to Willie the Wildcat during the pep rally at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas on Dec. 27, 2016. (George Walker | The Collegian)
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Hoards of Kansas State fans packed BBVA Compass Stadium, the home of the Houston Dynamo Major League Soccer Team, dawning their purple and getting hyped up at the K-State pep-rally Tuesday in Houston.

Fans filled half the stadium just a day before the Wildcats are scheduled to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl.

Major K-State figures, including K-State president Richard Myers and athletic director John Currie spoke to the crowd under cloudy skies and 81-degree weather.

Texas Bowl executive director David Fletcher also spoke briefly, and the K-State marching band played at various points before and during the event.

The purple-clad audience included people with and without Houston ties.

Alexis Kokenge, junior in accounting and marketing, traveled with her mother Lori from Topeka. Lori said they were hoping K-State would go to a bowl they could drive to. For them, the 10-hour drive to Houston was short enough for them, so when the Wildcats accepted the invitation to the Texas Bowl, Lori and Alexis moved fast.

“We got (tickets) like the next day we heard about it,” Alexis said.

Kokenge said it gave her an opportunity to release some stress in the wake of finals just a few weeks earlier.

“We went to the beach yesterday,” Kokenge said

Lori and Alexis said that they made the trip overnight, opting to drive 10-hours and arrive around dawn rather than leaving at dawn and arrive late at night.

“We left at 9 p.m. on the 25th,” Alexis said. “We drove all the way through the night and got here at 8:30 in the morning,”

Kris Henao, who said his daughter is a member of the Classy Cats, said the trip served a dual-purpose for him. Like Alexis and Lori Kokenge, he made the trip from Topeka.

“My brother graduated from K-State, and he lives in the Woodlands, which is about 25 miles from here,” Henao said. “It was a perfect time to come down and do some family bonding, and get a K-State game at the same time.”

The Wildcats take on the Aggies Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.