2017 Fall Sports Preview: What to watch from the Wildcats

Football game between K-State and KU at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Nov. 26, 2016. (File photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

Kansas State’s athletics program has a reputation for being high-octane, experienced and hard-working. For the 2017–2018 season, this pattern will surely continue. With so many sporting events to look forward to this fall at K-State, there is something great for everyone to watch.

The Sunflower Showdowns

This fall, there will be three Sunflower Showdowns between K-State and the University of Kansas to look forward to.

The women’s volleyball team will host KU at home Saturday, Sept. 23 in Ahearn Fieldhouse. For the last two years, the Wildcats have lost both games to KU each season, but this could be the year K-State makes a comeback.

Susie Fritz, head coach of the women’s volleyball team, has a 316-178 coaching record at K-State. Fritz has also been named Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2003.

Women’s soccer will begin its second season this year, and the Wildcats will be facing off against KU at Rock Chalk Park on Friday, Oct. 6 for the first time.

Sophomore Dora Gallo may be a key factor in the outcome of this Sunflower Showdown. Gallo played 16 matches last season and scored the game-winning goal against Omaha. Gallo is the team leader in total shots, with 25 in her career.

The football team will play at KU’s Memorial Stadium Saturday, Oct. 28. The Wildcats are already looking for another win — since 2009, the Wildcats have won every Sunflower Showdown in football. If they win this year, it will be the ninth season in a row that the K-State football team beat KU.

Bill Snyder, head coach of the football team, will begin his 26th season with the Wildcats this year. Snyder has a record of more than 200 wins as a football coach, and he is being named to the Bobby Dodd Trophy Watch List this month.

Men’s basketball at the Las Vegas Invitational

The K-State men’s basketball team will be playing against Arizona State University to open the 17th annual Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational on Thursday, Nov. 23 at the Orleans Arena. This is the first time the Wildcats have played Arizona State since 1998 in the Maui Invitational, where K-State won 84-80 in overtime.

One day after the game against Arizona State, the men’s basketball team will play another game in Las Vegas Friday, Nov. 24. The Wildcats will face off against either Elite Eight participant Xavier University or Atlantic 10 opponent George Washington University.

Jeff Mittie and the women’s basketball team

Jeff Mittie, head coach of women’s basketball, is one of the many people to watch for in the 2017–2018 season. Mittie, who was named KBCA Coach of the Year, named 2008 K-State graduate Jayci Stone to the women’s basketball staff over the summer. Once the staff and team get back from their trip to Europe that will take place Aug. 2–13, they will then prepare for the season.

Mittie’s coaching staff has led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament for back-to-back seasons. In the 2016–2017 season, Mittie’s staff coached the team to 23 game wins, the most wins for the women’s basketball program since the 2008–2009 season.

Bill Snyder’s 26th season of football

When it’s fall in Manhattan, that can only mean one thing: the return of K-State football.

K-State has been a model of consistency since Bill Snyder returned in 2009, and the Wildcats have won at least six games every season. With an experienced, passionate team this year, the Wildcats could become one of the biggest threats in the Big 12 and potentially dethrone University of Oklahoma. If Snyder develops a few players on defense, the Wildcats would be more than worthy of a Big 12 Championship.

Currently, AthlonSports.com has a predicted ranking of K-State football at fourth in the Big 12, and 22nd nationally.

DeAundra Allen is a junior in public relations. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to sports@kstatecollegian.com.