OPINION: Top 10 most memorable moments of the 2019-2020 season

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The Wildcats faced off against Mississippi State on Sept. 8, 2018. K-State fell to the Bulldogs 31-10. (Dalton Wainscott Collegian Media Group)

No. 10: The men’s basketball Sunflower Showdown series.

Kansas assistant men's basketball coach Jerrance Howard and courtside bystanders successfully stop Kansas sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa from using a stool in the brawl that broke out in Lawrence during the first Sunflower Showdown of the season. The Wildcats fell to the Jayhawks 81-59.  (Luis Villarreal-Reyes | Collegian Media Group)
Kansas assistant men's basketball coach Jerrance Howard and courtside bystanders successfully stop Kansas sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa from using a stool in the brawl that broke out in Lawrence during the first Sunflower Showdown of the season. The Wildcats fell to the Jayhawks 81-59. (Luis Villarreal-Reyes | Collegian Media Group)

It is hard to say that the Sunflower Showdown series this year was anything but memorable — even if it was for all the wrong reasons. The first chapter put the rivalry in the national spotlight as the game was defined not by what happened in the first 39 minutes and 55 seconds, but what happened in the final five seconds as a brawl broke out on the court.

Deep rivalry aside, that bench-clearing throwdown left many in anticipation for the second match up. The game in Manhattan lived up to the hype, and Bramlage Coliseum was electric. This intensity created an atmosphere unlike any other game this past season. Even with a 62-58 loss, this year’s series showed just how intense the in-state rivalries can be.

No. 9: Football downs No. 23 Mississippi State in Starkville.

The Wildcats faced off against Mississippi State on Sept. 8, 2018. K-State fell to the Bulldogs 31-10. (Dalton Wainscott Collegian Media Group)
The Wildcats faced off against Mississippi State on Sept. 8, 2018. K-State fell to the Bulldogs 31-10. (Dalton Wainscott Collegian Media Group)

The first major road test for first-year head coach Chris Klieman was taking on No. 23 Mississippi State. Going into the fourth quarter, the Wildcats found themselves down 24-17 after leading by 10 in the first half.

Luckily, K-State redshirt freshman wide receiver Malik Knowles took the next kickoff 100-yards to the house to tie things up at 24 with 14:36 remaining in the game. Ten minutes later, junior quarterback Skylar Thompson connected with redshirt senior wide receiver Dalton Schoen for the go-ahead touchdown. The Wildcats win 31-24, improving to 3-0 on the season.

No. 8: Men’s basketball defeats TCU in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament

In what was supposed to be the first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament, K-State took on TCU. Hours later, all games in the tournament were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wildcats beat the Horned Frogs 53-49 on March 11, 2020. (Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group)
In what was supposed to be the first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament, K-State took on TCU. Hours later, all games in the tournament were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wildcats beat the Horned Frogs 53-49 on March 11, 2020. (Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group)

Going into the first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, the Wildcats were riding an 11-game losing streak. This game would ultimately be the final competition for any K-State team in the 2019-2020 season after the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled every NCAA sporting competition.

At the peak, K-State was leading by 17 points in the first half. The Wildcats came dangerously close to blowing their lead in the second half as the Horned Frogs stormed back. With two minutes remaining, the game was knotted at 49 a piece.

Late game heroics by senior forward Makol Mawien saved the Wildcats with a layup. K-State would go on to win 53-49.

No. 7: Soccer team gets first at-home conference victory.

Midfielder Brookelynn Entz crosses the field alone during a home soccer game on Sept. 14, 2018. The Wildcats fell to the Missouri State Bears 1-0. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)
Midfielder Brookelynn Entz crosses the field alone during a home soccer game on Sept. 14, 2018. The Wildcats fell to the Missouri State Bears 1-0. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Since the start of the program in 2017, the soccer team has struggled in conference play. Going into the 2019 season, the Wildcats had yet to win a home conference game.

That tide changed on Oct. 11 at Buser Family Park when K-State overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit against Iowa State thanks to two goals from junior midfielder Brookelynn Entz. K-State held on to its lead for the rest of the match, coming away with the first home conference victory in program history.

No. 6: Redshirt freshman center Ayoka Lee earns the second Big 12 Freshman of the Year Award in program history.

Redshirt freshman center Ayoka Lee looks for an opportunity to drive the basket during the women’s basketball game against Oral Roberts in Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 18, 2019. The Wildcats defeated the Golden Eagles with a final score of 109-69. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)
Redshirt freshman center Ayoka Lee looks for an opportunity to drive the basket during the women’s basketball game against Oral Roberts in Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 18, 2019. The Wildcats defeated the Golden Eagles with a final score of 109-69. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

It is not very often you see a freshman come in and make a massive impact on a team, but redshirt freshman center Ayoka Lee did just that for the women’s basketball program this season. Dominating the competition, Lee led the Wildcats in multiple categories, averaging 15.8 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game.

Lee also ranked among the top in the conference in nine categories. Throughout the season, she set a combination of nine single-season records at K-State and in the Big 12 Conference as a whole. Lee’s path toward Big 12 Freshman of the Year was clear. She also became the first freshman to be named to the All-Big 12 First-Team since 2017.

No. 5: Freshman wide receiver Joshua Youngblood takes home Big 12 Special Team Player of the Year.

Freshman wide receiver Joshua Youngblood celebrates after running in a touchdown during the homecoming football game against Oklahoma in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Oct. 26, 2019. The Wildcats upset the No. 5 rated Sooners with a final score of 48-41. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)
Freshman wide receiver Joshua Youngblood celebrates after running in a touchdown during the homecoming football game against Oklahoma in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Oct. 26, 2019. The Wildcats upset the No. 5 rated Sooners with a final score of 48-41. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

This list would not be complete without mentioning at least one of Joshua Youngblood’s impressive kickoff returns this season. Youngblood racked up 502 yards on 14 kickoff returns — returning three for touchdowns in his debut season.

One of his most impressive returns happened in the matchup against Texas in week 11 when he made a 98-yard touchdown from a kickoff return.

Youngblood earned Big 12 Special Team Player of the Year — the first freshman in Big 12 history to be awarded the honor.

No. 4: Men’s basketball dominates No. 12 West Virginia at home.

Junior guard David Sloan looks across the court for an open play during the men’s basketball game against West Virginia in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 18, 2020. The Wildcats beat the Mountaineers, 84-68. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)
Junior guard David Sloan looks across the court for an open play during the men’s basketball game against West Virginia in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 18, 2020. The Wildcats beat the Mountaineers, 84-68. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Going into their fifth Big 12 game of the season, the Wildcats still had yet to pick up a conference victory. K-State had trouble putting a full game together until the Jan. 18 showdown with No. 12 West Virginia. That all changed as the Wildcats throttled the Mountaineers 84-68.

Three Wildcats shot their way into double figures in the game, including redshirt junior guard Cartier Diarra, who led the team by tying his career high with 25 points. Not only was it the Wildcat’s first Big 12 victory of the year, but it was arguably K-State’s biggest victory of the season.

No. 3: Volleyball rallies from a two set deficit to defeat Kansas in the Sunflower Showdown in Manhattan.

Redshirt junior middle blocker Peyton Williams tips the ball during the game against the University of Kansas on Oct. 23, 2019 in Ahearn Fieldhouse. (Sabrina Cline | Collegian Media Group)
Redshirt junior middle blocker Peyton Williams tips the ball during the game against the University of Kansas on Oct. 23, 2019 in Ahearn Fieldhouse. (Sabrina Cline | Collegian Media Group)

When K-State rallies from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Jayhawks on national TV at home, it is hard to not put the match in the Top 3. Thanks to a career-high 21 kills from freshman outside hitter Anna Dixon and five kills in the fifth set by redshirt junior outside hitter Brynn Carlson, the Wildcats stormed back from the 2-0 deficit to force a decisive fifth set.

K-State never trailed in that fifth set, leading 14-9 late in the set. Redshirt junior middle blocker Peyton Williams sent Ahearn Fieldhouse into a frenzy after sending the Wildcats final kill over the net. The victory made it three straight wins over the Jayhawks and was the staple of the 2019 season for the volleyball team.

No. 2: Coach Klieman leads K-State to the Liberty Bowl in his first season.

In the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee, redshirt freshman wide receiver Phillip Brooks runs the ball. The Wildcats fell to Navy 17-20 on Jan. 31, 2019. (Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group)
In the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee, redshirt freshman wide receiver Phillip Brooks runs the ball. The Wildcats fell to Navy 17-20 on Jan. 31, 2019. (Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group)

Bringing in former North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman to replace legendary K-State head coach Bill Snyder was a big risk for the athletic department. In a season highlighted with wins over No. 5 Oklahoma, Mississippi State and Iowa State, the Wildcats rose to No.16 in the polls and made it back to a bowl game.

The Wildcats took on Navy in the Liberty Bowl. Even though the game ended up being a close loss for K-State, the season seemed to be a glimpse of a solid future for the football program under Klieman.

No. 1: Football stuns No. 5 Oklahoma on Homecoming

In the Oct. 26 game against Oklahoma, the K-State Wildcats took the Sooners 48-41 in a homecoming victory. It's the first time since 1996 that the Wildcats beat the Sooners in Manhattan. (Dalton Wainscott| Collegian Media Group)
In the Oct. 26 game against Oklahoma, the K-State Wildcats took the Sooners 48-41 in a homecoming victory. It's the first time since 1996 that the Wildcats beat the Sooners in Manhattan. (Dalton Wainscott| Collegian Media Group)

Did anybody see this one coming? After going 1-2 in the three games before the showdown with the Sooners, the Wildcats and first-year head coach Chris Klieman had a massive task ahead of them. One of the most powerful offenses in the Big 12, if not the country, came into Manhattan on homecoming weekend with Heisman Trophy candidate Jalen Hurts and future first-round draft pick CeeDee Lamb leading the way for the Sooners.

After a first half where K-State kept up with the Sooners, the second half was a dream for any Wildcat fan. K-State absolutely dominated the third quarter and built an impressive 48-23 lead. A furious comeback by the Sooners had every K-State fan on the edge of their seat, but it was not enough for Oklahoma, who had dug themselves into too deep of a hole. The Wildcats had done it, K-State had stunned the college football world and knocked off No. 5 Oklahoma 48-41.

Cameron Bradley is a junior in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and the persons interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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