After a long winter break, there is a lot of news to digest in Kansas State sports. Below is everything you might have missed over the break.
Men’s basketball is making history — in the worst way
The 2020-21 season for K-State is going just about as poorly as it possibly could. After finishing December strong, winning four out of their last five games including a last-second winner against Omaha on Dec. 29., the Wildcats are helpless.
Currently on a seven-game losing streak, the Wildcats lost every single game they’ve played in January, with one more to go. Sitting at a record of 5-12, K-State is coming off of their worst loss in school history, a 107-59 loss at No. 2 Baylor.
The coaching and youth can’t take all the blame. K-State is dealing with COVID-19 and injuries throughout the month and were down to the minimum number of players allowed in a game during the team’s Jan. 9 loss to Oklahoma State.
The next game on Jan. 13 against Iowa State was postponed because K-State could not field enough players. Since then, K-State slowly built its roster back up to full strength. However, with sophomore forward Montavious Murphy most likely out for the season because of knee surgery, the Wildcats has one less key player for the rest of the year.
Women’s basketball struggles with COVID-19
As far as postponed games, the women’s basketball team was hit the worst through winter break. Since the start of the new year, the Wildcats postponed five games.
After finishing December with a lackluster 4-4 mark throughout the month, including a 62-52 loss to No. 22 Texas to cap it off, K-State looked forward to starting 2021 fresh with a Jan. 2 meeting at Oklahoma. But that never happened.
The entire program paused on Dec. 30 following the most recent COVID-19 tests and contact tracing protocols.
The Big 12 Conference stipulates a team needs to field at least six players in order for teams to compete. With a roster of 13 players competing this year, that means that at least eight players were out until the Wildcats finally got back onto the court on Jan. 20.
Things haven’t been exactly pretty since returning to the court. With four straight losses, the Wildcats blew leads in three of those games, including a 12-point lead to West Virginia in the final three minutes.
Track and field racks up wins in January
Starting its season in December, the track and field team catapulted into the No. 20 spot in the first U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll. The Wildcats dominated in January, racking up a total of 34 wins in three combined meets.
The majority of those victories came in their first two meets in January, taking home 14 victories in the Wildcat Invitational on Jan. 9. Freshman Kyle Gale broke a nine-year meet record at the Wildcat Invitational with a time of 34.32 seconds in the men’s 300-meter race.
K-State upped its win total to 17 victories in the KU-KSU-WSU Triangular a week later, winning the triangular with 261 points, 58 more than the runner up Wichita State. Senior Tejaswin Shankar earned 25 points in his five events throughout the meet, earning the meet’s “High Point Scorer” award.
Tennis earns 14 victories in Arlington, Texas
In the fall, the K-State tennis team recorded 13 victories and tied a team record for the most wins in a home tournament at the K-State Fall Invite. On Jan. 13, K-State finished its first tournament of the spring season with 14 wins at the Big 12/Pac-12 Dual in Arlington Texas.
Senior Lilla Barzó completed the three-day event undefeated, going 3-0 in Texas. Freshman Manami Ukita continues to dominate with the Wildcats and is a very solid surprise in the 2020-21 season as she is already 11-3 in her career with K-State.
While the team performed well in singles action, the junior tandem of Maria Linares and Karine-Marion Job dominated together in doubles play. The duo climbed inside the ITA Tennis top 60 national doubles poll; they currently sit at No. 46 in the nation.
Football signs 14 players and Skylar Thompson announces his return
On early national signing day on Dec. 16, the K-State football team inked 14 new players for its 2021-22 roster. The 14 man early recruitment class ranked inside the top 50 of Rivals, 247Sports and ESPN recruitment rankings.
One of the biggest signees was four-star quarterback Jake Rubley out of Highland Ranch, Colorado. Rubley is rated as the 25th-best overall prospect in the nation and is the No. 3 pocket passer in the nation according to ESPN.
On that same day, the K-State football team announced a pause on all team activities following its most recent rounds of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. The decision made K-State the first Big 12 school to publicly opt-out of a bowl game.
Also, senior quarterback Skylar Thompson announced his return for the 2021 season. After sitting out for most of the 2020 season because of an upper-body injury sustained in early October, Thompson decided to use his extra year of eligibility granted to him by the NCAA because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jordan Wicks earns multiple preseason honors for baseball team
It was a fairly quiet winter break for everyone on the baseball team. Well, everybody but sophomore pitcher Jordan Wicks, who racked up three preseason honors in December and January.
The 6-foot-3, 220 pitcher out of Conway, Arkansas, was tabbed as the Big 12 Preseason Pitcher of the Year on Jan. 27. This was the third of his preseason awards as Wicks was also named to D1Baseball’s preseason All-America Second Team and Collegiate Baseball’s Preseason All-America Third Team.
The Big 12 Conference announced the baseball schedule on Jan. 22, shedding light on what the 2021 season would look like for the Wildcats. K-State will open its Big 12 slate on March 26 against Oklahoma State in a three-day series.
Brookelynn Entz announces return to soccer team
It was an interesting winter break for senior midfielder Entz. After leading the team to its best Big 12 finish in school history this year, she faced the same decision as Thompson — should she stay?
Granted an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the senior decided to return for the 2021 season — a massive announcement for the soccer team. Only a few weeks later, Entz was selected by Kansas City as the 38th overall pick in the 2021 NWSL draft.
Entz joins former K-State defender Silke Bonnen as the second player to join a professional team this year as Bonnen signed with Danish soccer team HB Koge earlier in December. Entz will still finish her 2021 season with K-State while Kansas City holds onto her draft rights.
Rowing signs 11 new commitments
After adding 15 new commitments back in November, the K-State rowing team announced 11 new commitments to the 2021 roster on Jan. 26. The additions brings the total number of commitments for the 2021 season up to 26 athletes.
Of the 11 new commits, eight are from the state of Kansas, one is from Colorado and two are from Lee’s Summit, Missouri.