We’ll get to sports in a second, but we’d be remiss not to mention the passing of former K-State Chairman Dr. Jon Wefald on Saturday, April 16. Dr. Wefald came to Kansas State University in 1986 as the 12th president and struggled with declining enrollment and lack of enthusiasm for the university during his early years in Manhattan. He was, of course, the president who approved the hiring of Bill Snyder and lobbied for money to improve football facilities at K-State.
But he wasn’t just president of athletics. During his 23 years at K-State, he oversaw major growth on the academic side, seeing enrollment jump from 16,000 to over 23,000 during his time (and before online students could quickly inflate those numbers. ). New buildings have also been added to campus and old ones have been renewed, including the major reconstruction and expansion of Hale Library. He also helped grow philanthropy from $6 million a year to nearly $100 million a year and boost research funding from $18 million a year to nearly $134 million.
Of course, a lot of that had to do with the successful football program (particularly registration and philanthropy), and Wefald deserves a lot of credit for not falling back on that program early in his tenure when it would have been very easy to do so to save on costs (as they did at Wichita State during the same period). Instead, he doubled down and reinvested in the worst football program in college football and helped Bill Snyder build his legend.
On a personal note, Wefald was also a big supporter of the Pride of Wildcatland Marching Band and helped the band’s program whenever possible, usually with his own budget or resources. Of course, we also fondly remember the jokes about Wefald never calling campus snow days. According to the story, Wefald, who grew up in Minnesota, wouldn’t cancel classes if he could walk from his house to Anderson Hall. But as a man who grew up where it usually snows a lot more than northeast Kansas, that was never a problem for him, even on really bad days.
Feel free to share your favorite Wefald story in the comments.
The K-State baseball team could finally turn the page. Incredibly, after Thursday night’s historic comeback to capture Game 1 of the series against No. 7 Texas, the Wildcats lead wire to wire in Game 2 on Friday night, beating the Longhorns 8-1 to claim their first Big 12 series wins this season. Blake Adams threw a gem that, with reliever Blake Correntino replacing Adams at 8th, limited Texas to its season-low hitting total. Adams allowed just three hits and three walks on 108 pitches against 26 batters, while recording six strikeouts and giving up a single run at 7th with the Wildcats firmly in control. Correntino faced the minimum in his two sets to end the game.
On Saturday, despite an early lead, the Wildcats couldn’t complete the sweep of the Longhorns, losing 4-2 in the breakout game. Connor McCollough, Thursday night’s hero out of the bullpen, started as planned and limited the Longhorns to just two runs in five innings of work to give his team a chance, leaving the game with the score tied 2-2. But despite a strong performance on Friday night, Saturday was not Correntino’s day, and he gave up the winning run at the top of 6th before calming down, then gave up one more run at the top of 9th before giving way. to Tyler. Rühl. The BatCats’ offense wasn’t much of a help on Saturday, as after hitting 21 in the first two games, they only had 5 in the final.
For his efforts last week, Adams was named both the Co-Big 12 Pitcher of the Week and the Co-Big 12 Newcomer of the Week, marking the first weekly honors of Adams’ career. He also becomes the 3rd and 4th weekly winner for K-State this season, joining Josh Nicoloff (Newcomer) and Dylan Phillips (Player of the Week).
After the series with the Longhorns, the Cats sat 17-17 overall and 3-9 in Big 12 play, and gave themselves new hope for the playoffs if they can sustain that lofty showing. And boy, did they start this new week well.
The Wildcats traveled to Wichita on Monday to take on the Shockers at Eck Stadium, and it was all K-State as the BatCats exploded for a 12-1 win over a no-good WSU team. The Cats caught one in the first, then caught 4 in the 2nd and 5 in the 3rd to blow up the play, and added two more in the 4th for good measure. German sophomore Fajardo earned his second win of the season, allowing just two hits and one walk in five complete shutout innings. Landry Jurecka allowed the only run of the day in the 9th, where he allowed three hits for the home side in the final frame of the game.
The Cats return to action tonight as they take on the Omaha Mavericks tonight at 6 p.m. CDT from Tointon Family Stadium. This game will of course be available on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ if you can’t make it to the ballpark on what should be a cool but sunny evening in the Little Apple.
Jerome Tang and company finally have their first transfer of the offseason, officially announcing the addition of Jerrell Colbert for the 2022-23 season. Colbert was a 4-star freshman out of high school in 2021, and the 6’10 216 lb center spent his freshman college season at LSU. He saw action in 4 games as a true freshman, logging 27 minutes of playing time for a team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament but was part of the mass exodus from Baton Rouge after Will Wade was fired before the start of the NCAA Tournament. Colbert, originally from Houston, was recruited by Tang and new assistant Ulric Maligi from their previous schools, and has known Tang since Colbert was in middle school.
Colbert’s addition briefly boosted K-State’s 2022-23 roster to five athletes, including incoming rookie Taj Manning, but shortly after Colbert signed with K-State, freshman forward Logan Landers announced his departure. Landers was the last remaining player from the Weber era on a free transfer, and it was rumored for several weeks that he was planning to leave.
The MittieCats also picked up two transfers this spring. Gabby Gregory was added last week, as the former three-time OU letter winner was officially announced as a Wildcat. Gregory, a 5’11 guard, joined OU in 2019 after an outstanding prep career that earned her the nod as Oklahoma Gatorade’s 2019 Player of the Year. Gregory started 22 games for the Sooners as a true rookie in the 2019-20 season, and all 24 games in the 20-21 season, where she dropped nearly 400 points. Last season, she struggled with injuries but still managed to play 18 games. Prior to her injury, she was shooting over 40% from the field and nearly 35% from behind the arc while averaging double-digit points per game in her first two seasons.
Then yesterday, former Arizona forward Gisela Sánchez announced that she was also heading to Manhattan. Sánchez, 6’3 from Barcelona, Spain, joins K-State after spending her first season in the United States in Arizona, where she was the only true rookie to see extended minutes for those Wild cats. She appeared in 20 games, logging just 7.2 minutes per game, but recording 15 points in 19 minutes in a win over Rutgers in November. She is efficient in scoring, shooting at a 44% clip in her limited minutes, and also has range, going from 7 to 16 from behind the arc.
Another week, another Top 5 for the Wildcats men’s golf team, as they wrapped up the Hawkeye Invitational with a fourth-place finish at 15 of 879 thanks to a pair of top 10s from Will Hopkins and Laurenz Schiergen. The Cats managed to stay ahead of South Dakota State on the final day with a 3-under 291, but didn’t quite catch Creighton for 3rd place after a 6-for-300 in the second round pushed back quite far. Hopkins notched an 8th-place finish (tied), as the Lincolnshire, England native posted a 1-under 215. Schiergen, the German who had led the Wildcats the last two games, finished a shot behind in a tie for 10th at even 216.
The Wildcats will be out until April 25, when they travel to Trinity, Texas for the Big 12 Championship.