As he often does, Bill Snyder stole headlines again in 2016.
Snyder’s 200th career win leads The Mercury’s top 10 local sports stories for the past year. The Mercury’s sports staff and editors voted and determined this year’s list.
The Wildcats started the season 3-3 before winning six of their final seven games, and the Texas Bowl, but it was the milestone win that went down as the biggest moment of the year.
On Nov. 26, the Wildcats sought to make Snyder the 26th FBS coach to win 200 games and one of just a few to do so all at one school. The opponent? In-state rival Kansas.
Behind a rushing attack led by Alex Barnes and Jesse Ertz, the Wildcats built up a lead and then held off a late comeback attempt from the Jayhawks to win 34-19. Following the game, K-State president Richard Myers and athletic director John Currie presented Snyder with a commemorative game ball and celebrated his moment with a video and fireworks.
As Snyder approached his team, he tossed a player the ball and then let offensive lineman Dalton Risner and wide receiver Colby Moore carry him off the field on top of their shoulders. Snyder, who rarely shows jubilation, couldn’t help but smile as he was taken through the tunnel to the locker room.
Snyder’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame was the top story in 2015.
2. K-State upsets No. 1 OU, 80-69
Kansas State struggled on the hardwood in the 2015-16 season and missed the postseason for the second year in a row, but the Wildcats played at their best when No. 1 Oklahoma visited Manhattan on Feb. 6. The Wildcats took down the Buddy Hield led Sooners, 80-69, and ran into the crowd to celebrate as security stood to keep fans from rushing the court. The win came after the Wildcats had already lost starting point guard Kamau Stokes for the season and were playing with limited depth off of the bench. Wesley Iwundu led the way with 22 points.
3. MHS goes undefeated in regular season
Manhattan’s football team was loaded with experience, and the senior-laden squad led by quarterback Ian Trapp finished the regular season 8-0 (6-0, Centennial League).
The Indians won most of their games by large margins, and their closest game was a thrilling 27-22 win at Junction City. Manhattan consistently came out of the gate strong in the second half, pulling away from contests that were close in the first half like Topeka High on Sept. 23 or Seaman on Sept. 30. The Indians led Topeka High by six points at halftime, but eventually beat the Trojans, 46-20. They only led the Vikings by seven at halftime but put up 28 third quarter points to beat Seaman, 42-21.
Manhattan’s magical season came to an abrupt end in the second round of the playoffs, when the Indians fell, 24-21, to Washburn Rural in a Week 2 rematch.
4. K-State soccer kicks off inaugural season
After a year and a half of planning, Kansas State’s women’s soccer team took the field for the first time. The 35-player roster was led by head coach Mike Dibbini and consisted of 22 freshmen and just one senior, Abbey Fiser. K-State’s leading scorers were sophomore Tatum Wagner and freshman Laramie Hall, who recorded three goals each. The Wildcats played 16 games, ending the season on a four-game losing streak and finishing 4-9-3. Before the losing streak, K-State won two games in a row, beating South Dakota, 2-0, on Sept. 25 and Drake, 1-0, on Oct. 2. The win against South Dakota marked the first home win in program history. K-State’s first program win came against Oakland, 6-0, on Aug. 26. K-State opened its first season with eight road games, losing the first game at St. Louis, 3-1, before tying Southern Illinois University Edwardsvile, 0-0 the next week.
5. Wildcats earn top 16 NCAA seed
The K-State volleyball team earned a top 16 seed in the NCAA Championship and hosted postseason games in Manhattan for the first time since 2007.
The Wildcats went 20-9 during the regular season to earn the No. 14 seed and welcomed teams to their home away from home in Bramlage Coliseum.
K-State beat Lipscomb in straight sets before the season came to a close in the second round with a loss to Ohio State.
6. K-State women back in the NCAA tournament
Kansas State’s women’s basketball team went to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012 as the No. 9 seed in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, region. It was the 14th trip to the tournament in program history for K-State. The Wildcats made it to the second round of the tournament, beating George Washington, 56-51, before losing to South Carolina, 73-47, in Columbia, South Carolina.
K-State was 18-12 (8-10, Big 12) in the regular season and faced top-tier teams such as No. 1 UConn, Baylor and Texas, giving the Wildcats a top-50 RPI.
7. K-State coaches earn milestones
Along with Snyder’s 200th win, other K-State coaches reached milestone marks in 2016.
K-State women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie won his 500th game in his 25th season as a head coach with stops at TCU, Arkansas and Western Missouri.
Volleyball coach Suzie Fritz won her 300th game early in the season in her 16th year as the Wildcats’ coach.
K-State men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber earned his 400th career victory. Weber previously coached at Illinois and Southern Illinois during his 19-year career.
8. K-State wins Texas Bowl
The Wildcats earned their 18th bowl berth with Bill Snyder at the helm when they accepted a bid to play in the Texas Bowl. K-State faced off with former Big 12-foe Texas A& M in the game, beating the Aggies 33-28 to win a bowl game for the first time since the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
It was K-State’s second trip to the Texas Bowl, last coming in 2006 under then coach Ron Prince.
9. MHS boys win league title
The Manhattan boys basketball team added to its trophy case last year, winning its second straight Centennial League title. The Indians won a share of the league title on Feb 23 at home against Junction City, beating the Blue Jays, 58-46.
Three days later, on Feb. 26, they beat Seaman, 66-56, to take the crown.
The Indians made it to the sub-state finals before falling to Wichita East, 71-61.
10. MHS in the Final Four
Manhattan’s girls soccer team won a 1-0 match over Derby on May 24 to seal its spot in the state tournament at Junction City High School.
An early goal by Clara Mayfield was all the Indians needed for the win. The Indians held off the eventual 6A state champions Shawnee Mission West, but gave up a goal in the second overtime to lose 1-0 in the semifinals.
Manhattan was set to face Washburn Rural in the thirdplace game on May 29, but the match was canceled. The Indians finished last season with a 15-5 record.