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Rank the top Wichita and Kansas sports stories of 2013

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, at 7:45 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, at 10:17 a.m.

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Wichita State playing on college basketball’s biggest stage, the unceremonious end of the Gene Stephenson era, and Kansas State completing an unprecedented hat trick of Big 12 titles were just some of the biggest local sports stories of 2013.

With so many big events, we’ve expanded our annual poll to include 30 nominees this year.

Instead of just choosing just one top moment, we’re asking Eagle readers to rank their top three selections at Kansas.com/sports. We have a pretty good idea which one many readers will select No. 1, but we want to find out why you selected the stories you did and what you’ll remember the most.

Leave a comment in the form online and we’ll run some of the best ones in a later story. Did we miss a big moment? Let us know that as well.

Here are the nominees in chronological order:

January

Kansas State loses Fiesta Bowl – The Wildcats’ storybook 2012 season ended with the Ducks controlling the Fiesta Bowl from the outset as Oregon pasted Collin Klein and the Cats 35-17 in Chip Kelly’s last game as a college coach.

Wichita State, KU and K-State all ranked in top 25 for first time since 1964 – The teams had come close before, but it took until the Jan. 7 poll for the Sunflower State trio to all reach the AP rankings at the same time as No. 6 KU, No. 18 K-State welcomed the No. 23 Shockers to the poll. That was time all three were ranked since the 1964-65 preseason poll.

February

North's Conner Frankamp sets City League scoring record – Perry Ellis’ career scoring record in Wichita’s City League lasted all of one season. Frankamp scored 37 against Carroll to amass 2,233 points, passing future Jayhawk teammate Ellis’ total of 2,231.

March

Wichita South wins first girls state basketball title since 1978 – To win a girls state basketball title, a team usually has to face all the best teams. South’s first championship in 35 years was no different as the Titans found two-time defending champion Heights in the 6A final. Antwain Scales’ young, deep squad overcame foul trouble to beat the experienced Falcons 46-44 in the finale.

K-State basketball shares Big 12 title – Bruce Weber wasn’t a universally popular selection to succeed Frank Martin in Manhattan. But veterans Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez and Angel Rodriguez made the transition smooth, helping the Cats to a share of their first conference basketball title since the 1977 Big Eight crown. La Salle upset the Wildcats in their first NCAA game.

Newman men earn first NCAA Divison II Tournament bid – When Newman made the move from NAIA to NCAA Division II, a men’s basketball tournament bid seemed to be the ultimate goal for the school. Mark Potter’s team went 20-7 to receive an at-large bid for the D-II tourney, five years after the school joined the NCAA. The Jets lost 81-60 to Midwestern State.

Shocker women's basketball wins Valley, plays in first NCAA tourney – A share of the first regular season Valley title wasn’t going to be enough to get WSU into the NCAA Tournament. So the Shocker women added a Valley Tournament title with a 69-65 victory over Illinois State to secure the program’s first NCAA bid in its 30-year history. A first-round loss there didn’t dampen the achievements of Jody Adams’ squad.

KU basketball wins share of ninth straight Big 12 title – The Jayhawks beat K-State three times, but stumbles at TCU, Oklahoma and Baylor kept KU from keeping the crown to itself. A No. 1 seed, Kansas lost 87-85 to eventual runnerup Michigan in the Sweet 16 in one of the most memorable games of the NCAA Tournament.

KU women reach second straight Sweet 16 – How did the Jayhawk women top their 2012 achievement of reaching the Sweet 16 as an No. 11 seed? They won two games as a No. 12 seed against Colorado and South Carolina before falling to No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the regional semifinals.

Shockers reach second Final Four in school history – After pummeling Pittsburgh in the supposed tossup of the 8/9 game, No. 9 seed Wichita State dropped No. 1 Gonzaga to reach the Sweet 16, beating a top-ranked team for the second time in school history. Wins over upstart La Salle and Big Ten power Ohio State sent WSU to Atlanta for the school’s first Final Four since 1965. After myriad national stories on “Playing Angry;” Gregg Marshall and Tim Tebow; and Scott City’s favorite son Ron Baker, the Shockers fell to eventual national champion Louisville as the Cardinals overcame a 12-point second-half deficit to end the greatest season in WSU history.

April

Wichita hits it big in the NFL Draft – The Air Capital has had years when more than one player had been selected in the NFL Draft before, but never three. The 2013 Draft broke that record as K-State’s Arthur Brown (second round) and Chris Harper (fourth) joined Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle (fifth) for the NFL trifecta.

May

Wichita Thunder loses in CHL finals for second straight season – Neil Trimm’s 35 goals led the Thunder to another excellent regular season, finishing one point behind the Allen Americans for the Governor’s Cup. After forcing a decisive Game 7 in the CHL Finals, Wichita lost to Allen 3-2 in overtime after holding a 2-0 third-period lead.

Andrew Wiggins picks KU, leads high-profile class to Lawrence – Top-ranked recruit Wiggins, whom some said was the best high school basketball player since LeBron James, chose the Jayhawks for his collegiate career. Wiggins joined an all-star recruiting class of fellow five-star players Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid to set expectations in Lawrence sky high.

June

Shockers fire Gene Stephenson – Restarting the dormant WSU baseball program in 1978, Gene Stephenson had accomplished everything one could in collegiate baseball – including winning the school’s only national title in 1989. But recent years without regular NCAA Tournament appearances helped doom the Stephenson era. WSU turned to Todd Butler to try to get back to elite program stature, 17 years after its last College World Series trip.

KU women win track and field national championship – Heading into the final outdoor meet of the season, the Jayhawk women were ranked No. 1. KU backed that up with performances that resulted in 11 first-team All-Americans to capture the school’s 11th NCAA title and first women’s team title.

Kansas State baseball wins Big 12, reaches first super regional – Compared with the football and basketball teams, K-State’s baseball achievement might have been the most surprising. Predicted to finish seventh in the Big 12, the “Batcats” won their first conference title since 1933. That gave K-State at least a share of all three major men’s team titles – a feat only accomplished once before in the Big 12. After hosting and winning its first regional, K-State lost to Oregon State in the super regional.

Wichita Wild wins CPIFL title – Quarterback Rocky Hinds was the championship game MVP as Wichita defeated Salina for the Champions Professional Indoor Football League title, delivering Wichita its first pro championship of any type since the 1999 Wranglers won the Texas League.

July

Woody Austin and Gary Woodland win PGA Tour events – Derby's Austin had been playing the PGA Tour with very limited status just less than a year from reaching the Champions Tour minimum age of 50. His first Tour win in six years gave him a two-year exemption. Topeka native Woodland followed suit two weeks later.

August

National Baseball Congress revises World Series format – With dwindling attendance and finances the NBC World Series looked for ways to stay alive in Wichita by shaking up the format of the 79-year-old event. Attendance was up over the 16-day tournament, which broke the event into a qualifying tournament and a championship week.

September

Wingnuts fall in American Association championship series – After a first-round playoff series in which they held Grand Prairie without a run, the Wingnuts returned to the AA championship series to fall short to Gary. Wichita, the league’s best regular-season team the past five years, is still looking for its first playoff crown.

Emporia's Clint Bowyer center of spin-out controversy – Another strong regular season had Bowyer in NASCAR’s Chase of the Sprint Cup, but it was his spin-out with seven laps to go in the regular-season finale that overshadowed that achievement. It started a chain reaction of events where allegations of collusion were thrown about, fines were issued and extra spots in the Chase were created. Bowyer’s reputation and Michael Waltrip Racing’s sponsorships took a hit.

Royals post first winning season since 2003 – After years of “trusting the process,” Kansas City Royals fans were finally rewarded with a team that played its first meaningful September games in a decade as the additions of James Shields and Ervin Santana augmented the development of the franchise’s young players. The Royals finished at 86-76 and remained in playoff contention until the final week.

October

Former City League coach Goose Doughty dies – Doughty held the City League record for basketball wins when he left the game, coaching Heights stars Aubrey Sherrod and Antoine Carr. His contributions to tennis, including running a program for underprivileged children, helped him to reach the USTA hall of fame. He was 80 at the time of his death.

November

Jayhawks snap 27-game Big 12 football losing streak – KU’s last Big 12 football victory had come three years ago against at team no longer in the league under a coach no longer at the FBS level. Since that win against Colorado under Turner Gill, KU had lost 27 straight conference games. The Jayhawks ended the second-longest Big 12 streak of futility with a 31-19 win over West Virginia.

Derby wins first state football title since 1994 – The Panthers entered the season with high expectations as a team loaded with Division I talent. After losing its first game against Salina South, Derby bounced back to reel off 12 straight wins, culminating in 28-21 victory in the Class 6A championship over SM East.

Wildcats qualify for fourth straight bowl game – A season of transition began with a 24-21 loss to FCS power North Dakota State. The Wildcats dropped to 2-4 before winning four straight, including a win at No. 25 Texas Tech. K-State concluded its regular season with its annual victory over KU and met Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

December

Sporting KC wins MLS Cup – No longer the Wiz or the Wizards, one of Major League Soccer’s inaugural franchises completed its transformation from also-ran to rebranded soccer power when penalty kicks gave Sporting the MLS Cup for the first time since 2000. The game was played before a sold-out crowd at Sporting Park in KCK with temperatures in the low 20s.

Chiefs make playoffs after 2-14 season – The under-performance of the 2012 team that had six Pro Bowl players led to a housecleaning in Kansas City. New coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith turned around KC’s fortunes almost immediately as the Chiefs started 9-0 and are in the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. Jamaal Charles produced an MVP-level season at running back.

Randy Dreiling leaves Hutchison football – For 17 seasons Dreiling was synonymous with winning in Kansas high school football as he built a dynasty in Hutchinson, winning seven state championships and playing for a title game nine of 10 seasons. He took a 160-38 record from Hutch to become the coach at St. Thomas Aquinas in Overland Park.

Shockers set school record for wins to start season – Neutral-site wins over BCS teams, a pair of victories against SEC opponents and a national television appearance for a midnight game added up to the first 12-0 start in school history. Heading into Sunday’s game against Davidson, Wichita State was ranked in the AP top 10 for the first time in seven seasons, with national pundits trying to guess when, if ever, the Shockers’ first regular-season loss would come.

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