Two teams setting their sights on a national championship, Gregg Marshall cutting down the nets at Koch Arena and Kansans receiving Olympic medals. They were just some of the memorable sports moments of 2012 in our area.
We’ve compiled a list of 18 of the biggest stories this year involving Wichita or Kansas athletes for our annual poll.
Go to Kansas.com/sports to vote on which was the biggest.
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The nominees, in chronological order:
Perry Ellis finishes Heights career with four titles, CL scoring record — How does one live up to the hype of being a nationally recognized eighth-grader? Four state titles, four All-State selections and the most career points in the City League’s history seemed to work for Ellis before he put on the crimson and blue in Lawrence.
Heights, Kapaun boys, girls double up on state basketball titles — For Heights to dominate the Class 6A tournament in both boys and girls basketball was nothing new, but this year the City League showed its muscle in 5A, as well. Kapaun won the school’s first basketball crowns since 1981, taking the girls and boys titles.
Shockers win Valley, return to NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed — A year after winning the National Invitation Tournament, the Shockers were expected to be the best basketball team in the Missouri Valley Conference. They fulfilled that, winning the Valley title and topping out at No. 15 in the AP poll. All-Valley players Garrett Stutz and Joe Ragland led WSU to the NCAAs for the first time since 2006, where the Shockers fell to nemesis Virginia Commonwealth.
Frank Martin leaves K-State for South Carolina — Most Wildcat fans had no idea who the passionate Martin was when he arrived in 2006 as an assistant on Bob Huggins’ basketball staff. Over the next five seasons he took K-State to four NCAA Tournaments, a 117-54 record and national prominence.
Thomas Robinson leads KU basketball to the championship game — Predicted to have a “down” year, the Jayhawks won the Big 12 for the eighth straight season before reaching the NCAA championship game behind consensus All-American Robinson.
Wichita Thunder reaches CHL finals before losing — Coach Kevin McClelland continued the team’s downtown renaissance, leading the Thunder to the CHL’s best record. The team won the Berry Conference to reach the Finals for the first time since 1998, but lost to Fort Wayne in five games for the title.
Conner Frankamp leads U.S. U-17 team in scoring; winning gold medal — Already the owner of a City League record for points in a single game, the North High rising senior took his game to Lithuania, leading the United States team to a gold medal in the U-17 World Championships with a team-high 14.1 points per game. Through his first six games this season, Frankamp averaged 35.2 points for North.
K-State’s Erik Kynard wins Olympic silver medal; Overland Park’s Shannon Vreeland gold — Kynard traded in his trademark purple striped socks for red, white and blue ones as the NCAA champion surprised the field in London to take silver. Vreeland swam on the Olympic-record setting 800-meter team along with Missy Franklin.
Tabor’s Brandon Brown dies after beating; 2 former McPherson players charged — Brown was found beaten, unconscious and unresponsive outside of a house party in McPherson in the early-morning hours of Sept. 16. He died six days later in a Wichita hospital and two former McPherson College football players have been charged with murder in the case.
Conway Springs’ Tanner Wood rushes for state-record 659 yards in single game — The Kansas State commitment didn’t just break Kip Connell’s 14-year-old record of 488 rushing yards, he smashed it. Wood ran for 659 yards on 36 carries in the Cardinals’ 84-56 victory on Oct. 19.
Emporia’s Clint Bowyer finishes second in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup standings — In his first season with Michael Waltrip Racing, Bowyer returned to the Chase, winning three races to compete for a championship. He ended up 39 points behind Cup champion Brad Keselowski for his best season finish of his career.
Bishop Carroll wins first football title since 1978 — Carroll had plenty of good teams since its last title in 1978, even plenty of great ones. But no Alan Schuckman-coached Carroll squad had finished with a state title before the Eagles stomped Bishop Miege 60-21 in the Class 5A championship. Carroll’s smallest margin of victory was a 24-point win in the semifinals.
A year after being out of college football, Wichita’s Bryce Brown shines in primetime NFL appearances — The former Wichita East standout took the unusual path to the NFL, with two collegiate stops at Tennessee and K-State before last playing in Sept. 2011. The Eagles took Brown in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. He made his first start in November, rushing for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He followed that up with a 169-yard, two-TD game the next week.
Charlie Weis’ first year at KU results in 1-11 season — While Weis didn’t lose to a lower-division FCS team like Turner Gill did in his first season, he didn’t win after the 2012 season-opener, either. KU’s season alternated between close calls to much better teams and embarrassing blowouts. The Jayhawks enter 2013 on a 21-game Big 12 losing streak.
Wichita State volleyball reaches Sweet 16 for first time — Chris Lamb’s volleyball teams have become a fixture in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the 64-team field for the seventh time. This season, however, the Shockers broke through, defeating Kansas to reach the Sweet 16 for first time.
Butler reaches NJCAA football title game but falls short — Another steamrolling through the Jayhawk Conference put the Grizzlies in familiar position: the national championship game. But an injury sidelined quarterback Billy Cosh in the second half as Butler fell to top-ranked Iowa Western.
After a stay at No. 1 in BCS, K-State wins Big 12, heads to Fiesta Bowl — Preseason polls had the Wildcats at No. 6 — in the Big 12. K-State rolled up 10 wins, and had a chance for a national title, before a loss at Baylor tripped the Cats up. A win vs. Texas has K-State preparing for all the Tostitos.
Collin Klein finishes third in Heisman Trophy voting — He came to Manhattan from Colorado as a wide receiver when Ron Prince was the coach. This season he ran for 22 touchdowns and threw 15 more to be only the second Heisman finalist in K-State history.