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Wildcats' baseball capping big year for K-State

Wednesday - 6/5/2013, 6:52pm  ET

The Kansas State bench celebrates after Ross Kivet (7) scored on a wild pitch on an intentional walk in the seventh inning in an NCAA baseball regional game against Arkansas in Manhattan, Kan., Sunday, June 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Tuttle)

DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- It was about nine games into the Big 12 season when Kansas State baseball coach Brad Hill started to hear murmuring in the clubhouse.

The football team had won a conference championship. So had the men's basketball team.

"So they started to ask, 'Why can't we?'" Hill recalled in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "All of a sudden, they started to think about the idea. They started throwing it out there and they started believing. And then they started building."

Fast-forward a couple months and the Wildcats have set a school record for victories, captured that elusive conference title, are off to Oregon State this weekend for a best-of-three series that could land them in the College World Series.

It would be a fitting capstone to the most memorable season in school history.

"This program is two wins away from playing in Omaha, and that's every kid's dream," Hill said Wednesday. "And at Kansas State, that hasn't been much of a reality."

Might as well dream big at K-State this year, though.

All of those dreams are coming true.

Take the perennially underrated football program, picked to finish sixth in the conference, which went 11-2 and won its third ever conference title. If not for a lousy night at Baylor, the Wildcats and 73-year-old Bill Snyder would have likely been playing for a national championship.

Still, the Wildcats landed in a BCS bowl game, and Snyder was rewarded with a new five year-deal in January that includes base compensation of $14.75 million and rolls over each season.

Already, season tickets for next season are sold out, as are two home games, and school officials believe the rest of the tickets remaining could be snapped up before this week is out.

Then basketball season rolled around, and prognosticators again picked the Wildcats to finish in the bottom half of the league. But under new coach Bruce Weber, that plucky bunch went 27-8 and tied with Kansas for its first regular-season conference championship in 36 years.

The only other schools to win football and basketball crowns in the same year? Oklahoma and Texas, two schools with far more financial resources at their disposal.

The success hasn't been limited to high-profile, high-revenue sports, either.

Tennis player Petra Niedermayerova reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament, along the way becoming the school's career leader for singles wins in a season and a career. The women's hoops team overcame a slew of injuries to reach the semifinals of the NIT. The volleyball team went 21-9 and again reached the NCAA tournament, and will be part of Team USA at the World University Games this summer.

This weekend, the Wildcats have several athletes competing in Oregon at the track and field national championships. One of them, Olympic high jump silver medalist Erik Kynard, heads into the meet ranked No. 2 in the world with a school-record and season-best jump of 7 feet, 8
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