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Monday Morning Wheaties

5 min read

It was a busy week of big wins, Big 12 titles, records falling and more for the KU athletic department.

All of that will be recognized in this week’s edition of your Monday Morning Wheaties here at R1S1 Sports.

You’ve seen the tomahawks on the back of the Florida State helmets, the buckeye tree leaves on the Ohio State helmets and the paw prints on the back of the Clemson helmets.

Each Monday, we take one last look back at the week that was and hand out different amounts of the iconic breakfast cereal to the Jayhawks’ top performers.

So, be sure to come get your Monday Morning Wheaties and feel free to hit up the comments section — subscribers only for now — with any players you feel we might’ve missed.

Picture on the box

• Freshman guard S’Mya Nichols – By now, you’ve probably heard at least something about KU’s fabulous freshman who leads the team in multiple categories, including scoring, and is having one of the best freshman seasons in program history. If not, it’s time to start paying attention. A few days after tying a career high with 23 points in a road loss at No. 24 Baylor, Nichols took over the Jayhawks’ 58-55 home win over No. 10 Kansas State, scoring 22 points to lead Kansas to the huge rivalry win. Nichols now has scored 20 or more points six times this season and two of the six came in the past week. Against the Wildcats, she flashed her all-around game, scoring on mid-range jumpers, getting to the rim and scoring at the free throw line to help deliver the win.

KU freshman S'Mya Nichols looks at the rim during the Jayhawks' home win over K-State on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024 at Allen Fieldhouse. [Chance Parker photo]

A full bowl

• Indoor stars – Four members of the Kansas track & field team collected Big 12 titles at the indoor championships last week, with three of them setting school records in the process. Grant Lockwood won the 600 in 1:07.79, Michael Joseph took home the title in the 400 in 45.46 and Devin Loudermilk’s jump of 2.26 meters was the top mark in the high jump event. All three were school records, and that trio was joined by Clayton Simms taking first in the pole vault for the Jayhawks’ fourth Big 12 title. The KU men finished 4th at the event, while the Kansas women’s team brought home a 6th-place finish. Next up, this group will begin preparation for the national indoor meet in Boston, March 6-10.

• Record breakers – The Kansas women’s golf team continued its assault on the record books last week, setting 18- and 36-hole team records while taking the lead at the Westbrook Invitational in Peoria, Arizona. Last fall, the KU women set a school record with a final-round 274 (14-under) at the Dick McGuire Invitational. In Round 1 in Arizona, they shot a 19-under, paving the way for the Jayhawks to take a 7-stroke lead into Monday’s final round. Individually, Lily Hirst is in second place at -9, Jordan Rothman is tied for 3rd at 8-under and Lauren Clark is just two strokes back in a seventh-place tie at 7-under. Hanna Hawks (-6) is tied for 12th, Johanna Ebner is tied for 22nd at 4-under and freshman Lyla Louderbaugh is in a tie for 32nd at -2.

• Men’s golfer Cecil Belisle – The transfer from South Mountain Community College picked up his second win as a Jayhawk in impressive fashion last week, winning The Prestige golf tournament in LaQuinta, California by two strokes with rounds of 67, 66 and 67. Belisle’s three-round 200 tied the school record for a 54-hole event. He also became just the 10th golfer in school history to win two tournaments in the same season.

Nighttime snack

• Senior center Taiyanna Jackson – It was a rough first half against K-State for the dominant post player, as she picked up two early fouls and had to sit for most of the second quarter. Jackson more than made up for that in the second half, however, dominating on defense to the tune of 8 blocks and 7 rebounds to go along with her 11 points in the win. Jackson is now up to 86 blocks on the season and 290 and counting for her career. The career mark is already a school record. Jackson also owns KU’s single-season blocks record of 109. With two games to play in the regular season and whatever postseason fate awaits, she could make a run at her own season record and also seems poised to push the career mark into the 300s.

• Senior pitcher Kasey Hamilton – In the KU softball team’s 1-0 win over No. 17 Texas A&M over the weekend, Hamilton was sensational, tossing a complete-game shutout while allowing just four hits to go along with three walks and four strikeouts. The win was the second of the day for the Jayhawks, who knocked off North Dakota State, 8-3, earlier in the day. KU also defeated NDSU 15-6 in 6 innings on Sunday to run its winning streak to 6 in a row. The Jayhawks are now 9-5-1 overall and will head to Tennessee for four games this week before returning to Lawrence for the home opener on March 5. Hamilton, KU’s top pitcher and the Marlene Mawson Award winner, is now 1-4 on the season in the circle.

• The KU hoops bench – There’s been a lot of talk this season about the shortcomings of the Kansas men’s basketball bench. However, in Saturday’s win over Texas, which came without starting guard Kevin McCullar Jr., the bench trio of Elmarko Jackson, Jamari McDowell and Parker Braun all contributed meaningful and, more importantly, extended minutes to help the Jayhawks take down the Longhorns. KU coach Bill Self has expressed a desire to find something from the bench all season and it appears as if this group might be finding its form at just the right time. Next up, KU plays host to BYU on Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse. McCullar is expected to miss that game, which will give the KU reserves a chance at a quality encore performance. Shoutout to the KU women's bench, too. Both Skyler Gill and Danai Papadopoulou joined regular rotation reserve Ryan Cobbins in playing a huge role in the win over K-State.

Drink the milk

• Catcher Jake English – The senior from nearby Olathe, has been tearing the cover off of the ball so far this season. Not only does he lead the Jayhawks with 4 home runs in 20 at-bats, he’s also leading the team in batting average, at .500 on the season, and runs scored, with 12. His slugging percentage (1.100) and on-base percentage (.607) also lead the team, and the powerhouse at the plate also has walked 7 times and struck out just once. The Jayhawks enter the week at 3-4 overall and with plans for the home opener against Texas Southern on Friday. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m., and that will mark the start of an 8-game homestand.

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