Sunday, April 28, 2013

Senior Class Yearbook: The Kansas Four

Doug Whiston

Connor Drake

Hai Nguyen

Ronell Sharp

Photo I and IV Kat Ignatova

Doug Whiston, Connor Drake, Hai Nguyen and Ronell Sharp are the core of an Elite Eight Kansas team. Whiston is great beater strategist and founder of Kansas Quidditch. Drake was on Team USA and was a Snitchy Games participant. He is described by incoming Kansas captain Colby Soden as "a rock." Nguyen is lightning quick, and the 2012-13 season's captain. Sharp, who joined the team in Fall 2011, completely transformed the Jayhawks into a Regional Champion and World Cup Contender.

All four have had profound impacts during the first three years of Kansas' existence. Off the pitch, Soden described that each of the graduating seniors showed leadership in their own way. On the pitch, these four will be missed even more. Drake, "ran a smart offense on the pitch," according to Soden while Sharp, "delivered some big hits on defense that really gave us a spark." Soden went on to call Sharp, "easily the most athletic person on the team and most sports minded."

As previously mentioned, advancing all the way to the Elite Eight at World Cup VI was big for Kansas. The Jayhawks went into Randall's Island with big expectations. They ranked in the top five and had recently been crowned Midwest Champions. But, Kansas ran into a hot Minnesota team in the Sweet Sixteen losing 70*-40. The beginning of this season was hard too and Kansas did not meet the expectations of many. Going into World Cup VI, Kansas was vastly underestimated. "Before World Cup," says Soden, "we all had a chip on our shoulder because we knew how good we were and didn't have the opportunity to prove it to all our haters."

At World Cup, Kansas beat two regional champions, in Baylor and Marquette, with the latter being eliminated because of the loss. Nguyen and Whiston each devised strategies that especially helped beat Baylor and Sharp's defensive ability shutdown Marquette's Bobby Roth. Drake acted as a "general on the pitch," and his leadership was "invaluable" to the team. Advancing all the way to the Elite Eight and hanging with a team like UCLA was a fitting way to end the college careers of four fantastic players.

Thank you to 2013-14 Kansas captain Colby Soden for the nominations!

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