Small class size, competition among common themes for athletes in the KCAC
Kansas Pregame is joining forces with the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference to profile Kansas student athletes competing in the KCAC. This time we're taking a look at three recent grads of KCAC member institutions.
Jenna Farris, Kansas Wesleyan University
Jenna Farris was only a short distance from home after she transferred from Newman to Kansas Wesleyan. Originally from Lincoln, Farris was a state champion distance runner in cross country and track, but basketball was her passion. As a four-year starter at Lincoln she averaged at least 22 points a game in all four seasons. As a freshman she led the Leopards to the state tournament for the first time since 1990.
Her work ethic and talent translated to an exceptional college career where she was a key player for the Coyotes from 2014-17.
In three years with the Coyotes, Farris averaged at least 14 points and 25 minutes per game. The 5-9 guard also shot 41 percent from the field for her career, scored 1,195 points as a Coyote and averaged 15.1 points per game. Farris was averaging 17.7 points per contest, second-best in the league, when a broken hand ended her senior season in January of 2017.
Farris earned at least honorable mention all-conference honors all three years at KWU.
There were many reasons why Farris transferred from Newman to Kansas Wesleyan and she is certain she made the right choice.
“I believe Kansas Wesleyan was the right fit for me continuing my athletic career after my freshman year,” Farris said. “What I enjoyed most was that I felt like I had a bigger role to play on the team. Coach [Ryan] Showman and the assistant coaches were very welcoming, so it made the transition very easy.”
Farris also enjoyed the size of Kansas Wesleyan compared to Newman. Newman has an enrollment of nearly three times KWU.
“I was closer to home, which was a plus. My family made it to a majority of all of my games,” Farris said. “What I enjoyed most was the coaches, and knowing many of the girls on the team before transferring in, from high school and summer basketball leagues.”
And it was more than just the athletic opportunities that Farris enjoyed at Kansas Wesleyan.
“The classroom size I really enjoyed because I felt like I was more than just a number. I got to build relationships with my professors and academic advisor.”
Farris received her degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Health and Wellness. She made the dean’s or president’s list all six semesters at KWU. Currently, Farris works full time as a product specialist at Garmin International. She also works part time as a personal trainer at Blue Springs YMCA in Missouri.
“My education and athletic experience at KWU has prepared me for my future career by giving me the tools and knowledge to excel in my field of exercise science,” Farris said. “I was able to get my personal training certification while taking classes as KWU my junior year. I get the opportunity to share my knowledge that I gained in college through academics and athletics with some of the high school athletes from Blue Springs South. I love that with both of my jobs I get to remain active and involved with athletics.”
Stephen Wilson, Tabor College
Stephen Wilson is getting the most out of his Tabor College experience.
Wilson was a four-year lettermen on the Tabor tennis team and is now entering his second year as a Graduate Assistant with the program. Wilson graduated with his bachelor’s in business marketing with a minor in communications. He is currently a few months away from earning his MBA with an emphasis in leadership.
“I am not sure what my plans are after graduation,” Wilson said. “However, I plan on working somewhere in Wichita with a goal of running my own business one day.”
While he was a member of the Tabor tennis team, Wilson was team captain his junior and senior seasons and was a KCAC Character of Champion medal recipient.
“My favorite part about being an athlete at Tabor was just spending time with the tennis team and I developed great friendships along the way,” Wilson said. “On the academic side, I enjoyed the smaller atmosphere and closer connection to professors.
“The NAIA provides a great opportunity for athletes looking to continue playing after high school. The KCAC has always had a high level of tennis, and schools within the conference have a great rivalry between them.”
Before coming to Tabor, Wilson was a standout for the Andover High School tennis team. Wilson ended his Andover career as a three-time state qualifier, which included a fourth-place finish at the 2014 5A State Tournament in doubles.
Additionally, Wilson and his doubles partner Matthew Rochap were league and regional champions in 2014.
When it comes to tennis in Kansas, Wilson says he most enjoys the friendly atmosphere and competition.
“There are also many great places to play, the courts are maintained well, and I enjoyed traveling around the state to play,” Wilson said.
Brandt Wolters, McPherson College
Brandt Wolters played football at McPherson College, but the Osborne native was an all-around athlete.
At Osborne High School, Wolters was a standout football player and a key member of the 2013 8-Man I State Championship team that went 13-0. Wolters earned all-state honors at tight end and linebacker. Wolters helped lead Osborne to the state semifinals the next year, but it was just one highlight from his senior year.
Wolters was also a standout on the Bulldog basketball team and won the 1A state championship in javelin with a throw of 181-10. He also qualified for the state tournament in golf for good measure.
Wolters went the junior college route out of high school. Despite Osborne not having a high school baseball team, Wolters was recruited to Seward County Community College to play baseball as a utility player.
But after a semester at Seward, Wolters realized how much he missed football and track, and McPherson College offered him the opportunity to participate in both at the collegiate level, and closer to home.
At Mac, Wolters was a key receiver for the Bulldogs. Last fall during his senior season, Wolters caught at least one pass in every game, including seven or more catches in three games, and he was paired with former high school teammate Jake Tiernan, who split time at QB for the Bulldogs last year.
In back-to-back games against Southwestern and Friends, Wolters went over the 100-yard mark in receiving yards. For the season, Wolters caught 46 passes for 604 yards and five touchdowns.
“It was a great experience to immediately hit the field and play ball. If you have a love for the game, you don't care what the level is,” Wolters said. “It was an added bonus that my family was able to come to almost every game as well, which was important to me.”
Wolters was also able to continue his javelin career at McPherson College where he was a three-time All-American and as a sophomore was the NAIA national runner-up.
“Most people don't know, but track is competitive at every level,” Wolters said. “After looking at my throws at the end of every year, I would have finished anywhere from 3rd to 10th at the Big 12 (Championships).”
Despite staying busy playing multiple sports, Wolters was able to experience college life at McPherson.
“Going to a small school gives you an opportunity to grow as an athlete as well as in the classroom,” Wolters said. “I was able to be very involved in resident life, and my senior year I was the student government president, all while being a full-time student, athlete, and working. It is also great to get to know hundreds of people on a truly personal level. That is what I cherish the most from my time there.”
Wolters earned a business degree from McPherson College in May and now works for Kuecker Logistics in Kansas City.
The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) is a prominent intercollegiate athletics conference comprised of 13 outstanding private, faith-based institutions of higher education across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. The KCAC sponsors conference intercollegiate athletics in football, volleyball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's wrestling, competitive cheer and competitve dance, men's and women's indoor track and field, men's and women's outdoor track and field, baseball, softball, men's and women's golf, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's lacrosse, and men's and women's swimming.