Editorial: Seniors, thanks for the ride

Sunflower Editorial Board

There were few dry eyes Saturday in Charles Koch Arena. 

Shocker Nation said goodbye to five seniors at the end of the men’s basketball team’s final home game, a revengeful victory over Illinois State, 74-58. 

While fans welcomed Tom “Bush” Wamukota and Anton Grady with open arms, it was the trio of Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Evan Wessel that put lumps in our throats and tears in our eyes. 

These seniors helped put the WSU basketball program — and Wichita, perhaps — on the map. “Shockers” became a household name in 2013 when the team made a historic run to Atlanta in the NCAA Tournament. Since then, they’ve reached a record-breaking 35-1 season and toppled big-name teams — including our neighbors to the north, the University of Kansas Jayhawks.

They’ve also succeeded off the court; each has racked up numerous accolades and honors, broken school and national records and performed well in academics. 

Beyond the records and awards, though, these are three, inspiring men who serve as role models to the country’s youth. Each represents the hard-working, nitty-gritty attitude that is the make-up of Wichita, Kansas. 

The team recently visited National Guard soliders who were headed oversees, and welcomed a group of kids from the Wichita Children’s Home to a practice. 

The seniors will leave a lasting impact on the university, on Wichita and college basketball in general. They’ve taken Shocker fans on a thrilling ride, sharing many ups and downs. Their reign has coincided with changes on campus, ushering in a new era at WSU in terms of exposure and success. 

The Sunflower staff salutes the five seniors for their contributions to the program, and VanVleet, Baker and Wessel for sticking with us and raising the standards. 

— Sunflower Editorial Board