Washburn wraps up season against Emporia in battle for fourth in MIAA

Coach Bob Chipman has experienced his share of heated WU-ESU rivalry games over the years.

Sheldon Warmington

For die-hard Washburn fans, feelings for Emporia are comparable to the dislike seen in all the nation’s great rivalries, matching up with the likes of Texas-Oklahoma, Kansas-Missouri and North Carolina-Duke.

The long-standing rivalry between Washburn and Emporia, known as the Turnpike Tussle, has deep roots and exists for reasons unbeknownst to many of today’s Washburn students, but is one that is enforced at every possible chance in all sporting events.

“I don’t really know why I don’t like them,” said Brady Rothrock, junior accounting major. “Ever since my dad came here Washburn has never liked Emporia. Maybe it’s because they are our closest rivals, but growing up in Topeka, liking Emporia was never really an option.”

For those just dying to know, here is a little insight as to the reason behind the rivalry, so the next time you are trying to explain to your parents why the Hornets are the scum of the earth, you’ll actually have justification.

Aside from the obvious geographical issues that link both universities, there have been several meetings between the schools’ teams that have separated them historically.

Since the 1946-47 seasons,both teams have met on the court at least once every year, and have officially been going head-to-head in conference play since the 1905-1906 season, making it the oldest rivalry either team competes in.

With the teams separated by a half game in the MIAA standings, both squads will appreciate the experience they’ve had in close games thus far. WU and ESU have both played in three overtime games, with the Bods winning twice and losing one.

The last overtime game between the in-state rivals was played on January 12, 2000 at Emporia, which WU won 93-89.

Prior to their first encounter this season, which took place on Jan. 17 at Emporia, the series was tied at 94-94. In Wednesday’s meeting, which will be No. 190, the Bods hope to get even with the Hornets both historically and for revenge on the early-season 85-75 loss.

“Emporia State is obviously the biggest game of the year,” said junior forward Garret Love. “In terms of preparation, nothing extra is done, but intrinsically the players and coaches know that this is a must-win game.”

Going into Saturday’s game, the Bods and Hornets are within striking distance of Fort Hays for third in the conference, yet could still mathematically finish as low as seventh. On top of the implications in the rivalry’s history, the season finale will play a big part in determining seeds for next weekend’s MIAA tournament.

WU has played strong consistently all season at home, building an 11-1 record in Lee Arena, and hope to nab victory no. 12 with the home crowd behind them one last time.

“We all hate Emporia,” said sophomore guard Nate Daniels. “And the focus on Wednesday will be leaving everything out there on the floor. If we play our hardest for 40 minutes we’ll win the game. It’s as simple as that.”