By CAYDEN SANDERS
Tiger Media Network
The Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team has seen high levels of success throughout program history. In recent years under the guidance of Tony Hobson, FHSU won six conference titles (four regular season and two MIAA tournament crowns) and won more games under Hobson than any other coach in program history. However, after Hobson retired at the end of last season, the road was paved for his longtime assistant coach Talia Kahrs to take the helm of the Tiger program.
Kahrs has been part of the Tiger program since 2008 when she was a freshman playing for the team. Since then she has worked as a Graduate Student, Assistant Coach for 11 seasons and now the head coach of the women’s basketball team.
“It has been fun, luckily with Coach Hobson he did a great job of hearing what I had to say and trying out my ideas,” Kahrs said. “I felt confident coming into the season knowing what a head coach looked like, and being confident in myself, and it has been a good transition as the girls have been taking hold of what I was expecting of them.”
Thus far, that transition has been seamless as the Tigers are 2-0 on the young season after winning a pair of games in St. Joseph, Mo. last weekend. FHSU defeated Minot State 79-54 to open the year before defeating No. 2 Minnesota State 83-67 the following day.
“That first game we were just looking at being fundamentally sound and strong with getting a lot of players on the court and we did that,” Kahrs said. “Going into Saturday our older kids were passionate about beating Mankato (Minnesota State) they wanted to get them back after losing to them last year.”
Minnesota State defeated FHSU on a last-second shot inside Gross Memorial Coliseum in the Tigers’ home opener last year.
For the players, the change has not been hard. Junior forward Olivia Hollenbeck said it has been good playing under Kahrs in her new role.
“It was definitely cool to see her, do her own thing creatively and create her own team,” Hollenbeck said. “I am really proud of her, she does a great job recruiting girls and all of us and we get along really well, and it has been fun getting back into the swing of things.”
Kahrs brings a lot of returning players from last season that have helped her in the process. The team returns its top eight scorers as well as nearly every member of last season’s roster.
“I am grateful for them, they have been leaders and really stepped up and holding everyone accountable to raise their level of play,” Kahrs said. “It was perfect in the timing of Tony (Hobson’s) retirement was that he left me with a team that knew what they were doing also, so it made my transition a lot easier.”
During the off-season, the Tigers had to replace Kahrs’ role on the sidelines as an assistant coach and did so by hiring Taylor Vasa who alongside Paige Lunsford will make up the Tiger bench.
“Taylor (Vasa) has been great, she has been at multiple places and learning a lot and so she will throw ideas in as well which has been very helpful and I am glad she is here,” Kahrs said.
Along with the new assistant coach, Kahrs did sign three freshmen to this season’s squad.
“Avery (Lowe) will red-shirt this year, so we won’t see her on the floor this season. But Landon Forbes and Talexa Weeter got their feet wet a little bit last weekend and I am excited to see what they do,” Kahrs said. “Landon will be our point guard, she is a pest on defense, and Talexa is a scorer, she has a knack of getting the ball to the basket.”
Fort Hays State continues their road non-conference swing as they head to Colorado for games against Colorado Mesa on Sunday and Metro State on Monday. FHSU will open at home at 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 25 against Tabor College.