Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wednesday is national signing day, but it has already begun

Next Wednesday is national signing day (actually just the start of the signing period) for football, track, cross country and soccer). But three Bishop Carroll athletes from other sports signed with Kansas junior colleges on Friday.
Two were baseball players. Chad Duling signed with Hutchinson Community College and Brandon Tangney signed wtih Cloud County Community College. The third, Kyle Swinicki, signed to run cross country at Cowley County Community College.

Pictured above, seated, are Chad Duling, Carroll baseball coach Charlie Ebright and Brandon Tangney. Standing behind them are parents David and Karen Duling and Mary and Larry Tangney.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We're Going Streaking!!!!

Remember Frank the Tank? I do. He reincarnated himself as a girl basketball player at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, and he loves it because the KFC is still open in Hays.

The Lady Monarchs are going for their 13th win in a row Thursday in Colby. And I think they can do it, mostly because I don't think they are going to lose. Honestly, I don't think its going to happen.

(We're going into the gymnasium... and, and into the quad - come on everybody!!!)

They have ripped teams, *ripped* them this season. TMP winning by 20 is not uncommon. Scott City came into town and was supposed to give them a game, get some revenge for TMP winning their Scott City Invitational. Didn't happen.

(It's cool, bring your green hat!)

Lady Monarchs controlled the boards, and the run and gun offense. Fast breaks happened, yes, but it was mostly the Beavers didn't play any defense and TMP was already down by the basket when they got the rebound. Hard to defend when they are waiting under the basket for a pass.

(((Marissa: Frank! What are you doing?!
Frank: We're streaking!
Marissa: Whose streaking!?
Frank: Everybody's doing it!)))

I think we could see them heading into the post season without a loss on their record. Seriously.

And then another scary thing is, except for maybe two girls on the team - they are all on the softball team that is just as dominant. And they are coached by the same guy, Al Billinger. Yikes.

(Come on everybody!!!!!!!!!!!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No Sleep

I can honestly say I have never been so tired and could not go to sleep as I was this weekend. I planned for Sunday, (the first day for seven in a row I had off) to sleep all afternoon, but to my surprise as I cuddled up in my blanket with a fire roaring in the fireplace, a cup of hot Joe in my hand, and the worlds funniest movie on the tube, (I'm referring to Dumb and Dumber) I could not relax enough to go to sleep.

I was so whipped from the previous three days of 12 hours of work that I had forgot what it was like to relax.

So now you are wondering what in the world made me so exhausted.... TOC, the Tournament of Champions, the biggest basketball tournament to hit the City of Dodge. As a first timer I had no idea what I was getting myself into... I figured it was a basketball tournament, it was games played and fans cheering and a winner pronounced at the end. Let me be the first to say it was not at all just a basketball tournament, it was a three day event.

Let me elaborate.

Day One- Five teams from Wichita, and three southwestern schools flooded the Dodge City Civic Center from 2pm until nearly 10pm. Oh and lets not forget the cheerleaders who had a competition of there own brewing. Four games with four sets of highlights for me to shoot, anchor, and then edit.

Day Two- A 7 am wake up call (which for a sports reporter is WAY to early considering we don't go to work until at least 1 in the afternoon) Any who... the wake up call is to attend area middle schools with several of the tournament teams because they are reading to the younger students. That's a story in itself, Cutest thing I have ever seen!
Moving on to the afternoon session of games... 2 and 3:30, then to the night session 7 and 8:30.
There was never a time to sit down considering there were dozens of cheerleaders flipping onto my screen at every time out and at the halves.

Day Three- Lets set a 7am wake up call again, this time for the annual TOC breakfast, (not as bad considering I knew I had biscuits and gravy waiting on me once I arrived) early none the less... The breakfast consisted of food, tired kids, and coaches, and a very famous public speaker. Ralph Terry took the podium to tell about his days as a Yankee pitcher. Lets keep in mind, he pitched in the 60's therefore, his years are well...up there. He kept the tired teams attention for a bit. Ok round three... finals... four games, screaming fans off all sorts because Dodge was going to the Championship game, and here's one better they won. As did the DC cheerleaders in the most outstanding cheer squad competition.

Now it sounds like I'm doing a lot of complaining... Let me be the first to say I am not at all! I love my job and being out in the field. I enjoyed all the games, all the cheer stunts,flips, and chants from the student section, which without tooting my own horn, I got a chant!

I'm just saying is it so much to ask to lay on the couch with a fire roaring, a hot cup of Joe, and doze off while watching a funny movie. I think not! Rest assure I did regain sleep that evening, it was an 8pm bedtime for me!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Girls tournament week

Last week it was all about the boys, and this week is all about the girls. While there were only a handful of basketball tournaments for the ladies last week, this week is when the bulk of the invites are taking place across the state. Here are some tournaments to follow throughout the next few days.

Monday was the start of play for the Berean Academy Tournament, the SPAA-IAA League Tournament and the Southeast of Saline Round Robin. The SES Invite features the likes of top-ranked Class 4A Concordia. They opened tonight with a 64-23 win over Ellsworth, and the host school, SES, beat Smoky Valley 56-47. The start of the Mulvane Wildcat Classic was postponed until Wednesday due to inclement weather.

Action picks up on Tuesday with the start of the Ell-Saline Mid-Season Tournament, the Sterling Classic and the Sedgwick Invitational, which all feature a bevy of local teams. Thursday is the start of some of the big tournaments and a lot of the state’s best will be participating.

Collegiate (9-0) will play in the Lady Cat Classic out in El Dorado, which begins on Thursday. They open the tournament with a 7:15 p.m. game with the host Wildcats. Collegiate is ranked second in 3A but should be tested if they make it to the championship round. Gardner-Edgerton (6-3) is on the other side of the bracket, and the Trailblazers are a top-10 5A team.

Bishop Carroll and Great Bend are both top teams in 5A and will participate in the Kapaun Invitational. The two wouldn’t meet until the championship game, but have a very good shot at getting there.

Defending 5A state champion McPherson hasn’t had as great a season as the Bullpups would have liked thus far, but have a chance to prove themselves at their own Mid America Classic. Buhler (8-1) looks to be the early favorite as the top seed and could meet Goddard (6-3) in the championship game, which would be a rematch of when they played earlier this season and Buhler came away with a 61-50 win.

The Newton Invitational should be another good one. Liberal (7-0) enters as the second best team in 5A and the top seed and will play the host Railers in the opening round. TMP-Marian (10-2) is one of the top teams in 3A and will open with Beloit (8-2). Rose Hill (9-1) is having a great season and is one of the top teams in 4A. They will face Garden City (5-4). Salina South (8-1) faces Andover Central (8-2) in its opener.

Traveling to Topeka from our area are Derby (4-3) and Wichita Northwest (4-4), where they will face the tough feat of matching up with some of the state’s best 5A and 6A teams in the T-Bird Classic. Washburn Rural (9-0), Shawnee Mission East (6-2) and Junction City (5-3) are all top 10 squads in 6A. Last year’s 6A state champion Lawrence (3-7) will also be there, and so will Shawnee Heights (6-2), who is one of the top 5A teams this year. Derby opens with Junction City, and Northwest plays Shawnee Heights.

Also on the Thursday, Wichita North squares off with Emporia at the Glacier’s Edge Invitational at Emporia. Then there’s the Haven Wildcat Classic where you can find several of the state’s best teams in 2A and 4A. Moundridge (10-) enters the Classic as the top-ranked team in 2A and opens as the top seed against Kingman. Salina Sacred Heart (9-1) is ranked fifth in 2A and could meet up with the fifth-ranked team in 4A, Haven (9-1), in the semifinals.

Check our site throughout the week as we will provide continuous coverage of this week’s tournaments.

Random wrestling thoughts

* The best name in Kansas high school wrestling has to be – wait for it – Tim Wrestler. He’s a Chanute sophomore ranked No. 6 at 119 pounds, according to the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association.

* Wichita West wrestling standout Tristen DeShazer is ranked No. 20 among 133-pounders in NCAA Division I. Tristen, a redshirt sophomore at Northern Illinois, has pinned four top-20 wrestlers and is 18-7 this year. He was a four-time state champion, from 2003 to 2006, at West.

* This week featured another former standout, Dennis Charbonneau, and his impressive Clay Center team. Dennis earned three state titles, all at 126 pounds, before he graduated from Clay Center in 1983. He now coaches the Tigers, who are two-time defending state champs in Class 4A.

Dennis strongly believes that hard work surpasses talent on the mat.

“I probably wasn’t the most talented wrestler in the world,” he said, “but I always felt like I probably worked as hard as anyone else. And when it came down to the time to wrestle at the state tournament, many times the person that is going to win those close matches is the one that feels like they can do that. That comes back to mental toughness … that never-give-up attitude and that feeling like you deserve to be there.”

The Tigers finished sixth at the Valley Center dual tournament, but all the teams ahead of them were from Class 5A and 6A. They earned third place at the Newton tournament, just behind Class 5A Emporia and second-place Colby, the top-ranked team in Class 4A. Clay Center is ranked No. 2. It would be interesting to see those squads battle it out at the 4A state tournament.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Kriwiel to be inducted in KSHSAA Hall of Fame

Longtime football and golf coach Ed Kriwiel, who died in December 2007, will be inducted into the Kansas State High School Activity Association Hall of Fame on Feb. 13.

The induction ceremony will take place at Kapaun Mt. Carmel during halftime of the school's basketball game against Bishop Carroll.

Kriwiel began his City League coaching career at Wichita West and then built a dynasty at Kapaun. He compiled a football record of 297-67-7 at the two schools and won nine state championships at Kapaun between 1970 and 1987. He also coached the boys golf team for 37 years and girls golfers for 10 years at Kapaun. He led the Crusaders to 26 state titles.

Because Feb. 13 will combine a rivalry game, senior night festivities and the Hall of Fame induction, Kapaun is planning on an overflow crowd. Once the gym reaches capacity, spectators will be directed to the KMC Commons, where they can watch the festivities on projection TV for a $3 admission.

Kapaun will reserve a limited number of seats for alumni who played for Kriwiel. Those will be distributed on a first-come first-served basis with a limit of two tickets per alumnus. Those former players seeking reserved seats should contact Kevin Arkin in the development office at

Carroll's Racine needs one more win for 500

Bishop Carroll girls basketball coach Don Racine should get his 500th high school coaching victory next week, ironically during a tournament hosted by arch-rival Kapaun Mt. Carmel.

Racine got his 499th win on Tuesday against Goddard, and his 10-0 Golden Eagles will play 2-7 Maize in the opening round of the KMC Invitational at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Whenever Racine gets the win, Carroll athletic director Larry Dostert plans to get the game ball, which Carroll will present to Racine after Carroll's home game against Wichita North on Feb. 17, "Don Racine Night." Former players have been invited to return for a post-game reception.

Racine, in his 30th season at Carroll, is 499-161.

On Tuesday February, 17 Bishop Carroll will proclaim the basketball game against East High School as “DON RACINE NIGHT”. Bishop Carroll will honor Coach Racine after the game by presenting him the game ball from his 500th victory. Bishop Carroll has invited back all his former players and parents for the game. A reception will follow the game in the school Library. Congratulation to Coach Don Racine and his 500th victory and good luck on the next 500.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The oldest tournament?

I was wrong the other night when I said the Adolph Rupp Invitational (in its 39th year) was probably the oldest tournament in the state.

Today I’m at an even older tournament – the Bluestem Classic in El Dorado, now in its 41st year.

But the Rupp still provides me with a great story I want to share.

When Rupp, a 1919 graduate of Halstead High, was growing up on the family farm, he and his brothers played with a basketball made of rags stuffed into a gunny sack sewed up by their mother.

You gotta love the game to play with that kind of ball. They must have been great passers, because they certainly couldn’t work on a cross-over dribble with a ball made of rags in a gunny sack.

Halstead High created a Hall of Fame and inducted its first class last December. The charter members were Rupp and Conrad Nightingale, who was a track and field great at Halstead and went on to Kansas State and to run the steeplechase in the 1968 Olympics.

Rupp, who became one of college basketball’s winningest coaches at Kentucky, died in 1977 and the last member of his family in the Halstead area, a cousin, died about a year ago. But one of his grandsons came to the Hall of Fame Induction, as did Nightingale, now a veterinarian in Bandera, Texas.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You Better Call Her A Lady!

I had the privilege of meeting Emma Blachet Monday. That name means nothing outside of Hays, but with the Indians she is the first female wrestler in school history. And you better call her a lady or you will pay. Big time.

The 103-pounder is a real firecracker. She moved from Maine to be with her Mom a few years back, where she was a varsity wrestler in the Pine Tree State.

What many think is weird is the opposite to Emma. She wasn't the only female wrestler on the team back in Maine, and she went to an all girl tournament with almost 60 girls!

Most marvel at ONE girl in a gymnasium now, imagine being at that tournament.

Inevitably, I asked her if she had a boyfriend - the answer, "no, I don't date during wrestling season. It just gets in the way. I've had a boyfriend one time during wrestling season and he tried to make me quit so I said, 'no more.'"

That is dedication my friends.

Some other questions queried during the interview:

Why wrestling? "I tried basketball, but I kept fouling out, so I needed something more aggressive." Awesome.

What's the best part about wrestling? "I just like beating on boys, I guess. I like showing them I'm tough, and I love it, it's fun, it's a good workout, and a good stress reliever." Awesome.

What's the locker room situation at tournaments, where there might not be any other female participants? "Usually when we go to away tournaments, I have to change in the bathroom, and afterward they have to block off a little locker room for me to shower." Not awesome.

What are some boy's reactions to you when stepping into the ring? "Sometimes I think they are a little scared of me, sometimes they go easy and that just makes me mad and then I end up pinning them." Awesome.

Emma might be a member of a quiet trend: girl wrestlers. At the Hays Double Dual last week, Larned had TWO varsity wrestlers in different weight classes, Garden City has one, and girl wrestlers have made state several years past.

According to Indians wrestling coach John Hafliger, in ten years, Hays will have a separate girls wrestling squad, alongside the boys squad. It's in the Olympics, colleges are starting to catch on, and it's only a matter of time before high schools get the programs.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Boys Basketball Tournament Time

Its boys tournament time and there are some very good match-ups that could take place this week.

I am hoping for an East-Highland Park final in the Highland Park Tournament. Highland Park is ranked number one in class 5A and undefeated. Highland Park is athletic and a perennial power, as is East. It could provide a very entertaining final.

Dodge City's Tournament of Champions, as always, will offer some interesting match-ups you otherwise would not get a chance to see. The most lopsided game on paper would be the Derby-Moscow game on Thursday in the first round. Derby has a classified enrollment of 1453 and Moscow has an enrollment of....37. Derby's basketball team very likely has more boys than Moscow high school. Moscow does have a decent 6-3 record.

The McPherson Tournament offers a potential championship game between Heights and McPherson. Both are currently undefeated. McPherson's road is a little tougher as it will likely have to go through Shawnee Mission East in the second round.

Valley Center's January Jam features a very diverse sampling of schools. Southeast, KC Turner, Topeka Seamen, Valley Center, BV Northwest, KC Schlagle, Junction City and Garden City will all be in attendance.

The other tournament I will be looking at is the Bluestem Classic in El Dorado. Undefeated Collegiate and Trinity are on opposite sides of the bracket and are also the smallest schools in the tourney. Trinity would have to get by host El Dorado and then the winner of Great Bend-Kapaun to make the final. Collegiate needs to beat Campus and then the winner of Wichita North-Gardner Edgerton to make the final.

What games would you like to see this week? Any good tournaments out there I am not mentioning? Let me know.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Coaching milestones

Scott City boys basketball coach Glenn O’Neil won his 200th game at the school last week. O’Neil is now 202-88 in 13 seasons at Scott City and 361-172 overall.

Bishop Carroll girls coach Don Racine is closing in on his 500th career victory. The Golden Eagles’ 75-58 win over Wichita Heights on Tuesday night was his 497th victory.

Rip Van Holmgren

by Bryan Holmgren

It’s been a while since I last weighed in. Hope I remember how to do this…

Over the last month or so I’ve begun to take note of an alarming trend. Maybe you can connect the dots for me.

It started on one of my nights off while watching WSU/Texas Tech from home – a game the Shockers trailed by something like 17 points at halftime. I was so inspired by their effort up to this point that I fell into a deep sleep on the couch. When I came back to reality I was surprised to see that WSU had miraculously managed to tie the game up. And while they eventually lost, I was more anxious to figure out what the heck had happened while I was out (Clevin Hannah happened, I was later told).*

* This was one of the games Bruce Haertl was doing the TV play-by-play for. Rest assured it was (probably) not his work – more likely the poor effort of the team – that put me under.

It occured again a couple of weeks later. I was taking in that soon-to-be-iconic cinematic masterpiece “Kung Fu Panda” (thanks Red Box) when my eyes became droopy and I drifted off. It felt like only a couple of minutes but I awoke to find that Jack Black’s character had somehow morphed from fat panda bear screw-up to Kung Fu master. I finished the movie but am still, even now, curious as to what happened* (some sort of training montage?) to complete this transformation.

* Obviously I could have re-watched that part, but the movie was due back by 9 and I didn’t want to be charged an extra dollar.

The trend continued last week while I was covering East and North. I was shocked by how well the Redskins played, pressuring the Aces, running the fast break and narrowly missing out on what would have been their second upset of an upper-division City League foe in less than a week.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Strange things happen when I fall asleep. The first two literally. North more figuratively.

Point is, I couldn’t have named a North High player to save my own life coming into the season. They were picked second to the bottom in the league, won just three games last year and returned very little off that squad. But out of nowhere they’ve morphed into one of the league’s most entertaining and surprisingly competitive squads.

Have they arrived yet? Nope. A letdown, overtime loss to South the night after the East game brought them back to earth a bit off a 3-1 start. Southeast furthered that reality check on Tuesday. But there are still some good things going on here – especially with most of the core group only juniors.

Gary Squires – who spent time at Carroll and Kapaun in the late 80’s and early 90’s – is the mastermind. But what maybe seemed like an overnight transformation in my mind and in the minds of many others, has actually been a much more calculated process.

Before taking on the head coaching job this year, Squires ran the JV at North and had the opportunity to do some hands-on stuff with much of the current varsity. So while most of these guys are new to the big stage, they aren’t new to Squires.

With just one player over 6’1 the idea is keep the pace as fast as possible. Let point guard Chekiel Wright push the ball up the court and create. Let the deceptively athletic twins Brison and Briston White slash and shoot on the offensive end and create turnovers with their speed on the defensive end. 6’4 forward Spencer Robertson runs the floor as well as many guards. At 5’11 Brison can dunk comfortably and threw a couple down against East.

The challenge at the moment is figuring out how to reign in some of the group’s more aggressive mistakes without eliminating the positives that go along with their style of play. North made almost two third of its shots from the field – many of them easy looks off of fastbreaks – and made life tough for East in the full court. But they also turned the ball over something like 33 times. Still it was the best ballgame I’ve seen all season.

There are steps to be taken yet, but so far so good for North.


Allow me to put forth an analogy.

Let’s say – hypothetically – I buy an engagement ring (not a large one – I’m making a sportscaster salary) and pop the question to a beautiful blonde (who – just for the sake of the analogy –says “yes.”) My family and friends are thrilled, naturally asking when the date will be set for.

“I’m not sure,” I say a few weeks after the engagement. “I actually was kind of thinking I might rather marry this cute brunette I met at TGI Friday’s. Not that [the blonde] is out of the picture. I just need to think about it some more. But it’s definitely down to those two.”
Another few days pass and they ask me again, wondering if I’ve made my decision.

“Yes, those are definitely my top two. [The blonde] is still my fiancĂ©, though [the brunette] is probably the front-runner at this point. But I’m also going on a date with a red-head I met on e-harmony. So she might be in the mix. In fact, I’m kind of sifting through my inbox and there are a few others I might check out, as well.”

“But your wedding date is coming up in February.”

“Yeah. That might wait a little bit. No sense in hurrying. I am the most eligible bachelor in the country.”

Can you guess who I’m channeling?
Need a hint?

Maybe a certain local standout with an oral commitment to a major ACC school, who’s seriously flirting with a PAC-10 power while mulling his options with a certain in-state university.

Honestly, I have no problem with Bryce Brown taking his time in this decision-making process. It’s his future and he wants to find the right fit. I just find the whole thing to be a little silly at times. Wake me up when he signs a letter of intent. This is one event I don’t mind sleeping through.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grumblings from Northwest Kansas

In Completely non-NWK sports news, I would like to congratulate Bishop Carrol's Joe Brown for signing with Colorado State University. (Yes, I'm being absolutely biased.)

You have made an excellent decision to go play for a rising football team and an excellent coach on a terrific campus, my new friend. When I heard that you signed with my Rams, I called my Dad and let him know. He might meet you at the airport when you arrive. If you need a personal guide of Fort Collins or campus, give me a call, I would be MORE than willing to oblige.


OK back to business, now.

Funny enough that we are talking about football, because at a basketball game last night in Great Bend, a football game broke out on the court.

Hays beat the Panthers, are you ready for this one, 31-26. In basketball. Varsity basketball. I was stunned.

The score at halftime was 15-7 Great Bend. Hays Coach Rick Keltner even refered to his team's score as a "touchdown" in the local paper the next day.

It took almost four minutes for ANYONE to score a basket. I wanted to run onto the court and grab the ball and slam one home. (Wanted is the operative word here, because at just under six feet tall and no basketball abilities, I ain't dunkin' nuthin'.)

Listening to the radio on the ride back, Hays was 3-20 for shooting in the first half! The radio guys had nothing to talk about during the halftime show, and when asked what Hays OR Great Bend needed to do to get back in the game, the color guy laughed, "Well... make some baskets."


Smith Center (easy Holmgren) is known for success on the gridiron, but one Redmen in particular was exceptionally successful - Colt Rogers.

He is a two-time defending state wrestling champion, and three-time football champion. Five state titles in two sports, as a junior, but the best part about this whole thing is while the football team hasn't lost a game, neither has Rogers.

Yep, he is undefeated in wrestling.

And then just before Christmas, at a tournament in Abilene, Rogers stepped onto the mat against a wrestler from Kansas City - and he lost. I was stunned. And crushed.

I was crossing my fingers that Rogers would go undefeated, in football and wrestling, all four years of high school. That could be, should be, a National Story! But alas, some kid from Kansas City ruined it all for me...


Back to the hardwood.

Congratulations to the state ranked teams in the area, ladies first:

5A - #8 Great Bend
3A - #4 Norton
#5 TMP
#10 Phillipsburg
2A - #6 LaCrosse
1A - #3 Hoxie
#7 Weskan


5A - #4 Hays
2A - #7 Trego Community
1A - #3 Thunder Ridge
#4 Quinter

Random thoughts on Wichita Heights basketball

Despite the Falcon girls’ loss to Bishop Carroll Tuesday night (see game story here), Heights still has a disruptive pressure defense and a strong inside game offensively.

But, as Carroll showed, the No. 1 team in Class 6A is beatable if you can get the ball up court against their press often enough and then knock down some shots to keep Heights from running its transition offense. That’s where the Falcons get most of their points. Forced to work instead in its half-court offense, Heights is in trouble. If you can pack it in and keep Jhasmin Bowen and Kamisha Richard from hurting you too much inside, Heights hasn’t shown that it has a reliable outside shooter in the three games I’ve watched this season.

But then not many teams have the guards who can handle Heights’ press. Even Carroll’s Julia Marshall, an all-state player who has signed with Boise State, had a half dozen turnovers against the press.

As for the Heights boys, they clearly have the best player in the City League in Perry Ellis. And I wonder, especially when the Falcons are in a tight game or struggling from the outside, why they don’t make sure he gets a touch on every possession. He was often unstoppable in their overtime win over Carroll (see game story), even though he was double-teamed all night.

Maybe it has something to do with team chemistry. Heights has an otherwise veteran team, and I’m sure those players want their shots too. After all, I get the sense that even opposing players and coaches are jealous of the attention Ellis gets.

More recruiting news

Bishop Carroll guard Abby Fawcett, who shot lights out in a 75-58 win over 6A No. 1 Wichita Heights on Tuesday night, is committed to Butler Community College. Fawcett, who had 34 against the Falcons, is averaging over 18 points a game this season for the unbeaten and 5A No. 1 Golden Eagles.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

North twins, Emporia duo provide tough competition in winter sports recently featured a rarity in high school sports: two sets of twins playing on the same varsity basketball team.

Brison and Briston White and Brook and Brock Caldwell play for the Wichita North boys, who have compiled a 3-2 record and already matched the Redskins’ win total from last year. They hope to help turn the program around after a 3-18 season in 2007-08.

The Whites are juniors, and the Caldwells are seniors. Brook and Brock plan to attend college next year, but they aren’t sure if they will play basketball. The adjustment of playing separately will be difficult for both sets of twins since they are cousins.

“It’s gonna be painful,” said Brook.

“Uncomfortable,” Brison added.

Another dynamic duo in the area also wears red uniforms, but Mark Kolmer and Sal Tovar are wrestlers. The boys aren’t related, but they lead a strong Emporia program that is the top-ranked team in Class 5A, according to the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association.

Sal, a senior, is the top-ranked wrestler at 135 pounds. Mark, a junior, is ranked No. 1 at 189 pounds. Both boys advanced to the state finals last year, where they lost to formidable opponents.

Sal fell to John Keller, who was part of the state-championship Bishop Carroll team. Mark lost to Romero Cotton, the undefeated four-time state champ from Hutchinson. Both victors have graduated, and Sal and Mark are good bets to claim titles this season.

They fared well at the recent Derby Invitational. Mark and Sal advanced to the championship matches. Although neither boy won, their losses were to Class 6A wrestlers. Emporia placed second at the invitational, but the Spartans were the highest-placing team among 5A squads.

Since three of the top four teams in 5A traveled to Derby, Emporia looks to be a strong contender for the state wrestling title.

Spartan coach Greg Buckbee certainly hopes so. Emporia is looking for its first team state championship since 2000.

“Hopefully a state trophy is in the cards this year,” said the coach.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Recruiting report

While East High running back Bryce Brown maximizes the suspense over whether he's really committed to Miami, or really interested in what K-State, Oregon or others still have to stay, we have this update on another Brown.
Bishop Carroll's Joe Brown, a tight end/running back who caught 78 passes for 1,000 yards and scored 15 touchdowns this past season, has made a commitment to Colorado State. Brown (6-2, 220) was a Class 5A All-State selection by the Kansas Football Coaches Association.
He will be the fifth Carroll player to receive a major college scholarship offer in the past three years.
Oral commitments are not binding (as Bryce Brown and Miami well know). The first day a football player can sign a binding national letter of intent is Feb. 4.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bowling is back

The high school bowling season is just days away, and the Wichita area should expect another great season from local teams.

The City League teams fared well at state a year ago and return many of its top bowlers. Here are some City League teams and bowlers to look for this this season.

On the boys side, Wichita Northwest won league and took home the Class 6A state crown last season and will welcome back a trio of exceptional seniors. Shelby Nero, Cooper Buchholz and Jordan Walker all finished in the top eight individually at state and were big reasons for the team’s 7-1 overall finish.

Also placing well at 6A state last season was Wichita Heights, who finished third. Heights lost much of its team to graduation, and its only returner with state experience will be junior Zach Prather, who placed 49th individually.

Kapaun took third at 5A-1A state and was fourth in City League. The Crusaders lose several top bowlers and only return one player who finished in the top 20 at state in senior Gabe Montemayor. Other notable returning bowlers for Kapaun are James Stephenson and Ryan Vickery, also both seniors.

For the girls, Wichita North is the defending 6A state champion and returns five of its six top bowlers, including individual champion Ally Johnson. North finished tied with Wichita Heights for City League and looks to contend for both the city and state titles again this year.

Heights was runner-up to North at state a year ago and will see much of its talent return as well. Headlining the Falcons’ roster are a pair of seniors. Valerie Connelly finished sixth, and Sarah Anderson placed 11th individually.

In 5A-1A, Bishop Carroll finished third in league and state a year ago. The Golden Eagles went 6-2 in the regular season, but return just one of its top six bowlers. Senior Sara Hansen finished the best on the team in state, placing fifth, and is the lone bowler with state experience on this year’s squad.

The season starts off with a bang this Saturday, Jan. 10, with a big tournament hosted by Bishop Carroll at West Acres Bowl. All of the City League teams will be in attendance, as well as several AVCTL and WAC teams. It should be another good year for local bowling teams.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Derby Wrestling Invitational

The Derby Invitational this Friday and Saturday has the potential to be better than any state tournament this year with a stacked field featuring 61-ranked wrestlers from three classes. 35 of those wrestlers placed at state last year. 16 made the state finals. Eight won state championships.

Depending on Heights' Chase Nelson, the most stacked weight class will be the 160-pound class. Nelson had been wrestling the 171-pound weight class up until the Carroll tournament at the end of December. If Nelson wrestles 160 again this will be the weight class to watch. Goddard's Tyler Caldwell and Kyle Detmer of Carroll will be at 160 for sure. If all three wrestle the 160, that will be 5-state championships and one state second place finish over the last two years between the decorated wrestlers. All together they boast a 209-14 record over those two seasons. All three were also nationally ranked to start the season. One of these wrestlers will not make the final and it will all be in the luck of the draw.

The 130-pound class will also be competitive with eight, yes eight, ranked wrestlers scheduled to participate. Ryne Cokely of St. James and Chase Nitcher of Valley Center will be the favorites to make finals on Saturday.

189 will feature seven ranked wrestlers. 140 will have six and all the other classes will have between three and five ranked wrestlers.

That is a lot of numbers so let me break them down one more time. 61 ranked wrestlers + 35 2008 state placers+ 16 wrestlers currently ranked number one in their respective classes + 16 2008 state finalists + 8 2008 state champions + 8 nationally ranked wrestlers + 7 ranked teams = One very good wrestling tournament at Derby this Friday and Saturday.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

30 Wins and Counting

I was recently sent an update on South Gray's girls basketball team. The subject of the email, "30 Wins and Counting" The sender of the email, "Rebel Fan." The content of the email,"South Gray girls have won 30 games, and they only have 8 players."

I first thought,"Really, that's it." Who sends an email with only 15 word, two of which are numbers. Not to mention a lot of team have won 30 games.

So being the inquisitive reporter I am I looked into it. What "Rebel Fan" failed to mention was that the lady Rebels have won 30 in a row. Now I know a lot of team are capable of doing that but not that I have heard of this season.

Let me give you some background... Last season for the Rebels was one not to be forgotten. The ladies won state and they did so with a young team. Coach Trundle started only one senior, the others were two juniors, a sophomore, and a freshman. That can only mean great things for the team this year.

27-1 last season, a near perfect record, but not perfect and the ladies know it. Knocked off by a team just over 20 miles away, Cimarron. A team who went on to be runners up in the 3A state game. However, one down side for the Jays... they graduated nearly their entire starting lineup.

And this season the Rebels got their sweet revenge when they put it to the Jays in the Bluejay invitational beating them in the championship game by 40 points.

Learning all this persuaded me to make a trip to SGHS. In doing so I talked to Coach Trundle and both captains and found out what really motivated this team.

So as "Rebel Fan" told me the team only has 8 players, which made me think they would be hurting later in the season with the lack of subs. I asked the girls how that worked out for them and they said they would have it no other way. They liked that they only have 8 players because that gives everyone a chance to play and feel like a sub not a scrub,(which were the exact words of coach Trundle.)

So then I moved onto what kept the girls motivated to keep playing every game like it's the state championship game. I thought their answer was going to be a cliche most 17 year olds say when put on the spot. Something like "we love winning." To my surprise I got three different answers. Answers I did not expect.

1. "We want the little girls who watch us on Friday nights to have something to look up to."
2. "We do it for coach, she's the best inspirational person we have ever met."
3. "We like to prove people wrong.

They play hard for reasons beyond themselves. I remember thinking,"WOW." What modest, not conceited, all around good girls.

So I guess the point I'm trying to make to all athletes out there is you can be good, you can be great and still be humble!

Tournaments feature tough teams, coaches who were wrestling champs

The next couple of weekends will feature some topnotch wrestling competition in the area. Two tournaments will draw notable athletes and ranked teams.

First, the Derby tournament will be Jan. 9 and 10. The top three teams in Class 6A, according to the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association, are Goddard, Wichita Heights and Derby. All three will compete in the Panthers’ invitational. Other squads slated for the tournament are three of the top four Class 5A teams: Emporia, Bishop Carroll and Valley Center.

After that powerhouse lineup, another stellar tournament will take place the following weekend (Jan. 16 and 17) at Newton. Heights, Derby and Carroll will have a repeat chance to face off. Additional opponents include Wichita Northwest and Maize, ranked No. 4 and 5, respectively, in Class 6A.

Also visiting Newton will be Class 5A standouts Liberal (ranked No. 5) and Salina South (No. 8). Clay Center, the top-ranked team in 4A, will provide another challenge. recently featured a local wrestling legend, Roy Oeser. He was a four-time state champion at Kapaun Mt. Carmel who now coaches at Maize. During his tenure, son Karl Oeser won a title for the Eagles. Roy isn’t the only former state champion who now leads his own program.

Kapaun coach Tim Dryden won a 6A title in 1984 as a 98-pounder at Wichita North. He won again at 105 pounds the following year.

Brett Means coaches Goddard, the defending state champion in 6A. He won a 3A championship in 1975, when he wrestled for the Lions at the 105-pound weight division.

Emporia coach Greg Buckbee earned the Spartans a 6A title in 1983, when he competed at 98 pounds. Emporia was the team champion that year.

Greg’s trip to state coincided with Clay Center coach Dennis Charbonneau’s appearance at state, albeit in different classifications. Dennis won 4A titles for the Tigers in 1981, 1982 and 1983 (all at 126 pounds). Clay Center won the team title in 1981. The Tigers are defending state champions this year.

Greg and Dennis have something else in common: The wrestling coaches association has named each man head coach of the year. Greg was 5A coach of the year in 2003, when he led Arkansas City’s team. Dennis was 4A coach of the year in 2001, 2005 and 2008.

I’ve probably missed other high school head coaches who were Kansas state champions, but it’s interesting how many area title holders have taken the helm of their own wrestling programs – some at their alma mater.

Monday, January 5, 2009

And so it begins

The really great thing about football season is that it really never ends. Sure the games themselves come to a halt, but there's all the behind the scenes drama that can sometimes be way more interesting!

One of the best times for me is seeing all these young guys and their parents smiling ear to ear on the day they officially sign their letter of intent with the university they're going to attend. After watching Bryce Brown play in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl this past weekend it's no surprise that Miami has been recruiting him to no end! Interestingly enough, the standout running back from East High didn't score on the ground but created space and caught two wide-open touchdown passes to help his team win. Brown truly showed his versatility in that game and will definitely be an asset at "The U."

While Bryce's story is a little bit more glamorous I think I am more intrigued by the less flashy story of the kicker from Derby, Evan Engwall. Engwall has a beast of a leg. If you've ever watched Derby play, or practice for that matter, you know the extent of Engwall's power. Today, Engwall is getting a visit from the special teams coach at Stephen F. Austin University in Texas. He's been offered a full scholarship to the school and is no doubt ecstatic about his opportunity. If he takes it great, if not, that's great too. These kids have worked so hard and to be even given the opportunity to pursue their love of football to the next level is proof that hard work counts. Honestly, I don't think it matters where either of these young gentleman attend college, because they're both extremely talented and I believe they will both eventually be playing on Sundays.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The week and month ahead

Now that we’re all fattened up from holiday meals and two weeks of inactivity, it’s time for high school sports again.

Here are some “can’t miss” events coming up next week in the City League.

In boys basketball, it’s East vs. Southeast, a pair of state-ranked teams, on Tuesday.

In wrestling, how about the Derby Invitational next Friday and Saturday. The lineup of teams is impressive, including the top three teams in Class 6A (Goddard, Wichita Heights and Derby) and Numbers 1, 2 and 4 in Class 5A (Emporia, Bishop Carroll and Valley Center).

Looking farther down the road, mark these dates on your calendar:

Jan. 13 – Girls Basketball, Heights vs. Carroll. That’s No. 1 in 6A vs. No. 1 in 5A.
Feb. 3 – Boys basketball, Heights vs. East, rematch of Heights’ 67-62 win on Dec. 6.
Feb. 10 – Boys basketball, Heights vs. Southeast, rematch of Heights’ 63-56 win on Dec. 19.
Feb. 12 – Wrestling, Wichita Heights vs. Bishop Carroll, the powerhouses of the City League butt heads.
Feb. 17 – Boys basketball, East vs. Southeast Part II.
Feb. 24 – Girls basketball, Heights vs. Carroll Part II. This one will probably decide the City League championship.

January also brings round two of regular season basketball tournaments.

Here are some of the better fields:

BOYS (Jan. 22-24)
Topeka Invitational – Could produce a matchup of Topeka Highland Park and Wichita East.
Valley Center’s January Jam – Field includes ranked teams Wichita Southeast and Topeka Seaman.
Bluetem Classic in El Dorado – Includes three ranked teams (Great Bend, Wichita Collegiate and Wichita Trinity).
McPherson Invitational – Includes ranked teams McPherson, Wichita Heights and Manhattan.

GIRLS (Jan. 29-31)
Newton Invitational – Will include ranked teams Andover Central, Rose Hill and
McPherson Invitational – Includes ranked teams Goddard, Buhler and St. John, plus McPherson, the currently unranked but defending 5A state champion.
Kapaun Mt. Carmel Invitational – Includes at least two ranked teams, Bishop Carroll and Great Bend.