Monday, March 30, 2009

It’s track season

As the snow melts off the track the season will get into the full swing. Here are some athletes to watch.

Mike Flores – Maize

Can he break a 16-year-old state record in the quarter? Flores ran 48.71 at the state meet last season in great running conditions. The current state record is 46.76. Two-seconds in the quarter is a huge leap, but Flores is by far the best returning quarter-miler in the state as he was the only runner to break 48-seconds at state last season. Flores will also look to win the 200-meter dash.

Robbie Garcia – Wichita Northwest

He pulled a huge upset in the 1600-meter as a sophomore with a tactical win. He will look to defend his 1600-meter title and add a 3200-meter title, but defending champion Jake Wike of Derby and cross country champion Brayden Barrientez of Campus will have something to say in both the distance races.

Alex Muff – Concordia

Muff is the lone returner of an outstanding trio of hurdlers from a traditionally strong hurdling school. She was the state champion in the 100-meter hurdles and took fourth in the 300-meter hurdles last season.

Young Pole Vaulters

Jamie House of El Dorado won 4A girls pole vault last season as a freshman. Nate Arnold of Carroll was third as a freshman for the Golden Eagles. Ben Horsch of Andale returns for his junior season after a winning 4A state as a sophomore.

Tom O’Connell – Andover

O’Connell finally got his long awaited cross country championship last fall in an undefeated senior season. He will try to recreate that success on the track with several difficult meets on his schedule. O’Connell is the defending 3200-meter champion and will look to win the distance double this spring.

Anyone I left out? Let me know and leave a comment!

KWU volleyball signs two high school seniors, two more from jucos

Kansas Wesleyan has signed a couple Kansas high school volleyball players – Jenna Miller of Salina South and Abby Broxterman of Marysville.

Miller, a 5-2 libero and second-team All-AVCTL Division I, led Salina South in digs each of the past three seasons, including 338 this season and 1,067 in her high school career. She also was South’s leader in serve receiving and second in service points in 2008.

Broxterman is a 5-8 right side hitter.

Wesleyan also signed two junior college players who came out of Kansas high schools -- Stephanie Wilken of Chanute and Mandie O’Connell of Parsons.

Wilken, a 6-0 outside/right side hitter,just finished two seasons at Neosho County Community College. Wilken averaged 2.2 kills and .62 blocks per game for the Panthers in 2008.

O’Connell, a 6-0 middle/outside hitter, played the one season for Labette Community College, averaging 1.65 kills and 1.07 blocks.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Area soccer looks strong; some teams must regroup

Some local girls soccer teams managed to start their season before the snow and sleet descended on the area. This year should be interesting since some programs are expected to remain as strong as ever, while others must regroup after losing key players who were difference-makers in games.

First, the toughies: I expect Maize, Goddard and Wichita Trinity to be as formidable as ever. They have established a successful tradition and should provide the biggest challenges in this area.

The Maize Eagles entered last year’s state tournament after no one had scored on them all season. They were undefeated at the start of the Class 6A tournament, and although they placed second at state, they completed a magical season. Maize will miss goalkeeper Christina Farid and other graduated players such as Kayde Kluge and Hannah Kern, but the squad retains its top scorer from last season, Tia Stovall. She led Maize with 22 goals, and fellow returner Leah Talley was close behind with 19. Both girls had double-digit assists totals, too.

Maize’s west-side rival, Goddard, returns its top player, Whitney Berry. The senior has steadily increased her goals scored each season, from 25 to 39 to 48. After her final campaign at Goddard, she will play for KU.

Trinity had an impressive season last year, and judging by its first couple games, that trend should continue. The Knights overwhelmed Thomas More Prep 11-1 and then shut out Wichita Independent 10-0 last week. The team’s disadvantage is its school size. Trinity moved from Class 3A to 4A this year, but that won’t make much difference in soccer, which lumps Class 1A through 5A into one. As a result, Trinity dominates schools of comparable size, but the girls suffered a blowout loss to Class 5A Kapaun Mt. Carmel in quarterfinals last year.

Andover must go on after losing twins Kortney and Kelsey Clifton to graduation. Kortney set the state record for goals in a season and a career, while Kelsey provided numerous assists. Andover was the only public school that advanced to state in 5-1A last year. The Cliftons now play for KU.

Kapaun was a force in the City League last season and then placed second at state. However, the Crusaders lost valuable players like forward JoJo Palko and goalkeeper Michelle McElroy to graduation.

One more soccer player to watch: Garden City senior Cindy Benitez, who accumulated 49 goals last year. (That’s one more than Goddard’s Whitney Berry.) The team’s second-leading scorer was Maricella Ruvalcaba, who contributed 25 goals in just her freshman year. Garden City won the Western Athletic Conference and advanced to 6A quarterfinals, but Goddard stopped the Buffs’ stampede to state.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Halstead's Stephanie Drake to sign with Florida State

Halstead head softball coach Jason Wilson reports that senior shortstop Stephanie Drake will sign a letter of intent to play softball at Florida State University. She has been verbally committed for awhile now, but will make it official Wednesday, April 8 at Halstead High School at 3 p.m.

Drake was recruited by the likes of Marshall, Southern Mississippi, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Syracuse and Troy but settled on Florida State because of its strong softball tradition, good academic programs and warm weather location.

Last season, as a junior, Drake was a first team All-League MCAA selection and tabbed an All-Area player by the Hutchinson News after helping lead Halstead to a 14-8 overall record. She finished with a batting average of .838, with 60 hits in 94 at bats. She scored 47 runs and stole 38 bases on 39 attempts. In the field, Drake had 97 putouts in 100 opportunities at shortstop. She will look to make a switch from shortstop to third base when she gets to FSU in the fall.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Some Random Thoughts on a Windy Day

Ok, so I haven't blogged in a while...ok I haven't blogged in a really really long time. I've just been busy, I swear! I mean, honestly, shopping for shoes on J.crew to wear to my best friend's wedding takes precedence, right?

Anyway, there are a few rambling thoughts in my head today that I guess have gotten shaken loose thanks to these Hurricane force winds! So here goes: my random thoughts on a random Monday in March.

I feel bad for spring sports in Kansas. I mean, we get all this build-up throughout football season and when that's over it's like, don't worry, basketball season is next, and then we're calmed down until state basketball and we get all hyped up again and then it's like...dead. Spring sports just don't hold the same cache as fall and winter sports. Want to know one of the main reasons why? Highlights don't always happen right away. In fact, sometimes they don't happen at all. Want to know something kinda funny? I was covering a baseball game in Washington last spring and I got to the game in the top of the second inning and it was 1-0. It was a rivalry game between two very good schools and it proceeded to be an intense pitcher's duel. Want to know what I had to use as a highlight? Not a sacrifice bunt, not a sacrifice fly, no no, I had to use a balk. A balk. A BALK!!

This is why spring sports are so much harder to cover than volleyball, basketball and football. We simply don't have time to do most of these spring sports justice. Luckily, however, we at Channel 12 have been given a phenomenal outlet known as the Catch it Kansas show. We will continue (once March madness is over) to produce the show through the end of school. A lot of work for us, but in the end, I feel like we may actually, finally be able to do spring sports justice.

It's been over a week now that state championship basketball games were played. I was up in Topeka for the 5A games. Unfortunately, the game that should've been the championship matchup between Bishop Carroll and Bishop Miege was a semi-final game that Carroll ended up losing. I like the Carroll girls team, I like Julia Marshall, Abby Henning, Abby Fawcett, all the girls on that team. They work hard in order to improve their talent, they're kind, they're not whiny, and they're good sports. Not sure I can say the same about their coach. Look, I understand the team had just lost a game that they should've won. I get that. I understand it's emotional. Heck, I was emotional after the game! I was rooting for Carroll! But that does not give Coach Racine any excuse to shove his hand in my face walking off the court. I was doing my job, walking up to coach, keeping my distance and asking as politely as possible if he might be available for a couple minutes after he's done talking to his team for an interview. He proceeded to shove his hand in my face, in front of everyone in the stands, and say very tersely that he wasn't going to do an interview.

Cut to the locker room after the game. My photographer Tim and I stand patiently outside, waiting for coach to get done talking to the girls and trying to respect the fact that they just lost a heartbreaking game. I start chatting with the Wichita Eagle reporter who is there too, we compare notes, talk about other games, etc. A minute or so later, Tim, my photographer, tells me our battery is running low and he needs to go grab another one. He hustles off, and the minute the Carroll head coach sees Tim leave, he beckons the Eagle reporter into the hallway to give him an interview. I am a little upset, but not about to bust into that interview, wanted to give coach his space, all that jazz. Well, he gets done with that interview, Tim gets back, and Coach starts to leave. I walk up to him and say, "Excuse me coach, if I could just grab you for one or two questions.." He then cuts me off, says that he is not going to go on camera for anything, and walks away.

I get the emotion, I get the let-down, I get it, trust me, I've been there as an athlete myself. But what I don't get is one adult treating another adult like that when we're both just trying to do our jobs. I'm not sure what I did wrong but I'd like to know so I don't make the same mistake again.

Wow, after about a month of forgetting to blog I've now written way more than I anticipated. Hopefully, it had some sort of flow but it most likely did not. I've been reading a lot of Chuck Klosterman lately so that might explain a lot about this post.

Hopefully, everyone out there is having fun watching March Madness which has obviously driven me insane for the time being.

Liberal athletes picking colleges

This just in from Liberal athletic director Scott Hinkle:

Marcus Calleja signed a track and field scholarship agreement with Emporia State on Monday. Calleja was third in the high jump at the 2008 5A state championships.

Brittany Odle will sign a rowing scholarship agreement with Kansas State on Friday. Odle played volleyball for Liberal.

And MaKayla McPhail will sign to play volleyball for Fort Hays State on April 15. The Kansas Volleyball Association picked McPhail for second-team Class 5A All-State this past season.

Buhler's Friesen headed to WSU

Buhler athletic director Gregg Gordon reports thatTanya Friesen will sign a track and field letter of intent with Wichita State on Wednesday.

Friesen, who also played basketball, won Class 4A state championships in the long jump in 2008 and the triple jump in 2007. She also has been one of the top high jumpers in the state, and she ran the lead-off leg on Buhler's 4x100-meter relay, which took second at the 2008 state championships.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

LAX is M.I.A.

When I was in high school, my spring time did not consist of wearing short shorts and running long distances, or stepping out of the dugout and swinging a bat as the weather got warmer and sun shone for more hours.

No, my spring was spent strapping my helmet on, padding up and stepping back onto the field for 60 minutes of the fastest sport you've never heard of. Or many have never heard of.

I played Lacrosse in high school and as spring break has hit the high schools in Kansas, I am reminded that this sport, which I hold very near and dear to my heart, is absent from Kansas high schools. Actually, saying that it is absent would be an understatement. Never heard of would be more like it.

If you have no idea what I am taliking about, lacrosse is a field sport that combines the speed of basketball and the physicality of football; essentially it's Ice Hockey on grass. Players use their stick to throw a rubber ball into a net, and the team with the most goals at the end wins the game. Players may use their stick to steal the ball from their opponent, and may 'check' their opponent with their hands, stick or body, and no one is allowed to touch the ball with their hands.

I won't do this often, but on Saturday or Sunday, if you can peel yourself away from the Jayhawks or Tyler Hansborough, turn on ESPNU and watch some lacrosse. I promise, you will not turn the channel away. It's fantastic! They score a lot, hit a lot and run a lot. It's called the fastest game on two feet.
The sport is predominately played on the east coast, and is the official state sport of Maryland. Lacrosse is expanding though, and you can find it played all over the country now; in Colorado, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Washington and California. It is the fastest growing high school team sport in the country, and now you can run down any roster of any college lacrosse program and you will find players from all over the country.

But you won't find much in Kansas. Outside of the Kansas City area, lacrosse is not seen in the Sunflower State. Go to Lawrence or Manhattan and you will find club teams on campus, and suprisingly you will find players from Kansas, but outside of that it's a pretty bare landscape. And I think that is a shame.

It's such a great sport for everyone, and one of the best things about lacrosse is the accepting nature of the game for players. It doesn't matter what size you are, there is a position for you on the field. Often times football and basketball can over look the smaller kids, but if you lack a little height of size, lacrosse will gladly open it's arms.

Some of the best players in the country right now are under six feet tall and less than 200 pounds. Our captain in high school was 5'7", 150 pound mouse with a shot that hit almost 90 miles per hour.

Lacrosse often thrives in private and Catholic schools, mostly because the sport can be expensive when you add up all the equipment, like Ice Hockey. Really nice sticks itself can be almost $200 dollars! But that aside, I get sad when kids step out of the basketball court and off the wrestling mat, and don't step onto the lacrosse field.

Could you imagine Blake Bell and Bishop Carroll, with all their football skills taking on Wichita Heights, with all their basketball speed, in a big school clash?! That would be awesome! Or all the tradition of winning at Hutch translating onto the lacrosse field against the winning tradition of Smith Center?! Hays and Great Bend lacrosse game would be a precursor for the football game in the fall, and then the reverse in the spring. It would be awesome!

But sadly, that won't happen. Not at least for a while. For now, kids in Kansas, especially Western Kansas, will never know the thrill of throwing a low to high shot on a goalie, or throwing an awesome wrap check to start a fast break. Brings a tear to my eye...

If you live in the Wichita area, you can join the Renegades, and play the more experienced teams in Kansas City and Olathe. If I were you, I would. I promise you won't regret it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oops! St. Thomas Aquinas still tops in All-Sports standings

Good catch by one of our readers.
My original post said Bishop Carroll had overtaken St. Thomas Aquinas in our all-sports standings.
But the eight points Aquinas earned for its boys soccer state championship had somehow been erased from my spreadsheet.
With those eight, Aquinas has 59 points through the winter season, best in 5A and the state overall.
Bishop Carroll, with state championships in boys and girls bowling and third-place state finishes in wrestling and girls basketball, is a close second, in 5A and overall, with 57.5
Carroll now has 57.5 points and Aquinas 51. Those two schools lead the overall as well as 5A standings.
In Class 6A, Topeka Washburn Rural, which won the girls state basketball title, leads with 38.5 points, while Wichita Heights, which won the boys basketball championship, is second with 35.5.
In Class 4A, Topeka Hayden, which finished second in girls basketball and third in boys basketball, has a big lead over St. James Academy, 36-17.
In Class 3A, Collegiate leads Holcomb 22-16.5 after winning the boys basketball title and finishing second in girls basketball.
In Class 2A, St. Marys, which won both girls and boys basketball championships, leads Pittsburg Colgan 32.5-20.5.
In Class 1A, Centralia, which finished third in both boys and girls basketball, leads Goessel 23.5-18.
The rankings are based on points awarded for top eight finishes at the state championships, with eight points awarded for a state title down to one point for an eighth-place finish. In sports such as basketball where only first through fourth places are determined, all quarterfinal teams split the total points that would be awarded for fifth through eighth places.

Monday, March 16, 2009

And now what about Blake Bell?

Standing at the back of the room at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and watching Bryce Brown announce his college choice (Tennessee) was Bishop Carroll quarterback Blake Bell, who probably will be the top recruit in Kansas, if not the nation, next year.
Bell is going to pass up playing baseball this spring to put in more time in the weight room and tour some of the colleges that have already offered him a scholarhship. The list is long. But just three of those he mentioned Monday at Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Kansas.
Some schools, especially elite programs, want their recruits to commit early, often before their high school senior season starts. But Bell said that won't happen with him because Carroll won't let its players make commitments that early.
Bell also was Carroll's leading scorer and rebounder this past season in basketball. But don't worry about him passing up next basketball season because his future is in football. He said he won't miss the chance to play in Carroll's new 2,000-seat gym, which will be done in time to host graduation this spring.
Note to Blake: If you haven't told basketball coach Lonnie Lollar that yet, do so soon so he can breathe again. Lollar loses eight seniors off this season's team, and Bell will be the only returning player with significant experience.

Friday, March 13, 2009

State championship trivia

Last Sunday, I mentioned that 19 schools had a chance to do what only nine have done before -- win state championships in boys and girls basketball in the same season.

Well, only three still have a chance in tomorrow's finals across the state.

Still in the running are: St. Mary's in Class 2A, Wichita Collegiate in Class 3A and Bishop Miege in Class 5A.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

State tournament notes

Top scoring performances so far in the 2009 state tournaments:

Boys – 27 points, Darian Kelly of Girard vs. Cheney, first round of 4A tournament.

Girls – 33 points, Julia Marshall of Bishop Carroll vs. St. Thomas Aquinas, first round of 5A tournament.

Interested in the all-time records?

Boys – 47 points by Josh Reed of Brewster in the 1996 Class 1A tournament.

Girls – 53 points by Jackie Stiles of Claflin in the 1994 Class 1A tournament.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Who Invented Basketball

With sub-state games last week and state games all this week all of us in the sports department have seen or will see our fair share of all levels of basketball competition in the past and next few days.

So last Thursday night while I was at the Dodge City Civic Center watching girls foul every possession my mind started wondering as it often does. Things about the game came into my mind. Things such as fouls, (only because the girls were in the bonus in the second quarter) rules, regulations. The aspects of what makes the game run correctly.

As I thought things like "Why did they make a rule that says you can't run with the ball unless you dribble it?" and "You can't pick the ball up after a dribble and then dribble it again?" otherwise known as the traveling and double dribble rules. I also wondered why only 5 players could play at a time.

Then I thought every time I asked myself a question like that I always said, "Why did THEY... " Who is they? The inventor? So I laughed because I realized I really don't know the history of the game.

So prepare yourself for a load of information..... Here We Go!

A Canadian by the name of James Naismith invented the game of basketball in 1891 when he was employed at the YMCA College at Springfield, Massachusetts. The 1st official basketball game was played at the Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA Training School.

The first intercollegiate match took place in 1895 when Minnesota State School of Agriculture played and beat the Porkers of Hamline College, 9-3.

The first 5 player college match was in 1896 against Iowa and the University of Chicago. Chicago won 15-12.

Basketball became an Olympic sport in 1936 at the Berlin Games.

The first men's college basketball championship was held in 1939.The University of Oregon beat Ohio State 46-33.

The first televised college games were in 1940. Pittsburgh defeated Fordham, 57-to-37, and New York University beat Georgetown, 50-to-27, at Madison Square Garden.

And the most watched college basketball game is the 1979 NCAA Championship game against Michigan State and Indiana State. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird played in that game.

So there is some of the History but that doesn't really answer my questions.... Although I don't think my questions have been answered after this next bit of research either... It was just fun to look up the rules.

The Original 13 Rules of Basketball

1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with 1 or both hands.
2. The ball may be batted in any direction with 1 or both hands, but not with the fist.
3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it
4. The ball must be held in or between the hands. The arms or body must not be used for holding the ball.
5. No shouldering, pushing, holding, striking or tripping an opponent.
6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist.
7. If a side makes 3 consecutive fouls it counts as a goal for the opposing team.
8. A goal shall be scored when the ball is thrown or batted from the ground into the basket and stays there.
9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field and played by the first person who touches it.
10. The umpire shall be judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when 3 consecutive fouls have been made.
11. The referee shall be the judge of the ball and decide when it is in play in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall be the timekeeper.
12. The time shall be 2 fifteen minute halves with 5 minutes' rest between.
13.The team scoring the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner.

Some have changed... Some remain the same.... Just a bit of information if anyone was wondering. Now you're all set for March Madness! Enjoy

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Weekend Recap

Our part of the state saw several area teams have successful weekends.

Bishop Carroll brought home state championships in both girls and boys bowling for 5-1A. Carroll’s girls team scored 2,409, and sophomore Morgan Kuckelman placed third individually with a 614 series.

The boys score of 2,686 was good for first by a margin of 23 pins. The top finisher for the Golden Eagles was Jake Schoenberger. He finished third overall with 715 pins.

This weekend was also sub-state basketball championships, which determine who advances to the state tournaments. Heights girls are making a return trip to the 6A state tournament in Emporia. Both Goddard boys and girls are heading to 6A state in Emporia. Both teams faced and beat Wichita North in the Northwest-A sub-state bracket championships. City League champ Wichita Heights boys (21-1) will be there, as well as defending state champion Southeast. Dodge City boys and Garden City girls are moving on. Garden City beat Northwest to advance and are now 11-11 on the season.

In 5A, Liberal boys and girls have both punched their tickets to state in Topeka. Great Bend girls, Andover Central boys, Hutch boys and Salina Central boys are all going on as well. Salina Central was 13-8 going into its sub-state championship game with McPherson, which was 20-1.Central came away with the huge 58-50 upset.

Cheney is yet another school to advance both their girls and boys teams to state. They will compete at the 4A state tournament at Salina. Hesston boys are also going on. After moving up to 4A this year, defending state champion Wichita Trinity have made it to state. Rose Hill girls are also going on.

Collegiate’s boys and girls are both on their way to 3A state in Hutch. Hillsboro girls and Medicine Lodge boys made it too.

Defending state champion Berean Academy girls are heading back to defend their title in 2A state at K-State’s Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan. The Berean boys will join them at state.State tournament play is Mar. 11-14. Click here for state tournament brackets.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My solution to 1-seeds playing 8-seeds in sub-state

After Andover’s 92-7 there is an outcry among seemingly everyone for a total overhaul of the tournament system in Kansas because it is not fair to the bad teams.

I will agree after watching the first round of sub-state action is boring. Many teams are overmatched. So what is the easy fix? Here is my solution for 4A-2A.

In 5A and 6A teams only have to win two games to make the state playoffs, so why not reward the top teams in 4A-2A similarly. In my solution for an eight-team bracket, the one and two seeds would get byes into the semifinals.

The first round would be play-in games between the 5-8 seeds and the 6-7 seeds. The winner of the 5-8 game would play the three seed and the winner of the 6-7 game would play the four seed. Then the winners would move on accordingly. Here is the breakdown:

Play-In round:
Game 1 - #5 vs. #8Game 2 - #6 vs. #7Quarterfinals:
Game 3: #3 vs. Winner of game 2Game 4: #4 vs. Winner of game 1

Game 5 - #1 vs. Winner of game 4Game 6 - #2 vs. Winner of game 3

Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6

Under this bracketing system the only way an eight seed plays a one seed is by going through a five seed and a four seed. It would give the top seeds and advantage by not having to play an extra practice game of sorts. It would appease everyone who wants to see every team make the playoffs. And a lower seeded team would get one more home game on the year.

I think it makes sense....maybe too much sense?

That's going too far!

I got a hoot out of the instructions wrestlers received before marching out to receive their medals at the 6A and 5A championships at the Kansas Coliseum last Saturday.

I came across them when one of the kids tossed the distinctive blue sheet of paper on the floor on his way across the arena.

"Congratulations! We are proud of you, and we want this State Wrestling Tournament Awards Ceremony to honor your and your boosters."

Several paragraphs later was a bold-face instruction:

"When the cheerleader comes forward to present your medal, lean forward so that she can get it over your head. Shake hands with her -- DO NOT KISS HER."

Protocol is protocol. But you know, if I was a senior who had just wrestled my last match ...

Short But Sweet...

The wrestling season is over. Seems like such a short season, barely three months. That just doesn't seem long enough.

For what is turning into a redundancy, Smith Center won the 3-2-1A title. So many kids wrestle out here, but not a ton of schools, so they mashed them all together to make one big super class, as Holmgren so described it.

The Redmen had seven wrestlers medal, four finalists and three champions. They had the team title in the bag before the finals even started. Not too shabby.

But not as good as the 15-year-old freshman sensation, Dylan Schumacher of TMP. The #1 ranked wrestler at 103 pounds, pretty much all season, the Freshman finished an undefeated season by pinning his opponent in the first round of the championship bout.

If I didn't say it before, he is 15-years-old. You have a bright future, young man.