Thursday, April 30, 2009

No hitters

First to Joe Brown - I just got back from Fort Collins a few weeks ago, and campus looks great! The new indoor facility is coming along great and hopefully, *cross your fingers* some new uniforms and a new sponsor are on the way for 2009! I thought Blake would join you there, seeing as his father and uncle played there in the 80's and Rams Head Coach Steve Fairchild is a QB himself, but it's OK - maybe he will change his mind when it's 110 degrees in Norman...
If you've been reading the national sports blogs, you've probably heard about Patrick Shuster, a high school pitcher for Mitchell High School in Tampa who has thrown four, 4!, consecutive no-hitters. WHA!?! Major Leaguers dream of pitching ONE and this kid in high school has thrown four in a row!

While it isn't on the same level, TMP's Maddie Holub has thrown a few no hitters this season. A lot of times, she doesn't get credit for them because TMP's games almost never make it the full seven innings because, well, TMP softball is just that dominant. The future Fort Hays State Tiger pitched six innings Tuesday against Russell, faced 18 batters and struck out 16 batters! She had a no-hitter going into the seventh but Coach Billinger put Kaylee Hoffman, another excellent pitcher, in to finish it out.

Holub is money on the mound. She is scary good. I'd like to see some boys try and hit off her.

City League Softball Heats Up

With City League softball winding down, we start to see a clearer picture of how the standings might end up. Next week should present the biggest matchup of the season.

Northwest currently sits atop the City League at 8-0, while Carroll is just half a game back at 8-1. The two will meet Thursday in a double-header that should help determine the City League champion.

If Northwest sweeps they should be locked in for the title assuming they beat East the following week. If Carroll sweeps the Grizzlies, they will have a half-game lead but still must face Kapaun in a game that was originally supposed to be played tonight but was rained out.

Now there are still other games to be played before the two meet on Thursday, but with the way they’re playing I think both teams should still be able to hold the top two spots in league by then.

The games will present what should be a fantastic pitching matchup between Carroll’s Katie Armagost and Northwest’s Jessica O’Dell. The games should come down to which team steps up defensively and comes up with timely, clutch hitting.

While we look forward to this double-header to help determine the City League champs, we shouldn’t count out Heights. The Falcons have a solid team but have three losses – one to Carroll and two to Northwest. If those teams slip up and Heights finishes strong they could make a push for a share of the league title.

Things are heating up in City League softball action. Who do you think will take the title?

Coaching milestones, league tennis highlight week

A couple of Division I coaches from the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League reached milestones in their careers during the past week.

Rocky Helm, Maize’s longtime baseball coach, earned his 200th win Tuesday, when the Eagles beat Salina South. Maize remains undefeated at 13-0 on the season.

Kenny Waldman, Salina South’s softball coach, achieved his 100th win Friday, when the Cougars defeated Derby. Salina South is 10-4 overall.


The City League tennis race is heating up this week. Wichita Northwest leads the league with a 7-0 dual record. Bishop Carroll is close behind with only one loss – to Northwest. The squads will battle it out Saturday in the league tournament at Wichita State’s Coleman Tennis Complex.

Wichita Heights won the tournament last year, but Bishop Carroll was the overall league champion since final standings are determined by points from league duals and tournament competition.

In fact, Carroll has won or shared the past five league titles. Northwest’s last championship was in 2003-04, when the Grizzlies tied with – who else? – Carroll for the league crown.

Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League tournaments will be Monday, including the Division I competition at Maize. Two traditional powerhouses in this area, Maize and Goddard, will be tough competitors. Another Division I team – Hutchinson – is ranked No. 3 in Class 5A, according to the Kansas Tennis Coaches Association. The top-ranked 5A team is Salina Central, the five-team defending state champ. All those squads will be at Monday’s showdown. Last year, Maize upset Salina Central by one team point to win the tournament title.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Joe Mitchell Heading to Hutch CC

I am super happy to see that Southeast's Joe Mitchell is getting a shot to play at the collegiate level, I mean, why shouldn't he? Here's the official release from Hutch:

Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball coach Steve Eck announced his fifth signing for the 2009-10 season.

The Blue Dragons have signed Wichita Southeast All-State guard Joe Mitchell to a letter-of-intent.

Mitchell is a 6-foot-1 combo guard who played on Southeast’s 2009 Class 6A state runner-up team and 2009 Class 6A state championship team.

“He’s scorer and a good defender,” Eck said. “He is a nice shooter who knows how to play the game. Some considered him to be the best guard in the state.”

Mitchell averaged 22 points per game in his senior season with the Buffaloes. He was a consensus all-state player by the Wichita Eagle and Topeka Capital-Journal.
Mitchell is the fifth player Eck has signed for the 2009-10 season. He is the third in-state player.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Six Liberal soccer players sign letters of intent

Six soccer players from Liberal’s Western Athletic Conference boys championship team signed scholarship agreements on Thursday.

Nestor Morales, Sammy Duque signed with Cesar Jurado Garden City Community College, and Noel Grajeda, Alfredo Garcia and Mario Lopez signed with Dodge City Community College.

Duque, a goal keeper, was the WAC player of the year. Jurado, who led Liberal in scoring with 19 goals, Garcia and Morales were all members of the All-WAC team. Liberal went 17-2-1 overall and 6-0-1 in the WAC. The Redskins finished third at the 5A state championships.

The six players are pictured above with their coach, Lori Navarro. They are, left to right: Garcia, Grajeda, Mario Lopez, Navarro, Morales, Duque and Jurado.

Four Carroll girls sign scholarship agreements

Basketball players Abby Fawcett and Abby Henning and thrower Molly Voth signed with Butler Community College on Wednesday, and golfer Rachel Stanley signed with Newman University.

Fawcett and Henning were both good outside shooters for Carroll, which won a share of the City League title and finished third at the 5A state championships. Fawcett averaged 13.3 points and four assists despite being bothered by a sore knee in the second half of the season. Henning averaged 10.9 points, 4 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

Voth has thrown the shot put, discus, hammer and javelin for Carroll this spring. She was 11th in the discus at the 5A state championships last year.

Stanley finished in the top five in at least eight of 10 tournaments last fall. She shared the City League championship and one other regular season tournament title, was second at her regional and eight at the 5A state championships.

The four are pictured above, left to right: Stanley, Voth, Henning and Fawcett.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

McPherson's Adam Porter turning in strong performances

McPherson junior Adam Porter has turned a corner as a runner. Porter won the KU Relays 1600 Meter Run with a 4:18.54. That was four seconds faster than second place finisher Jeff Warren of Mountain Vista (CO).

Porter then put on a show at his home meet on Tuesday. He ran on McPherson's winning 4 X 800 relay team. Then won the 1600 with a 4:34, Porter did just enough to win the race over Campus' Tre Doherty.

Then came the 800. Porter, with two races under his belt, busted out a 1:54.58 with nobody to truly race as he won the race by six seconds. Doherty finished second with a 2:00.27.

Porter then came back for the 3200 and held off 6A Cross Country champion Brayden Barrientez of Campus to win the race in a 10:04.44.

On the season, Porter has the fastest 800 (1:54.58) and 1600 (4:18.54) in the state this season. He also has a top ten 3200 time (9:55.14).

So the question is, Can Porter win the distance triple (800, 1600 and 3200) at State in 5A?

It has been done five times since 2000, but only two of those were from a class bigger than 3A. Scott Loftin of Blue Valley North won the 6A distance triple twice, once in 2000 and again the next year in 2001.

Porter will be battling a pair of St. Thomas Aquinas runners in the 3200 with PJ Greer and Kyle Hanson both likely to be in the race. They hold the two best 3200 times in the state so far this season.

The 1600 will again be between Porter and the Aquias runners as they sit with the top three mile times so far this season. Hays' Josh Munsch and Kapaun's Kyle Glasgow could also contend.

In the 800 Topeka West has a pair of guys that will have a say in this race. Derrick Perry has run a 1:56.73 and teammate Robert Segura has run a 1:58.04. Perry was the runner-up to Emporia's Jacob Davies in the 800 last year.

The 800 is 3.5 hours after the 1600.

Three 5A State Meet records could fall in these contests. The 800 record is 1:53.5 set in 1985 by Kevin Waters of Bishop Miege. The 1600 record is 4:16.6 set in 1986 by Jason Goertzen of Salina-South. The 3200 record is 9:14.78 set by Dwight Davis of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Porter has already flirted with those 800 and 1600 times this season.

It will be interesting to see if Porter can pull off the first 5A distance triple in this millenium.

Will There Be Any 2A-1A Football Left???

Further evidence that Western Kansas is dying off: the 2A-1A football playoff bracket(ing) is being cut from 32 teams to 16 teams in 2009.

The bracket will now look exactly the 8-man playoffs.

KSHSAA made the changes because fewer and fewer teams are competing in the 2A-1A classification. If a school consolidates with another, usually they fall into 3A class, and if they don't consolidate the school, assuming, they already play 8-man football anyway.

The fact that the playoff situation is being changed, brings up a larger issue. A census report confirmed that every county in Western Kansas has seen a decline in population since the 70's, and from living out here and visiting some of these towns, it's the truth.

The families in town raise kids, to keep the population going, but once the kids head off to college, they usually don't return.

So as the town population declines, the school population declines too. And as fewer and fewer kids fill the halls, they usually don't have the kids to fill out a football team, and consolidation is often the only option.

LaCrosse High School flirted with the idea of consolidating with Otis-Bison (a school that has already been consolidated) and becoming Rush County High. (one thing no one wants to admit is often when schools think about consolidate - the two towns often hate each other and don't want to consolidate.)

It makes me wonder if there will even be a 2A-1A football class in the future of will every little school play 8-man football??

Monday, April 20, 2009

Knox to conclude stellar sports career at Salina Central

Salina Central is completing its final high school sports season with Craig Knox as a Mustang.

Central no doubt will miss the senior (at left), who helped his soccer and basketball teams to third-place finishes in Class 5A this year. He and his doubles partner, Will Exline, are the defending state tennis champions.

Craig is part of another prominent pair; he and his frequent teammate, Blaine Knox, are twin brothers. Both played soccer for a successful Salina Central squad that finished the season 17-4, and both were named to the all-league first team. The Knoxes also received all-region honors, Blaine on the first team and Craig on the second.

The duo continued to shine for Salina Central in the winter. Craig scored 29 points and Blaine added 17 in the Mustangs’ third-place game at state. It was their last high school basketball game. Just like the soccer season, they ended their basketball careers with a win, even though it wasn’t a state championship.

On the tennis courts, however, it’s all Craig. As a sophomore, he and senior doubles partner Nic DeTurk placed third at state. Last year, he and fellow junior Will Exline earned the 5A title. They hope to duplicate that success this season.

Salina Central is the five-time defending state champion, and the Mustangs are the top-ranked team in 5A, according to the Kansas Tennis Coaches Association. Salina Central doesn’t shy away from tough competition. The team won the tough Goddard Invitational on April 11, when Craig and Will placed third in doubles. Most recently, Salina Central prevailed at the McPherson Invitational, which was April 18. Again, Craig and Will placed third.

Although Craig will close his high school sports career by competing without his brother, another twin duo takes the spotlight during tennis season: Connor and Spencer Brass. Spencer placed second in singles last year at state.

After graduation, Craig will attend Kansas State University and major in construction science. His twin brother will attend the school’s arch-rival, the University of Kansas.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Recent scholarship signings

Here’s catching up on some late scholarship signings in the last few weeks:

Bishop Carroll volleyball player Kylee Stuever signed a letter of intent with Butler Community College on Friday.

Halstead’s Stephanie Drake signed a softball letter of intent with Florida State on April 8.

Carroll’s Zach Reynolds signed a cross county/track agreement with Cowley Cowley Community College on March 26.

And Carroll’s, Alyssa Northcutt signed a track and leadership scholarship with the University of Memphis on March 31.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Separated at birth?

Am I the only one who thinks former Vice President Dick Cheney might be the evil twin of Northwest swimming coach Doug Vannaman?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

KT Whatever

by Bryan Holmgren

Some late thoughts on the new KT Woodman – now the Pre-State Challenge (Classic?) (Invitational?). I think I heard all four names dropped at least once throughout the weekend. This changeover is a process, I guess.

WSU track coach Steve Rainbolt told me the name switch was in effort to up the profile of the annual high school track meet by linking it with the State meet, which has been held there each May for several years. Similar to Pre-Nationals in NCAA cross country, where athletes get an opportunity to sample the national championship site early in the year. Rimrock Farm (site of Kansas’ 5A and 6A cross country) does the same, drawing elite runners from all over, hoping to get a leg up by making an early run-through. The hope is track’s version of “Pre-State” will do the same.

The results were mixed in year one of the experiment, which also saw the creation of Elite divisions. The hope was to funnel the best athletes into the same heats (rather than have runners grouped solely by enrollment classes). I thought this turned out to be a great move, though not for reasons you might expect.
The elite heats, themselves, weren’t anything special. Mostly because the Easter weekend timing kept the number of teams and athletes down. That ended up being a blessing because it made the meet run a little faster and smoother (or maybe that was the improved weather).

The real advantage of the Elite section was that it allowed the “non-elites” to build a little confidence. KT Woodman/Pre-State Challenge (whatever you want to call it) is typically great for the upper-level athletes but can be a confidence crusher for younger kids. By taking the top performers out of the general pool, it allows the average kids to get a taste of success as well. Instead of finishing 10th out of 24, a jumper in the 1-3A pool might have finished 2nd or 3rd.

I know some coaches who have split their squads for this meet in the past, taking the big guns to KT Woodman and finding a smaller meet for their lesser performers. Now they can feel a little better about bringing everyone.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Well-deserved rest

Last Saturday's Northwest Invitational was the last major swim meet for Doug Vannaman.

The Northwest swimming coach is retiring in May after 35 year of teaching and coaching.

He joked that he plans to watch television until 2 a.m., sleep until 2 p.m. and then ride his motorcycle.

Actually, he and his wife, who teaches in Valley Center, plan to visit their son, who is in the military and stationed in Germany.

A retirement party is planned for May 30. Pool-side, of course.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Derby soccer player commits to GCCC

Brooke Feikert of Derby has committed to play soccer next season at Garden City Community College.
Feikert also played club soccer for EFC Spirit her freshman through junior seasons of high school and for the renamed Spirit her senior year. She has played two seasons on the Derby High team. Last year she played forward. This season she is playing a variety of positions. That versatility was one fo the qualities that GCCC coach Jeff Huffman found appealing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Marion junior a threat on the court, track

Basketball players who dreaded facing Marion’s Julia Zeiner last winter should be equally uneasy about meeting her on the track.

Julia helped Marion win a state title in the 4x100 meters last year on a relay team of all sophomores. She also took second in the 300-meter hurdles and third in both the long jump and triple jump.

It appears she has picked up where she left off at the Class 3A state meet. The Marion girls won the Centre track meet Tuesday, April 7, and Julia played an important part in that victory. She won the long jump, triple jump and 100-meter dash.

Julia is no less formidable in the gym. Her basketball coach, Randy Savage, described her as “a track machine.”

“You can see it on the basketball court,” he said. “She’s very good at going full speed with the ball, changing directions, changing speeds.”

Julia averaged 16.8 points per game for Marion last season. She also averaged 5.2 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.1 assists per game. Her field-goal percentage was 51.6, and she shot 64.6 percent from the stripe. Julia went off in the last game before Christmas break, scoring 31 points Dec. 19 against Moundridge.

As explosive as she is on the hardwood, Julia has a reserved personality.

“She would be what you would call a quiet leader,” Randy said. “If you get her to say a sentence, you’ve done something.”

Julia, a junior, was an all-MCAA selection on the first team. Randy said she was working on her outside shot.

“She’s a slasher right now and a darn good one,” he explained. “She plays well on the front of a press, anticipates well if she’s playing on the back row of the press, runs the floor well.”

Julia certainly is an athlete to watch. Fortunately for the Warriors, they have more than a year left to enjoy her athletic talent – regardless of the season.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring edition of the Catch It Kansas Show begins tonight

The Catch It Kansas Show is back for the spring.

The show will air on Fridays at 11 p.m. on the KSCW Channel 33/Cable Channel 5.

Tonight, April 3, is the first episode. We will take a look at highlights from the week, as well as having in-depth stories from athletes and teams from the area. Tonight's episode will feature the Maize baseball team, the Heights soccer team and much, much more.

If you miss the Friday episode catch rebroadcasts on Saturdays at 5 p.m. on the KSCW and Sundays at 11:05 p.m. immediately following "Sports Sunday" on KWCH 12. And every Monday, watch video from the show on

If you have story ideas send those to