Thursday, December 31, 2009

Times have changed for female wrestlers

Our stories this week about girls in high school wrestling reminded me that times have changed, even in the past 10 or 15 years.

I’m from Valley Center, and I remember when a female wrestler named Tiffany Adams wanted to join the Hornet team in the 1990s – before coach Brian Shelton had taken the helm. Some parents of male wrestlers didn’t like the idea, and when the school district resisted, Tiffany and her mother hired an attorney. The situation resulted in some tense school board meetings and, ultimately, a court case. In the end, Tiffany was allowed to wrestle.

Now, female wrestlers are still uncommon in high schools, but they aren’t unheard of. This year, several area schools include female wrestlers, such as Wichita South, Wichita Heights, Wichita Southeast, Wichita West, Wichita North and Goddard.

Mike Church, who coaches the No. 7-ranked Heights squad, welcomes girls’ involvement in wrestling. Although some girls express an interest in the sport and then don’t take it seriously, he said, Falcon JV wrestler Lily Trinh has shown dedication in her first season, just like the boys.

“She’s showed up to all the practices and made the sacrifices like they have,” Mike said. “She seems to be doing what it takes to be a wrestler.”

Lily is in good company. Heights features many talented wrestlers; the varsity athletes are contenders for a league title and a top-three finish at state.

Incidentally, Falcon graduate Chase Nelson, who won Class 6A state titles in 2007 and 2008 before placing second in 2009, has joined the team at Labette Community College. Labette is listed No. 4 in NJCAA rankings, and Nelson is the No. 2-ranked wrestler at 157 pounds.

Monday, December 21, 2009

What mascot would you like to see?

There are several new schools in the plans around the Wichita area, so this means that several new mascots will have to be chosen. This got the CatchItKansas and Eyewitness Sports staff thinking, what should those mascots be?

So we got together and thought of some mascots we think should be considered for the new area schools being built.

We tried to think of mascots that both make sense for the area and are unique. This meant no bird mascots or anything relating to a wild feline. These have been done, excessively in the state of Kansas. There are also things outside of the mascot itself to take into account such as color schemes and possible dress up ideas for the students.

Here is our top five.

1. Miners

Jeffrey Graber came up with this one and had the new school the Wichita school district is building in Northeast Wichita in mind. The school will be built on Rock Road in Wichita, so the Miners fits perfectly. Graber also came up with the idea of the gym being called the quarry.

It would be easy for students to dress up in Miner attire, all you need is a hard hat with a light on it. A gray, rocky type color scheme would be the best for this mascot.

2. Bucks

Jenn Bates came up with this one by pointing out that the hunting culture in Kansas is big and the Bucks mascot plays right into that theme. This mascot could play up the hunting angle big time with the school colors being camouflage or bright orange. Seriously, does any school have camo as its official colors? I think not. To dress up students just need to either get some readily available antlers or head down to Gander Mountain for their favorite camo outfit.

3. Comets

Your initial thought on this mascot: the celestial body made up of ice and rock that hurtles through space looking for an unsuspecting planet to crash into. That is not the Comet I was referring to when I came up with this idea. This mascot is more geared towards a Wichita school because it refers to the first-ever plane manufactured in the Air Capitol, the Cessna Comet. This mascot works because it pays homage to the airplane industry that has made Wichita world-renowned. Colors for this mascot are endless and could be anything because you can color a plane whatever you like.

4. Swamp Rabbits

This is another one of Jenn’s ideas. Swamp Rabbits, according to Ms. Bates, are native to Kansas. Solid mascot idea just because of how oddly specific it is. Not just the Rabbits, but the Swamp Rabbits. The gym or football field could actually be called the Swamp (it should be noted now that Jenn is a proud University of Florida grad and would love nothing more than to be shooting games in a place called The Swamp). As for the actual mascot, it would not be your regular happy Easter bunny type rabbit. It would be a fierce and covered in mud bunny that would strike fear into the heart of the opposing teams (if that is even possible for a rabbit to do?). The color scheme would have to reflect as such and be dingy brown or green with black as a major color.

5. Ninjas

Bryan Holmgren came up with this one. Really not much to say past, what student wouldn’t want to dress up as a ninja and go to a football or basketball game. The color scheme would have to either black or invisible. Not sure if invisible is a KSHSAA approved color though? Or an actually color for that matter.

Well there is our top 5. What mascot would you like to see a high school choose as several open over the next few years? Let us know by leaving a comment or you can vote in the CatchIt Poll at the bottow of the homepage!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What to choose, what to choose?

I wish I had the talent of Kaylee Hoffman.

I was moderately good at one sport, Hoffman is a standout at three sports; volleyball, basketball and softball.

She had offers to play at the next level in all three but had to choose one. Many thought she would go softball. Star pitcher for the Monarchs, part of a one-two punch in 2009 with Maddie Holub now with Fort Hays State, Hoffman had a wicked drop ball (her coach's adjective, not mine) and could hit too.

But she is headed to the true wild west of Wyoming to play Division 1 basketball. Solid choice, hard to argue against playing at the highest level.

Not many have that opportunity, much less THREE. Oh to dream...

GWAL wrestling gets serious early

After Wichita Northwest picked up a rare (only the second team in 108 duals) win over Bishop Carroll last week, the dual this Thursday between Northwest, and the only other team to beat Carroll recently, Wichita Heights, is quickly shaping up to be a classic.

Last year, the season built into a frenzied battle between Heights and Carroll in the last dual of the year. But this year, it seems Christmas is coming early.

Both schools are 2-0 in GWAL duals to start the year and have a ton of talent.

For Northwest, the biggest firepower comes at 215 and 285 pounds. Senior and two-time defending 215-pound 6A state champion Kyle Caylor is an intimidating figure for anyone on the mat. Teammate, classmate, and last year’s 6A runner-up at 285 pounds Trey Page can flat out score points. In Northwest’s dual against Carroll, Page won his match by technical fall by a score of 20-4, in a notoriously low-scoring weight class.

Caylor and Page are not a bad one-two punch to have anchoring a line-up. But the Grizzlies are also developing some young talent at the lower weights. Sophomores Reggie Cooper and Antonio Terrell also came away from the Carroll dual with some impressive scores. The 119-pound Cooper won an 11-4 decision and the 130-pound Terrell dominated in a 10-1 decision.

If Northwest is to beat Heights, it will be up to the lower weights to hang in there against some tough competition.

Heights strength comes in the lower and middle weights, starting with 125-pound Daniel DeShazer. Last year, DeShazer came within an overtime loss in the finals of becoming a two-time state champion as a sophomore. As impressive as it is to take a state finals match into overtime, consider that DeShazer did it with a shoulder he separated (twice) in the match.

Armed with a duck-under almost too quick to see, let alone defend against, DeShazer is one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the state. His dream of matching brother Tristan’s mark of four state championships is over, and he is not happy about it. After losing in the finals last year, DeShazer will wrestle every match in the next two years with a chip on his shoulder, looking for redemption. If that isn’t a scary thought for anyone entering the circle against him, it should be.

Unfortunately for everybody who will face Heights, Daniel is not the only DeShazer on the team. Sophomore cousin Uylesses DeShazer is representing the name well at 135 pounds this year. 135 pounds is a big jump for Uylesses, who was the 112-pound runner-up last year, but DeShazer is a technically sound wrestler who can put team points on the board for Heights.

At 112 pounds, look out for Jeremy Waller, who pinned Jajuan Riley in 23 seconds in the Falcons’ last dual against South. Matt Reed may find himself in a big match for Heights at 171 pounds. With only the 189-pound match coming before Caylor and Page take the mat.

Thursday’s dual will give us an early look at some of the best wrestlers the GWAL has to offer. And a league title could be on the line only three duals into the season.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If you could direct an asteroid. . .

A friend and I were discussing Kentucky’s recent men’s basketball game against North Carolina at Rupp Arena. I rooted against UNC, and he rooted against Kentucky and coach John Calipari. However, he remarked that the preferable outcome would be an asteroid hitting the arena while the game was under way.

If I had my choice, the asteroid would hit the Smith Center while Duke and UNC were facing off. Kablooie! No more Tar Heels, no more Dukies.

So that led me to ask the staff at, including our high school prep editors, which teams and venues (college or pro) they would most like to see an asteroid hit. Here are their responses:

NFL, Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders at Oakland Stadium

NCAA men's basketball, Iowa State vs. Missouri at Mizzou Arena

College football, Oklahoma Sooners vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium

NFL, Oakland Raiders vs. Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium

NCAA men’s basketball, Syracuse Orangemen vs. Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium

NFL, Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium

NCAA men’s basketball, Kansas State vs. Missouri at Mizzou Arena

NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium

MLB, New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium

Two people nominated Yankee Stadium, but they couldn’t think of an opponent they hated as much as the Yankees.

What about you? Which teams and venues would you pick? Leave a comment and let us know!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Faster than a speeding... wrestler

If Dylan Schumacher were a machine, every business would own him or be in line to buy him.

The TMP sophomore wrestler is the definition of efficiency. He entered 2009 undefeated and so far is 4-0 this season. The four matches he has won have come from first period pinfalls. He has spent less than two and a half minutes on the mat. TMP lost to Minneapolis on Thursday but Schumacher won in the 112 pound class, pinning Skyler Constable in 41 seconds!

Schumacher is the #1 ranked wrestler in his weight class in 3-2-1A and the defending state champion at 103 pounds. His victory last season, as a freshman mind you, happened in less than a minute too. At state. Where the best of the best are. Pin in less than a minute.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Watch out for Salina South girls basketball

After losing to Buhler basketball players in their season opener last year, the Salina South girls rolled over the Crusaders 60-46 to start this season.

Salina South is ranked No. 7 in Class 5A, according to the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, and the Cougars have a good chance to win the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League’s Division I. Their Tuesday game at Great Bend was postponed, and the next four games on their schedule will take place in Salina.

The Cougars’ veterans include Taylor Goodness and Sally Thompson, who combined for 39 points against Buhler. Salina South finished last year 18-4, losing to Great Bend in the sub-state final.

After falling to Buhler, Salina South’s losses were to Andover Central and Goddard – both teams that included a future Oklahoma State player - and Great Bend, which went on to place second at the state tournament. Three of Salina South’s losses were by four points or fewer.

Goodness is a triple threat for the Cougars. She helped lead the volleyball team to the state tournament in the fall, and she was named the all-state volleyball player of the year in 5A. Goodness is also a track and field athlete who placed second in the high jump at last season’s state meet.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Warming up

Yes, yes basketball season is warming up. Tip off is Thursday for many teams, which is like tomorrow, dude.

And I am warming up to basketball. I'll be honest - I've never really been a huge fan of basketball. I never played a single minute of organized basketball. No one in my family ever played it and no one ever encouraged me to play either. And when my friends who DID play got me out to shoot hoops, they made fun of me because I had no idea what I was doing. Therefore my lack of interest in the sport.

Now I've played nearly every sport under the sun; football, baseball, wrestling, tennis, golf, lacrosse, track and field, even rugby. I even played Cricket when I lived in England for a while, but not basketball.

But living in Kansas, it is hard to ignore basketball. It is the birthplace of the game after all and the Jayhawks are currently the number one team in the land. SOOOO, it is hard to ignore.

But I'm warming up. I was still sad to see football season go, but knowing basketball season was right around the corner wasn't so bad. Usually it was filled with dread for me but now, it's OK.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Football Plays of the Year and KWCH Eyewitness sports have come up with the plays of the year that we witnessed in this last football season. The list has been narrowed to 10 and you can vote on who you think had the play of the year.

To view the video follow this link:
Plays of the Year

Here are the plays that were picked and some context behind them.

Quinter's Matt Bird's Interception at the goal line to preserve the 8-man I title

This play was easily the biggest on this list. Matt Bird pulled down a goal line interception as the Baileyviille B&B Falcons were driving in the waning moments of the 8-Man Division I championship game a few weeks ago. This play prevented the Falcons from winning back-to-back titles and gave Baileyville its only loss of the 2009 season.

Kapaun's Tyler Nulik's one-handed touchdown catch against Northwest

This was likely the first touchdown scored in Kansas High School football this season. On opening night back on September 3, Tyler Nulik hauled in a 59-yard pass with one hand from Chris Hayes as the Crusaders jumped out to an early lead against league rival Wichita Northwest.

Northwest's Demarcus Robinson's touchdown run against Kapaun

This was also in opening week and it started off a near record setting season for Robinson. Robinson looked tackled and it appeared that Northwest might lose its opening game of the year, but the dynamic Robinson twisted his way out of the grasp of Crusaders and dived for the pylon. This 15-yard touchdown run for the future Kansas State running back gave Northwest a 16-13 lead and the win in the opening week.

Clearwater’s Alex Baughman’s touchdown run against Cheney

Clearwater and Cheney were playing for a berth in the playoffs back in week nine. The Clearwater quarterback took it upon himself to rumble 49 yards while bouncing off of Cardinal tacklers to score the touchdown. Clearwater went on to win 15-13 and earn a spot in the playoffs.

Heights’ Evan Wessel’s tackle on Carroll’s Blake Rollins

Back in week one Carroll thumped Heights 28-0, but it was not for a lack of trying by Evan Wessel. The basketball standout has made a name for himself as a big hitter on the football field. In the Carroll game, Blake Rollins danced around one tackler but Wessel quickly stuck him into the turf with a solid hit.

Wichita West's Xavier Kelly's block on North's Tevin Pratt

In week 2, West lost to North 26-19, but Xavier Kelly was able to teach Tevin Pratt a physics lesson. The 320-pound Kelly rocked Pratt to help spring quarterback Dorian Flourney for a rush. In that collision the 5’7 and 158-pound Pratt gave up six inches and 162 pounds to the bigger Kelly.

Wichita North's Aubreon Davis' fumble return for a touchdown

Heights’ Lewis Taylor makes a great catch, but leaves the ball inbounds as he goes out of bounds. Aubreon Davis of North then picks the ball up and rumbles 88 yards back in the other direction for a touchdown. It was the only North High touchdown in the game.

Hutchinson's Josh Smith hurdling Carroll defenders for a touchdown

Josh Smith was known for his ability to run would-be tacklers over until the state semifinal against Bishop Carroll. Smith, on his way to a school record 302 yards rushing and five touchdowns, would add a new dimension to his game. On a late drive the Carroll defenders were desperately trying to bring Smith down by tackling his ever-moving legs, so Smith decided to just go over the Carroll defenders. It resulted in a 13-yard touchdown run and the outstanding senior’s fourth score of the night.

Mulvane's Jordan Springer's one-handed catch for a touchdown

Springer seemingly defied laws of science in his 33-yard touchdown catch against Wichita Trinity. The ball was thrown to the back of the end zone and he reached out and caught it almost on the top of the ball it seemed. It is a play you truly need to watch to understand.

Garden Plain's Seth Klausmeyer scoring touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams against Douglass

This play was more three plays than one. Seth Klausmeyer started out his night with a five yard touchdown run. He then notched the game’s next score with a 36-yard intereception return against the Douglass Bulldogs. He capped off his trifecta with an 80 yard kick return to kill the momentum the Bulldogs had gained by scoring a touchdown. Garden Plain won the week three game by a 68-14 final.

Which play was the best? Leave a comment and let us know or go to the bottom of the homepage to vote.

New season brings new head coaches

Every sports season brings its share of new head coaches, but high school wrestling has resulted in an especially interesting shift.

As I wrote in a previous blog, Greg Buckbee left his alma mater – Emporia – and then Dennis Charbonneau left his alma mater, Clay Center. Both teams had been impressive at the state tournament in February.

Buckbee left his hometown Spartans for Arkansas City, while Charbonneau resigned at Clay Center to take the newly vacant Emporia job. The loss for Clay Center was compounded by the fact that Charbonneau’s son, Brandon, is a talented sophomore wrestler.

Now that the dust has settled, Kansas wrestling coaches have released their preseason rankings. Buckbee’s Arkansas City wrestlers, who placed seventh at the Class 5A state tournament last year, are ranked No. 6 this season.

Charbonneau’s Emporia squad, the defending state champion, is the top-ranked team in 5A. Brandon Charbonneau is ranked No. 1 at 130 pounds.

Clay Center, the second-place team in 4A last year, is now ranked No. 3 in its class.

Another coaching change occurred at Bishop Carroll, which earned its 105th consecutive dual win last year (before Heights snapped the streak) and then placed third at the state tournament. Head coach Darian Eshelman is listed on the school’s site as an assistant coach for 2009-10, while Jared Vogel has taken the helm. In addition, Carroll – which won 5A team titles in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008 – is unranked on the coaches’ list.

Incidentally, a former City League coach who put together his own impressive streak – in basketball, that is – has made a significant move. Steve Eck, who led a powerhouse boys basketball program at Wichita South, most recently coached at Cowley College. He will start this season as head coach at Hutchinson Community College.

The Hutchinson men finished last season 20-12. Eck, who helped Cowley set the school record for wins in a season with 31 in 2007-08, led the Tigers to a 29-5 record last year.