Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My sales pitch

I went out stumping for this last year but nothing came of it so I am at it again.

The fastest growing team sport in the country is not growing in the great state of Kansas: Lacrosse.

"The fastest sport on two feet" has grown exponentially over the last two decades from its East Coast hotbeds like Maryland, Virginia and New York to places like Colorado, Missouri, Texas and California. In fact, it is the official state sport of Maryland. (And now you know!)

For those unfamiliar, lacrosse is a full contact spring sport played on a field about the size of a football field where teams of ten players try to score as many goals to win. Pretty standard stuff but players use sticks to pass, throw, defend and shoot. Some of the best professional players can shoot over 100 mph! Its unbelievable.

Kansas City has a few high school teams on both sides of the river but nothing much outside of that area, except for the Wichita Renegades, the high school team for the Wichita area. This is fantastic!

Getting sticks in the kids hands is the best thing for the sport, especially in a place like Wichita where there are so many talented athletes. Imagine Blake Bell or Blake Jablonski with a lacrosse stick in their hands?! It would be awesome!

I can see Wichita, and the rest of the state for that matter, truly embracing lacrosse as a sport of their own. I know in some places it won't fully take root but seeing the Renegades program gives me hope that soon each school, or at least a handful of schools, will have their very own progams.

SO go out, check out the Internet for lacrosse videos and you will fall in love and we can get the sport to sprout up all over Kansas.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dodge City hires new head football coach

Dave Foster was named as Dodge City's new head football coach Monday evening.

Foster has 13 years of head coaching experience most recently at Elk City, Oklahoma, where he was the head coach for eight seasons.

Foster led the Elks to the state playoffs five of the past six years, including a trip to the semi finals in 2004.

Coach Foster is a native of Kansas, specifically Beloit, and also an alumni of Fort Hays State University where he played four years of division two football.

He is also noted as only one of eleven Kansas Shrine Bowl participants to return and coach the Shrine Bowl.

5A should be proud of local tennis tradition

The Class 5A tennis landscape certainly has changed this season. I saw three of the top boys’ teams – Winfield, McPherson and Salina South – Friday at the McPherson tournament.

Their status as top tennis programs hasn’t changed, but after Salina Central’s stranglehold on 5A state titles, it’s shaping up to be an interesting run to the 2010 championship. Salina Central won the past six state titles, but after graduating all four of its state semifinalists from last year, the school isn’t ranked this season.

Hutchinson, which did not lose a player in 2009, is the top-ranked team in the Kansas coaches’ poll. Veteran coach Vance VanPelt and some of the Salthawks were on hand Friday to scout Winfield, which won the tournament. Winfield lost only one player to graduation.

Salina South, listed among “others” in 5A, placed second in McPherson. Although the Bullpups’ state-champion doubles team lost to a Winfield pair, McPherson has a lot to look forward to, including future tournaments on its new tennis courts. The tennis complex is a great facility, and lights are scheduled to be installed in the next 60 days.

Hutchinson is followed in the rankings by Winfield (No. 2) and McPherson (No. 3). Last year, Hutchinson placed second at state while McPherson finished third and Winfield was sixth.

Interestingly, the last boys’ team to win a 5A championship before Salina Central was McPherson. Hutchinson, McPherson and Salina South are assigned to the same 5A regional in May at Great Bend. Expect a battle in the doubles category, where McPherson returns seniors Nathan Wehrman and Mark Gayer, the defending state doubles champs. Hutchinson counters with seniors Ben Fangman and Ben Braun, who fell to a Salina Central pair in the consolation round last year and placed fourth at state.

Winfield may have an advantage since the Vikings will host their regional, but it includes Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mt. Carmel, which usually produce formidable teams and their share of state qualifiers.

Regardless of the outcome, this area should be proud of its Class 5A tennis tradition. The last time a school from outside the Lawrence-Topeka-Kansas City area won a Class 6A team title was 1992, when Wichita Southeast prevailed.

In contrast, Salina Central, McPherson, Goddard and Kapaun have ensured that no team outside this area could conquer 5A since 1997, when Blue Valley North won.

Salina Central will be back; the Mustangs have an impressive tennis tradition. In the past 17 years, they have claimed the 5A crown nine times.

However, other local teams appear poised to snag the championship this season. So many of them are strong, it’s tough to pick a clear favorite.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Another successful KS frosh at OU

About a week ago, Chris Parker wrote about the college success of Chase Nelson and Kendrick Maple of Wichita Heights, and Tyler Caldwell from Goddard.

I am going to expand on it and throw in Joanna McFarland from Derby, another Kansan from the class of 2009, who like Maple and Caldwell is an Oklahoma freshman.

McFarland has logged some good minutes this year as a freshman on the University of Oklahoma Lady Sooners basketball team and has added 137 points with 134 rebounds to the OU total on the year. She is also the team’s third-leading shot blocker with 10.

After a 77-72 overtime win for Oklahoma over Notre Dame last night, McFarland’s Lady Sooner team is one win over Kentucky away from the women’s Final Four in San Antonio.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with the McFarland family last year and all though it kills me to be for OU, I can’t help but to pull for this team as long as McFarland is on it. Although they are ferociously competitive, you couldn't ask for a nicer group of people.

And believe me it is a struggle for her siblings to approve of their sister’s team as well. Sister Jessica and brother Jacob are both K-State alums and sister Jackie went to Colorado. Jessica and Jackie both played basketball for their respective schools before going on to pro careers overseas.

However it will be no problem for any of the four of us to pull for the Lady Sooners, who are three wins away from a national championship (or, realistically, two wins away from, at the very least, a shot at ending UConn's streak).

For the next four years, with another of the Wichita wrestlers Kyle Detmer, Caldwell, Maple, and McFarland, consider me an OU fan.

Ugh. I guess it will be the next five years when you throw in Blake Bell.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wacky Weather (Part 2)

Like Grant said before, it may be spring on the calendar, but it sure didn’t feel like it today…well, at least not the whole day.

When I came in this morning a little before nine, it was 50 and sunny, perfect for baseball. From watching the weather before I left, I knew there was a chance of rain…I wasn’t prepared for the sudden drop in temperature and a gusty north wind on my trip across town.

When I left our station up on the northeast side of town around 10:30 this morning it was still sunny and the wind was light. By time I made it to Westurban it was cloudy as could be and very chilly.

Everyone around me seemed as perplexed by the sudden change as well, as fans were sent scrambling to their cars to grab extra coats and blankets.

Growing up in Kansas, you think I would get used to these sudden changes, but it never ceases to amaze me at just how quick the weather can change.

Here’s to hoping for a warmer and sunnier day the next time I’m out at the ballpark…this afternoon maybe?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wacky Weather

Gotta love this time of year. Despite what the calendar says, its not quite Spring because Winter-like weather hasn't completely left.

But nonetheless spring sports have begun and off into the sun or the snow they go to the baseball, softball or tennis courts in either shorts or sweat pants and a winter coat.

It keeps us in the sports biz on our toes during this time. We have to be prepared for anything. Sunscreen and sun glasses or snow boots and scarves. It's madness.

But it could be worse - it could be played during the dead of winter!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Former KS High School Athletes in College

Several former area wrestlers had great finishes to their seasons in the college ranks this season.

Chase Nelson, formerly from Wichita Heights, won the Junior College National Championship at 157 pounds for Labette County.

Fellow freshman Tyler Caldwell, a former four-time state champion from Goddard, finished fifth for Oklahoma in the NCAA Division I tournament at 165 pounds. Sooner teammate and also a former Heights wrestler Kendric Maple qualified, but did not place at 133 pounds for Oklahoma. Maple was 2-2 at the Division I tournament.

Do you know of any other former Kansas High School athletes making noise in the collegiate ranks? Leave a comment and let us know!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Perry Ellis named Player of the Year

Perry Ellis was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the second time in his two years. Ellis has been a force in Heights’ first two years and averaged 22.1 points and 10.4 rebounds this year despite being double and triple-teamed all throughout the season.

I only saw Perry play once this season, but he was everything he was billed to be and more. Topeka shut Ellis down inside, but the star sophomore just stepped out and hit three-pointers instead. Perry can play an inside and outside game. His next two seasons will be fun to watch, and with the 6A state tournament coming to Wichita, everyone else in 6A is just playing for second for the team title and in the Gatorade Player of the Year race.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Random thoughts

Does anyone else find it funny that North Carolina entered the NIT with the worst record in the tournament? The men’s basketball team arrived at the NIT with a 16-16 record and will not have a chance to defend its national title.

That is the first of my random thoughts this week:

Next, high school basketball needs a shot clock. Really. I was at the sub-state tournament in Andover where the Liberal girls spent more than a minute on two different occasions standing in one place and holding the ball. That is not basketball. If that’s all the game required, I could have had a pretty good high school basketball career, even though I was only 5 feet tall.

After the Salina Central boys won Class 5A tennis championships the past six years in a row, they are not even listed in the coaches’ preseason rankings. The Mustangs graduated all of their state semifinalists from last year: Spencer Brass, Connor Brass, Will Exline and Craig Knox. Knox and Exline won the doubles title in 2008, and Connor Brass defeated his twin brother, Spencer, for the singles championship in 2009.

The Goddard boys tennis players will take the court this season without coach John Markham, who passed away in October. That represents a significant change for them, although coach Dan Buchanan is familiar to the Lions. The John Markham Memorial Scholarship has been established, and it will be awarded to two Goddard seniors, one male and one female, who competed in Goddard tennis for four years.

The Wichita East girls swimmers have a tough start to their season after the wreck on the turnpike that killed teammate Yuna Choi and critically injured her twin sister and fellow swimmer, Hana Choi. The Aces lost only one league matchup last season and then prevailed at the City League meet. Joe Hutchinson, who is starting his 12th season as the Aces’ coach, took a tile from the old East pool that had been signed by various swimmers and left it at the crash scene.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Basketball Play of the Year

If you didn’t catch the last CatchItKansas Show of the year last Saturday the last segment of the show was a clip of the top plays of the year that the KWCH Sports and cameras caught in the 2009-2010 basketball season.

The list of plays and video can be found by clicking here.

Which was your favorite?

My top five have to be:

1. Kaylee Hoffman of Thomas More Prep’s half court shot. The shot itself is amazing, but the context behind it made it even more amazing. Hoffman did it in the state tournament and she did it throwing off of a badly injured knee no less.

2. Sunrise’s Leon Cooper’s 360-degree dunk. Cooper is on the reel twice, but his final dunk and the final dunk of the reel is something else. He clearly decided that just dunking was not interesting enough, there were some acrobatics that needed to be employed.

3. Briston White of Wichita North throws down a one-handed jam. Just watch it and be impressed. Briston gets up high and throws down a one-handed jam for the ages. Briston and Brison were a constant source of high-flying, acrobatic plays on the basketball court in their time at Wichita North. They were a lot of fun to watch for sure.

4. Wichita East’s Chaquil Reed blocks Mesfin Smalls. In this play Reed uses his big body to make sure Mesfin Smalls of Kapaun can’t get to the rim and score. Great defensive plays like this are a totally underrated part of high school basketball.

5. Andover Central’s Marshall Miller’s put-back dunk. This is another one with a little context behind it. Miller threw this jam down against West off of a miss and did it on his way to a 35-point night. Miller was at his best in the first round of sub-state against West as he displayed every facet of his game.

So which play was your favorite?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

State Basketball Quarterfinal Notes

Wednesday's Quarterfinal notes:

- What a game Christian Ulsaker had scoring 38 points in McPherson’s 81-56 win. It was a 5A State Record and came one night after Burrton’s Alex Santiago went off for 53 in his team’s loss to Hanover. It is hard to believe Ulsaker still has another year of high school basketball.

- Topeka Highland Park may not have made an appearance in this year’s boys state tournament, but its jerseys sure did. The Bishop Carroll boys forgot their jerseys in Wichita and had to rep the Scots on the court instead.

- All I have is the score on the Gardner-Edgerton-Great Bend boys game as the Blazers won 60-47. How was the atmosphere up there? Did any of you go?

- The 3A boys tournament featured two upsets, with the biggest being Minneapolis romping by the second-seeded Southwestern Heights Mustangs 64-47. The seven seed KC Christian boys also won

- Unfortunately, one of those teams will inevitably have to play Collegiate. The Spartans got 22 points from Blake Jablonski in the Spartans 74-32 rout of Council Grove. Collegiate’s bench matched Council Grove’s team with 32 points.

- I feel bad for Andover Central’s Marshall Miller. His Jaguars were in the game until he got hit with his sixth foul and had to go to the bench for the remainder of the game in what would be his last high school game.

- In girls 6A there is a very intriguing matchup in the semifinals between Wichita Heights and the defending champion Topeka Washburn Rural. Heights is hungry for a title this year as it has not won one in its last two tries. The Lady Falcons have failed to even make the title game in the last two years.

- The Concordia girls extended their winning streak to 50 games with a 45-38 win over Basehor-Linwood.

- Merissa Quick of Cheney had the most points of any 4A girl on Wednesday night with 26 points for the Cardinals in their win.

- The combined record of the teams left in the 4A Girls Tournament is 95-1.

- Berean Academy’s Janelle Rust had the most points of any girl player regardless of class with 31 for the Warriors.

- Terra Hargrave had an impressive 13-point and 20-rebound night in Valley Heights’ loss to Hill City.

- The chalk held for the 1A girls as all of the top four seeds advanced and boast a combined record of 102-1. Take that 4A Girls.

- Congratulations to the Argonia girls as, not only did they get out of the first round, they did it with a 31-point rout. Their next opponent will likely be a little more difficult in 25-0 St. Paul.

That is the big stuff I noticed from the first full night of action. Who impressed you on the first full night of state basketball?

Notes from 1A State Tourney

There are no style points at state basketball, just survive and advance.

Quinter boys and South Gray girls had to do just that. Whether the top seeds got to their heads or they haven't been in too many close games this season, I don't know but they didn't have their best performances yesterday.

The top seeded teams won by a total 13 points in the first round. Maybe we should be giving more credit to the underdogs in these games; Pretty Prairie and Wilson. They never quit and their seeding didn't matter to them.

This sets up awesome matchups for Thursday; five losses total on the boys side in the semi finals and one loss, 1, TOTAL on the girls side for the semi finals. It should be a good weekend.
Burrton's Alex Santiago was out of breath after his game with Hanover. You can't blame him, he scored 53 of his teams 66 points against the defending champions, Hanover.

It was awesome to see. Not knowing he was on pace to break the record, I could only sit and stare and think, "Man, he is hitting everything!"

And then he was humble after setting the record, giving praise to Hanover for their team win.

But was it any surprise that Santiago broke the record at all, considering he was leading the state in average points per game with 28? Don't think so.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Class 6A State Basketball Preview

The 6A boys tournament begins and ends with Wichita Heights and Perry Ellis. They are the defending champions and the clear cut favorites.

The difference is that this year the Falcons are more experienced. After watching them play Topeka in a great Sub-State Championship, I don't think there is any way they lose this game. Topeka took Perry Ellis out of his element and challenged the Falcons the whole game, but it didn't matter.

Ellis stepped out and knocked down a couple threes and Heights spread the ball around on offense to win the game. Head Coach Joe Auer said the second half was the best half of team offensive basketball his team has played all year.

Sounds like the Falcons are peaking at the right time.

The girls side should come down to a classic between Wichita Heights and Olathe South. They are the top two seeds and both have been ranked nationally this year. Heights is currently ranked 17th overall. Its only loss this season came to 10th ranked Incarnate Word Academy (MO) in the Fort Smith Tournament back in December. The Falcons dropped that game 58-46.

The Maize Lady Eagles cannot be overlooked either. They were 4-16 just one year ago, and now the Lady Eagles are 16-6 and in the state tournament as a six seed. Maize draws the defending champion Washburn Rural Junior Blues in the first round.

Will anyone challenge the Falcon boys? Can anyone crash the party on the girls side?

Class 5A State Basketball Preview

The 5A Boys Tournament will be very strange without three-time defending champion Topeka Highland Park taking part this year. The Scots were bounced in their Sub-State championship.

That leaves undefeated Bishop Miege as the hands down favorite. The Stags are ranked 27th nationally by ESPN Rise.

The Great Bend-Gardner-Edgerton game also has an interesting storyline as longtime Great Bend head coach Jeff Langrehr and his son Conner will be on the other side of the court coaching and playing for the Blazers. You can bet emotions will be running high in this game.

On the other side of the bracket, we are likely looking at a McPherson-Andover Central semifinal if the chalk holds. This is a great matchup of Christian Ulsaker of McPherson vs. Marshall Miller of Andover Central. Both players are supremely talented and fun to watch.

On the girls side, the top notch programs are all in attendance this year with 15 of the last 16 championship schools being represented. Tiffany Bias' sprained finger on her shooting hand is the question for the top seed Andover Central Jaguars.

If Bias is healthy, then betting against Andover Central is a terrible idea. There is no other player like her in the state of Kansas.

Can anyone stop Miege? Who will win the Gardner-Edgerton-Great Bend game? Who would you prefer on your team Christian Ulsaker or Marshall Miller? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Class 4A State Basketball Preview

The boys side is very intriguing with Pratt leading the way as the top seed. The Greenbacks are ranked fifth in 4A, but are 21-2 on the season and being led by new head coach David Swank and his sons Micah and Matt.

How good is that trio?

They show up in Pratt and turn a team that did not make the state tournament and finished 10-11 last season into the number one seed in the state tournament.

Pratt is helped by the fact that defending champion and top-ranked Basehor-Linwood was bounced in Sub-State.

The Concordia girls are ranked second in the state behind Cheney, but is still undefeated with a 23-0 record. As good as I have heard Cheney is, I don't think there is any way to bet against the defending state champion Panthers. Concordia was won 49 games in a row and looks to be unstoppable.

Cheney will also likely have to get through 23-0 Holton to even have a shot at Concordia. Cheney also can't overlook Circle in the first round.

Can anyone stop the Swanks? Can Concordia make it 52 wins in a row, or will somebody knock the Panthers off? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Class 3A State Basketball Preview

The boys and girls tournaments both have very different feels to them. The boys have a clear cut favorite in Collegiate, while the girls is as wide open as a tournament can be.

Collegiate has only lost one game in the last two years, and this stellar senior class should win and win easily in the 3A State Tournament. The Spartans dismantled the KBCA's second ranked team Douglass 77-54 in the Sub-State final to send a very clear message to the rest of 3A.

On the girls side, the KBCA's top three (Southwestern Heights, Rock Creek and Wichita Collegiate) all were eliminated in their respective sub-states, so who is the favorite?

I think it has to be Thomas More Prep, the one seed, or Garden Plain. TMP beat top-ranked Southwestern Heights in the championship game of the Lakin Sub-State 51-47. Garden Plain won with ease over Collegiate in the Conway Springs Sub-State 52-40.

TMP and Garden Plain are on the same side of the bracket, but they are clearly the two hottest teams right now riding a lot of confidence.

Who is your pick? Can anyone even begin to challenge the Collegiate boys? What do you see happening in the wide open girls field? Leave and comment and let us know.

Class 2A State Basketball Preview

St. Mary's won both the girls and boys titles last season, but neither team made the field this year and that opens the door for a new champion.

On the boys side, the question is can anyone stop Carson Konrade and his Spearville Royal Lancers? They are 22-1 on the season with their only loss coming to South Gray. The Rebels did not make the tournament this year.

The second seeded Berean Academy Warriors are the most likely contend with Spearville as the Warriors also sport a 22-1 record with its only loss coming at the hands of Peabody-Burns, which also did not make the field.

On the Girls side, Olpe is the only returning quarterfinalist from last season's tournament, so there is plenty of new teams and faces in this tournament.

Olpe is the favorite as the only undefeated team along with the tournament experience it sports, but anything can happen in the state tournaments.

Who are you picking to win? What players will leave their mark on this tournament?

1A State Basketball Tournament Preview

The defending state champion returns for both the boys (Hanover) and the girls (St. John). So can either repeat?

From what Grant Meech has written about Quinter, it sounds like it will be very tough to beat with its size. Anything can happen though and seeds mean nothing as last year Hanover was a three seed when it won the title and Quinter was a four seed and made the title game.

On the girls side the same theme holds true. St. John is the four seed this year, but it doesn't mean it cannot repeat. St. John won the title as a six seed last year. South Gray will be looking to take advantage of its top seed this year as it lost in the title game to St. John as a top seed last year.

Just like last year, Argonia is a two seed with a 25-0 record. The Lady Raiders will try not to repeat last year's state tournament performance though. Argonia lost by 22 points to Centralia in the first round last season.

So who are you picking to win? What players will change the tournament? Leave a comment and let us know.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Rivalry games

You’ve got to love rivalry games no matter what the outcome of the last meeting was, or how long of a streak your foe may have against you. But you especially have to love when these clashes come during tournament time.

Last night’s boy’s games in Andover are a perfect example. The early game featured a matchup between Wichita’s two Catholic schools, Kapaun and Bishop Carroll, which is pretty much all the set-up you need. The teams had split their matchups earlier in the year, with the games being decided by a combined six points.

You get to see the top players shine in their biggest games. Take Carroll’s Blake Bell and Kapaun’s Dillon Knox for example, who both scored 17 points apiece in the game. The Eagles would get the best of their counterpart, holding off a late rally from Kapaun to take a 51-43 win.

Then it was Andover against Andover Central. Needless to say, it felt like the whole town was out to watch this clash of cross-town rivals. Central had gotten the best of Andover earlier in the year, winning both games during the regular season.

This one was a wild game of runs, where Andover scored 14 of the games 19 points during a stretch in the second quarter, before Central closed out the third quarter on a 9-0, including five straight points in the last 10 seconds of the frame.

The ballgame came down to the very end, with a bucket for Andover to tie the game with under 10 seconds left, followed by a furious drive by Central that resulted with Marshall Miller drawing a foul with 0.3 seconds left. Miller made one-of-two from the line, sealing a 48-47 victory for the Jaguars.

So not only do Carroll and Andover Central punch a ticket to the state tournament with their wins, they get the ultimate bragging rights over their rivals by ending their season…at least until next year when we get to do it all over again.

That’s what makes rivalries great, they keep coming back. Every year you know you’re going to get a shot at knocking off that one team that you really want to beat. Start circling your calendars now.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Projected Matchups for 5A Boys Tournament

After all the results came in tonight I naturally couldn't help but to figure out who would play who next week in the 5A State Tournament. Here is my best guess as to the matchups and seeds for the tournament.


1. Bishop Miege 22-0 vs. 8. Bishop Carroll (11-11)
4. Gardner Edgerton (18-4) vs. 5. Great Bend (15-6)

3. Andover Central (20-2) vs. 6. Topeka West (14-8)
2. McPherson (21-1) vs. 7.KC Washington (13-9)

Once again these are not official.

So who do you like? Miege has to be the favorite to make it from the top half of the bracket, but who comes out of the bottom? McPherson? Andover Central? Or is there an upset?

Leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Marshall Miller throws down

I got a chance to see Andover Central’s Marshall Miller play in person against Wednesday night, and I left that gym thoroughly impressed by the Andover Central senior.

Miller dropped 19 points in the first half alone to keep his team in it early. He ended up with 35 points and 17 rebounds as Andover Central won 92-79. The Andover Central star was active on both ends of the floor. He can bring the ball up, pass it and score it from both outside and down low.

Oh yeah, and he can dunk.

If you don’t believe me check out the video linked at the end of this paragraph. Miller threw down two dunks while I was at the game. The second was extremely impressive as he cleaned up a miss by his teammate and threw down the put-back dunk.

Video can be found here in the video player on the right side of the page: Marshall Miller dunks twice

Hats off to Nitcher and Rogers

When Valley Center’s Chase Nitcher beat Andale’s Colton Eck 5-0 to win the 4A 135-pound state title, he completed the winningest career that Kansas High School wrestling has ever seen with 179 career wins. Nitcher broke the previous record of 171 wins set by Alan Callahan of Baldwin from 2006-09.

Nitcher finished 44-1 this season and 50-0 last year as a junior on his way to two state titles. He was 45-3 and a runner-up in his sophomore season. As a freshman he finished 40-4. His 50 wins as a junior was also a state record for most wins in a season.

All totaled, Nitcher’s career record finished at 179-8.

Another great career that finished up last week belonged to Colt Rogers of Smith Center. Rogers finished as a four-time state champion with a 146-3 record. The Smith Center star went all four years without losing to a Kansas wrestler.

He was plain dominant in state tournaments. Only twice at a state tournament did an opponent get four points or closer. His freshman year in the semifinals he won his match 6-2 over Colin Hase of Silver Lake. Then in his junior year he beat Cody Wildin of Marysville 4-3 in the championship match.

Past those two matches, no wrestler got within six points of Rogers at a state tournament. His 98% winning percentage ranks 10th all time in the state of Kansas.

Congratulations to both wrestlers on great careers!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Does Every Team Really Deserve A Shot? Part Deux...

Reading Jenn's blog post yesterday about whether having ALL teams play in the sub state basketball is really a good thing for the teams and I couldn't agree more.

I understand that there is a chance that there could be a "Cinderella Story" in sub state, about some team with a lousy record, beating the odds and making it to the state tournament and so on and so forth, but come on!

The reality of this happening isn't likely. The top seeded teams are the top seeded teams for a good reason - they are good and they will dispatch the lesser team in the first half.

I realize it is only 1A, so bear with me, but take Quinter for example; the undefeated top-ranked boys team. They beat St. Francis 88-28 in regionals a week ago. It was 52-12 at halftime! They play Ness City tonight in sub state and I can only guess it will be much the same.

To agree with Jenn again, is it really worth it for these teams to spend the travel money only to be, basically, embarassed by another team that is in a completely different atmosphere?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Does Every Team Really Deserve a Shot?

There have been a lot of stories in this past year about coaches getting in trouble for 'blowing out' other teams. I'm not talking about a Jersey Shore hairstyle here (although I think Bruce had something similar to that circa 1992) rather I'm talking about coaches and teams getting in trouble for putting too many points on the board. There is a huge difference, for me at least, between being successful and being downright mean. And right now during basketball sub-states I feel like it's not the coaches but KSHSAA that's being hurtful. I'll explain.

My cohort Jeffrey Graber and I were just going over the sub-state brackets for this week to kind of try and predict which teams will win and which games we should be ready to cover this Friday and Saturday. Pre-planning is our forte here at Catch it Kansas. Anyway, while looking at some of the first round games in the brackets there are a few matchups that stick out like sore thumbs. One of them being the top seeded Andover Central girls facing 4th seeded Wichita West. Central has a record of 20-0 this year while West is exactly the opposite at 0-20. So what is going to be the reaction if/when Tiffany Bias and co. ends up beating West by 60 or 70 points? We're simply setting West up for failure. To me it seems like those game people who say every team deserves a chance are the same people who complain when some teams get beat by 50 plus points. You can't have it both ways.

Perhaps the best example of this type of dilemma comes to us from Wichita Collegiate School. The boys and girls basketball teams for the Spartans are elite, and I don't use that word lightly. Last night the boys won their first sub-state matchup by a score of 86-26. You have to ask yourself, did that game really need to get played?

Trust me, Coach Mitch Fiegel is one of the kindest and most hard-working coaches I know. His problem is talent: he's got a TON of it on his team. In most every single game Fiegel takes his starters out at the half and puts in his second and third string guys. The problem is that even those guys can put up points, and they do it extremely well. Coach Fiegel's team has only lost one game this year but still they can't win. Other teams get upset with him for beating them 'excessively' while parents and players get upset about their kids' playing time. Once again begging the question: when it comes to sub-state do we really need everyone to play?

In the NCAA tournament, a number 16 seed has NEVER beaten a number 1 seed. We play the game because there is always a chance that it will happen. But since the field got expanded to 64 teams in 1985 (now 65 since 2002) it has never happened. Do you ever look at your bracket and give the 16 seed a chance because well, there IS a chance or do you go ahead and write them off and have all four number one seeds advance?

When I was in high school I never expected to even be in the running to be considered to get to state. My soccer team just played every game because we wanted to win. If we weren't good I didn't think we deserved to play anything beyond a regular season. Also, we didn't want to play anything beyond a regular season because that season was embarassment enough. If a team put up 8 goals on us we took it because that meant we didn't play well. We didn't get mad at the other team for being good. Am I the only one who seems to think this way anymore?

In my opinion I say save us the time, the travel expenses and the trouble of this first round of sub-state. I say save these teams the embarassment of getting 80 plus points dropped on them by a B-team. I say stop blaming these very talented teams for being so talented. They've worked hard to be that good.

Monday, March 1, 2010

6A Wrestling...WOW!

This year, Catch It Kansas orchestrated a massive amount of state wrestling coverage. On Friday alone, we had an all day live blog from the 6A and 5A tournaments, along with photos and around 89 videos, and a special wrestling edition of the Catch It Kansas Show.

Championship Saturday had two live blogs, one for the 6A fifth-place through championship matches, and one for 5A. Plus even more video and photos.

This massive amount of coverage was the result of two months of planning. And believe it or not, it was a greatly scaled down version of what we initially planned.

We figured it was better to use this year as a test run, so we know what to expect when we cover the event for real next year.

All of this coverage was the result of a mountain of work, but I don't think I have ever had so much fun doing so much work.

Part of it was due to the fact that the 6A-5A tournaments were at the INTRUST Bank Arena, which is an amazing facility.
But mostly, it was because in 6A, which I was covering, Derby, Goddard, and Wichita Heights were separated by only 7 points going into the finals.

Derby, in first place with 148 points, had top-ranked Bradley Little in the 140-pound final, and Cody Shavlik in the 145-pound final.

Two-time defending state champion Goddard, had top-ranked Kaleb Bonilla in the 103-pound final, No. 2 Trey Houlden in the 140-pound final, No. 3 Dalton Beard in the 189-pound final, and No. 5 Josh Hicks in the 215-pound final.

Heights had top-ranked, and maybe the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the state, Daniel DeShazer in the 125-pound final, his cousin No. 2 Uylesses DeShazer in the 135-pound final, and No. 4 Hunter Jameson in the 160-pound final.

Translation--the team title was up for grabs with three local interest teams having a realistic shot.

Daniel DeShazer won his match for his second title in three years of high school wrestling, but Uylesses lost, meaning Heights settled for third.

Bonilla gave Goddard a win at 103, setting up a huge match between Little from Derby and Houlden from Goddard at 140.

Little had owned Houlden all year, beating him by 5 or 6 points in every match. But on the biggest stage, Houlden got a 2-point takedown with 10 seconds left in the match to beat Little by 1 point.

The Houlden win, along with a Shavlik loss in the next match made the team scores Derby 148, Goddard 145.5. Derby was done for the tournament and Goddard still had two dogs in the fight.

With all eyes on the 189-pound match, Dalton Beard, younger brother of Goddard legend and four-time state champion Boaz Beard, locked up Goddard's third-straight state championship in a raucous arena with a 3-2 win over Wichita Southeast's Alex Chaparro.

The win was Goddard's fourth in five years, and came in a year when the Lions had lost eight individual championships over the last two years. They were supposed to be down.

Guess not.

I can't wait for next year.