two state titles
By Mark Schnabel
As the year comes to a close, it’s time to take a look at some of the stories that topped the area sports scene.
This year was a banner year for Newton High School, with the Railers winning league titles in boys’ swimming, boys’ and girls’ track, girls’ swimming, baseball, girls’ cross country and boys’ soccer. Many of the remaining teams finished near the top of the standings.
Out of 21 varsity sports teams at Newton, only six did not reach state competition in the calendar year. Newton won two state titles in 2009 — boys’ track and girls’ gymnastics. Newton fell short of its record of three state team titles in 1976, when the Railers won state team titles in wrestling and gymnastics (spring of 1976 and fall of 1976 as the championship was moved from a spring to fall sport).
The Railer boys’ track team won nearly every meet it entered. The Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II meet was canceled because of bad weather, but the regional results were used to score a virtual league meet with the Railers winning handily. Newton won the regional meet by 78 points.
At the state meet, the Railer boys downed Gardner-Edgerton 81.5-46 for the team’s first ever title. Individual state titles went to Grant Loecher in the 100-meter dash and Evan Kaufman in the shot put. Newton also won the title in the 4x100-meter relay. In all, the Railer boys claimed 14 state medals. Coach Tad Remsberg was named the Class 5A boys’ coach of the year by the state coaches association.
For the Railer gymnastics team, the season almost wasn’t. Facing a budget shortfall, the Newton school board nearly eliminated the team. Instead, the team was allowed to continue if it raised the money to keep the sport going. The team did and finished near the top of every meet the Railers competed in.
Newton took second at regionals to qualify for state.
The Railers hosted the state meet. A penalty against the coach of Shawnee Mission Northwest put the Railers in a tie for first with Lawrence Free State, giving the team its first title in 33 years. Newton finished the meet with eight individual medals. Riley Robers won the floor exercises title and took third in all-around. Jamie Hansen was state runner-up in the uneven parallel bars.
Other top stories are listed below:
Richardson reaches bigs:
After a four-season minor-league career, Newton High School graduate Dustin Richardson made his Major League debut Sept. 28 with the Boston Red Sox, pitching 1 1/3 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays. In three games with the Red Sox, Richardson went 3 1/3 innings, allowing no runs with three hits and a walk. He then reported to the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League, where he was 0-1 in 11 games with a 5.40 ERA, 11 2-3 innings, 13 hits, 10 walks and 18 strikeouts. He was selected an Eastern League All-Star. He is on the Red Sox 40-man roster, allowing him to report to spring training with the Red Sox this spring.
Two coaches resign:
The 2009 football season was a rough one for the area college teams. Bethel finished 3-7, losing two games on the final play of the game. Tabor finished the season 0-10 with several close losses, including a triple overtime heartbreaker to rival Bethel. Days before the final game of the season for each team, Tabor coach Mike Gottsch and Bethel coach Mike Moore both announced their resignations. Moore was third in all-time wins at BC with 48, winning two league titles and earning a playoff berth in 2006. The Threshers ended the season by downing Sterling 30-0. Tabor fell to Saint Mary on the road 48-34. Bethel promoted defensive coordinator Travis Graber to head coach after several weeks as interim coach. Tabor named Mike Gardner its new coach. Gardner coached Tabor in 2004 and 2005, leading the Bluejays to conference titles and post-season playoff berths both years. Bethel defensive lineman James McCartney was named Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference defensive player of the year and first-team All-American.
Wildcat spikers back on top:
By the standards of Moundridge High School volleyball, the 2009 regular season was nothing special, finishing just 28-9. But considering most of those losses came against bigger schools, the rest of the Class 2A state field probably didn’t know what to expect. In sub-state, the third-seeded Wildcats won all three matches in two games each. At the state tournament, the Wildcats were seeded sixth in the eight-team field, but won all three pool matches. In the semifinals, Moundridge downed Valley Heights 25-22, 25-20. In the finals, Moundridge dominated Lebo 25-15, 25-20. It was the eighth title overall for Moundridge and the first since 2006.
Tabor finishes stadium:
In the planning stages for a number of years, Joel Wiens Stadium was opened this fall on the campus of Tabor College. A cooperative effort between Tabor College and Hillsboro High School, the stadium serves as home to the TC football, soccer and track programs as well as the Hillsboro High School football and track programs. It hosted the KCAC post-season soccer final four and a Class 3A football playoff game. It is the eighth new or remodeled stadium in the KCAC to be built in recent years and the seventh to use an artificial turf.
Bethel tennis team
The Bethel College women’s tennis team, led by Newton High School graduate Paige McKinney, won the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference post-season tournament to qualify for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national tournament in Mobile, Ala. The Threshers were 13-3 in dual meets, 5-1 in conference play but upset Bethany 5-3 in the conference tournament finals. At nationals, Bethel fell to Brenau University 9-0. McKinney won conference titles in both singles and doubles, and was named a first-team NAIA All-American, one of just three U.S.-born players. She also was named KCAC player of the year, KCAC scholar-athlete of the year and an academic All-American. Allison Kaster also won a conference singles title for the Threshers. Katie Malotte shared the first doubles title with McKinney.
Berean Academy wins
cross country title:
The Berean Academy boys’ cross country team was dominant most of the season, ending that dominance with a Class 2A state title in Wamego. The Warriors downed Olpe 56-77 for the title. Medals went to Arlan Newby (third), Daniel Claassen (fifth) and Josiah Busenitz (14th). The title was Berean’s first since 1985 and fourth overall. The Berean girls took eighth. Several other area teams did well in state competition, including Burrton, which finished second in Class 1A girls’ competition.
Railer swimmers keep on winning:
The Newton High School boys’ swimming team continued its dominance, winning the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II-III-IV title for the fifth straight year. It was the eighth straight league title, dating back to the Ark Valley League. Newton finished just seventh at the state meet, but the Railers were the top-scoring Class 5A team for the eighth time in the last nine years. Newton also was the top-scoring team outside of Johnson County. This year, the meet will be broken up into Class 6A and 5-4-3-2-1A.
Newton runners claim first trophy:
The Newton High School girls’ cross country team had a strong regular season, finishing at or near the top in most of its meets. The Railers ended the regular season by winning the AV-CTL II title. The Railers followed with a regional title the following week. At state, the Newton girls had their highest team finish, taking third behind Bishop Carroll and St. Thomas Aquinas. Erin Loeffler claimed a medal for Newton, taking 12th. The Railer boys were seventh with Laban Laloutte finishing 12th.
Newton soccer team reaches state:
The Newton High School boys’ soccer team had its best-ever regular season, finishing 14-2. The sole losses for the Railers came against Class 6A powers Maize and Hutchinson. The Railers rolled through AV-CTL II play for an unbeaten league title at 5-0. In regional play, Newton downed Wichita West and Kapaun-Mt. Carmel to return to state. In the quarterfinals, Newton was upended by Emporia 2-1 in overtime, just 127 seconds away from a penalty-kick shootout to determine a final four spot. Newton finished the season 16-3.
Berean soccer team reaches finals:
One of the smallest schools in the state to offer soccer, Berean Academy always has been one of the toughest. The Warriors finished the regular season 11-4, downing Augusta and Class 4A Topeka Hayden in the Class 4-3-2-1A regionals. In the state quarterfinals, Berean edged Independence 2-1 to move on to the final four in nearby Towanda. In the semifinals, Berean downed DeSoto 2-0, but the Warriors’ state dreams ended in the finals against Lenexa St. James Academy 3-2, ending the season 15-5.
Hesston netters take second:
Coming out of one of the toughest leagues in the state in tennis, the Hesston High School girls’ tennis team edged traditional state power Wichita Collegiate 81-69 for the Mid-Central Activities Association title. The Swathers followed with a regional title, going 1-2 in singles and 1-3 in doubles. At state, Stephanie Shogren and Madelyn Weaver won the doubles title over a team from Wellington 7-5, 6-2. Hesston claimed two other medals and finished second in the team standings by two points to Independence.
Many of the area teams will be in new leagues next year. While Newton remains in the AV-CTL, the Railers were promoted to Division I next year with Maize, Hutchinson, Campus, Derby, Salina South and Salina Central. The AV-CTL also adds Maize South as a full-time member next year. Goddard Eisenhower also will join the league in 2011. Kingman left the league, but Wichita Collegiate joined. The MCAA breaks up at the end of the year with area schools Halstead, Hesston and Hillsboro joining a reborn Central Kansas League with Smoky Valley, Lyons, Sterling, Haven, Nickerson, Kingman and Pratt. Marion joins the Heart of America League. Peabody-Burns and Goessel leave the HOAL, along with Little River, joining the new Wheat State League with Eisenhower League teams Centre, Elyria Christian, Hope, White City, Wakefield and Solomon.
Kansas end of the year honors
athletes of the year
Prep boys — Evan Kaufman, Newton, track and basketball.
Prep girls — Lauren Pickens, Peabody-Burns, track and cross country.
College men — Garrett Hiebert, Bethel, track (national medalist in javelin) and football; James McCartney, Bethel College, football.
College women — Paige McKinney, Bethel, tennis.
Professional men — Brian Moorman, Buffalo Bills, punter; Dustin Richardson, Boston Red Sox, pitcher.
Professional women — Liz Sowers, West Michigan Mayhem, receiver; Katie Sowers, West Michigan Mayham, defensive back; Laurie Koehn, Ted Kayseri Kolej Spor (Turkish women’s basketball team; Dexia Namur, Bel), guard.
Coaches of the year
Prep — JoAnne Thaw, Newton, gymnastics; Tad Remsberg, Newton.
College — Lonnie Isaac, Bethel, tennis.
Game of the year
Bethel football vs. Tabor, Bethel 32, Tabor 29 (3OT).
A look back at the year in sports