The year 2019 in area sports will be best known as a year of revival for three Bethel College teams.
The record-setting campaigns for the Thresher football, women’s basketball and men’s basketball teams top the list of top headlines of the year.
• The Bethel football team went from 3-7 in 2018 to 8-3 last season, finishing second in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and ranked 20th in the final NAIA coaches poll. The Threshers set records for rushing yards in a game and in a season, among others.
• The Bethel women’s basketball team set a single-season record for wins at 20, finishing fourth in the KCAC and reaching the post-season tournament with a home berth. Abby Schmidt broke the single-season rebound record for the second straight year.
• The Bethel men’s basketball team finished last season 15-15, but has started this season 12-3, 7-2 in KCAC play. The team is currently 20th in the NAIA Division II poll. Jaylon Scott was last season’s freshman of the year and was named to the conference’s all-defensive team.
• Newton wrestlers claim two state titles: The Newton High School wrestling team claimed a pair of state titles in Class 5A. Grant Treaster won the title at 120 pounds, finishing the season 29-4. Senior Wyatt Hendrickson won the title at 220 pounds, pinning another nationally-ranked wrestler in the finals. Hendrickson finished the season nationally ranked and 37-0.
• Hesston College softball team wins Jayhawk title: It was Hesston College’s first year in the Jayhawk Conference and the softball team was the school’s first conference champion, finishing the season 34-10, 15-5 in conference play. The Larks tied with Highland Community College and Johnson County Community College for the title. The Larks fell to Murray State (Okla.) and Kansas City (Kan.) in the district playoffs.
• The Berean Academy boys’ cross country team finished first, while the Warrior girls finished second at the Class 1A state meet in Wamego. The boys downed Axtell 49-54 for the title. Andrew Janzen finished ninth. The girls fell to Doniphan West 62-63. Brooke Wiebe finished fifth.
• Miles Johns signs UFC contract: Newton High grad Miles Johns signed a contract as a mixed martial artist with UFC. The LFA Bantamweight Champion was 9-0 at the time of his signing. He made his UFC debut Sept. 14 in Vancouver, Canada, with a win over Cole Smith by decision.
• Newton girls track team takes third at state while boys take fifth: Kalli Anderson claimed two individual titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes with a state record in the 100. Maggie Remsberg won the state title in the 300-meter low hurdles. Newton also won the state title in the girls’ 4x100-meter relay. For the Newton boys, Damarius Peterson won the shot put title. The Newton boys also won the AV-CTL I title.
• Newton Nitros sweep Missouri Valley titles: The Newton Nitros swim team won the U.S. Swimming Missouri Valley small-club district titles in both the winter short course and summer long course competitions.
• Weather cancels pro event: Sand Creek Station finally landed its first professional tour event in the All Pro Tour Sand Creek Classic, but heavy rains and flooding canceled the event. Weather also altered the schedule of several other major tournaments at the course.
Other top headlines for the year include:
• The Berean Academy boys’ basketball team reaches state.
• The Newton High School boys’ cross country team wins the league title.
• The Hesston High School boys’ golf team finished third at Class 3A state golf.
• Sedgwick High School grad Brylie Ware was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and played for the State College Spikes of the Short Season Class A New York-Penn League.
• Bethel College hosts first state six-man football all-star game.
• The Newton Junior Knights American Legion baseball team reached the Class A (17 and under) state tournament, finishing 1-2 at state and 17-9 for the season.
• The Newton High School gymnastics team finished seventh at state.
• The Hesston High School girls’ and boys’ tennis teams each finished fifth at state.
• The Halstead High School boys’ cross country team finished fourth at the state meet, missing a plaque by one point.
Kansan Area coaches and athletes of the year
College men — Terry Harrison, Bethel College football
College women — Andrew Sharp, Hesston College softball
Prep boys and girls — Lewis Wiebe, Berean Academy boys basketball, boys and girls track and cross country.
College men — Jaylon Scott, Bethel College basketball; and Kaden Remsberg, Air Force football (Newton High grad)
College women — Abby Schmidt, Bethel College basketball
Prep boys — Wyatt Hendrickson, Newton High School wrestling
Prep girls — Kalli Anderson, Newton High School track
Pro — Miles Johns, Newton, mixed martial arts