Sports are an incredible thing. But the one thing that always amazes me is how sports never stop topping what happened in previous years. Just when you think you have seen it all, something incredible happens and you forget about the prior year.
So, with 2015 coming to a close, let’s recap a few things. In the audio below, I went through and picked out the top 15 games I broadcasted. Since I was gone for the Class 3A state title game, I didn’t include that. But, I did have a solid mix of high school football and basketball and Washburn athletics. Give it a listen.
While you’re listening, check out the 15 best headlines in high school athletics for 2015. Enjoy.
Top 15 High School Sports Headlines
15. Seaman Baseball Takes Second at Class 5A State Tournament
Seaman didn’t have the glossiest record going into the big dance. The Vikings were 16-6 with great talent across the board, led by Kansas commit Ryan Zeferjahn. But, as many know by now: death, taxes and Seaman making the semifinals. The Vikings made it to the semifinals for the 12th straight year, falling short in the state title game, 2-1, to Blue Valley Southwest.
14. Washburn Rural Soccer Programs Nab Two Runner-Up Finishes
While the losses still might sting, how about the performances from both the girls and boys soccer teams? Back in the spring, the Lady Junior Blues set a school record with a 19-2 record. But, in the Class 6A state championship, Rural lost to Blue Valley Northwest 2-1. The Huskies would also be victorious in boys soccer this past fall taking down the Junior Blues 3-2 in penalty kicks. On the bright side, not many people expected Rural to be in the title game, making the year a huge success for Rural soccer.
13. Rural’s Prockish Blows Away Competition
The incredible junior saved her best for when it mattered most. At the Class 6A tournament, the Lady Junior Blue rolled, winning the individual state bowling title by 69 pins. She recorded her career-best with a series score of 748.
12. Topeka West Steals 5A State Bowling Title
Speaking of saving the best for last, the Lady Chargers did exactly that. They peaked at the right time and grabbed the 5-1A state championship. West accumulated a score of 2,258, which edged out Eisenhower’s 2,215. Junior Renee Howland finished second with a 689 series, propelling West to its first ever state bowling crown.
11. High’s Long Accomplishes Goal, 400-Meter Team Repeats
High jumper Joel Long was the man to beat going into the Class 6A state track meet. He tied for the title and finished second on misses as a junior. The current Kansas Jayhawk cleared 6-foot-8 to win his first state title by four inches. T-High’s girls were winners once again. The 400-meter relay group of juniors Precious Posey, Maria Cisneros and Ageonia Wilkerson and sophomore Asya Williams won in 48.53 seconds.
10. Rossville Wrestling Earns Third Place Behind Dynamic Duo
The Bulldawgs have more than football players. Those same ones on the football field this past fall celebrated an incredible year with a third-place finish at the Class 3-1A meet. The Dawgs were led by two individual champions. Isaac Luellen went 25-0 at 182 pounds and Bryce Gfeller was just as good, going 31-2 at 113 pounds. More on that football team down the line.
9. Silver Lake Fans Opponents at State Tournament
I’m not even sure if fanning is the right word. That might be the first and only time I type the word fanning. Whoops, I did it again. Anyways, the Lady Eagles were simply outstanding with dominating pitching and bats. Silver Lake finished 23-2 on the season. While a team might have the same record in future years, I don’t think we’ll see another weekend performance like senior Megan Deiter’s. She allowed one hit in three games and tossed a no-hitter in the championship. Oh, and she struck out 19 batters.
8. Hayden’s John-Martin Schmidt Ends Stunning Career
This is where it starts getting tough. Before I wrote this, I had many tell me it would be hard coming up with 15. No one said how tough it would be to rank the top 10! So many great athletes and Hayden’s John-Martin Schmidt is right up there with the rest of them. He was named the 5-1A boys swimmer of the year after winning titles in the 200 freestyle and 100 freestyle. The Missouri S&T swimmer finished his career with five individual titles.
7. Washburn Rural Boys Golf Wins Scorecard Tiebreaker for 6A Crown
One of many close finishes that took place in 2015. In fact, this is as close of a finish that you can get in high school golf. Washburn Rural tied with Blue Valley North at 296. The Junior Blues won with a lower fifth-person score. K-Stater Andrew Beckler made a five-foot par putt to give Rural the title. Cody Dillon and Connor Hansen each shot 77’s to help. Lukas McCalla finished fifth, Parker Beal was seventh and Ryan Clatterbuck took eighth.
6. Shawnee Heights Boys Track Team Comes Up in Clutch
Going into the final event, the 1,600-meter relay, the T-Birds knew the only way to win a team championship was to win that event. That’s a lot of pressure for seniors Austen Hubert, DeJuan Gardenhire, Troy Henry and Rasheed McAlpin. All four rose to the occasion, winning the race in three minutes, 23.99 seconds to give Heights a 76 1/2-75 victory over Leavenworth. The win in the event was the fourth straight for Shawnee Heights.
5. Year of the Hayden Lady Wildcats
Oh, baby, was 2015 a fun year for the Hayden Lady Wildcats. Let’s head back to the winter. Hayden fell to arch-rival Bishop Miege in the semifinals, but the Lady Wildcats recovered to capture third place at the Class 4A-I state tournament. In the spring, Hayden picked up its third 4-1A soccer championship in four seasons in a 16-5 season. Plus, Hayden went to state tournaments in softball and golf. To cap it off, Hayden rolled to a 4A-II state volleyball championship, led by senior Mariah Grunert, who was named the 4A-II player of the year.
4. Hunters Have Winning in Their Blood
If I would have changed my last name to Hunter, I probably would have won a few state titles. And, it’s much easier to say than Strathman (Strawth-men). Any who, the Hunters can flat out play. And, most importantly, win. Hayden’s Tommy Hunter became the second boys tennis player in the city and the first in 53 years to win three state singles championships. He dominated the Class 4A tournament, finishing his season with a 31-2 season. In his high school career, with one more year to go, he’s 98-6. He has a chance to become the city’s first four-time state champ in 2016. His freshman sister Brooklyn is on her way to a tremendous career as well. She knocked off the defending state champion for the title in her first ever state meet. And, she was a key member in Hayden’s volleyball run. Beware of the Hunters.
3. Rossville’s Tucker Horak Makes History
He certainly did. I have never used the words unbelievable, unthinkable or unimaginable so many times on a broadcast. But, to describe Tucker? Yea, it fits. And, just like I mentioned up above in that audio, he simply was not human. For starters, he became the first player ever in Kansas to rush for 2,000 yards and pass for 2,000 in a single season. EVER. In his final season, he threw for 2,070 yards and 30 touchdowns with just four interceptions. On the ground, he scored a whopping 47 times with 2,859 yards. He ended his senior year with 4,929 total yards and 77 touchdowns. Absurd! What’s even crazier is what he has done on a national scale. He averaged 352 yards a game, which is 12th all-time. Horak in his career accounted for 12,834 yards, good for sixth all-time. Here’s his highlight reel from senior year. No, it’s not a video game. That’s real life.
2. Hayden Baseball Overpowers in Nearly-Perfect Season
This is too hard. Seriously. Picking a top five is darn right impossible. You can honestly go 15-6 (maybe even 15-9) and go 1 “A”, “B”, “C”, “D” and “E”. What Hayden baseball did this past year was remarkable. For starters, the team ERA was under zero. Not one pitcher, not two, BUT THE WHOLE TEAM. Are the Wildcats the Royals? Could have fooled me. Hayden nabbed its second state baseball title in three years with an 11-0 win over McPherson. At the tournament, Hayden outscored opponents 21-2. The only blemish on the year was against Manhattan in a 4-2 loss to the Indians. Other than that, the Wildcats had an unstoppable team, led by K-Stater Brogan Heinen and Washburn attendees Jacob Head and Derrick McGreevy.
1. Rossville Repeats as 3A Champions
Speaking of unstoppable, here’s exhibit “A.” Last season, the Dawgs were pretty incredible. They took down undefeated Scott City 21-14 for their first state championship in program history. So, what do the Dawgs do again? They repeat in impressive fashion. Now, the 20-19 state title win over Wichita Collegiate didn’t seem dominating, but don’t forget how awful the weather was in Kansas. Rossville had two close games. One was against Collegiate. The other was a 42-32 win over St. Mary’s Colgan. Other than that, Rossville rolled, including a 56-35 stomping over Silver Lake. Horak scored eight touchdowns that game, but it wasn’t just about Tucker. Wide outs Jacob Bradshaw, Christian Roduner and Cole Schumacher were terrific downfield threats and great blockers. Isaac Luellen and Gabe Marney were the leaders in the trenches, helping create holes and adding to the 40+ sack total. Dawson Hammes was an excellent runner and linebacker. Combine that with many others, including coach Derick Hammes and that was a recipe for success. I could have went Tucker here at number one, but he probably would be the first to tell me to not place him here. Or not put him on the list at all. Either way, the Dawgs are officially on the loose after winning 28 straight games.