We have already covered 20 of the best sports stories from 2012 and today, we move through another 10 en route to the 10 best on Sunday.
We have already covered 20 of the best sports stories from 2012 and today, we move through another 10 en route to the 10 best on Sunday.
PSU women win first NCAA tournament game
Pittsburg State began its women's basketball program in 1974 and the Gorillas had never won a single NAIA or NCAA Tournament game until March 9, 2012, in Topeka against conference rival Central Missouri.
Pitt State was not exactly on a roll entering the NCAA Tournament, losing three of its previous four games, including a 83-77 first round loss to Lincoln in the MIAA Tournament.
Plus, the Gorillas were playing on the home floor (Lee Arena) of the Washburn Lady Blues, traditionally unkind to the Gorillas. In fact, Pitt State last defeated Washburn on the road in 2001 — Feb. 10, 2001.
All that changed with the 74-70 win over Central Missouri. Pitt State overcame giving up a 40-21 halftime lead and playing with foul trouble (Lauren Brown, Brooke Conley, Lizzy Jeronimus and Larissa Richards each had four personal fouls). Jeronimus scored the final four points in the final 18 seconds, both layups, and finished with a game-high 29. We'll have more on the women's basketball team later in the week.
PSU women's XC makes nationals third straight year
Pitt State did not defend its MIAA title in Maryville, Mo., on Oct. 20 but the Gorillas were able to qualify for the National Championships a third straight time with a fifth-place finish at the South Central Regional on Nov. 3.
The Gorillas were represented at nationals by Kaley Temaat, Alex Moase, Bridgette McCormick, Cate Dunn, Casey Epps, Hannah DeVries and Amanda Callaway. Both regionals and nationals were held in Joplin, on the Missouri Southern course.
Temaat finished with her best 6K time of the year — 22 minutes, 5.9 seconds . . . good for 89th place.
"She's had some really good cross country races but that was probably the best cross country race of her life and no better time to do it than the National Championships in the last collegiate race of her life," Pitt State head coach Russ Jewett said. "She doesn't have any track eligibility left or anything. Again, she went out very aggressively, settled, slipped a little bit like we knew she would but then she held tight and passed some folks the last kilometer. It was a fantastic race. I couldn't be more proud of her."
Moase, a sophomore making her first nationals appearance, finished 110th with a personal best time of 22:26.6. She passed 19 runners in the second half of the race.
"She ran fantastic," Jewett said. "She somehow found a way to pass, I don't know how many people she passed. She doesn't have much speed so she can't really get out fast. On this course, it's an advantage to get out fast and settle in. It's hard for her because she doesn't have much foot speed. What she lacks in foot speed she makes up for in tenacity and just finding gaps here and there. She was able to move up a lot. She's like a running back."
Page 2 of 5 - Pitt State finished 24th among 32 teams.
PSU men's track wins MIAA title
Pitt State won its eighth all-time MIAA title since joining the league in 1990, its first since 2005, and the Gorillas ended Central Missouri's six-year reign on top of the MIAA track world.
The triple jump and the javelin scored major points for the Gorillas.
Kiara Jones, Keenan Soles and Marquise Cushon finished 1-4-6 in the triple jump. Jones won with a season-best mark of 51 feet, 5.5 inches, while Soles finished 48-4.75 and Cushon 48-1.75.
Jones and Soles are brothers (Jones older, Soles younger) and Pittsburg natives. Cushon transferred from the University of Kansas in January and would later show his potential as a football player with the Gorillas.
Mike Beeler won his third MIAA title in the javelin with a throw of 229-0 and he was joined by Garrett Cantrell (191-4, third), Calvin Hughes (188-7, fourth), Derek Base (184-11, sixth) and Adam Farnow (174-11, eighth).
Two events secured 43 points for Pitt State.
Cody Holland finished third in the shot put with a mark of 53-7.75.
Frontenac moves to 4A, Colgan to 3A
Once upon a time, Frontenac and Colgan were intense rivals in 2A. For example, their last football game of the regular season always seemed to be a winner-takes-all grudge match.
Oh, how times have changed. Frontenac moved to 3A several years ago, while Colgan became a 2A powerhouse. Their on-field rivalry in football almost ceased being a rivalry; Frontenac ended the 15-game winning streak for the Panthers in the series back in September.
Anyway, Frontenac remained 3A in all sports besides football and Colgan moved to 3A in all sports in the 2011-2012 school year — this shift created memorable postseason games in baseball, boys basketball and softball. Frontenac baseball won its first state title and the Colgan boys basketball and softball teams qualified for state
During football season, it was announced that Frontenac would be 4A in all sports and Colgan 3A in all sports for the 2012-2013 school year.
Frontenac made its first 4A state football playoff appearance and Colgan made its first 3A football appearance after finishing out 2011 in 2-1A. The Frontenac volleyball team also qualified for the state tournament, something it had not done the previous two seasons in 3A.
PHS wrestling wins its first regional title
It was a historical Saturday evening in February for the Pittsburg High wrestling program, appropriately enough in Fort Scott, a historical city.
Not only did Pittsburg win its first regional title, four grapplers won individual titles, 10 qualified for state and senior Aaron Seybold earned Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association Regional Wrestler of the Year in 4A.
Page 3 of 5 - Levi Kester (106 pounds), Seybold (145), Gershom Avalos (220) and Broc Bennett (285) won regional titles.
Kester, Jeremiah Jones (113), Parker Fields (120), Brett Cobb (126), Jacob Wools (132), Seybold, Brendan Maxwell (170), Brent Koehn (182), Avalos and Bennett qualified for state.
"Our goal was to get 200 points and Prairie View came in with a darn good solid group of kids and as the tournament went on, we knew we had to reevaluate that goal," Pittsburg head coach Scott Rieck said, "and get more than 200 points because they were on our heels."
Pittsburg finished with 222 points, followed by Prairie View at 184.5, Chanute 173 and Fort Scott 170.5.
"I am so happy for these kids because, a handful of years ago, we took third and then we took second," Rieck said. "Then, last year we missed out second by a point and we slid back a little bit. I knew that with this group we could win it. I just knew it. We've been pushing these kids hard and we've been rough on them, expecting greatness out of them even when sometimes I don't think they thought they could do it. We just kept driving them and they did believe and they proved it today by winning a good, solid regional."
Pittsburg hosts a 2013 Class 4A regional in February.
PHS wrestling places fourth at state
Despite falling one spot from third place after the first day and one place short of a team plaque on the second and last day, Pittsburg finished its highest place at a state tournament in program history.
"We took fifth last year," Pittsburg head coach Scott Rieck said. "It's baby steps. Our goal the whole time was to win it. A match here, a match there and we come home with a plaque.
"Everything happens for a reason, I believe that. For us to go up one more notch and not two or three is for a reason. I was bummed out for the kids that they didn't get a team plaque and get to put it in the trophy case but next year we're going to have to work harder and every year since I've been here, we've worked harder to obtain something that we haven't yet."
Aaron Seybold (145 pounds) and Broc Bennett (285) won state titles — Seybold became the first back-to-back state title winner in PHS history and Bennett joined his older brother, Beau, as state champion, becoming the first brothers to win state titles in PHS history.
Levi Kester (106) placed fifth and Jeremiah Jones (113) sixth, his second sixth place medal in three years.
Pittsburg finished with 80 points, behind Bonner Springs (92.5), Colby (96.5) and state champion Andale (99).
Southeast VB back-to-back-to-back state
The Southeast Lancers qualified for the 2010 and 2011 Class 3A state volleyball tournaments not as the No. 1 seed at substate.
Page 4 of 5 - However, Southeast took a 31-5 overall record and the No. 1 seed into Caney, where Southeast defeated Riverton, Cherryvale and Erie in straight sets for a third straight appearance in the big tournament.
Southeast went on a major league tear after losing a Senior Night heartbreaker to Frontenac.
"No one wants to lose, especially on Senior Night," junior Amy Martin said. "Your seniors don't want to end their last game on their home floor with a loss. We still won two games, which is good . . . glad we came out with a positive note. It's not the end of the season. Seniors still have days to work in practice, work hard and we're going to come out at substate and carry it on to state. This is not our last . . . we're going to build on it and learn from it."
Southeast won 13 straight between its loss to Frontenac and its losses to Wellsville, Hillsboro and Silver Lake at state. The Lancers did win their first set in three state appearances against Wellsville.
Southeast finished its season 34-8.
With the football team improving by five wins from the previous season and the boys cross country team qualifying for state, it was an exciting fall sports season at Southeast USD 247.
Northeast FB ends its 19-game losing streak
It had been a long time since the Northeast Vikings last won a football game. Let's see, it was the 2009 season finale against Pleasanton, a 14-6 win at home.
Northeast lost every game of the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and the first game of 2012 against Humboldt on the first Friday night of the season affected by adverse weather conditions.
Originally scheduled for a Friday night at Samuel J. Nicoletti Field, a power outage in Arma forced a postponement to Monday and Northeast took advantage with a 34-14 win over Fredonia. The Vikings also benefited from three early Fredonia turnovers, building a 20-0 lead from a fumble, an interception and a turnover-on-downs.
"It was a good start for us," Northeast head coach Phil Hobbs said. "I was a little concerned. We started out like we did last week. We turned the ball over on our first possession but then we get it right back and we're able to go down the field and get a score off it. That's key for us. We haven't always been able to get those turnovers, the ball just doesn't bounce our way. In small-school football, you've got to have those breaks and now, we're creating those breaks for us and then we're taking advantage of them."
J.T. Richardson rushed for 156 yards and four TDs on 19 carries, Antonio Slingluff returned an interception for a touchdown and Nick Younge made a sensational reception on his back to set up a score, as well as an interception on defense.
Page 5 of 5 - Northeast finished its season 4-5 and won its first Three Rivers game after two seasons of futility.
Northeast BKB wins first Three Rivers title
The Northeast Vikings ran the table in Three Rivers League contests — a 9-0 mark and league title en route to a 18-5 overall record and substate runner-up finish.
"It's been a good year," Northeast head coach Matt Hiatt said on the eve of the postseason. "Any time you can win a league championship, that's a good year but hopefully, we've got a chance for the league championship to not be the highlight of our year."
This was Northeast's first league title in basketball since 2001. The Vikings won the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League in 1974 and 2001.
The Vikings were led in 2011-2012 by seniors Chase Cleland, Cody McCloud, Cole Robinson and Jon Baker with contributions from sophomores J.T. Richardson and Noah Popejoy, freshmen Seth Chandler and Antonio Slingluff.
"We knew all along that we'd have a chance," Hiatt said. "If we could put things together and we could get everybody playing together and get our minds right. I realized that probably after we beat Liberal to go 5-0 before Christmas, that's when it set in for me that we're going to have a chance to have a special season here.
"Beating Crest was a big confidence-booster for our kids and that game right there is what propelled us to go undefeated in league. Our kids realized that if we can beat Crest, then we can beat everybody else. I think we've been a different team since then."
Frontenac wrestling wins its first varsity dual
In only its second year of existence and its first year competing in varsity matches and tournaments, the Frontenac High School wrestling program won its first dual against Jayhawk-Linn in January.
The Raiders took advantage of three absent Jayhawk-Linn wrestlers in the first three weight classes (106, 113, 120) and started out up 18-0 before the first actual match.
"They gave up a lot of weight classes," Frontenac head coach Keith Aikin said. "They only had five guys here. We only had eight. But, if you break it down to the matches we actually wrestled, they won two, we won two. We won two by major decision and they won one by major decision. We actually beat them physically wrestling. It's not just the fact we had more weight classes than they did. Not having all the weight classes all the time, you give up a lot of points. It doesn't really matter what the team score is as long as you win the matches you wrestle. We did with Jayhawk-Linn, we didn't with Parsons."
Freshman Ethan Hess (138 pounds) won a 15-6 major decision over Jayhawk-Linn freshman Dakota Murrow. Tanner Craig (145) won a 15-4 major decision over Tyler Jenkins of Jayhawk-Linn.