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Injuries knock them down, but Stockton’s big men keep getting back up

The Hays Daily News

April 2014


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What’s Going for 2 up?

A look inside this issue

6

Nearly unbreakable

Stockton duo gets

knocked down, but gets right back at it for

Tiger basketball team.

10

Calming nerves

Being a part of the state wrestling tournament has become old hat for Rawlins County junior.

12

Picture this

Sights from the Class 3-2-1A state wrestling tournament in Hays.

Victoria’s Clayton Roth takes a shot over Ness City’s Dakota Stephen during a game in February at the Victoria High School gym. Chad Pilster, Sports Ink.

Sports Ink. contributors: Nick McQueen nmcqueen@dailynews.net Conor Nicholl cnicholl@dailynews.net Everett Royer sportsink@dailynews.net Jolie Green jgreen@dailynews.net Chad Pilster cpilster@dailynews.net Austin Colbert acolbert@dailynews.net Volume 4, Issue 2 Sports Ink. is published and distributed by The Hays Daily News. Copyright © 2014 Harris Enterprises. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Sports Ink. is a registered trademark of The Hays Daily News, 507 Main, Hays, KS 67601 (785) 628-1081.


Tough choice to make

K

evin Ayers could continue to teach physical education and weights, coach football, assist in track at Wallace County High School — and be a husband to his wife, Jill, and a father to two daughters, 11 and 5. Ayers’ growing resume had already put him among the all-time best coaches in Kansas eight-man football history. He collected a 152-27 record at Jetmore and Wallace County with three state titles and delivered an Eight-Man Division II runner-up finish this fall. Multiple area coaches looked up to Ayers for his success and preparation and great respect for him. But Ayers, in a rare move for coaches, didn’t want to do everything. Last year, Ayers resigned his teaching position and became a farmer. In the summer before the 2013 season, Ayers believed this fall would be his last year, but didn’t want to overshadow a potentially great season. Shortly after a 12-1 record Wallace County coach Kevin Ayers resigned after a 12-1 state runner-up season last ended in the state title game, Ayers fall. stepped aside. “Football just consumes me, it really ball “a huge decision” and “really, really tled through seasons – and how players does,” Ayers said. “I don’t how better to difficult” to make. matured throughout their careers. put it then it just consumes me. It takes “I love the kids, and I love the sport,” “It’s fun for me to look back and a tremendous amount of time to do it Ayers said. “It had nothing to do with see the difference in the kids that I the way that I know it needs to be done. that side of it. That’s something I am have coached from the time they have It just comes to the fact that there is not really going to miss - being around the walked into the program as freshmen enough time in the day.” boys and being around football and and when they exit as seniors, just the Jeff Hennick, the quarterback on coaching friends and all that.” growth they have made,” Ayers said. the 2007 state championship Wallace With virtually any coach, Ayers’ re“That’s been the most rewarding part County team, and sume starts with the of the job.” For starters an assistant on the playoff appearances Jill Ayers will miss the falls, too. Ay2013 squad, took and winning seasons. ers, from Winona, played at Bethany over Ayers’ teachHe never had a losing College, then coached junior high for ing position and is record and made the two years at Jetmore before he took now head coach. postseason all but over as varsity coach at Jetmore. He “If I were to handhis first year. But Aywent 73-16 in eight seasons with in pick a coach to ers remembered the Sharon Springs. follow me, Jeff Hennick is who I would seasons that didn’t produce outstanding “It’s something that’s been such a part pick,” Ayers said. “A great person off the records, too. of our family for the last decade and field. He is in it for the right reasons. “Everybody always talks about the a half, a little more,” Ayers said. “It’s He is very passionate. He has the kids’ state titles,” Ayers said. “Those years how we go about things in the fall. She best interests at heart. I am excited to are fun and rewarding and great. That’s is going to miss Friday nights. She talks see where he will take the program.” what you strive after. The years when about just the excitement of fall and Ayers’ two daughters are involved in our record wasn’t so good and then sports. She knows it gets me excited.” many activities, including sports. struggled at times to get some wins. I But Ayers is content with his choice, a “I feel good about the decision, but am just as proud of those kids.” difficult and rare one that few coaches my brain keeps thinking about next In 2009, Wallace County went through can make. season and football and what we need multiple injuries and still finished 7-3. “I prayed about it a lot and just felt to be doing and have to keep reminding In 2010, the Wildcats opened 1-4 and like this was the thing that I am supmyself that that’s no longer on my list had to win out to make the playoffs. posed to be doing right at this time,” of ‘to-do things,’ ” Ayers said. They did and finished 5-5. Ayers said he he said. “I feel good about the decision, Ayers called the choice to leave footwas most proud of how his teams batbut it doesn’t make it any easier.”

conor

NICHOLL


Who’s That? Notable performances in northwest Kansas Brady Tien, Brett Ottley

The pole vaulting duo for the Fort Hays State University track and field team each qualified for the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships in Salem, N.C. They did it with vaults in the MIAA Championships. The championships were scheduled for March 14 to 15. Tien, from Logan, entered the event with the 11th-best vault in Division II at 16 feet, 2 inches. Ottley, from Victoria, was tied for the 16th-best vault at 15-10.

Tristan Porsch

The Hoxie High School freshman just wrapped up an undefeated run at 120 pounds at the Class 3-2-1A State Wrestling Championships earlier this month at Gross Memorial Coliseum. Porsch finished 39-0, and defeated Smith Center freshman David Hileman, 13-7 in the title match. Porsch pinned his way through the first two rounds at state, and decisioned Fredonia’s Sam Aylor, 4-1 in the championship semifinals. A title in his freshman season means Porsch has a chance to capture four straight, something only done six other times in Class 3-2-1A, once by former Hoxie standout Mat Gilliland.

Tyler Rathke

The Hays High School graduate and Hastings (Neb.) College senior recently grabbed his second All-American finish in the weight throw at the NAIA National Indoor Championships in Geneva, Ohio. Rathke, a former 5A state champion discus and shot put thrower for the Indians, finished third at nationals with a personal best throw of 65 feet, 1.5 inches. Rathke also finished 19th in the shot put.

Kaleigh Soneson

Soneson, a senior on the Ellis High School girls’ basketball team, played a key role in getting the Railers to state. Against Oakley, Soneson led the team with 14 points and scored 13 in a first-round sub-state victory against Plainville. Heading into the 2A state tournament, Soneson was averaging 7.9 points. Got an idea of someone who you think should be included in Who’s That? Send it to sportsink@dailynews.net with Who’s that? in the subject line, or call (800) 657-6017.


Battlingback Stockton juniors Jaden Williams, left, and Justin Wiltfong hope to avoid injury before next basketball season, their final year together in high school.

Injuries have plagued Stockton’s ‘big man’ duo, but they’ve come back stronger than ever. Page 6

S

TOCKTON — It happened on the matically what happened. The first opening kickoff against Wathought that came to mind was basKeeney-Trego Community ketball. I just knew I was done,” High School, the second football Wiltfong said. “It was awful. austin Basketball has always been my game of the 2013 season for colbert Stockton High School. favorite sport. There were a lot The why and how of it hapof people that told me not to go pening are debatable, but when Jolie out for football this year, but of Stockton junior Justin Wiltfong green course I wanted to. I wanted to hit the ground in pain, there was try it. Then, second game I get little doubt about the severity of the hurt.” injury. At 6-foot-4, Wiltfong is built to play “My knee went in and I knew autobasketball and had been a starter for

story by

photos by

April 2014

SPORTS INK.


the Stockton boys’ basketball team since he was a freshman. But when he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, against Trego, his junior season was as good as over. “That’s the type of injury you are going to be scared about because it can end your season like that,” said Stockton senior starting point guard Reed Stephens, the son of Stockton head coach Tom Stephens. “Even the days he was hurt, he came to practice every day. He wanted to learn and wanted to get better on his game, even through is injury.” Wiltfong rehabbed throughout the football and basketball seasons and recovered in time to return to the court for Stockton’s game against Smith Center in late February. Having missed so much time, Wiltfong couldn’t be used as heavily as he had in the past, but did enough to help get Stockton to the Class 1A Division I sub-state championship game in Quinter, where the Tigers lost to top-seeded Hoxie, 62-42. Stockton finished the season 18-5. “It was tough the first couple of games (sitting out),” Wiltfong said. “I teared up a couple of times of course. Just thinking about not being able to play for the rest of the year was tough. Then I got my partial release to come back this year, which was great. It’s been tough sitting out.” Wiltfong was hardly alone in his injury, as unfortunately for Stockton, ACL tears have been far too common in recent years. Jaden Williams, Stockton’s 6-foot-5 junior, went through exactly the same thing last year. Williams, who has played with Wiltfong since eighth grade and is the second half of the team’s dynamic tandem on the court, tore his ACL in the third-place game at state in 2013. This caused Williams, one of the area’s best track and field athletes, to miss the entire track season last spring.

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“I teared up a couple of times of course. Just thinking about not being able to play for the rest of the year was tough.” - Justin Wiltfong, Stockton junior

Justin Wiltfong stretches his right leg prior to practice earlier this month in Stockton.

Also on the list are junior Kale Kuhlmann, another starting guard, who tore his ACL over the summer playing basketball and missed portions of the early basketball season, and junior guard Christian Hamel, who missed his entire freshman year with a torn ACL. “I remember it happening. I remember landing and after that I remember ice all the time and having to stretch it. And surgery was the worst. That was probably the worst pain I’ve ever been in in my life,” Williams said. “There are so many things people

blamed it on, like weights or not getting enough rest. Mine was really just a freak accident and I think a lot of it is that way. We just haven’t been lucky as a town. A lot of people blame the water, too. I just think it’s all freak accidents.” The plague of ACL injuries hasn’t been limited to the boys’ team, either. Paige Pedigo, the senior starting point guard for the Stockton girls’ basketball team, knows better than anyone what it’s like to have an ACL PAGE 8 injury, having gone through it twice.

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Jaden Williams goes up for a shot during practice in early March in Stockton.

Pedigo tore her first ACL in the summer of 2011, between her freshman and sophomore year, and missed all but the last couple of games of her sophomore season. Then, healthy again, Pedigo tore the opposite ACL in the team’s third game of her junior year, causing her to miss the rest of the season. “I cried a lot. I just knew I had to go back down that road of recovery and everything. Knowing I had to sit out of sports again, it hurt a lot,” Pedigo said. “I think it was more mental in sitting out and not being able to play with my team, honestly. It was hard coming back. I always thought as soon as I step back out on the court, something else was going to go wrong, that I’m going to tear my ACL again. So I had to overcome that.” Pedigo finally made it through an entire season injury free this year, leading the Stockton girls to the substate semifinals before losing 45-35 to Kensington-Thunder Ridge. Through all the trials and tribulations of recovery, the players all agreed they have come back stronger than before, and have become closer as a team. Williams proved to be the best support system and adviser Wiltfong could have asked for, and the rest of the Stockton boys were there for him as he was forced to ride the bench most of the season. “Whenever I went down in football, immediately the first people that came to me were the basketball guys … we all came together through it, which is


kind of nice. We get stronger with each other,” Wiltfong said. “First of all, you always want to question why did this happen, why did it happen to me? But I always think it’s part of God’s plan for me and I will just come back stronger from it. That’s what I always thought, that I’m going to come back stronger.” Williams is excited to return to the track this spring, where he will be joined by Wiltfong. Wiltfong admitted to not having much love for the sport, but believes competing in track and field will help get his knee back to where it was pre-injury. Neither plans to play football next season and could be poised for a strong senior season together on the basketball court, barring injury. “It’s been pretty hard, because him and I have always played together,” Williams said. “I play well with all the other guys, but him and I have this thing where we work together really well. Our offense works really well either way, but it just works a lot better with him and I in there together.”

“It’s been pretty hard, because him and I have always played together.” - Jaden Williams, on Justin Wiltfong.

Justin Wiltfong drives in for a layup during practice.

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Rawlins County junior Macrae Migchelbrink wrestles against Silver Lake junior Haegan Schaefer during 126-pound state title match at the Class 3-2-1A state championships March 1 at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays. Jolie Green, Sports Ink.

Boost of

Confidence Runner-up finish just the start for Atwood’s Migchelbrink

A

twood-Rawlins County High School junior Macrae Migchelbrink has qualified for the Class 3-2-1A state wrestling tournament all three years. As a freshman, he went 1-2 at 106 pounds and ended his season with a 9-2 loss to Effingham-Atchison County’s Logan Bowen. Page 10

Last winter, Migchelbrink entered as one of the top wrestlers at 120 pounds. He won his first match by fall in 2 minutes, 41 seconds and his second, 9-6, to set up a rematch against Bowen. This time, Migchelbrink lost, 4-1, a defeat that has changed his career. “I have just been training myself to April 2014

not be nervous anymore,” he said. “All it is is a wrestling match, so what’s the worst that can happen if you go out there and you do your best? It’s not like you are losing a life or anything.” On the backside, Migchelbrink eventually finished third when he defeated Silver Lake’s Haegan Schaefer, SPORTS INK.


7-0, and Norton’s Branson Addington, 5-1. This season, Migchelbrink was at the top of the 126pound rankings virtually all season. Migchelbrink said he had “improved a lot” from the sophomore year loss. At state, Migchelbrink cruised through his first three matches with a forfeit and two wins by fall. In the championship, Migchelbrink faced Schaefer again, but lost 10-4. Migchelbrink had tears long after the match and had a disappointed look when the state medalists joined together for the customary photo. He finished 35-5. “I came in knowing that I was going to get into the finals,” Migchelbrink said. Migchelbrink comes from a strong family of athletes. He has an older brother, Matt, and sister, Macy, who are seven and six years older, respectively. Matt finished third, second, third

and first in his four years with the Buffs. He delivered a 125-14 career record, including a 37-0 mark and state championship as a senior. Macy won multiple state track titles and was part of two state track crowns. She is now a yoga instructor in Colorado. “My brother has probably been my idol,” Macrae said. Macrae stands at 99-17 in his career. He is nearly 6-foot-1, height that his opponents can’t match. Plus, Migchelbrink is very flexible, which keeps wrestlers from doing single-leg takedowns. “Most definitely the strongest point besides my length is my flexibility,” he said. “I love being active, so flexible just comes with it.” This season, Migchelbrink and junior Rhett Mizer (35-9) were the lone two qualifiers for the Buffs. Mizer finished 2-2 at 138

Dr. Steven B. Larsen

Rawlins County junior Rhett Mizer wrestles against Rossville sopomore Derek Gentry during the first-round consolation at 138 pounds during the Class 3-2-1A state championships.

pounds. Migchelbrink, though, enjoyed his best finish at state – but came up just short of a title. “Maybe a little bit more mature, and I just don’t get into predicaments anymore,” he said. “I don’t like

being on my back. I have been taken down a few times, but with my length, it’s pretty hard to get into my legs, and even if you do get my legs, you only get one of them.” Conor Nicholl, Sports Ink.

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Picture this

Ellis’ Skyler Tebo wrestles against Rock Creek senior Jesse Correll during the consolation cross bracket round at 220 pounds.

Sights from the Class 3-2-1A state wrestling championships

Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays. at

Norton’s Branson Addington hugs Bluejay coach Bill Johnson after upsetting Ellsworth’s Ty Nienke in the 113-pound championship match.

Sylvan-Lucas senior 285-pounder Fritz Berger celebrates with his coach Nate Naasz after he defeated Beloit’s Bryce Black in the championship match March 1 at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.

Phillpsburg senior Michael Dusin wrestles against St. Mary’s junior Greg Tooley during the 145-pound championship match. Tooley defeated Dusin, Phillipsburg’s top finisher in the event.

Photos by Chad Pilster, Jolie Green

Hoxie’s Tristan Porsch, gets close to pinning Smith Center’s David Hileman in the 120-pound championship match.


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Wiesner, a 170-pound senior on the Cardinal wrestling team, captured his first state title by pinning Rossville’s Isaac Luellen. Wiesner earned three pins and a technical fall at state to finish his season 37-2. His only losses were to Class 5A state qualifier Ethan Deterding of Hays High School and Class 4A state qualifier Caleb Parenti of Ottawa. Wiesner, ranked No. 1 at 170 pounds his entire senior season, captured two state medals in high school, as he placed second last season at 160 pounds.

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Oakley junior Dylan Gassmann wrestles against Marion junior Kyle Palic during the 220-pound championship match. Gassmann won his first state title.

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Basketball encyclopedias N

early 60 years combined with the same programs across town from each other. Nearly 800 wins combined for two head coaches at their current schools, and well over that mark in their entire coaching history. In 14 years of covering high school basketball in Hays, I’ve often wondered if Thomas More Prep-Marian boys’ coach Joe Hertel and Hays High School boys’ coach Rick Keltner have forgotten more about basketball than some people will ever learn. I’m wondering what it would be like as a high school basketball fan to crawl inside their head for a day just to soak up the vast knowledge on game day. I sometimes think about what it might be like to get them in the gym for a little oneon-one. Through the years I’ve picked up on a few things about each coach, learned their Chad Pislter, Sports Ink. TMP coach Joe Hertel picked up his 400th victory with the Monarchs this season. coaching habits, and have been able to predict what each might say in any given level, Hertel’s teams have always come out I’ve seen in my time here, getting the most situation, so I know getting them on the and just played hard. And his defenses have out of each one of them is a tall task. floor for even a game of horse might be a been a pain in the rear for teams through the It takes a special kind of system for a guy tall task. years. with Kyle Niernberger’s size to flourish. Or Not to mention I don’t know if they make While this year’s version of the Monarchs a guy like Kade Parker, who admits he a cowboy boot with a had a scoring punch really has no jumping ability. Keltner The Closer gym sole, and Hertel Hertel hasn’t seen in also is bringing along a guy who has might feel a bit out recent years, they got already become one of the best big men of sorts without his after it — and that’s in the 5A ranks, if not the entire state, specific look. the biggest reason why in Brady Werth, who has one more year They have never TMP was in the mix for left at HHS. been the kinds of a Class 3A state tournaLike ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s a wealth coaches who seek out ment berth, only to fall of high school basketball knowledge at that kind of attention for themselves, but just short against a one-loss Beloit team. our disposal here, but neither coach is rather put the focus on their teams. Then across town, Keltner accomplished ever going to say that about themselves. Even this season when Hertel was set to something this season no HHS coach has Anyone who has ever had the oppick up his 400th victory at TMP, he didn’t been able to do, take a team to state with portunity to play in either program, draw attention. Superstition probably had a an undefeated record. While this is, by far, though, knows it. And so does anyone bit to do with it, but Hertel only informed the most athletic and deepest HHS team who has been paying attention. a small handful of people of the pending milestone, and even shrugged it off after it happened three games later against Colby, 2014 Youth Tournaments stating “all that means is I’ve managed to stay in this business for a long time.” hosted at Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex He proceeded to talk about some of the Fast Pitch Qualifiers Baseball Qualifiers great players he has had the opportunity to • May 31-June 1 - ASA HRC 17th Annual Tournament (9-18U) • May 10-11 - NBC Points Tournament (9-14U) *3 Game Guarantee Fee $185 *3 Game Guarantee Fee $200 coach through the years. But in a year where Deadline: May 23 Deadline: May 2 • June 14-15 - ASA Summer Swing Tournament (9-18U) • June 7-8 - NBC Points Tournament (9-14U) he picked up his 400th, Hertel might have *3 Game Guarantee Fee $185 *3 Game Guarantee Fee $200 done one of his better coaching jobs. Deadline: June 6 Deadline: May 10 • June 28-29 ASA Summer Sizzler Tournament (9-18U) • June 21-22 - NBC Featured Points Tournament (9-14U) This TMP team, though slightly inexperi*4 Game Guarantee Fee $200 *4 Game Guarantee Fee $225 Deadline: June 20 Deadline: June 13 enced, came to play hard almost each and Team Name ______________________________________ Manager ________________________________Division __________ every night. Even through a rough stretch of 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Circle team Age 8 four games in five days, they wore themAddress _______________________________________________ City _______________________ State _______ ZIP _______ Home # __________________________________ Work # ____________________________ Fax # _______________________ selves out. That’s one thing I’ve come to Cell _____________________________________ email __________________________________________________________ learn through the years. No matter the talent Mail to: Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex • 1105 Canterbury • Hays, KS 67601

nick

McQUEEN


We’re on your team. All day. Every day. �������������������������������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������������������������������� �������������������������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������������� �����������������������������������������������������

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