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A magazine focusing on all things sports in northwest Kansas

Self

made

Palco senior Lizzie Benoit has worked hard to create her own success.

The Hays Daily News

November 2012


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What’s up?

A look inside this issue

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In the trenches

Play on the line is important, especially when it comes to the

postseason. It starts next week.

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Self-made runner

Lizzie Benoit has been a consistent contender while being one of three in cross country at Palco.

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New Heights The Ringneck

volleyball team hopes this season is one for the history books at Hill City

High School.

Catch me Members of the Golden Plains High School cheerleading squad practice their routine prior to the start of the Bulldogs’ football game against Cheylin in Rexford. Chelsy Lueth, Sports Ink

Cover illustration by Chelsy Lueth clueth@dailynews.net Sports Ink. contributors: Nick McQueen nmcqueen@dailynews.net Conor Nicholl cnicholl@dailynews.net Everett Royer sportsink@dailynews.net Steven Hausler shausler@dailynews.net Klint Spiller kspiller@dailynews.net Chelsy Lueth clueth@dailynews.net

Volume 2, Issue 9 Sports Ink. is published and distributed by The Hays Daily News. Copyright © 2012 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.


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Thunder Ridge’s Joel Struckhoff and the Longhorns won the 2011 Eight-Man Division II state championship.

File Photo

NW Kansas remains strong

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s the population in western Kansas 94 through the first six weeks. continues to drop and small towns Atwood is just one of many schools who continue to shrink, it’s easy to make have changed from 11-man to eight-man declaratory statements about the decline of in recent years due to population shifts, but northwest Kansas. in many cases, that shift hasn’t hurt their In many cases, those statements might not athletic prowess. be far from the truth, but there’s one area Quinter is a solid example. The Bulldogs that hasn’t seen much of a drop off: athlethave gone 37-12 since dropping to eightics. man, as of Week 6. The populations have dipped in many Other rural counties also have seen monnorthwest Kansas counties, but many teams ster performances despite a drop in overall have maintained population. their strong traditions Smith County and For Starters despite inhabiting a Rush County have shifting landscape. dropped in population Atwood-Rawlins by approximately 25 County is a perfect percent from 1980 to example. 2005, and yet, Smith From 1980 to 2005, Center and La Crosse Rawlins County has have remained 11-man seen a 34.9-percent drop in population — and been dominant forces in Class 2-1A the largest in our coverage area, according to football for much of the past decade. the U.S. Census Department. Smith Center won five consecutive state In its heyday, Atwood won three consecuchampionship from 2004-2008, and tive state football championships from counting up till Week 6, La Crosse has 1989-1991, and while this population shift gone 96-20 since 2002, which includes five has affected the school, dropping Atwoodunbeaten regular seasons in the past six Rawlins County’s football team from years. 11-man to eight-man this year, the football Other football teams, such as Phillipsteam itself is still succeeding. burg, Kensington-Thunder Ridge, Hill City The Buffaloes started the season strong, and Wallace County, also have seen tons of going 6-0 and outscored its opponents 196- success, despite seeing more than 20-per-

Klint

Spiller

Page 4

November 2012

cent population drops in their counties. However, northwestern Kansas’ excellence spreads beyond football. Wrestling has been dominated by the northwest portion of the state, winning 10 of past 11 Class 3-2-1A state championships. In that time, Norton’s won five, Smith Center’s won three and Hoxie’s won two — all members of counties that have seen population declines. In track and field, northwest Kansas won three state titles on the boys’ side in 2012 (Hays High in 5A, Plainville in 2A and La Crosse in 1A), and though Ellis County hasn’t seen a decline, Rooks County (Plainville) and Rush County (La Crosse) have won. Since 2000, Ness City has won four state titles in track and field (boys in 2009 and 2010; girls in 2000 and 2003). The Eagles also have been dominant in cross country, winning two titles on the boys’ side in 2008 and 2010 and one on the girls’ side in 2010. The Eagles have done all this despite seeing a 33.1-percent drop in population in Ness County from 1980 to 2005. The athletic performances compiled by students in dwindling towns is living proof that it’s not the quantity of students that matters. What matters is the quality, and northwest Kansas is full of quality. SPORTS INK.


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Who’s That? Notable performances in northwest Kansas Justin Juenemann

The Phillipsburg senior kicker helped along the Panthers 6-0 start to the season by putting up 48 points with his right leg. Juenemann, through six games, hit six field goals, nailing two against Oakley and two in a win against Hoisington. He also had hit 30 point-after tries on 32 attempts. In the Panthers sixth win, Juenemann was 8-for-8 in a 59-0 win against TMP. IN the same time span, Juenemann was 6-for-8 on field goal tries, making a season-long 45-yarder against Oakley. His six makes midway through the season was leading the state, according to maxpreps.com

Shelby Dinkel

Dinkel, a senior on the Hays High School tennis team, made an impressive run to reach the Class 5A state tennis tournament in early October. After ending the regular season with a 1715 record at No. 1 singles, Dinkel went 3-1 in the regional tournament at Valley Center to finish fifth and earn a state tourney berth, one of three Indians to qualify, along with doubles team Janae Gagnon and Megan Bird.

Jenna Ulrich

The junior hitter on the Fort Hays volleyball team, a Luray native, had a stellar start this fall. Among the MIAA’s Top 10, Ulrich’s .341 attack percentage was on pace to set the Tigers’ singleseason best mark since Fort Hays joined the NCAA ranks. Ulrich’s 68 blocks also ranked third in the MIAA and 31st in NCAA Division II. Fort Hays was 17-6 entering the second week of October, already tying its win total from 2011.

Jason Werth

Through a 3-3 start with the Quinter High School football team, Werth was among state’s leaders (fourth) for a sophomore in tackles per game. Werth averaged 12.5 per contest, second best on the team with two sacks. He had a season-high 15 tackles in the Bulldogs’ seasonopening win against Golden Plains, and racked up 14 in a Week 2 loss to state power Baileyville-B&B. 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.


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Everett Royer, Sports Ink Victoria center Nathan Kuhn locks up with Otis-Bison lineman Sam Higgason in the first quarter of a game in Otis earlier this month.

Battling in the trenches

O

TIS – The Week 6 contest between Victoria and Otis-Bison, two perennial powers with two state championship game appearances in the last five seasons, produced a strong matchup at nose guard and center. Victoria had junior Nathan Kuhn, a 5-foot-6, 195-pounder who uses leverage over size. Kuhn has to get underneath his opponents’ pad level and led Victoria with five tackles for loss in the first five games. Senior Sam Higgason is 5-10, 250 pounds and a returning first team allleague selection. Higgason is known more for his size and strength, but hadn’t played to his usual standards in the first half of the year. The day before Sports Ink.

the Victoria contest, Otis-Bison coach Travis Starr talked with Higgason. “He is just bigger than a lot of kids that he lines up against,” Starr said. “He is a nice guy. He is a nice teddy bear. I told him I was tired of seeing teddy bear. It was time to see something else.” Higgason controlled the line of scrimmage and made several big defensive plays, including a sack and forced fumble that led to a fumble recovery and a touchdown. “Sam was a handful at nose,” Victoria coach Doug Oberle said. “For the most part, we didn’t have an answer for him.” Otis-Bison had nine tackles for loss, including 2.5 from Higgason, in a 44-12 victory. Higgason and senior Noember 2012

linemen Matt Demel and Tyler Maier combined for 26 tackles. Offensively, Otis-Bison ran for 290 yards. “That is the (Sam) that we are used to seeing,” Starr said. “Along with Demel, those two played their best game tonight.” The matchup of linemen with vastly different sizes and/or experience levels is likely one of the key position battles as the football playoffs start next Tuesday. One of football’s mantras is whoever wins the battle in the trenches will win the game. That remains true this year — with a twist. In addition to who wins the trenches battle, a significant question in the state playoffs is how? In the last couple of years, area teams, Page 6


7 especially in the eight-man ranks and Class 2-1A, have had similar lines: big and experienced. On Quinter’s 2009 Eight-Man Division I state title team, the Bulldogs started four seniors and a sophomore. The five players combined to weigh 243 pounds. On the 2010 Otis-Bison runner-up squad, the Cougars returned all three starters on the line. Each player was a senior and averaged 222 pounds. Thunder Ridge averaged 218 up front with three seniors on its state title team last fall. La Crosse’s runner-up team in 2011 returned all five starters on the line and averaged 213 pounds. This season, the area’s top teams have different lines. Ness City, ranked No. 1 in Eight-Man Division I, has one starter, senior center Joey Rufenacht, more than 200 pounds. However, the Eagles do return all of their starters up front. “They are small, but they are so disciplined,� Quinter coach Greg Woolf said. Sharon Springs, ranked No. 2 in Eight-Man Division II, has new starters at center and guard. Weskan, the fourth-ranked team in Division II and one of the state’s surprises, has one player more than 175 pounds. One of

Where It All Begins

Everett Royer, Hays Daily News Otis-Bison defensive lineman Tyler Maier sacks Victoria quarterback Sam Ottley during their game earlier this month.

the Coyotes’ biggest players, 170-pound senior Sam McKinney, is the starting quarterback. “He has made our O-line a lot better because sometimes in protection, when we have a breakdown, he bails us out,� Weskan coach Marc Cowles said. La Crosse, undefeated and top-ranked in 2-1A, has three senior starters in veterans Matt Wagner, Lucas Ruff and Trey Renz, but also starts talented sophomore Sheldon Schmidt. La Crosse didn’t regularly start any sophomores on either line last fall. In 2012, the Leopards have three players who average 232 pounds — but then no one

else more than 198. Meade, one of the Leopards’ top competitors in the west, have 10 players at least 200 pounds. Otis-Bison has a mix. Higgason and Demel are two-year starters, but the rest of the line is brand new. The Cougars rely heavily on their line with a six-man front and one running back in senior Dylan Wissman, a rarely used offense in eight-man football. Still, the tactics paid off against Victoria, known for its physicality. Otis-Bison almost exclusively ran power football, most of it between the ends with Wissman, who finished with 41 carries for 274 yards and five scores. “We get five yards a carry, as a defensive guy, that just takes the will right out of you,� Starr said. Otis-Bison/Victoria, though, was just one battle of many between different fronts that could decide state titles in several classifications. “If Dylan is getting smacked around in the backfield, it’s on the offensive line,� Starr said. “He was making plays (against Victoria) and the offensive line was making holes for him, and it was just an all-around team victory.� Conor Nicholl, Sports Ink

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8

Self-made runner Palco’s Benoit ‘stands tall’

Page 8

PALCO — Senior Lizzie Benoit doesn’t fit home away from home — a place where the mold of an all-state athlete. she can separate herself from the group. Benoit doesn’t have an imposing stature. Benoit might be short, but at Palco High She’s petite and stands 4 feet, 10 School, she stands above everyone as inches. one of the best distance runners in Klint On the basketball court, players school history. tower above her, and in group pho- Spiller “That’s what I like about it,” Benoit tos, she has to get in the front row or said. “In basketball, if you’re short, she won’t be seen. Chelsy you’re bad, but in cross country, if Lueth But on cross country courses, you’re short, you (can be) be good Benoit finds herself on equal terms. because you’re light.” Her height doesn’t matter. All that matters is She’s a two-time all-state runner, finishhow fast she churns her legs. ing 20th at the Class 2-1A state meet in Benoit’s made cross country courses her Wamego as a sophomore and 19th as a

story by

photos by

November 2012

SPORTS INK.


9 junior. She owns the school record in the 4,000-meter run in cross country, and she’s medaled at every cross country race in which she’s competed. Benoit’s made a name for herself, and as the lone varsity runner at Palco High School, she’s done it as an individual in a sport that’s based around teams. Palco has only 38 students in its high school, making it the ninth smallest school in the state. With such low enrollment numbers, it makes it difficult to field full teams, and students are pressed to be involved in everything. In fact, Benoit’s been active in cross country, track and field, volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, FFA, band, forensics, scholars bowl, 4H, EcoMeet and CYO in the past. With most girls competing in volleyball or participating in cheerleading, it leaves few options to field a full cross country team. While other runners have teammates to race with and share pre-meet rituals with, Benoit is on her own. Though she said she would prefer to have teammates, that isolated environment doesn’t negatively impact her. Palco coach Dick Robinson said that might be because Benoit is highly selfmotivated. “She’s like an assistant coach,” Robinson said. “She’s a hard worker, and she wants to get better so it makes it easy to coach her.” But her race strategy works perfectly for her situation. Benoit doesn’t need to run in a pack, because like a lone wolf, she starts slow and picks off opposing runners one by one. “I just want to medal” In her quest to find her athletic calling, she dabbled in a little bit of everything, but her size limited her potential in most sports. In middle school, Benoit tried multiple events in track and field, but she said she was awful at them. “I was bad,” Benoit said. “I ran like an 18minute two mile. I hated it. I hated running. I was too little to throw. I tried long jumping, and that was a fail.” By the time Benoit got to high school, she said she just wanted to find something she was good at. “I was terrible at every other sport,” Benoit said. “I was like, ‘I just want to medal. I want to be happy. I want to have something to show my family.’ ” She eventually found her calling in track, improving drastically in long distance races, which inspired her to go out for cross counSports Ink.

Benoit, front, competes in the Ness City Invitational in September. She finished 13th in the race.

try her sophomore year. Benoit watched another girl at Palco run in previous years and managed to medal, and that girl had asthma. “I thought if she was medaling, then I could do it,” Benoit said. The first race she ran was a junior varsity

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race, and she broke the school record with an 18 minutes, 53 seconds. Benoit’s improved drastically since then, and she recently set her personal record, running a 16:57 at the Phillipsburg Invitational. PAGE 10

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Coach Dick Robinson checks his stopwatch while Benoit, Cheyenne Schwab and Alex McLaughlin wait to begin their run.

Benoit does her homework Since Benoit doesn’t have a team to run with, she has to get creative. She finds runners from opposing schools who will provide a challenge for her and targets that runner throughout the race. Some days, she wins, and some days, she loses. It’s a different girl every year. This year, she’s aimed for Dighton freshman Payden Shapland. While she doesn’t tell her annual rival that

she’s focused on beating them, Benoit said she’s pretty sure “(Shapland’s) catching on.” Benoit also researches other teams and reads stories about how other teams train, and this past summer, Benoit traveled to Pueblo, Colo., for a week-long running camp organized by Brocaw Blazers coach David Ramsey. Seeking out running partners Prior to her senior year, Benoit desperately wanted teammates, so she convinced her

friend, sophomore Cheyenne Schwab, to join the team. “She pretty much forced me to do cross country,” Schwab said, but admitted she now enjoys cross country more than any other sport. Benoit also helped coax freshman Alex McLaughlin to come out on the boys’ side. Though Schwab and McLaughlin are on the team, they run in the junior varsity races since it’s their first year running long distance. So while they train together, they


11 don’t compete together. Benoit said she wishes she had a team to run with in the varsity races. While other teams warm up together and stand together on the starting line, Benoit stands alone in her Palco jersey. “It just makes me sad,” Benoit said. “I want to be part of that. I want to be part of their little prayer circle before the race and get pumped up like they do.” In order to challenge herself, Benoit also trains with Palco resident Natalie Knipp — a 25-year-old who competes in long distance races for fun. “She is amazing,” Benoit said. “She really inspired me to keep running and do my best. She runs six miles a day every day and sometimes more.” Getting in the front of the photo The last two years, Benoit’s finished on the brink of not medaling at the state meet. Because of her 20th- and 19th-place finishes, she had to line up on the back row of the Class 2-1A state awards podium for the group picture. Benoit said she wants to improve and make the top 10, partly because she wants to be in the front row for the photo. “They couldn’t see me because I was short,” Benoit said. “I want to be in the top 10, so I can be in the front row.” Improving that much will be a challenge, especially in the girls’ race. “It’s always a big challenge, because you get all these freshmen and sophomore girls who come in,” Robinson said. “A lot of times freshmen and sophomores are faster than they are when they are juniors and seniors. You have to work that much harder (to compete with them).” Benoit also would like to continue her running career at the collegiate level, and she’s been contacted by several colleges. Right now, she’s shooting for NAIA schools and community colleges. For Benoit, running has become a lifestyle choice. “I’m kind of addicted to it,” she said. “I feel like it’s not a good day or my day’s not complete if I don’t run. It’s a good stress reliever. When you’re worried about a test or a boy, you go out and run and forget about it. It’s nice.”

The Palco High School cross country team: From left, McLaughlin, Benoit and Schwab run up the hill during a practice in October in Palco.


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Reaching for new

The Hill City volleyball team has been among the best of the best. The Ringnecks just haven’t been a frequent guest to the big dance. Page 12

Heights A

t 5 feet, 1 inch tall, Hill City High School’s Shelby Stewart is the shortest player on the Ringneck volleyball team. She’s surprisingly, though, part of a Hill City team that features a rare height advantage over opponents when they step on the floor. So, when it comes time for a high five with head coach Chelsy Lueth, Sports Ink Alan Stein, standing every bit of 6-10, it’s — to say the least ABOVE: Hill City senior Nicole Keith goes up for a — a tall task for the Ringneck block in a match against Osborne. TOP: Coach Alan Stein, back, gets his team ready for action. senior libero to accomplish. November 2012

But it’s something the squad has grown used to, and something it looks forward to after each match. The Ringnecks line up after every outing, and Stewart is always the last in line, doing her best to get up high and receive a congratulations from the 10th-year skipper. “She gets the biggest kick out of it. She has to really get up there. I always tell her to ‘Get up,’ ” Stein said. “That’s just something I started five or six years. It’s just kind of a given, now, after each match. SPORTS INK.


13 They know where I’m going to be standing, and they just turn around and come right back to me.” And while the team likes to poke fun at the effort from time to time, in some ways it sums up what this year’s senior-laden club has been about — going where few Hill City teams have gone. “We give her such a hard time,” said senior Darrien Collins, the Ringnecks best hitter this season, standing at 5-10. “She’s the last one to go through. We look for that each time.” It’s a ritual that has often been a celebratory one this year for the Ringnecks as the goal this season right from the start was to make it to this week’s Class 2A state championship tournament in Emporia. While Hill City has been competitive within the 2A ranks and the always-tough Mid-Continent League, a trip to the state finale has proved elusive for a program that has become a mainstay in the discussion when it comes to potential postseason berths. The Ringnecks have not made state since 2005 (Stein’s third year with the program), and prior to that hadn’t enjoyed a state berth since the 1980s. Hill City has been close the last two years, though. In 2010, things were set up nicely for a 30-win Ringneck team with the 2A sub-state on its home floor. MCL foe and upstart Plainville, though, ended Hill City’s hopes with a win in the sub-state title game. A year later, Hill City collected 33 wins, but fell short again to Smith Center. This fall has especially been a mission for the club’s eight seniors, some of which have been a part both of those seasons that ended too early. “It’s gone great so far,” said senior setter Megan Gansel after the Ringnecks picked up their 20th win of the season during a triangular with MCL foes Stockton and Osborne. “It’s all due to the hard work we put in in practice. We have such great passers and great hitters. “Thanks to them, it’s been a great season — awesome so far.” Three days later Hill City moved to 25-2 with five wins on its home floor in tournament action. Ranked as high as third in the Kansas Volleyball Coaches Association rankings, and ranked fifth as of Oct. 10, the Ringnecks had played just four matches to the full three sets, one of which being one of its two losses, a 27-29, 25-20, 23-25 setback to Hoxie, a likely state contender in Class 1A

Sports Ink.

How

sweet it is Somewhere along the line, someone dropped the hint to the Hill City High School volleyball team that a drop of honey can give you a burst of energy. Myth or not, the Ringnecks took it to heart — then took it to the court. On the bench alongside the Ringnecks at every game is a jar of honey, a tradition they’ve held onto since seventh grade. Prior to each contest, the entire team will put a dab on their finger and choke it back. “It was something we started in junior high,” said senior hitter Darrien Collins. “… There are a few girls who really don’t like it, but they suffer through it right along with us.” It’s been an honored tradition that the team’s eight seniors have honored for the last seven seasons.

Division I. “A lot of it is just experience,” Stein said of his team’s success this season. “Some of (the seniors) stepped in as sophomores and had to start contributing at the varsity level. “That has a lot to do with our success this year.” That 25-2 record entering the final two weeks of the season included a 10-0 mark in the Mid-Continent League, playing against perennial MCL powers Smith Center and Phillipsburg, both of which have enjoyed recent success at both the 2A and 3A state tournaments. The season also included wins against opponents the Ringnecks were likely to see in sub-state competition, namely Smith Center, Oakley, Oberlin and Ellis. “There are definitely high expectations,” Collins said. “We all talk about it before

November 2012

While some have split up through the years at different levels of play, the group has been back together for their final season with the Ringnecks, and the honey is just another sign of a common bond. “It’s just a team thing,” senior setter Megan Gansel said. “It’s probably all in our minds, but we think it gives us a bit more energy. “I can’t actually remember how it started, but we’ve carried it with us.” There is no particular brand either. When one runs out, it’s back to the store for another, but if a trip to this week’s Class 2A state finale is in the cards for the Ringnecks, a special jar of honey might be in order. “It’s just something to kind of loosen everyone up, and have some fun with it,” Collins said.

every game, and it’s just something we kind of expect from each other. We knew before the season this is our last year, and we have to make it happen.” Collins, Cooper killing it In her sophomore season, Collins had to learn quite a bit on the fly. With a seasonending injury to hitter Blair Nickelson, Collins stepped in. “Sophomore year was pretty crazy. I wasn’t familiar with the game (at that level),” she said. “With Blair Nickelson tearing her ACL, I definitely got thrown into it. “But, I got thrown in with an awesome group of girls. They really pushed me and coach Stein worked with me a lot.” An early start has led to a dominant season of PAGE 14 sorts for the senior.

Page 13


14 Through 27 matches, she was sitting on 290 kills with a .493 attack percentage. That’ s an average of five kills per game with just 46 errors. She also was averaging 3.41 digs per game, second only behind Stewart’s 7.98 on the back row. Collins and senior teammate McKenzie Cooper, also 5-10, had combined for 513 kills. Stein said this group has been one of the most cohesive he has coached, another factor leading to its success. “This group has been together pretty much since Day 1,” Stein said. “They do a lot of things together. From growing up all the way through junior high and high school, these girls have always been together, and they spend time with each other all the time.” Both Collins and Cooper were thinking about playing volleyball at the next level as well, Stein said. And with the assist Gansel said her job is pretty easy, and it’s her teammates that make her look better. In her freshman and sophomore seasons, she had the opportunity to learn the setter position from one of the best all-around athletes Hill City has seen in Lexi Hardiek, now playing basketball in her second season at University of Missouri-Kansas City. “I learned a lot from Lexi,” Gansel said. “She taught me so much about the position.” Her skills have been on full display this season, especially. Through 27 matches, Gansel had 681 assists (11.74/game average), and a team-high 42 aces. “They’re all really good,” Gansel said of her hitters. “If you can get them the ball, they’re going to put it down every time I get it to them. “It’s so easy with them, they place the ball well.” Gansel, along with Collins, competed this summer with Wester Kansas Elite Volleyball in the Sunflower State Games in Topeka. The Ringnecks also competed this summer in Hays in a rec league tournament, along with participating in a week-long team camp early in the summer.

Ringneck senior setter Megan Gansel sets up a hit for one of her teammates during a triangular in Stockton early in October.

Page 14

November 2012

‘The terminally short’ Stein, also Hill City’s principal, has a sign on his door, that reads, “home of the terminally” short. While most people would seem short to the school’s towering leader, it’s more of a saying that has applied to many of his volleyball teams in the past. “We’ve had mostly short girls, and one or two girls that are 5-9 or above,” Stein said. “With this group, we’ve had the ability to have some height across the front line, and we have some energizer bunnies back there, too, getting passes up to the setter.” The front line, with Cooper and Collins, also features 6-0 senior Nicole Keith in the middle. Keith had 74 blocks (1.28 per game average) through 27 matches, and chipped in 112 kills. The Hill City rosters lists six players at 5-10 or taller, with three of them being underclassmen. “We haven’t had much height in the past, so it’s a SPORTS INK.


15 little new to us,� Gansel said. “We’re learning to play with it, but we really don’t focus on it. “It’s really nice, though, to have that (advantage).� Schedule makes them better Year in and year out, a team from either the Northwest Kansas League or the MCL is in the discussion for not only making the state tournament, but competing for a team trophy. In 2005, it was Hill City with a postseason berth, and the Ringnecks went 1-2 in pool play when the tournament was played in Hays. Since then, several 2A teams and MCL foe Phillipsburg (3A) have enjoyed much success at the state level. Each year, Hill City has the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with those teams. “When you play good competition, the girls start to understand what it takes to get to the next level. We’ve won a lot of matches

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the last few years, but we’ve never been able to win the big one to go to state, � Stein said. Since Hill City’s run in 2005, the area has seen five state trophies at the 2A level. Oakley was third in 2006, Oberlin fourth in 2009, and Oberlin and Plainville second and fourth, respectively, in 2010. Smith Center, after defeating Hill CIty last season in the sub-state title game, went on to finish third. If we don’t see you today, we’ll be here tomorrow!

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All the while, Phillipsburg has amassed four state trophies in that span in 3A, taking third in 2008, second in ‘09, fourth in ‘10 and third in ‘11. “There’s not a bad team in our league,� Collins said. “Everyone is very good, and you always have to go in with a certain mentality and be ready. We don’t look past anyone.� Nick McQueen, Sports Ink

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16

Just a Minute with Nick McQueen

Jublain

Wohler

Victoria senior two-sport athlete Q: What made you want to start competing in the two sports at the same time last year? A: Since freshman year, I kind of wanted to do both. I’m not very good at football, but I love it. Cross country running is just something I’ve always been kind of good at, so I figured why not do that, and get some success out of it, then play football, which I love to do.

afternoon? A: Yep, it’s not too bad. Usually meet with coach Stanley in the morning, then shower here at school, go to classes all day, then practice football, then head home. There are nights, though, too when I have something going on. Like tonight, I have play practice, so it’s been pretty busy.

Q: How have you dealt with maybe being overworked a little bit? A: I try and get as much sleep as possible. This year, I’ve had a little bit more homework, but I was usually in bed by 9:30 at the latest last year, because I was getting up at 6 to go run. Last year, we could go up and get seconds on lunch, and this year, it’s a little different, but I eat as much as possible too. My parents have helped me out a lot. My mom went to the store the other day and got me some Grandma’s peanut butter cookies. So, get some quick energy throughout the day. So, basically just eat as much as I can, sleep as much as I can, but I’m still pretty tired.

Q: What advice would you have for someone that would want to do this in the future? A: I would definitely tell them to learn how to eat a lot — tell them to get plenty of rest. If you’re going to do it, don’t do it half-heartedly. Go all out in both, because if you don’t, you’re wasting two teams’ time, instead of just one. Give everything you have.

Q: Do you practice cross country in the morning and play football in the

Q: Do you feel this cross country team has a shot to send the whole team and get a trophy? A: We have a pretty decent shot at taking a team again to state. Trophy-wise, I don’t know. I think we can do fairly well at state. I don’t know if we have a shot at winning, but third place, we could easily shoot for and possibly get. Q: What are some advantages this Victoria team has over some others that step out there? A: Right after me, everyone else is pushing each other. I’m not trying to brag, but I’m usually out with the front, and the rest of the team is running exceptionally well every race. They’re pushing each other, and we have numbers. It motivates everyone to be on the team, and challenge for spots. Q: Do you have any plans to run in college? A: Most people don’t believe me, but I don’t really like running. I have a shirt that says “Running sucks, period.” I don’t really want to do it, because I’ll be spending most of my free time running, but I’m certainly not going to shy away from it if there was a scholarship on the table or something like that. I wouldn’t look away then. I really haven’t talked to anyone about it yet.

Lane Braun Cross Country teammate

Page 16

November 2012

SPORTS INK.

Football coach

Dalton Dreiling Football teammate

If there were a movie made about him, what would you call it? Warrior. He works harder than most anyone else.

The Little Train That Could

Fast & Furious

List three words that best describe him. Hardworking Determined Classy

Dedication Hard Work

Speedy Motivational Pure talent

If you could pick a celebrity for him to marry, who would it be? Mila Kunas

Kim Kardashian

Jessica Alba

If he could be anyone else in the world for a day, who would it be? Steve Prefontaine

Someone crazy — Adam Sandler

Steve Prefontaine

What song do you think is at the top of his iPod playlist? ”Whatever you like“

“Faith” by George Michael

“Slow Down”

If he got his own Nike commercial, what would the slogan be? Just do it — Wohler style

Q: What do you see as your role on this football team? A: I’ve never really played much, not even on J.V., so I see my role as more of a scout team player and helping everyone get better. Q: How would you describe how this football season has gone so far? A: It hasn’t really gone the way I anticipated the way it would. I wouldn’t say it’s gone horrible. It seems like we’re bullies. We play good against the teams we are supposed to beat. But, when it seems like it should be a good game, like the Otis or St. John game, we don’t show up to play like we think we can. So far, it’s been decent, but I think we could still play a lot more football before the season is over.

Doug Oberle

ON

Jubi Knows Sports

Running sucks. Boom!


17

Ink. BLOTS

ACIDIZING

CEMENT

TOOL RENTAL

A spattering from NW Kansas

Sometimes high school coaches, especially football, are better athletes than the players they are coaching. More evidence came during a recent practice at Quinter. Veteran defensive coordinator Jeff Ruckman, a former starting nose guard for UCLA who once sacked Peyton Manning when he played at Tennessee, is still in great shape. In early October, Ruckman led the Bulldogs through a workout that included wall-bangers, burpies, box jumps, push presses and cleans. The goal was to have as many reps in five minutes. Ruckman said top female athletes can do 180 reps. He challenged his players to do 200 reps. One player asked Ruckman what his best record was. Ruckman said it was around 475. Later in practice, the players challenged Ruckman to a pull-up contest. Ruckman, with about a 30-seconds warm-up, did 27. Only one player, senior Chance Smith, could do more. Sylvan-Lucas coach Ben Labertew is another one who is a great athlete. A former all-state quarterback for Sylvan, Labertew throws passes in practice and often plays quarterback during drills. Ness City cross country coach Patrick Younger has long run with his athletes and once had a goal to run fast enough times to crack the Eagles’ starting lineup — a tough task considering the Eagles have two state titles in the last five years. - C.N. I love getting out of Hays and seeing how area athletes train in our coverage area. For the past two issues of Sports Ink, I’ve observed the cross country teams from Ness City and Palco, and it’s interesting to see the different demeanors of the athletes and coaches. It’s also cool to see how interconnected they are. Though the two teams have very different cross country traditions and are separated by approximately 80 miles, Palco’s star runner Lizzie Benoit has become friends with several runners from Ness City’s team. - K.S. Bird City-Cheylin quarterback Kenan Reeh was happy after a Week 5 win against Rexford-Golden Plains. The victory, though, put a topper on a great week. Earlier, Reeh had qualified for FFA nationals in land judging, the first time a Cheylin student had qualified for nationals in many years. It’s important to remember students can achieve success in many different avenues. - C.N.

DRAY CARSON

Ness City senior runner Carson, the Eagles’ top runner most of the season, had a solid three races through September and October. Carson finished first (17:23.50) in the 4A-1A division at the Hays High School Invitational and won the Eagles’ home invitational (17:21.61). He got off to a fast start to October by taking second in the junior-senior division in 16:47.54 at the Lakin Invitational. The Hays High and Lakin meets featured competition from 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A and 5A.

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A sucker for a good cause

A

few nights ago, a boy scout came by my door selling popcorn. It was his third trip by my house in almost as many nights. Short on cash and already having made contributions to numerous other fundraising efThe forts, I thought about politely turning him down once again. But for whatever reason, his determination seemed to get the better of me. Since I am not particularly a fan of canned popcorn, I simply made a $10 cash donation to the cause. It could be that I’m just a patsy that will throw money at any cause, but I like to think of it more of a “put myself in their shoes� situation. I remember what it was like going door-to-door, or hitting up family members, or even going into work with mom or dad to try and

nick

wriggle a few bucks out of already tight, or sometimes empty, pockets. Whenever something like this presents itself to me, I always feel it is my duty, if possible, to support whoever it might be in whatever activCloser ity it is they’ve deemed worthwhile to go up to strangers and asked them for their hard-earned dollars. I’m not a big fan of paying $18 for frozen cookie dough that turns out virtually tasteless, but my niece’s volleyball team was forced to do its own fundraising in order to have the same opportunities as other programs — so I made do. We don’t do these things because we’re expecting a great deal for our money. We should do it simply for the

McQUEEN

support of some activity kids have found they like to do — or at least want to try. When a girl scout comes to your door or office selling “Thin Mints,� you shouldn’t be thinking about the $14 you’re going to fork over for four boxes that will be gone in one afternoon, right? You’re supposed to be thinking about the cause you’re supporting. The change now is more and more athletic teams and booster clubs have gone to this approach as well. Students participating in sports has become a strain on so many district budgets that fundraisers are no longer saved for field trips to the local zoo or the yearbook. Whatever the reason is, though, keep in mind a kid’s participation in their chosen activity is the ultimate goal — and your dollar might help see them through. Loosen up the purse strings, or open your wallet and mind.

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Sports Ink., November 2012