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A magazine focusing on all things sports in northwest Kansas

DECEMBER 2016

PLAYING FOR POPS

Whether Smith Center’s Colton Hutchinson is on the football ÆHOGZUHVWOLQJPDWRUWUDFN KLVGDG%URFNLVQ½WIDUIURP the action.

The Hays Daily News


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Dance on NICK McQUEEN, Sports Ink. Phillipsburg High School cheerleaders perform during halftime of the Panthers’ football game against Riley County on Nov. 4 in Phillipsburg.

What’s up?

12 HOOPS

$ORRNLQVLGH this issue

TIME

BASKETBALL SEASON IS HERE WITH TEAMS KICKING OFF THE

10

WHO’S THAT? NOTABLE

PERFORMANCES FROM NORTHWEST

KANSAS.

6

FAMILY AFFAIR

IN SMITH CENTER, COLTON HUTCHINSON ISN’T TOO FAR FROM HOME ON THE FIELD.

4

2016-17 CAMPAIGN IN EARLY DECEMBER. PREVIEW SOME OF THE TOP PLAYERS AND TEAMS IN THE AREA AS THINGS GET STARTED.

READY? THE FHSU

BASKETBALL TEAMS HAVE THEIR HANDS FULL IN THE MIAA

SPORTS INK. CONTRIBUTORS: NICK MCQUEEN NMCQUEEN@DAILYNEWS.NET , VINNY BENEDETTO VBENEDETTO@DAILYNEWS.NET, JOLIE GREEN JGREEN@DAILYNEWS.NET ON THE COVER: SMITH CENTER JUNIOR COLTON HUTCHINSON TAKES THE FIELD FOR THE REDMEN’S PLAYOFF GAME AGAINST MOUNDRIDGE EARLY IN NOVEMBER. Volume 5, Issue 10 Sports Ink. is published and distributed by The Hays Daily News. Copyright © 2015 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.


Rob Davis is the FHSU men’s basketball team’s only returning starter in 2016-17.

File photo, Sports Ink.

Tiger hoops enters new era

F

on from point guard Beth Bohuslavsky, ans of the Fort Hays State Universiwing Chelsea Mason and forward Paige ty basketball teams might want to keep updated programs on hand this Lunsford, who started all 31 games for the Tigers. Elle Stein, a reserve post player, winter as both teams figure to rely on a also exhausted her eligibility. Despite handful of new names. those key departures, the Tigers came in The expectations, according to league fourth in the preseacoaches at least, son poll after finishshouldn’t be that much For Starters ing in a tie for second different from a year a year ago. ago, however. With so much After finishing fourth talent and leadership in the MIAA in 2015departing, remaining 16, the league’s coaches in the top half of the picked the Tiger men to conference could finish third this season prove to be a tricky test for men’s coach despite the departures of point guard Craig Nicholson, wing Kenny Enoch, Mark Johnson and Tony Hobson, the power forward Jake Stoppel and center women’s coach. Dom Samac. On the men’s side, shooting guard Rob Those four started every game they apDavis — the Tigers’ leading scorer from peared in last year. a year ago — is the team’s only returning Similarly, the Tiger women will move starter. He’ll likely be expected to increase

Vinny

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Page 4

December 2016

his contributions after averaging more than 16 points, three rebounds and two assists per game a year ago. Hadley Gillum is next on the list of leading scorers returning this season. The Plainville native will likely take over Stoppel’s spot in the starting lineup, Junior Drew Kite also appeared in all 31 games for the Tigers in the post, averaging more than two points and three rebounds per contest. Kyler Kinnamon, a McPherson graduate, filled in for Nicholson when the star point guard missed games due to injury and earned five starts in his freshman campaign. The two freshmen on the Tiger roster should be familiar to local basketball fans, as Isaiah Nunnery joins the program from Hays High School, while Jared Vitztum comes from Thomas More Prep-Marian. SPORTS INK.


FHSU senior Niki Kacperska returns for her senior season with the Tiger women.

Additionally, Payton Stephens, also a former Bullpup, and Baltimore native JaQuan Smith joined the Tigers from Stephen F. Austin in the last year. Trey O’Neil, Grant Holmes, Brady Werth and Emir Sabic return as sophomores after occupying reserve roles a season ago. Aaron Nicholson, Craig’s younger brother, is coming off a redshirt season, as is junior college transfer Lake Reed. It appears to be Davis’s team to lead this season, but with so many familiar faces leaving roles they occupied for the last couple years, don’t be surprised if it takes the Tiger men a little while to hit their stride.

The FHSU women also return one of their leading scorers, as senior forward Jill Faxon’s 12.3 points per game was less than a point back of Mason. The Beatrice, Neb. native led the Tigers with 10 points in their final exhibition game at Creighton. Guards Niki Kacperska and Taylor Chandler return for their senior seasons after splitting starts at an off guard position a year ago. They’ll be joined by sophomore Tatyana Legette and Carly Heim, who played valuable minutes off the bench a year ago in their first collegiate season. Both appeared destined for

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FILE PHOTO, Sports Ink.

significantly larger roles in their sophomore campaigns. Classmate Rachel Doll played more of a reserve role alongside senior Sarah Pimental. The Tiger women also figure to lean heavily on a transfer from the NCAA Division I ranks. Junior forward Emma Stroyan started in the Tigers’ first exhibition at Kansas and followed it up with an eightpoint performance in the Tigers’ second exhibition after transferring from Central Connecticut State University. Taylor Rolfs, a freshman from Central Plains, led the Tigers in scoring at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, while classmate Madison Mitte played a team-high 25 minutes at KU. Kacey Kennett, a freshman from Olathe, played 24 minutes for the Tigers. Lindsay Shupe, Belle Barbieri, Kyleigh Kasper and Robin Ritsema round out the Tigers’ seven-member freshman class. With so many first-year players figuring to play meaningful minutes for the Tigers, Hobson likely will need to take a more patient approach than he did in years past. It’s too early to tell if either Tiger team will finish close to where they’re projected before the season kicked off, but it seems certain new faces will play a big role in where each team ends up this season.


“We all see each other a lot. We have a really good relationship.” - Colton Hutchinson, Smith Center junior

PLAYING FOR POPS Coach, player relationship brings father, son closer together in Smith Center

T

here were moments — albeit years ago — that changed the course of the relationship between Smith Center junior Colton Hutchinson and his part-time coach and fulltime father, Brock. Now, the two spend all three athletic seasons together. Colton has become the Smith Center quarterback this season and serves as a safety on the defense his dad coordinates. In wrestling, where Brock is the head coach, Colton has placed in the top four in both of his state wrestling appearances to date in Class 3-21A. In the spring, the Hutchinsons spend their time on the Smith Center track. While that’s a lot of time for a high school student and parent to spend together, the duo appears to enjoy it. “It’s brought us closer,” Brock said. “It’s brought us a lot of joy over the years.” ““We’re really close as a family,” Colton added. “We all see each other a lot. We have a really good relationship.” Page 6

Smith Center assistant football and head wrestling coach Brock Hutchinson.

It’s likely the circumstances could’ve been different if not for a change Brock made nearly a decade ago. The details aren’t entirely certain, but the message was delivered crystal clear.

December 2016

CONTINUED ON PAGE 8

SPORTS INK.


STORY, PHOTOS BY VINNY BENEDETTO


Brock recalls Colton was in third or fourth and I started crying,” Colton said. “I was so grade when he told his dad he didn’t want to embarrassed.” wrestle anyThose were more. That the moments prompted that produced the question a change that’s of why, and paying divithe answer dends on and came with off the field. the kind of “At that mohonesty only ment, I thought produced by a maybe I’m a child. little too intense “Because of for those little you,” Brock kids,” Brock remembers recalled. “I Colton sayrevamped my ing. whole kit and Colton caboodle. I said doesn’t ‘I’m not gonna remember treat anybody the incident like that anyclearly, but more.’ I was recalls somereally tough on thing similar. him.” While wresWhile the tone tling comes has changed, naturally Brock and his now, that wife still hold wasn’t always their four kids the case. The FILE PHOTO, Sports Ink. accountable in state medalist Colton Hutchinson in the 3-2-1A state wrestling tournament athletics and remembers a academics. Colton as a freshman in 2015. practice when says that grades he was slow to pick something up and was are stressed as heavily, if not more so, than pushed to an emotional state in front of his athletic achievements. His 3.9 grade-point friends. average proves as much. A couple B-pluses It was a tough situation for a boy in a sport during his sophomore year scuffed an otherthat rewards toughness. wise perfect academic record. CONTINUED ON PAGE 10 “I remember he got after me a little bit


Smith Center assistant football coach Brock Hutchinson directs his defense during the Redmen’s playoff game against Moundridge earlier this month in Smith Center.

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“That really ticked me off,” Colton said. He credited his mother with pushing him to excel in school as well as sports. The cliché of a father being harder on his son than other members of the team remains true in this situation. Colton added that as he’s grown older, he understands his dad isn’t “yelling just to yell,” but in hopes of getting the best out of his oldest son. “There’s times he stays away, and then there’s times he’s right in there,” Smith Center football coach Darren Sasse said. “They have a great relationship. He’s harder on him than he is anybody else. That’s for sure, but that’s a dad.” While the experience was harder on Colton years ago, the stress has moved to Brock more recently. When Colton made his state wrestling debut as the top-seeded wrestler at 120 pounds, his dad had a hard time containing himself at Gross Memorial Coliseum. “I almost had to be in a brown paper bag to deal with it,” Brock said. “I just started running around the gym. It’s painful. It really is.” The spring provides something of a break. Brock coaches the Smith Center pole vaulters and jumpers, while Colton has become a javelin thrower and relay runner. While that means there isn’t the same level of instruction

as there is on the gridiron or mat, the motivational aspect is there anytime an athlete, Colton included, is in earshot. “He pushes the whole team,” Colton said. “He’s maybe one of the world’s greatest motivator. He pushes about everyone.” Track also allows Brock the opportunity to coach his daughter Gracen, a sophomore who qualified for the state meet as a pole vaulter last year. As involved as Brock is coaching his children, he says for the most part that stays at school. Colton said a lot of the downtime at home is spent watching television, mostly sports. While they support the Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas State and some of the same wrestlers, the most passionate support is shared for a team much farther away. “He kinda brainwashed me to be a Steelers fan when I was little,” Colton said. Colton has also taken an interest in something much different than athletics in recent years. Once the winter sports season is over, he teams up with classmate Brett Meyer for an improv duet that went to state last year. It’s an activity his dad can’t offer much instruction on. It comes at a good time. “He did the play, but this is nothing like the play. This isn’t scripted or anything like that,” Colton said. “It was really fun, and that’s kinda

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the relaxing point in the year, right after wrestling.” What Brock can offer plenty of advice on is playing at the collegiate level. He played at Fort Hays State and shares stories with his son who hopes to follow in the footsteps as a collegiate athlete. Colton debates some of his father’s claims of success at the collegiate level. “He has told me some stories about playing in college, about how the football team was and all of that,” Colton said before joking. “I don’t know how much to believe about that. I mean, they had him at d-back.” Before finishing his time in Smith Center, Colton aims to win a championship. He doesn’t care what season it comes in. “Win state in any or all,” he said. “That would be a pretty fun year.” If he’s able to do that, it would seemingly be the highlight of a father-son and coach-athlete relationship that didn’t get off to the best start. Now, it’s clear when criticism comes Colton’s way, it’s often deserved. And it’s done so with his success in mind. “It was tough sometimes, but it was good for me,” Colton said. “It’s like second nature now. I know when he’s getting after me and telling it’s because he wants me to get better.”

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Notable performances in northwest Kansas Sie Doe Jr The Fort Hays State University senior deIHQVLYHHQGÆQLVKHGWKHUHJXODUVHDVRQZLWK the Tiger program record for sacks in a season. He entered the Tigers’ game at Nebraska-Kearney with 14 sacks through 10 games. He broke the program record with a sack at Emporia State. He leads the conference in sacks, tackles for loss (15.5) and fumbles forced (5). The Cleveland native entered what was his potential collegiate finale tied for the national lead in forced fumbles and fourth in sacks.

Kendra Werth The senior closed out her high school volleyball career with the Thomas More Prep-Marian volleyball team at the Class 3A state tournament in Emporia in late October. It was the second time in the last three years the libero has helped the Monarchs reach the tournament after appearing in the Class 4A-II tournament as a sophomore. Werth was the Monarchs’ primary defensive specialist for most of her prep career.

Hannah Smith The Fort Hays State University senior midÆHOGHUHDUQHG0,$$VRFFHU&RGHIHQVLYH3OD\HU of the Year honors after anchoring a stingy Tiger defense. The Tigers allowed multiple goals in just one game heading into the NCAA Central Regional Tournament in early November. Smith started all of the 7LJHUV½ÆUVWPDWFKHVWKLV season. In addition to helping WKH7LJHUVSRVWVKXWRXWV she added three goals and two assists. The Garland, Texas native was a two-time All-MIAA Second Team selection EHIRUHHDUQLQJÆUVWWHDPKRQRUVLQKHUVHQLRU campaign.

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HOOPS SOME TOP RETURNING AREA GIRLS IN 2016-17

TAYLOR REGAN, SR., OTIS-BISON — A multiple-sport standout, Regan enters her fourth and final campaign as a member of the Cougars’ basketball team. A year ago she averaged 18.6 points and grabbed 7.8 rebounds per game. She was key in getting Otis-Bison to the Class 1A Division II state volleyball tournament this fall. PAIGE BAIRD, SOPH., NORTHERN VALLEY — As a freshman, the 5-foot-7 Baird dumped in 13.2 points, grabbed 2.4 rebounds and dished out 1.3 assists for the Huskies, leading three Northern Valley players in double figures. The other two have since graduated. BAYLEE MILLER, SR., NORTON — For a Norton team that was 12-10 a year ago, Miller w was the only player to averaged double digits with 12.8 points. She also was second on the t team with 4.6 rebounds per game. KAYCEE MILLER, SOPH., GOLDEN PLAINS — At 5-foot-7, Miller led Golden Plains tto a 17-6 record as a freshman, hitting 39 percent of her shots to average a team-best 12.5 points per game, to go along with 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per outing. BRIDGETT FAIRBANK, JR., WESTERN PLAINS — Fairbank was a bright spot on a W Western Plains team that won just three games. All three wins came against the same opponent, but Fairbank scored a little more than 12 points per game. CONNER KEITH, JR., HILL CITY — With top scorers Lexi McDowell and Amanda Conway graduating from the 2A state tournament Ringnecks, Keith could step into the top role. She averaged 11.1 points and 3.4 rebounds to go along with 4.6 steals as a sophomore. OLIVIA BAUS, SR., LA CROSSE — Baus is the top player returning from a team that finished 19-3 in La Crosse a year ago. She also was key in helping La Crosse to the 1A Division I state volleyball tourney for the fourth straight season this fall. TALYN KLEWENO, SR., HAYS HIGH — Kleweno suffered a knee injury last spring on the soccer field, then opted to play golf this fall instead of volleyball. She’ll be the top returning scorer under Indians’ coach Kirk Maska. BRYNN NIBLOCK, sr., Hoxie — Niblock could be the top returning player for Hoxie, which saw its long win streak ended last year, but still made a run to the Class 1A Division I state tournament.

ANYONE FROM TMP-MARIAN — Whether it be Madyson Koerner (left), Kayla Vitztum (below left), Megan Koenigsman or Aubrey Koenigsman, the Monarch girls have a wealth of experience back from a team that finished third in Class 3A a year ago with a 23-3 record. The Monarchs, under coach Rose McFarland, again should be considered among the favorites in Class 3A.

Page 12

December 2016

SPORTS INK.


TIME

SOME TOP RETURNING AREA BOYS IN 2016-17

NICK WITHINGTON, JR., RAWLINS COUNTY — The Buffaloes finished 8-13, but the 6-foot-1 Withington averaged 16 points and 7 rebounds per game to lead the way with a 52-percent field goal percentage. Rawlins County boasts experience, losing just one senior. EMMITT OWENS, SR., TREGO — Owens dumped in a team-high 15.7 points, 2.9 assist and 4.3 rebounds per game a season ago. He was the only Golden Eagle to score in double figures, scoring 20 or more in eight games. TREY SIDES, SOPH., PHILLIPSBURG — Also the starting quarterback for both years of high school so far, Sides will lead the Panthers on the court once again. Sides averaged 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds, leading the Panthers as a freshman. HAYDEN FRIEND, SR., PLAINVILLE — Friend was the top scorer a year ago for Chris Drees’ Cardinals, averaging 12.1 points and 3.6 assists. He is one of several returners for the Cardinals, along with seniors Jared Copeland, Justin Reif and Ryan Buresh, and junior Hayden Gillum. Plainville also could have a key newcomer in freshman Jared Casey. SHANE BERENS, SR., HAYS HIGH — The 6-foot-4 Berens averaged 11 points and seven rebounds per contest for the Indians as a junior, earning all-WAC honorable mention. CHANDLER STIAWALT, SR., NESS CITY — An HDN All-Area first-team selection, Stiawalt led Ness City to a 15-8 record as a junior. He’ll enter his third year as a starter for Matt Overlease’s squad. EASTON SMITH, SR., ELLIS — The 6-foot-3 senior was second on the team in scoring as a junior, averaging 13.2 points per game for the 15-8 Ellis Railroaders under coach Brandon Maska. He was second behind Brendan Brenner, who graduated. JACE RUDER, JR., NORTON/TYUS HENSON, SR., NORTON — The Bluejays finished 20-4 for Doug Reusink, and Henson and Ruder were a big reason why. Henson led all Norton scorers with 12.6 points to go along with 3.6 assists per game. Ruder, meanwhile, chipped in 11.8 points an led the team with 8.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Norton returns three of its top five producers from a 20-4 campaign. CULLEN GRABAST, SR., OSBORNE — A top running back for the football team, Grabast played a key role for Osborne’s run at second place a season ago in 1A Division I, helping the Bulldogs to a 17-7 mark.

CLAIBORNE KYLES — A 6-foot-4 senior, Kyles transferred to Hays High School from Hill City for his final year. As a junior, he led Hill City to the 2A state tournament, averaging 18.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. A 50-percent shooter and deep ball threat, he had one of his biggest games in a first-round 2A upset of Sedan, the top seed. He scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the contest.


Teamwork, Hard Work and Shared Goals ... Can Lead to Some Bright Ideas!

NICK McQUEEN, Sports Ink Plainville senior quarterback Hayden Friend runs against Elkhart.

E

Fun one to watch

very football season it seems there is that one player who can make or a break a high school team’s success. The last two seasons that player has been Hayden Friend for the Plainville Cardinals. An elusive runner and threat with his arm, the senior eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for rushing and 1,000-yard mark for passing in a season. The Closer What makes that feat even more amazing is the competition Friend did it against this fall. He had it done by the Cardinals’ first round of the playoffs (10 games in). By the time Plainville put a beating on Elkhart, Friend had thrown for 1,539 yards and 24 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,012 yards and an additional 14 TDs. While it might sound bad to even think, considering how many great athletes Plainville has this season, if you take Friend off that team, that success probably doesn’t happen. So many times this season, Friend just made things happen. Case in point when Elkhart had him stopped, but the senior reversed field and found the end zone from 39 yards out.

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JOHN GOWER Phillipsburg junior A junior running back and linebacker for the Phillpsburg High School football team, Gower missed a week of practice after suffering a concussion, but still made it back for the Panthers’ next game early in the season. He rushed for two touchdowns in a win against Plainville all the while leading the team in tackles. One of the team’s defensive leaders, Gower had eight tackles in a 3A playoff road game against Larned where the Panthers escaped with a 14-7 victory to stay unbeaten. He also had 20 tackles in a playoff win against Riley County.

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Total, he probably ran closer to 70 yards to get the score. Plainville, this season, had a much improved defensive and offensive line, but the Cardinals’ success hinged on Friend’s health and playmaking ability. A bonus for anyone that followed the Cardinals this year is how humble Friend seemed about all of it, despite the team’s overwhelming success, perhaps a surprising success out of a team that finished with just three wins a season prior. “Numbers don’t really mean anything to me. The only numbers that matter are in that win column,” Friend said after his team moved to 9-1 in the win against Elkhart. “That means the most. Stats are cool but it’s nothing I focus on. I just focus on getting the win.” The ultimate goal, of course, would have the Cardinals playing this weekend at Lewis Field Stadium in the Class 2-1A state championship. The Cardinals’ plan was to play in a title game for the first time since 1985. With Friend on the field and doing what he was able to do in 2016, it was obvious by Week 4 this season, that was a definite possibility. And while he might not care about the accolades, the postseason honors surely will pile up for the Cardinal senior.

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Sports Ink. December 2016