Fall sports are almost here....
• AVCTL MEDIA DAY A SMASH — The first-ever Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Media Day at the Boathouse in Wichita was a concept long overdue.
Coaches and student-athletes from the 26 member schools were on hand for Thursday’s event. This was an opportunity for media members to put faces with places and accumulate a wealth of information that will serve useful throughout the fall sports season.
The focus of the event was on the student-athletes. This gave them the opportunity to learn to deal with the media in a comfortable setting instead of right after an emotional game when an athlete’s mind more often than not is racing after a big win or a difficult loss.
I know I’ve interviewed several athletes after games when they are so hyped that they say things I know they really don’t mean. In my opinion, a good journalist should know not to use quotes that will put 16-, 17- and 18-year-old kids in a bad light. There are some writers and broadcasters, however, who like to use the sensational quote or sound bite in order to attract readers or listeners.
It was nice to make some new friendships with coaches that we may have only talked to on the phone or right after a game. Everyone was pulling together for a common cause.
There’s been talk of doing some kind of Media Day for the winter sports. I think a few tweaks will be made to the format, such as it being only two hours instead of four. But overall, this was a win-win situation for everybody and I applaud the AVCTL for coming up with this concept.
• A SAMPLE SIZE OF MHS SPORTS THIS FALL — All the coaches were asked to provide information sheets in regards to the upcoming season. Of course in the days and weeks to come I’ll be going more in-depth about all of our MHS teams, with much of it being printed in our Mid Kansas Sports Magazine that will be published in a couple of weeks. But for now, a few snippets:
• Girls tennis — Optimism is off the charts as the Bullpups are coming off a Class 4A state championship and return four of their top six players. Camry Holle and Emily Ediger told me they’re excited about the opportunity to defend their state doubles title, while singles players Ellea Ediger (the 4A runner-up last year) and Katlyn Reifschneider (6th at state) complete a quartet that should dominate most meets. Coach Tyler Brown has no less than five quality contenders for the two open spots. What could determine the Bullpups’ fate is the classifications that come out in September as Wichita Collegiate — a team Brown says is as good as any regardless of class — is right on the 4A-3A line. Dave Hawley, Collegiate’s coach, said he believes the Spartans will be 4A after winning the 3A title last year.
• Boys soccer — Coach Chris Adrian’s team is coming off an 18-2-1 season that resulted in a third-place state finish. After a year in which he had nine seniors, he enters this season with a lone 12th-grader — Ethan VanDorn. But there’s a lot of talent in the junior and sophomore classes. Look for sophs Andric McGill and Patrick Munsey to have breakout years as they were talented enough to earn big minutes in last year’s senior-dominated lineup.
• Volleyball — Christy Doile’s team has produced a 125-12 record over the last three years with a state championship, a runner-up finish and another spot in the state tournament. But a huge chunk of the players who contributed to that success — five in fact — walked out of the Roundhouse last May with their diplomas. Regardless, she still has a trio of players in Hannah Marshall, Megan Pedersen and Magan Alexander who will be able to match up with anybody. The key will be to find consistent setting and passing, as there can be no spiking without those. Doile has developed a consistent program and while 30-plus wins might be a stretch, don’t be surprised if the Bullpups aren’t back in the Elite 8 at Salina.
• Football — You always hear talk about Bill Snyder being the “Manhattan Miracle worker,” but Tom Young can’t be too far behind as the “McPherson Miracle Worker.”
Before Young’s arrival, MHS was in one of the worst football runs in school history. But he’s changed all that as he’s led the Bullpups to eight playoff appearances in as many years and energized the McPherson fan base to the point where the SRO sign goes up every home game.
Young’s team faces numerous challenges this year, most notably the schedule. But he likes the idea of playing potential state champions Salina South and Andale right out of the chute as he’ll use those games as a measuring stick.
The Bullpups revolve around the wondrous talents of quarterback Kyler Kinnamon, who will go down as one of the best players in school history. He ran for a school-record 1,662 yards last year and threw for another 1,154. Young said he would like to see a little more balance this year, one reason being the receiving corps appears to be much stronger.
Ty Hart, who spent this summer attending military camp, is being counted on to provide leadership at linebacker as he led the team in tackles. Young also would like to spot him in some at running back, as he reminds me a lot of Dwayne Chandler. If he focused just on running, I think he would put up a 1,000-yard season. Young also likes the potential of Nathan Nutter at running back, so maybe the two could share time as Nutter also is a linebacker.
• Cross country — A lot of youth dots the Bullpup roster. Christina Wankum is the only returning runner who qualified for state last year and she’s part of a very strong junior class of girls. Coach Gentry Nixon said the boys’ team is going to be young, but she likes the direction the program is headed. She also oversees the McPherson Middle School program and believes by starting runners in the seventh grade, numbers should be steady throughout the program.