Area alumni making major contributions at collegiate level
After having so much success at the high school level, it’s not surprising to see many Jackson County athletes moving on to the collegiate level and continuing to pile up the accolades.
That’s just what several former Cobras, Panthers and Wildcats have been doing this fall, turning in strong efforts just like their high school counterparts.
On the volleyball courts, a couple of players in particular have made strong debuts, starting with HHS graduate Kylie Miller. After playing her first three seasons at Washburn University, Miller transferred to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (also NCAA DII) for her senior season and has made an immediate impact for the Hardrockers.
Miller currently leads the team with 241 digs and is coming off an 18-dig effort in a recent four-set victory over New Mexico Highlands, the team’s first conference win of the season.
To start the season, Miller faced her old team in the Washburn Invitational tournament, where SDSMT went 2-2 with wins over Pittsburg State and Missouri Southern (while losing to Washburn and Emporia State). Miller tallied the third-most digs (88) of any player over the opening weekend and was named to the All-Tournament team.
At the junior college level, former Panther Hannah Beam has been a solid contributor for Barton County Community College this fall, tallying 76 kills (fifth) and 14 blocks (tied for fifth). In the team’s most recent match against Highland, Beam finished with one kill and one dig.
Meanwhile, a pair of former Wildcats have played a major part in Ottawa University’s success on the volleyball court this fall, as Keri Tanking and Christa Hill have helped put the Braves in the driver’s seat of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference in NAIA competition.
Tanking in particular has been a force this season, as her 204 kills so far rank second on the team. She has also contributed 67 digs and 26 blocks (fifth on the team). In a recent three-set sweep of McPherson, Tanking had the second most kills of the match (11) and also finished with five digs.
Hill, meanwhile, is second on the team with 36 assists, while also collecting 15 aces and 27 digs this season, helping Ottawa to a 19-3 overall record.
Several Holton alumni are, unsurprisingly, having success on the football field in collegiate competition, starting with Dylan Wheeler at Highland Community College.
Wheeler is coming off a strong performance against Fort Scott, a 31-25 win for the Scotties, in which the defensive end recorded two tackles, one-half tackle for loss and a sack. He added another tackle in Highland’s most recent 39-6 victory over Independence.
Moving up to the NAIA level, three former Wildcats recently met on the field in a Heart of America Conference battle between Benedictine College and Baker University.
Defensive captain Bryce Barnett had three tackles for the Ravens in the game, while Cameron Karn added one tackle for the Wildcats.
On the offensive side, Tanner Clark helped the Wildcats churn out 564 yards of total offense, but it wasn’t enough in the end as #21 Benedictine knocked off sixth-ranked Baker in a 35-31 victory.
The Wildcats then quickly rebounded with a 35-10 victory over Peru State in which Clark helped the offense rack up 413 more yards and Indie Allen made an appearance on defense for Baker, recording three tackles.
Some former Jackson County football players are getting a crack at NCAA DII action, as RVHS grad Michael Houghtaling is suiting up for Missouri Western State University and Holton alumnus Jaxon Wright has seen some action for Pittsburg State University.
Most recently, Wright got in during a 56-28 drubbing of Lindenwood, while Houghtaling has played in all of the Griffons’ games, except for the team’s two losses, an 18-17 defeat at Central Missouri and the most recent 31-27 near miss against Pittsburg State.
In addition, HHS grad Adam Luthi is suiting up just south of his hometown for Washburn University. In the team’s recent 27-21 win over Missouri Southern State, Luthi had a crucial reception on a two-point conversion following the game-winning score.
A trio of former Holton players have also cracked the Division I level, with Jake Riederer a reserve for the Missouri State Bears. Meanwhile, Trent Tanking and Rob Riederer are both starting on special teams for Kansas State University and Tulsa University, respectively. Tanking has recorded two tackles on the season.
One former Wildcat is also trying to crack the professional ranks, as Forrestal Hickman is still pursuing his dream. Hickman was a casualty of the first round of cuts during the NFL’s preseason after working with the San Diego Chargers during training camp.
Hickman is still training and preparing, though, waiting for his shot to play professional football, potentially in a national arena football league.
Several Jackson County runners are also off to good starts this fall, with former Cobra and current Fort Hays State University Tiger Cory Keehn in particular leading the way.
Keehn, who is in his final season competing for FHSU, recently notched two top-10 finishes, starting with a fourth-place finish at the Border Classic hosted by FHSU. He then took seventh individually at the DI Cowboy Jamboree hosted by Oklahoma State University.
After earning All-American honors last track season, Keehn already has offers to compete professionally once he is done with his collegiate career as well thanks to Elite Development Club out of Kansas City. He is also already set to compete in the elite field of the Houston Half Marathon on Jan. 17, 2016 in an attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
Former Panther Thomas Broxterman is one of Keehn’s teammates at Fort Hays State, while another RVHS grad, Bryce Golighltey, is currently competing for Cloud County Community College.
The Thunderbirds recently took third as a team at the Johnson County Community College Invitational, while Golightly placed 22nd individually.
Among female runners, another former Cobra is carrying the torch as Kaitlynn Little recently made her debut for Sterling in NAIA competition.
In her first meet, which was also Sterling’s home meet, Little placed fourth individually and helped the Warriors capture a team title. Then, she followed that up with a solid showing at the Tabor Invitational recently.
Little placed 17th in a field of 73 runners and helped her team to more success, as Sterling finished runner-up in that meet.
To help keep track of the numerous Jackson County athletes competing collegiately, please let us know if your son or daughter (or grandson or granddaughter, etc.) is participating at that level by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with details and links about his or her exploits. You may also contact Kelly at (785) 364-3141 to report your news.
The Holton Recorder is happy to help keep track of our local college athletes. Thank you for your help and support.