Jackson County alumni step up for collegiate teams
With winter sports like basketball and wrestling starting to pick up for collegiate teams, more area alumni are getting opportunities to shine…and shine they have as several graduates from Holton, Jackson Heights and Royal Valley have made their impact felt in recent weeks.
Some of the top recent performances have come on the cross country course as one former Cobra is getting set to compete at the ultimate level of college athletics, the NCAA championships.
That Cobra is Cory Keehn and he has continued to rack up the medals and awards in his final season at Fort Hays State University. He is coming off of runner-up finishes at both the MIAA Conference and Central Regional championships, where the only runner to best him was Missouri Southern’s Vincent Kiprop.
In the regional race (10K), though, Keehn closed the gap between himself and Kiprop to a miniscule seven seconds. He will race against Kiprop once again at the NCAA championship, which will be held at the same site of the regional (Joplin, Mo.) on Saturday, Nov. 21.
For his recent efforts, Keehn earned both All-Conference and All-Region honors and helped the Tigers finish fourth and eighth as a team at the respective meets.
Fellow JHHS graduate Kaitlynn Little was just getting her collegiate career started this fall and put together quite a debut season. The season came to an end for Little at the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships in Marion.
At the KCAC meet, Little helped the Sterling women’s team take fourth overall and she was once again the number two runner, finishing 27th individually out of 90 competitors in the 5K race.
Another runner wrapping up competition this season was former Panther Bryce Golightley, who competed for Cloud County Community College at the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Region VI championships.
Cloud County placed 11th out of 12 teams, while Golightley was 95th out of 109 runners in the 8K race.
On the football field, several Jackson County players have suited up for everything from Division I to community college teams.
Holton alumni Trent Tanking (Kansas State) and Rob Riederer (Tulsa) have seen some action on special teams this fall, though Tanking has not played since week three’s win over Louisiana Tech for the Wildcats.
In Division II action, a pair of Wildcats have taken the field for some MIAA teams, with Adam Luthi on the roster for Washburn and Jaxon Wright competing for Pittsburg State.
Luthi saw some action in a recent 35-21 win over Northeastern State for the Ichabods, while Wright got on the field in a 41-14 Gorilla victory over Missouri Southern, recording two tackles in the contest.
Up at Missouri Western State, RVHS grad Michael Houghtaling is also taking part in MIAA competition and he participated in the Griffons’ recent 34-17 victory over Nebraska-Kearney.
As for NAIA competition, a quartet of former Wildcats are making their impact felt, with Bryce Barnett contributing for #16 Benedictine (7-3), while Tanner Clark, Indie Allen and Cameron Karn all suit up for second-ranked Baker (9-1).
Barnett recently contributed one tackle in a 41-40 double overtime win for the Ravens against #19 William Penn.
Meanwhile, Allen received Heart of America Athletic Conference special teams player of the week honors for blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown in Baker’s 40-21 victory over Central Methodist.
Clark tallied a tackle in that game, but the offensive lineman also helped Baker rack up 512 total yards in the victory.
In the team’s most recent win, 26-0, against Missouri Valley, Allen recorded a tackle as well.
On the links, HHS alum Tavin Dugan recently concluded competition in the fall season for the Washburn golf team, which took second out of six teams at the South Central Kansas Fall Invitational in Winfield.
Dugan finished tied for 26th in the tournament after shooting a 23-over 167 through two rounds of play.
Volleyball competition is also drawing to a close for some alumni, as former Panther Hannah Beam saw her inaugural season at Barton County Community College end recently.
Beam made her mark for Barton, finishing with 81 kills (sixth), 40 digs (seventh) and 16 blocks (seventh) for the team, which finished 9-24 this fall.
NAIA teams are in the midst of conference tournaments, with a few Holton alums (Christa Hill, Hanah Suarez and Keri Tanking) still in action.
Suarez is on the roster for Benedictine (10-19) and recently tallied one kill in a 3-1 loss to Avila. That gives Suarez seven kills in nine matches this season.
Hill and Tanking are getting a little more use at Ottawa, a team that is currently 30-4 and the top seed in the HAAC tournament. Both players recorded a kill in a recent win over McPherson, while Tanking led the team with eight kills.
For the season, Tanking is second on the team with 300 kills and 2.76 points per game, while she is fourth in blocks (43) and sixth in digs (100). Hill meanwhile ranks third in assists (44) and fifth in aces (17).
Up in South Dakota, with just a couple of matches left in the season, that means the career of HHS alum Kylie Miller is drawing to a close.
Miller is finishing up her final college season at the University of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and she has helped lead the Hardrocker defense this season. She currently has a team-high 405 digs and is also third in aces (18) and assists (41).
In the team’s most recent win against Fort Lewis College, Miller finished with 22 digs, two assists and one ace.
Basketball has also gotten under way recently, with a host of area players taking the court again.
At Texas Tech, Holton grad Ryann Bowser is making her presence felt for the Red Raiders women’s team, as she pitched in five points, four assists, two rebounds and one steal in a 77-43 exhibition win over Eastern New Mexico.
In Division II, a pair of Wildcats are currently competing for MIAA teams, with Kyrstie Miller suiting up for Emporia State and Jayna Smith contributing for Washburn.
Miller didn’t score, but tallied two rebounds in a 68-57 exhibition loss against Kansas, while Smith had a big night in a 61-56 win over the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She recorded a double-double, with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and also added two assists and three steals.
Fellow HHS alums Macy Wallisch and Connor Strader are competing at the NAIA level for Baker and Ottawa, respectively.
Wallisch had a strong all-around game in an 85-31 win over Grace University recently, scoring 14 points, grabbing eight rebounds and recording three assists and two blocks.
For Ottawa, Strader recently pitched in three points, three assists and one rebound in a close 68-63 loss to Midland University.
Royal Valley alum Chelsea Hodison is also playing for the Braves and added six points and two rebounds in that game, while former Wetmore Cardinal Nichole Boden had four points and two rebounds in a game against MidAmerica Nazarene University.
A few Jackson County wrestlers also got back into action, while Holton alum Lucas Lovvorn got his first taste of Division I competition out at Wyoming.
Competing in the 165-lb. amateur bracket at the Cowboy open, Lovvorn went 3-2 and did not place, but he was an overtime loss away from wrestling for a championship.
Three other former county wrestlers are now all on the roster at Baker, including Holton’s Mason Baum and Tanner and Chance Ogden of Royal Valley.
Of the three, Tanner Ogden has had the best finish so far, as he took third at 165-lbs. in the Wildcats’ home tournament, the Dan Harris Open. Chance Ogden went 2-2 at 184 lbs., while Baum was 1-2 and neither placed.
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 email 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. Thanks!