Garden City, Kan. football
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Garden City, Kan. High School Varsity Boys Football
Perhaps it is fitting that Ron Baker’s collegiate basketball career will come to a close sometime in the next few weeks, nearly five years to the day after he made his big splash as a high school senior star for the Scott City Beavers.By now, Baker has become a household name, certainly in western Kansas, but also across the Sunflower State and beyond.His notoriety has come by virtue of being a...
Baker career coming to a close as a legendary Shocker star
Brett Marshall, Associated Press | Mar 14, 2016Perhaps it is fitting that Ron Baker’s collegiate basketball career will come to a close sometime in the next few weeks, nearly five years to the day after he made his big splash as a high school senior star for the Scott City Beavers. By now, Baker has become a household name, certainly in western Kansas, but also across the Sunflower State and beyond. His notoriety has come by virtue of being a standout the past four seasons for the Wichita State Shockers men’s basketball program, helping the team to an appearance in one Final Four, a Sweet 16 entry another season and a big win over in-state big brother Kansas a year ago in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. But it wasn’t always that way for the Scott City native, who worked his way up through the Beavers’ basketball program under the watchful eye of his highly-successful coach Glenn O’Neil. Western Kansas Legend The big breakthrough for Baker came when he received lukewarm interest from the Shockers the week before he was to play in his first state tournament in March of 2011, the Class 3A marquee event at Hutchinson’s Sports Arena. Until that week, Baker had been a long-shot recruit for Division I schools, no matter that he was making a name of legendary proportions in western Kansas. He was a top-level quarterback/free safety in football (22-2 in two seasons), perhaps the best basketball player in a decade in western Kansas, and one of the elite baseball players as a pitcher/shortstop, where he played for his father, Neil. He batted .437 his senior season, and helped his team to the Class 4A state tournament, where a 2-1 loss in which Baker hit a home run, ended his prep career. In his senior season, Baker was honored as The Telegram’s Football Player of the Year, Basketball Player of the Year and named to the Spring Sports All-Area first team. A Look Back Fast forward to March 2016, and Baker and his Shocker teammates, who were perhaps one of the final selections for this year’s March Madness (a No. 11 seed who plays Tuesday night against Vanderbilt in Dayton, Ohio, as part of the First Four), and it is the twilight of his NCAA career. And what a career it has been. He will leave Wichita State as one of the all-time Shocker greats. But it may never have happened had it not been for a two-week window of that March Madness of 2011 for Kansas prep basketball. When Baker and his teammates defeated rival Holcomb, 70-44, for the Class 3A sub-state championship the first Saturday of March, it was the first time that he and his senior group had even earned a trip to the state venue in Hutchinson. “What I remember most was the couple of weeks leading to the state tournament,” Baker said in a Thursday telephone interview with The Telegram. “I remember just being happy since it was our first state tournament appearance.” Three frustrating years of sub-state final losses tend to dampen one’s enthusiasm for wondering if you’ll ever be able to play on that bigger stage. First, there was a 64-50 loss to Holcomb his freshman season as a reserve, then a stunning loss to Cheney in 2009 (40-39), both Class 3A sub-state finals. His junior season, it was a 58-48 setback to Pratt that cost the Beavers a chance to head to state. “There was just a lot of excitement that night when we beat Holcomb, and a lot of excitement in the community,” Baker said of that March 5 triumph in Larned. “All the days leading up to the tournament, the travel with my teammates. It’s all so special to look back on that now.” 2011 State Champs Baker said he remembers the semifinal and final games against Wichita Collegiate (a 62-59 Scott City win) and the title victory over Minneapolis (55-53) as two of the most intense games in which he played during his prep career. “At the time, they were the most pressure-packed games I had played in,” Baker said in recalling his final two games in a Beaver uniform. And what a two games they were for the then 6-3, 185-pounder (he’s now 6-4, 210). All he did in the semis against Collegiate was score a game-high 20 points, grab nine rebounds and record four steals. But that paled to his brilliant performance in the championship game against the Lions of Minneapolis. He finished with another game-high 26 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals and three blocked shots. Most importantly, he grabbed a tipped rebound from teammate Braeden Robinson off a missed Brett O’Neil baseline jumper and drove in for the winning basket with 2.6 seconds remaining to lift his team to a state title. “I just remember it being the third day and we were worn out,” Baker said of the Saturday championship tilt. “We were coming off a big win (over Collegiate) and our morale was high. We didn’t play all that well, offensively, against Minneapolis and we were lucky in many respects to win.” Ironically, this past Saturday, March 12, was five years to the day that Baker made that historic shot to give him his only state championship in his only state appearance. “Coach (O’Neil) huddled us and told us what we were going to run,” Baker recalled of those final hectic seconds of a timeout with 6.9 seconds showing on the clock. “He wanted us to attack (which is what Baker did), and get the last shot and not give Minneapolis any time for a shot. “The guy guarding me picked me up at about half-court. I took a couple of dribbles and then got picked up with a double team. That left Brett open on the baseline. I got the pass to him, his shot came up short and I had a great view of where the ball was going to bounce. I read it well. I just crashed the board, got the ball and put it back in. It was a great way for me and my teammates to go out. It’s just one of the best basketball memories I have.” College Recruiting Until the week prior to that state tourney, Baker was still a non-household name outside of western Kansas. Only South Dakota State and Arkansas-Little Rock were actively recruiting him at the Division-I level. Coffeyville Community College was his most likely avenue if he chose the two-year junior college route. He had been offered, and turned down, a scholarship to Fort Hays State, where two former Scott City players — Corbin Kuntzsch and Tim Peintner — had starred. “I always liked the other sports, but I loved basketball,” Baker said of his decision to focus on playing that sport at the next level. “I had watched Corbin and Tim play in that 2005-06-07 time frame and they were so fun to watch. I wanted to be in their shoes and finally had that chance. We tried to be humble in what we were doing and have fun while playing.” The week prior to the 2011 state tourney, Baker received some obligatory phone calls from the WSU staff. “WSU didn’t come with an offer at first,” Baker recalled of the Shockers’ initial contact and interest. “But then coach (Chris) Jans (then an assistant) came to the semis. I think he called coach (Gregg) Marshall that night and then he (Marshall) came to the Saturday game.” From there, the recruiting process intensified. Within two weeks, Baker was invited to Wichita for an official visit. The only problem, though, was the Shockers were out of scholarships for the 2011-12 season. If Baker wanted to play there, he would have to be a walk-on his freshman season, and would have to red-shirt. A scholarship would be available for him a year later in 2012-13. That was good enough for the Scott City star, considering that neither Kansas State nor Kansas had expressed any significant interest in him during a senior season in which he averaged more than 20 points a game. His all-around skills, though, were key to his recruitment by the Shockers. He also had averaged 7.5 rebounds, 4.6 steals, 2 blocks and 3 assists per game. Pretty heady stats from a guard position. He completed his prep career with 1,340 points. Changing Life “Those two weeks changed my outlook on where I would play,” Baker said. “The other two schools (So. Dakota St./Ark.-Little Rock) were so far away from home, it would be difficult for my family and friends to see me play. WSU was just close enough. I could have basketball year-round then.” During his red-shirt freshman season, Baker said he realized just how important the decision became. “That first year was life-changing for me in every way,” Baker said. “Who knows what would have happened if I had gone elsewhere? Maybe I wouldn’t have made the progress that I did at WSU. I’ve had the right coaches who’ve believed in me. The progress has been difficult, but worthwhile.” During a five-year span of his life, Baker has now earned a bachelor’s degree in business/finance and is but a few hours shy of another bachelor’s degree in communications. Both have been funded by his college scholarship, making his walk-on season of financing his own way more than worth it. “Degrees are important in my family (both his dad and mom are teachers and have coached),” Baker said. “My parents are blue-collar type of people. They have a strong work ethic and they preach going to school to kids. Go to school. Get your work done, and there are rewards down the road.” What Baker couldn’t have foreseen is the on-court success he and his Shocker teammates have enjoyed over the past five seasons. The year prior to his arrival as a walk-on, the Shockers future success was forecast with an NIT Championship. During his walk-on season of 2011-12, WSU went 27-6 and lost to Virginia Commonwealth in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Freshman/ Final Four In his red-shirt freshman season, Baker suffered a foot injury 10 games into the schedule and missed 21 games in which the team went 15-6. With Baker in the lineup at the beginning, and then at the end of the year, the Shockers were 15-3, with a trip to the Final Four. “It’s been pretty special because I don’t think I expected this type of success,” Baker said of his four-year stint at WSU. “I really didn’t know too much about them. I had watched the NIT the year before. I’ve been fortunate to play with players and be coached by great persons every day. It shows that anything’s possible. If you get around the right people, and you work hard, good things can happen.” Baker said that the Final Four in Atlanta that ended in a heartbreaking loss to eventual champion Louisville in the national semifinals would be an enduring memory of his collegiate career. “It’s hard for a team to even get to the Final Four, so it provides a lot of good memories,” Baker said of the Shockers’ first trip to the Final Four since 1965. “It has to be the top moment. All the other events just kind of pile in there and they are all special memories in their own way.” Recent Seasons Baker said the recent run of Missouri Valley Conference regular season titles also is high on his list of accomplishments. During his four years, the Shockers have won three titles and gone 63-9 in the MVC. Overall, they have won 119 games and lost just 23, including that special 35-1 season of 2013-14 in which they were paired against Kentucky in the second round, losing a nail-biter to the perennial national powerhouse Wildcats, 78-76, which later Sports Illustrated called its Game of the Year. “Our side of the bracket was by far the toughest,” Baker said in recalling that monumental battle with the all-time winningest program. “We played the game we wanted to play, but just couldn’t come up with that last big play to win the game. But we proved we could play with anybody.” With so many big games, including a 2015 NCAA Tournament win over the Kansas Jayhawks (78-65), Baker said he felt privileged to have been able to represent WSU, the state of Kansas and his hometown of Scott City. “I’ve learned a lot, and going against the elite level players has been a big thrill,” Baker said. “I’ve discovered there’s very little separation of talent at this level. It’s the little things you put forward that make the difference. It’s the hustle plays, go grabbing a rebound, playing tough defense. That’s what you try to do to help your team.” Baker said if he had to analyze his own skills on the basketball floor, he would say that his first step, both at the high school and college level, is a strong point. “I think I’ve got good overall size for a guard, and my first step has been good,” he said of himself. “It’s hard to tell where I need to be for the next level when that times comes around.” The Final Dance For now, the anxious days of waiting to see if they were in the NCAA field is over. They were one of the last teams in the 68-team field announced Sunday, and were assigned a First Four matchup on Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, against Vanderbilt. The four-year career of Baker is winding down. Tuesday night may be his final time to don the Black and Sunflower Yellow shocker uniform. If it is, or when the Shockers play their final game, Baker will have left an imprint on the basketball program that few others have matched. Currently, he ranks No. 9 on the all-time scoring list with 1,598 points, and only needs 2 points to move into the No. 8 slot ahead of Randy Burns. He is No. 10 in career assists (334) and free throws made (343), and is No. 2 on the career 3-point field goals made (237). He has a nearly 2-1 ratio of assists to turnovers during his career. The Future/NBA? Baker said he would wait to think about his future as an NBA player, with the draft not taking place until this summer. He will sit down later and discuss his draft position with his college coach, his parents and eventually perhaps an agent. All of that is on hold for now. “I’ll just leave that to down the road,” he said, preferring to focus on the task at hand. Several NBA draft websites have placed Baker somewhere in the 30-60 range, meaning a probable second-round selection. The Baker Legacy With everything that has happened to Baker from high school glory days to becoming a Shocker star, Baker said there are things for which he hopes he will be remembered. “The way I handled myself on and off the court are important to me,” Baker said. “There’s been no negative distractions and I think I’ve handled the business of being a college player the right way. “I’ve had a hard work ethic, and I look back as to how fun it was. The people I’ve been with will impact me the rest of my life. I’ve got my school work done and have degrees to rely on in the future.” And the final run of the NCAA? “We just want to make the most of the rest of our games,” Baker said of he and his senior teammates, especially Fred VanVleet and Evan Wessel. “It’s been a great run.” There are times, Baker said, that he thinks he’s awakened from a deep sleep. “A couple of times I’ve just thought I needed to pinch myself,” he said. “I do feel good about myself and what I’ve done. I ask myself, though, why did I get so lucky? I think I’ve made good decisions and tried to be the best person I could be.” The Baker Years Season: 2012-13 (Fr.) GP/GS FG-FGA FT-FTA Reb. Asst. T/O Stls. Pts. Avg. 18/15 45-113 37-45 58 32 23 157 8.7 Season: 2013-14 (So.) GP/GS FG-FGA FT-FTA Reb. Asst. T/O Stls. Pts. Avg. 36/36 146-320 112-133 137 112 61 51 472 13.1 Season: 2014-15 (Jr.) GP/GS FG-FGA FT-FTA Reb. Asst. T/O Stls. Pts. Avg. 35/35 171-395 94-124 157 88 39 45 516 14.7 Season: 2015-16 (Sr.-Current) GP/GS FG-FGA FT-FTA Reb. Asst. T/O Stls. Pts. Avg. 32/32 147-341 100-127 152 102 48 49 453 14.2 Career: 2012-13 to Current GP/GS FG-FGA FT-FTA Reb. Asst. T/O Stls. Pts. Avg. 121/118 509-1169 343-429 504 334 171 159 1598 13.2 Career Averages: FG%: .431; 3-point FG%: .358; FT%: .787; Rebounds: 4.2; Assists: 2.8; Steals: 1.3. Note: Baker has not fouled out of one game during his college career. ——— ©2016 The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.) Visit The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.) at www.gctelegram.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. _____ Topics: t000003183,t000003277,t000040506,t000008056,t000404471,t000404496,t000048049,t000404730,t000040508,g000065634,g000362661,g000066164,g000225965,g000065627,g000065579,g000065702,g000065650
In her nearly 29 years of life, Sublette’s Shalee Lehning has had more than her share of special moments during her athletic career.Some people might even call it a charmed life.It would be hard to argue with the many special moments. If one were to look at it as charmed, however, the thousands of hours of practice and the dedication that it took is the reason why Lehning compiled a career...
KSHOF induction latest honor for Lehning
Brett Marshall, Associated Press | Oct 5, 2015In her nearly 29 years of life, Sublette’s Shalee Lehning has had more than her share of special moments during her athletic career. Some people might even call it a charmed life. It would be hard to argue with the many special moments. If one were to look at it as charmed, however, the thousands of hours of practice and the dedication that it took is the reason why Lehning compiled a career flooded with highlights. Sunday, at the Scottish Rite Center in downtown Wichita, Lehning’s stellar career had its capstone moment when she joined 10 other sports legends as an inductee into the 2015 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. “This is such an incredible honor to be with such incredible people being honored here tonight,” Lehning said in her remarks. “I could spend hours talking about all the accomplishments, but I would rather choose to talk about the things that are most important in my life — family, friends, teammates, coaches and my faith.” Through her high school years of 2002 to 2005, Lehning’s Sublette Lady Larks won 52 consecutive basketball games and captured back-to-back Class 2A state championships (2004-05), culminating with a four-year record of 94-6. She was voted Miss Kansas Basketball and won the Gatorade Player of the Year Award her senior year, averaging 30.6 points, 15 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 5.3 steals. “I had some of the best teammates a player could ever hope for,” she said of her Lady Larks. “Those were great times, and some of those girls are still among my closest friends.” Upon high school graduation, Lehning received a scholarship offer from Kansas State University, the school she loved from childhood days when she sat on the bench as a ball girl for the high school boys team at the Class 2A state tournament in Bramlage Coliseum. During her four-year career for the Lady Wildcats, Lehning’s legend grew as she helped lead the team to one Big 12 Championship, two trips to the WNIT and a pair of NCAA berths. She twice was named All-Big 12 first team, and in her senior season earned Honorable Mention All-America honors. In her final home game of her 2009 senior season, Lehning watched on March 1 as her No. 5 jersey was retired to the rafters at Bramlage Coliseum, thus putting her in elite company with the Lady Wildcat greats. K-State was 90-43 during her four-year career. “I want to thank coach (Deb Patterson) for all that she has done to teach me about the value of leadership,” Lehning said of her college coach. Upon completion of her playing days at KSU, she was then selected in the second round of the 2009 WNBA Draft by the Atlanta Dream. In her rookie season, Lehning eventually became the starting point guard, and the Dream reached the WNBA Finals a year later with her as the spark plug. Twice in her three seasons, the Dream played for the WNBA title. “I had the opportunity to realize my dream of playing professionally, and I’m grateful for that,” Lehning said. A pair of devastating injuries, one to a shoulder at the end of her rookie season, and the other an ACL tear midway through her third season, cut her professional career short. In January of 2012, she announced her retirement from playing, and moved into the collegiate coaching ranks at her alma mater, where she was on the staff with her college coach, Patterson. Three seasons later, Patterson and the staff was fired by K-State’s athletic director John Currie. Lehning then moved to Greeley, Colo., where she became the associate head coach at the University of Northern Colorado, helping former KSU aide Kamie Ethridge for one season while leading the Lady Grizzlies to one of their best records in school history during the 2014-15 season. In June, Lehning, now 28, resigned her position at UNC and has been exploring career options over the past three-plus months, traveling, visiting family and friends and has begun work on a master’s degree in theological studies. After 22 years of playing nearly year-round sports, and then coaching year-round, too, it was time for a much-needed break to consider her career options down the road. “I’m enjoying my life right now,” Lehning said in a brief post-ceremony interview. “I don’t know where it will lead, but I know by doing this I will give myself a better chance to make the best decision to know where and what God wants me to be to influence others.” In her acceptance speech before a crowd of nearly 300, which included most of her immediate family members, Lehning was ever the gracious person in thanking those who she said made her career possible. First, and foremost, it was about family and faith. “My parents (Steve and Jane), my brother (Matt) and sister (Andrea), they’ve been there every step of the way, and have taught me about faith,” Lehning said. “I have nieces and nephews. The entire family has taught me to make faith a priority.” And then she turned to her coaches, teammates and friends, to express sincere gratitude for all the support through the years. And now that her playing career is but a memory in the rear-view mirror, Lehning said that a person’s playing career has a short shelf life. “I was fortunate to be blessed with great coaches and teammates,” she recalled. “I learned that there are more important things than athletics, and I am fortunate to count many of those not only as coaches and teammates, but also now as close friends.” It was, perhaps, the Lehning way. For her, it has always been about the team, and she credits her coaches and teammates for the success she’s enjoyed and the honors she’s received. “I’ve had people ask me what I wanted for my legacy, and that sometimes is tough to answer,” she said. “I want to be remembered for playing with passion, being a great teammate and giving everything I had.” Lehning said during the last few months of self-introspection, she has learned the importance of slowing down, and living in the moment. “Everybody from Sublette, everybody at K-State that I’ve been touched by, has helped plant seeds of life for me,” Lehning said. “My legacy today would be to strive every day to give glory to God, because he’s got a (long) shelf life.” For the personable Lehning, success has followed her every step of the way, despite some saying a 5-9 guard from the tiny southwest Kansas town of 1,500 could never play Division I basketball. She proved them so wrong. And some of the same persons told her she would never play in the WNBA. Again, she proved the naysayers wrong. One can only imagine if her professional career had not been shortened what she might have achieved at the highest level of women’s basketball. The induction honor perhaps is a fitting close to a chapter that belongs not only to Lehning, her family and friends, and her hometown of Sublette, but also to the next generation of young girls who have adorned their bedroom walls with pictures of Shalee Lehning, who inspired them to work hard and pursue their dreams. She excelled every step of the way. She pursued her dreams, and she lived her dream. Sunday night, she was able to enjoy the celebration of all that dream realized. Now it will be the next chapter of her life that is waiting to be written. The Lehning Legacy Born: October, 28, 1986, Liberal, Kansas High School (2002-2005), Sublette High School 2,510 Points (4th all-time in Kansas history) 1,336 Rebounds; 804 assissts; 543 steals; all rank 1st in Kansas history. 245 assists is single season record. Led Sublette to consecutive 26-0 seasons and Class 2A state championships (2004-05); 4-year record was 94-6. Four-time Garden City Telegram All-Area selection; 2005 Miss Kansas Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year. Averaged 30.6 points, 15 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 5.3 steals in senior season. 7-Time State Track and Field Champion 2003: Class 2A 100m/300m hurdles 2004: Class 2A 100m/300m hurdles; Javelin 2005: Class 2A 100m hurdles; Javelin (147-5 was state class record until 2014) Kansas State University (2006-2009) Led Lady Wildcats to 90-43 record in 4 seasons Big 12 Regular Season Champions, 2008 2-time Big 12 All-Conference 1st team Honorable Mention All-America, 2009 1,189 points (21st); 914 rebounds (4th), 800 assists (1st), 235 steals (5th). 1st player in Big 12 to score 1,000 points, record 900 rebounds and 800 assists (Her assist total is 211 ahead of the next player). Recorded 5 triple doubles (3 in one season) to rank 1st in KSU history, tie 1st in Big 12 history; tie 5th most all-time in NCAA history. Her No. 5 jersey was retired in her final home game on March 1, 2009. Served as an assistant coach at KSU from 2010 (part-time), 2012 (full-time) to 2014. Professional (WNBA) Drafted No. 25 (second round) in 2009 by Atlanta Dream. In parts of 3 seasons, helped Dream to 57-45 record, 2 appearances in WNBA Finals. The season prior and after her playing, the Dream was a combined 23-45. In her 2010 season (only full season due to injuries), she averaged 4.8 assists (No. 1 season avg. in franchise history), led team in assists in 21 of 33 games; had a 2.34 assist/turnover ratio. Her 3.8 assist average over 3 seasons ranks 1st in franchise history; her 327 career assists are No. 3 on Dream list; her 159 assists in 2010 are 2nd most in Dream history. Retired Jan. 31, 2012 due to injuries. Other Honors Inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in 2013. Lehning is the sixth athlete from southwest Kansas to be inducted into the KSHOF, including Glenn Cunningham of Elkhart (1961); Otto Schnellbacher of Sublet (1972); Gary Spani of Lakin (2004); Steve Tasker of Leoti (2005); and Gary Bender of Ulysses (2008). In addition to Lehning, the following 10 people also were part of the 2015 KSHOF inductee class, bringing the number of inductees to 248 since the KSHOF was founded in 1961 TERRY BEESON, COFFEYVILLE A native of Coffeyville, Beeson had one of the most heralded football careers in University of Kansas history. Beeson was a four-year letterman at linebacker for the Jayhawks and led the team in tackles in both 1975 and 1976. He was also selected as an All-Big 8 selection in 1976. Beeson was drafted in the second round (41st pick) of the 1976 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks where he played four seasons, including leading the team in tackles for three seasons from 1977 to 1979. KEN BERRY, TOPEKA Berry, a native of Topeka and a 1959 graduate of Washburn Rural High School, made a name for himself in Major League Baseball. A two-sport star in high school, Berry attended Wichita University, now Wichita State University. He was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1961 and made his debut in the Major Leagues one year later in 1962. Over the next fourteen seasons, Berry played for four teams in the Major Leagues on his way to winning two Gold Glove Awards (1970 and 1972). TRACY BUNGE, UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS Originally from Bartlesville, Okla., Bunge chose to attend the University of Kansas on a softball scholarship in 1982. Bunge led the team in home runs each season, as well as leading the Jayhawks in pitching wins and strikeouts in 1983, 1984, and 1985. Bunge was a three-time All-Big 8 player in 1983, 1985, and 1986, and was a first-team All-American in 1986. Bunge was the head coach of the Jayhawk softball program from 1997 until 2009, posting a career coaching record of 409-345-2 with four appearances in the NCAA Tournament. PAUL COFFMAN, CHASE A native of Chase, Coffman starred at Kansas State University before launching an 11-year NFL career that saw him go from undrafted free agent to NFL Pro Bowler. A three-year letter winner at K-State from 1975 to 1977, Coffman earned first-team All-Big 8 honors as a senior tight end in 1977. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Green Bay Packers in 1977. With 1997 KSHOF Inductee Lynn Dickey at quarterback for the Packers, Coffman quickly became a favorite passing target and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection in 1982, 1983, and 1984. MATHEW “CHIC” DOWNING, ATCHISON From player to coach, Downing of Atchison has been successful in every stop in his storied basketball career. Downing was selected by the New York Knicks in the 1972 NBA Draft before becoming the head basketball coach of Atchison High School in 1975 where he remained as coach until 1992. As a coach, Downing guided Atchison to four state championships. KENNY HARRISON, KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY One of the most decorated athletes in Kansas State University Track and Field history, Harrison, originally from Milwaukee, Wis., smashed school, national, and world records on his way to earning Olympic gold in 1996 with a jump of 59-04.25. Harrison, a long-jump and triple-jump specialist at K-State earned All-America honors all four years in Manhattan from 1985 to 1988. LONNIE KRUSE, STERLING A native of Holyrood, Kruse left a coaching legacy that is unmatched in Kansas history. Kruse attended Sterling College from 1967 to 1971 where he played basketball. Upon completion of his career, Kruse held the school’s record for career scoring with 1,540 points. Kruse returned to his alma mater as head women’s basketball coach in 1981. From 1981 to 2014, Kruse compiled a coaching record of 706-244, the most coaching wins in Kansas women’s basketball history. BRIAN MOORMAN, SEDGWICK The most decorated athlete in Pittsburg State University history, Moorman from Sedgwick, rewrote the record book in two sports for the Gorillas and left a legacy unmatched in school history. Moorman compiled an astounding fourteen All-American selections, including four in football and ten in track, to go along with six Academic All-American selections. Moorman signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks before playing with the Buffalo Bills. In his 14 NFL seasons, Moorman earned two Pro Bowl selections as a punter. TROY MORRELL, ATWOOD A native of Atwood, Morrell earned All-American status as a lineman at Butler Community College in 1991 before finishing his playing career at Fort Hays State University. Morrell began a coaching career where he first served as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator for two National Championships at Butler Community College in El Dorado in 1998 and 1999 before being promoted to head coach of the Grizzlies in 2000. Over the next fifteen seasons, Morrell racked up twelve KJCCC titles and three NJCAA National Championships in 2003, 2007, and 2008. For his career, Morrell posted a record of 154-22 with a win percentage .880, best in NJCAA history. DICK SANDERS, WICHITA Sanders was a three-sport high school star at Wichita North High School, including leading the school to two mythical state championships in football and baseball in 1949. Sanders continued his playing career at Wichita University, now Wichita State University, where he played quarterback and defensive back on the football team, guard on the basketball team, and shortstop on the baseball team. Sanders signed a professional baseball contract with the New York Yankees in 1952 and played eight seasons with the Yankees and Dodger organizations. Sanders became a football and basketball official and officiated games in the Missouri Valley and Big 8 Conferences. ——— ©2015 The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.) Visit The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.) at www.gctelegram.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. _____ Topics: t000008060,t000008056,t000003183,t000002776,t000049144,t000143260,t000002786,t000046469,t000003194,t000003199,t000045952,t000003277,t000045948,t000003279,t000040506,t000404471,t000027855,t000003142,t000143270,g000065634,g000362661,g000066164,g000224867
This is the time of year where it’s so difficult to keep your mind focused on sports.You know — the end of the Major League Baseball season is near even though the Royals are stumbling a bit into the postseason playoffs this year and will win an American League Division title for the first time in 30 years.It’s the start of the NFL season and we’re trying to figure out which quarterback will be...
The Garden City Telegram, Kan., Brett Marshall column
Brett Marshall, Associated Press | Sep 23, 2015This is the time of year where it’s so difficult to keep your mind focused on sports. You know — the end of the Major League Baseball season is near even though the Royals are stumbling a bit into the postseason playoffs this year and will win an American League Division title for the first time in 30 years. It’s the start of the NFL season and we’re trying to figure out which quarterback will be the next casualty of a serious injury — it’s bad enough that Tony Romo can’t play for the Cowboys, but Drew Brees’ availability is now in question. I lose track as to who is healthy and who is not. Are the Chiefs as good as they were in beating Houston, or as bad as they were in crumbling at the end in a monumental loss to Denver last week? And will we know any more about this K.C. team because they next have to play in Green Bay. Hard to tell what the road looks like for the Chiefs this season. College football is three weeks under the belt, and we’re still not sure how good this Kansas State team is. Can a team that has to go three overtimes at home to beat Louisiana Tech compete in the Big 12 this season? I guess we’ll find out Saturday when the Wildcats head to Stillwater, Okla., to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Of course, 80 or so miles to the east it’s not hard to figure out what kind of team the Kansas Jayhawks has this year. David Beaty has perhaps the biggest task of any college Division I coach in trying to make the Jayhawks respectable. Will they even win a game this year? Mmmm. It would be an upset, to be sure. There’s little or no interest at this time in the NBA or NHL preseason games over the next month. Does anybody pay attention to these two sports until early next year when the NFL and college football finally come to an end. By then, college basketball usually takes center stage through the first weekend of April. So what does a sports writer find time to ponder at this time of year? Well, most of you know that golf is my favorite sport. It’s the sport in which I competed most at both the high school and college level. I enjoy covering the sport, too, and when the Symetra Tour’s Garden City Charity Classic ended Sunday I felt a sense of emptiness as the 2015 coverage dwindles from here. Just a few high school tournaments remaining, and then it’s time to hang up the clubs. However, as I was reading a multitude of golf websites over the past two days, the big question at the professional level is who will be named the PGA Tour Player of the Year? Jason Day or Jordan Spieth? Both players have had spectacular seasons, Spieth winning two of the four majors — the Masters and the U.S. Open, while Day has won one of the majors (PGA Championship). Some might make the case that the Canadian Open is a major, but in today’s world, it’s a notch below the other four. So how do we decide? I spent some time poring over the season statistics of both players, and here’s what it tells us as we head into the season’s final event this weekend — The Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. The two are even paired together for the first two days of play — much drama! Spieth has played in 24 events, made the top 10 in 14 of those. He’s won a total of four times, two of which Day did not play. In the four Majors — Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship (British) and PGA Championship — Spieth was first, first, tied fourth and second. In three of the four World Golf Championship events where the two went head-to-head, Spieth came out ahead in all three. His scoring average of 68.984 is the best on Tour this year. He was an astonishing 54-under-par in 16 rounds of the Majors, averaging 68.125. Spieth also has had four runner-up finishes and one third. Day, meanwhile, has won five events, with Spieth having been in the field for three of those. Day has played 19 events on Tour, making the top 10 on 10 occasions. In the four Majors, Day finished tied 28th, tie 9th, tie 4th (with Spieth at the Open Championship) and first. His season scoring average has been 69.163 while in the four majors he was at 69.31. Only 19 shots separated the two golfers in the four Majors, an average of 1.18 strokes. Spieth became just the sixth player in golf history to win two majors in a single season. He was at his best early and then mid-season. When he was unable to seal the deal at the (British) Open and then was edged out by Day at the PGA, one could sense that even a 22-year-old like Spieth could simply see his gas tank go empty. Day, meanwhile, still had plenty left to prove after solid finishes in the U.S. Open and Open. He’s been on a roll since, winning three of his last four events while Spieth has missed a cut twice in that span. Maybe the energy battery for Spieth will be fully charged this week at the Tour Championship. And maybe, just maybe, Day will keep the momentum going. While we get to see them the first two days, there’s nothing that I could anticipate more than to see them in the final pairing of Sunday’s final round of the season’s last tournament. That outcome could well decide who wins the Player of the Year. Both are deserving. Only one can win. Who will it be? My bet is on Spieth. When you look at the biggest tournaments of the season — the four majors — Spieth was just a little better. But not by much. Sports Editor Brett Marshall can be emailed at email@example.com ——— ©2015 The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.) Visit The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.) at www.gctelegram.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. _____ Topics: t000003183,t000046469,t000003194,g000221300,g000065627,g000362661,g000066164
Out of nowhere, it seemed, a disturbing mass sprouted in the upper body of an otherwise healthy young football player.Next thing you know, it’s diagnosed as Hodgkin lymphoma, Stage IV. Starting with a newfound sense of mortality, everything instantly changed for the Chiefs player.If this sounds familiar, it should: It’s what star safety Eric Berry quite privately has been working through since...
Chiefs rookie receiver knows what Eric Berry is going through in battle with cancer
By Vahe Gregorian, Associated Press | May 30, 2015Out of nowhere, it seemed, a disturbing mass sprouted in the upper body of an otherwise healthy young football player. Next thing you know, it’s diagnosed as Hodgkin lymphoma, Stage IV. Starting with a newfound sense of mortality, everything instantly changed for the Chiefs player. If this sounds familiar, it should: It’s what star safety Eric Berry quite privately has been working through since a growth was discovered in his chest in early December. Apparently, all is going as well as possible according to the scant, one-step-removed information that’s been released. But an evident trajectory toward recovery from lymphoma isn’t just Berry’s story. There are plenty of examples of this in the sports world alone, from NHL Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux to Cubs pitcher Jon Lester (anaplastic large-cell lymphoma and chemotherapy in 2006) and, most recently, Houston Texans offensive lineman David Quessenberry. Quessenberry was diagnosed in June with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and missed the entire 2014 season, but he declared himself in remission in February and hopes to play this season. And at least for now, there’s a more precise and closer-to-home example for Berry … and those transmitting to him their prayers or thoughts. When the Chiefs earlier this month signed Kenny Cook as a free agent from Gardner-Webb, they didn’t just sign a 6-foot-4, 210-pound receiver who has what coach Andy Reid calls a wide “catch radius.” They also signed someone with a broad radius of inspiring testimony to the viability of fending off cancer and playing again. “He’s a miracle, that’s all I’ll say,” Andy Young, Cook’s coach at Clinton (S.C.) High, said in a phone interview. “I coached for 37 years and had some (players) that died and things like that, but I never saw any overcome what he (overcame).” It might make for an awkward dynamic to speak to somebody about such a sensitive topic when you’re meeting for the first time, but Cook didn’t fuss or blink and, in fact, offered reassurance that “it’s cool” when it was broached last week during the Chiefs’ organized team activities. “Because,” he adds, “I never know who the story is going to touch.” The disease gripped him in 2007, the summer before his sophomore year of high school, when he woke up one morning with a sore neck. As much as he initially wanted to hope it was from weightlifting, there was no getting around that his throat was gruesomely swollen. His parents took him to the hospital, and a day later, he said, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin lymphoma . Chemotherapy started immediately. “I went in blind, not knowing anything. And I came out, and I had cancer,” he said. “The only thing I knew from cancer is people pass away a lot. “So that was life-changing for me right there.” Not to be confused with life-ending. Even if he called cancer a “cousin” of death, it turns out it could be a distant one many times removed. The quiet grace he showed in handling his illness explains why his teachers and coaches came to believe he was teaching them as much or more than they were teaching him, current Clinton High coach Andrew Webb said. Not that there weren’t dark times, when he’d wonder about what was to come because of the sheer specter of cancer … and the depleting treatments … and the nausea … and the weight loss … and losing his hair. But Cook was sustained by faith, including the sort that comes from leaning on his Christian beliefs and a reservoir of family love. It also came from the encouragement he derived from learning how treatable his cancer was and meeting others who’d emerged healthy. Those get-togethers with thriving survivors were crucial to his morale, because they weren’t about studies or numbers or theories but the vivid and true outcomes of a shared burden. “That helped me out a lot,” said Cook, who noted that he’s been “cleared” the last few years and requires only periodic testing. Football, too, was fundamental to his recovery. Not just because he wanted so badly to play again someday, and the incentive that gave him to work his way back, but also because it provided an emotional haven. Even as he was forced to sit out from playing football and basketball his sophomore year, often missing days of school at a time with chemo and, later, radiation treatments, football provided succor from the sucker punch of his illness. “I leaned on football because it’s a brotherhood; I like that brotherhood and that camaraderie,” he said. “Those guys made me feel like I was still on the team. I went to the games every Friday; I did my chemo early in the week just so I could go to the games just to watch.” By his junior year, he wasn’t just watching any more. “You could tell he was ticking a little different than everyone else because he’d had something taken away from him,” said Webb, who was Clinton’s defensive backs coach when Cook was playing. Cook returned with ferocity on both sides of the ball, helping set the scene for a Class 3A state title as a senior when he became an all-state defensive back. That season, he also was considered a playmaker for a wishbone offense with 29 catches for 597 yards and two touchdowns. Cook became the “backbone” of the team, Young said, because he “just absolutely kept working, kept working. Wouldn’t give up. Nobody could tell him no.” Football meant that much in the equation. “I worked 10 times harder — 10 times harder,” he said. “I know the feeling of it being gone. “People say never take it for granted? I lived that; I know that.” That mentality is what fueled Cook from Clinton to Garden City (Kan.) Community College to Gardner-Webb, where he had 64 receptions for 758 yards and five touchdowns as a senior. Now it’s led to an opportunity with the Chiefs, who saw him at his pro day in Boiling Springs, N.C. “Just trying to seize the moment,” he said. Cancer still informs his attitude, of course, and accounts for his appreciation of every day and opportunity. But he has it compartmentalized. “I go about my everyday life,” he said, “and don’t even think about it.” Unless he’s asked, that is. As for Berry, Cook hopes there soon will be two cancer survivors on this Chiefs team. Who’s to tell him he’s wrong? “I’m hearing he’s a pretty strong guy,” he said of Berry. “And I know he’ll get through it.” ——— Terez Paylor of The Kansas City Star contributed to this column. ——— ©2015 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. _____ Topics: t000002832,t000002828,t000002827,t000412858
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories profiling some of the top graduating high school seniors in The Telegram area.While the phrase “reach for the stars” is a cliché often used to motivate high school graduates, it’s quite applicable to Sublette High School senior Jayden Garetson.“I was always interested in the exploration of space, and then my parents got me a giant National...
Jayden Garetson reaching for the stars, literally
Angie Haflich, Associated Press | May 19, 2015Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories profiling some of the top graduating high school seniors in The Telegram area. While the phrase “reach for the stars” is a cliché often used to motivate high school graduates, it’s quite applicable to Sublette High School senior Jayden Garetson. “I was always interested in the exploration of space, and then my parents got me a giant National Geographic encyclopedia on space for Christmas when I was 7 or 8, and I just read through the whole thing,” said Garetson, who graduated from Sublette High School on Saturday. Garetson, whose dream is to be an aerospace engineer, was one of two students named to the Sublette High School’s principal’s honor roll this year for his 4.0 grade-point average. And when he wasn’t participating in football, choir, scholar’s bowl, student council or Kansas Association of Youth, Garetson was finding ways to explore the skies — in the fields of his family’s farm, located a few miles outside of Sublette. “I work with robotic aircraft. Actually, a year and a half ago, my dad sent me an article about robotic aircraft in agriculture” Garetson said. He said his dad asked him to do more research on the technology, and in the process he found a company in Neodesha called Ag Eagle that sells robotic aircraft that helps producers pinpoint areas of concern in their fields. “We had them come out, and they showed us a demo, so we ordered one and got it last spring and played around with it,” Garetson said. That turned into an opportunity for Garetson to intern for the company last summer, where he didn’t expect to do much of what he thought would be “fun” stuff. “I actually was thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll push papers around, or maybe I’ll get to build a little bit or help put things together,’” he said. Instead, the owner of the company, who was busy at trade shows, asked him to test fly them. “He taught me how to test fly all of them, so I actually have flown maybe 50 or 60 of them,” Garetson said. The robotic aircraft at the family farm helps save both time and money. The aircraft is equipped with a camera that takes images of fields, and then using software, Garetson compiles all of the images into one large image, showing where potential issues are. “It takes infrared images in the field, so we can find problems in the plants. That’s the purpose of it,” he said. “Then we have our crop scout go in and see if it’s bugs, weeds. If it’s a pest, then we can actually plug it into our sprayer and have the sprayer only spray that area. So we’re saving in chemicals, and we’re saving our yield by finding these problems earlier.” Prior to attending college in the fall, Garetson is going to continue working with the robotic aircraft on the family farm this summer. “I’m just going to try flying each of our fields once a week, and then compare all of that data over the course of the season, and then see how it correlates with yield maps,” he said. “And I’ll try to train our crop scouts on it, so hopefully I don’t have to come back. These next few summers, I’ll probably be doing internships or research, so I’ll get them started to where they can do it themselves and use that to spray less and find problems earlier.” Garetson’s plan is to major in aerospace engineering at the University of Kansas, starting in the fall. His ultimate goal is to work for Space X, a company out of California. “If not there, then either NASA, or there are several private companies,” Garetson said. “If I fall into the others, I won’t be too upset, as long as I can design rockets.” He’s been into space and rockets for as long as he can remember, even attending the Kansas Cosmosphere’s space camp for six consecutive summers. While he definitely has the brains for it, Garetson is more interested in exploring than in the mathematical concepts he will have to use in his chosen profession. “I don’t know if I love math. I like using it as a tool to engineer designs, but I’m more about problem solving and practical uses,” Garetson said. He believes the best lesson he learned in high school is the ability to learn. “I think the point of high school is teaching you the basics, the core, the foundation,” he said, adding that it gave him a solid understanding of how to research and seek answers himself. “Because they can’t teach you everything.” Garetson shared the Principal’s Honor Roll with Andrew Lower, who also achieved a 4.0 GPA. ——— ©2015 The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.) Visit The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.) at www.gctelegram.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. _____ Topics: t000018190,t000003086,t000002776,t000002791