Southeast, Heights fight to one of the premier games of the City League
With the 2018-19 school year complete, it’s time to take a look back at the top moments for every school in the City League.
From Bishop Carroll to Wichita West, here are the GWAL Moments of the Year:
Carroll paddles to first girls swim state title
With few girls on the roster, Carroll coach Spencer Shellhammer, who was named All-Metro Coach of the Year, said he knew the numbers his small but mighty group would have to put up.
The Golden Eagles won seven out of 12 events at the Class 5-1A state swimming and diving meet to capture the school’s first title in the sport. They won by only seven points over City League rival Kapaun Mt. Carmel.
Most of Carroll’s points came from freshman Zoe Winter and senior Sydney Schmidt, named Carroll’s senior female athlete of the year. Junior Lexie Shelton earned a title in the 100-yard breaststroke and a runner-up finish in the 500-yard freestyle.
East crosses City League in front for first time since 1966
Exactly 52 years had passed since Wichita East’s boys cross country team could call itself City League champion.
The Aces had four finishers in the top 10 of the league meet in senior Eliu Ramirez at third, senior Will Clayton at fifth, junior Jack Walsh at sixth and junior Dylan Stoltzfus at 10th. East held off Bishop Carroll 40-38.
The East boys went on to win their Class 6A regional meet and come sixth as a team at state.
Coach Darham Rogers and Clayton were named to the Eagle’s inaugural All-Metro Cross Country team in the fall.
Heights gets back on top in final state swim race
The top four teams at the Class 5-1A boys swimming and diving meet finished within 16 points of one another, and the state championship was decided on the final event.
Wichita Heights needed to finish in the top five of the 400-yard freestyle relay to capture its third state title in the past five years. The Falcons came fifth at 3:21.11 to hold off Topeka Seaman, Independent and Bishop Miege, in that order.
Heights had five top-three finishes, including a runner-up medal from senior Aidan Gantenbein in the 100-yard backstroke at 52.04, a performance that helped earn himself All-Metro honors along with that clutch relay of Ethan and Evan Jensen, Kamren Hall and Gantenbein.
Kapaun sophomore wins second straight tennis title
Clara Whitaker was back in the same spot she found herself in 12 months before, and she came through again.
Showing outstanding poise and power, the Kapaun sophomore won her second Class 5A singles girls tennis title in two years over Carroll’s Brittany Steven. This time, Whitaker won 6-1, 6-0 after going three sets in 2017. She earned All-Metro honors for her title.
Whitaker’s state championship capped a 31-1 season in which she won the City League title and regional championship, completing the trifecta. With the state title, Whitaker’s quest for four straight is still alive.
Soul comes out as North wins regional soccer championship
Filled water bottles turned empty and waving Wichita flags in the stands were the scene, and the Redskins were the characters.
Wichita North won its first regional girls soccer title since 2013 with a 2-1 road win over City League rival East. It was the third meeting in a week and a half after North fell in the North Cup championship game and out of the City League title race.
North’s Maria Salas scored both goals on a windy day in the regional championship game, sealing North’s place in the final eight in Class 6A. The Redskins would go on to lose 1-0 to Manhattan in the state quarterfinals, but senior Nayeli Gallo, for the second time, and coach Curt Wullschleger, for his first, were named to the Eagle’s All-Metro team.
Northwest makes Wichita proud with football run
Wichita Northwest had a chance at history, and a chance was enough to give the rest of USD 259 hope.
Northwest reached the Class 5A state championship game against St. Thomas Aquinas. A win would have been Wichita Public Schools’ fourth of seven high schools to capture a football state championship, but the Grizzlies fell to the Saints 49-28 in Pittsburg.
The Grizzlies captured the City League title and busted through their side of the bracket with breezy wins over Salina South and Emporia. When they met Bishop Carroll in the state sectionals, the game finished 84-67 and 151 total points. A week later, Northwest beat Maize 67-60 on a last-minute score.
Kansas’ fastest finishes his South career in style
Last year, Deron Dudley was a dark horse. Not in 2019.
Dudley entered the Class 6A state track and field meet as the defending 100-meter champion and he finished his career with another 100-meter title and a 200-meter title. He was also part of South’s record-setting 4x100-meter relay team last year.
Dudley’s state meet started with the 100. He crossed in first at 10.61 seconds, and he followed it with a 22.08 sprint in the 200 out of the first heat.
Dudley was named the Greater Wichita Sports Commission’s Barry Sanders Male Athlete of the Year and named to the Eagle’s All-Metro team. He leaves as one of the most decorated athletes in South High history.
Southeast brings league title home under former star
When Joe Mitchell was hired to replace Melvin Herring as coach of the Southeast boys basketball team, the potential for a special season instantly became one of the most attractive stories in City League hoops.
When Southeast won its first GWAL title since Mitchell was a junior with the Buffaloes, potential became reality. About a week later, Southeast won its Class 6A regional championship with a home win over Campus. A week after that, Mitchell led Southeast back to state where it finished third.
Southeast finished the City League season 15-2 with losses to Wichita Heights in the first meeting and South in the final game of the regular season after the title was clinched.
Southeast will be one of the most attractive teams coming into 2019-20 with All-Metro selection Jackie Johnson III at point guard.
Pioneer swimmer blazes path to top of podium
When Maci McCullough held her state championship medal atop the podium, it was a first for Wichita West in at least the past decade.
McCullough won the 200-yard freestyle at 1:51.87 ahead of East standout freshman Ariana Dirkzwager. She also went on to finish runner-up in the 100 free.