Varsity Kansas

AVCTL I Moments of the Year: From Derby to Maize, see where these high schools shined

The AVCTL I was perhaps the strongest, most consistent league in Kansas across all sports in the 2018-19 school year.

The league produced six state championships and 22 regional titles. Here is every school’s moment of the year.

Derby wrestling parties like 1986

derby high school wrestling crew squires, coach bill ross
Derby’s Crew Squires and coach Bill Ross Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

The last time Derby won a state wrestling championship, some of the dads of the 2018-19 Panther grapplers were on the team.

Derby brought the title back south of Wichita for the first time since 1986, holding off Manhattan 200-197, and though the Panthers had a pair of individual state champions, they had to rely on a wrestler from about three hours away.

Derby had no wrestlers still in contention heading into the 220-pound title bout while Manhattan had senior Christian Schlepp. If Schlepp beat Mill Valley sophomore Ethan Kremer, Manhattan clinched the title. Kremer, who was mobbed by Derby wrestlers afterward, won a 5-1 decision and clinched the Derby title.

Seniors Crew Squires (152 pounds), who was named Derby’s Male Athlete of the Year, and Triston Wills (182 pounds) won individual titles and earned All-Metro honors along with coach Bill Ross. Bryce Wells and Cason Lindsey earned runner-up finishes while six others finished in the top four.

Campus completes athletics turnaround with baseball crown

campus high school baseball tanner leslie
Campus’ Tanner Leslie Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

For the past two years, Campus has been on the cusp of turning its athletics programs into legitimate contenders, but outside of a couple of bowling titles, had little to show for it.

The Colts’ baseball team changed that winning the Class 6A state championship after one of the more memorable routes to glory. The path ended with a 3-2 win over Lawrence Free State in nine innings. They finished their championship season with a 23-2 record.

Campus entered the state tournament as the No. 1 seed after winning the AVCTL I title but almost didn’t even make it to state after the regional title game against Junction City 13-12 in 12 innings.

The Colts earned four All-Metro selections in 6A Player of the Year Tanner Leslie, 6A Coach of the Year Bryan Clasen, senior Tyler Kahmann and junior Jackson Hartley.

Crough makes comeback with third track title

hutchinson high school track and field tayezhan crough
Hutchinson’s Tayezhan Crough Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Tayezhan Crough had to finish with his head high.

After beating Wichita West’s Jaleel Montgomery in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles at the Shocker Pre-State Meet, Montgomery bounced back and beat Crough in the 110 at state. Crough, who won both events as a sophomore in 2018, captured his third title. He won the 300-meter hurdles at 39.11 seconds.

Crough was considered the athlete of the meet at the Shocker Pre-State. He said there was something about running on the Wichita State track that brought the best out of him. He will now enter his senior season as one of the most high-profile athletes in Kansas looking for at least two more titles.

This marks Crough’s second straight Moment of the Year honor.

Grill doubles down on hoops recruitment, reaches Big 12

May 7, Caleb Grill showed he made the right decision.

Maize’s dynamic four-sport athlete made his final commitment to play college basketball in the Big 12 at Iowa State. This came after Grill opted out of his National Letter of Intent with South Dakota State on March 29.

Grill said former South Dakota State coach TJ Otzelberger was the biggest reason he chose to be a Jackrabbit, but when Otzelberger went to UNLV, things changed.

Grill was regarded as one of the top athletes not only in the Wichita area but all of Kansas. He was named a Top 11 football player, Top 5 basketball player, won the Class 5A high jump and even came in relief for the Maize baseball team. He was named Maize’s Male Athlete of the Year.

Joining Blue Valley Northwest’s Christian Braun, Grill marked the second Big 12 basketball player out of the Kansas class of 2019.

Newton track star makes history in her final state meet

newton high school track and field kalli anderson
Newton’s Kalli Anderson (center) Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

The way the crowd at Cessna Stadium rose up as she crossed the finish line showed a mutual respect and appreciation for Kalli Anderson.

The Newton track star won the Class 5A 100 meters at 11.81 seconds, setting the new state record. It was one of the moments of the meet. She went on to win the 200 meters, too, at 24.86.

Remarkably, Anderson’s state time still wasn’t near her personal record of 11.56, which stands as the No. 2 time in Kansas history. Newton has been known to produce some of the top sprinters in Kansas, but Anderson is its best ever.

In the same way, her 200-meter time wasn’t near her PR either, coming in at 24.46 second, good for No. 12 in Kansas all-time.

Anderson finished her career with seven state championships, including four in the 4x100-meter relay. She was a two-time All-Metro selection in the two years the team has existed.

Mustangs put Salina back on map with football jolt

Salina Central high school football: Taylon Peters
Salina Central’s Taylon Peters is now the leading rusher in Kansas after an impressive performance at Newton. @KingPeters33/Twitter

Heading into the 2018 football season, Salina Central was considered one of the bottom-feeders not only in AVCTL I but all of Kansas high school football.

Central hadn’t won a game since Oct. 30, 2015, and had losses to teams like Arkansas City, Newton and Salina South — all twice. In 2018, the Mustangs went 7-3 and fell a win at Bishop Carroll away from a regional championship.

Central had the No. 11 running back in Kansas to lean on in senior Taylon Peters, who finished his senior season with 1,719 yards in just nine games and signed with Washburn. Peters was named Salina Central’s Male Athlete of the Year.

The Mustangs had statement wins against Eisenhower in Week 1, Salina South in Week 3 and Campus in Week 5.

Salina South stuns Wichita area with regional baseball title


May 14, Salina South showed Wichita something new in its own backyard.

The Cougars won their Class 5A regional tournament as the third of four seeds and started with a bang, beating Maize 7-5 in eight innings and following it with a 15-2 win in five innings over Goddard.

Salina South was up and down through the regular season, playing in AVCTL I, which was regarded as one of the strongest leagues in Kansas (it produced the 6A state champion and another 6A state qualifier). During the regular season, Salina South was swept by Maize. The Cougars lost 10-1 and 2-0.

The South pitchers came to life in the postseason, allowing eight runs in three games, including a 2-1 loss to Bishop Carroll in the state quarterfinals that last eight innings.

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Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.