It was an outstanding year for the Wichita area’s small schools.
From a state championship sweep to an undefeated football season, here are the top moments from each Wichita-area school in the Central Plains League, Central Kansas League and Heart of America.
Belle Plaine volleyball beats rival to get to state
Two of the Wichita area’s top small-school volleyball teams entered with one slot at the state tournament on the line.
Belle Plaine beat Douglass in three sets to capture the Class 2A sub-state championship. senior Hanna Mowdy, Belle Plaine’s Female Athlete of the Year, and sophomore Alyssa Hunter led the way with 21 kills combined. Mowdy also led the way with four blocks.
Douglass had an outstanding year with a 32-6 record, but two of those draws came to the Dragons, who finished the 2018 season with a 33-10 record.
Needham sisters share hug atop track podium
Those in Cheney won’t soon forget the Needham name.
The Needham sisters finished their high school career with 10 combined track and field titles, five each, and it ended as Layne won the 300-meter hurdles at 44.79 seconds. Taylor, her sister, was there to present her gold medal along with a hug.
Needham, Cheney’s Female Athlete of the Year, won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles as a senior along with helping Cheney to its first 4x100-meter relay title since 1983. Needham earned All-Metro honors.
Conway Springs wins another unbeaten football regular season
For the second straight season, Conway Springs went flawless in the regular season.
With massive wins over the likes of Chaparral twice, Hutchinson Trinity and Garden Plain, the Cardinals were the CPL’s top team but came in runner-up in the sectional round, falling to eventual Class 2A state champion Phillipsburg 25-24. It was Phillipsburg’s only game of the postseason decided by fewer than 17 points.
The Cardinals will be looking to get back to their state championship-winning ways in 2019. Conway Springs — Wichita’s top small-school program — has not won a title since 2011.
Douglass clinches long-awaited district title
The Douglass community had been yearning for a reason to celebrate on the football field.
In 2019, the Bulldogs won their Class 2A district championship with a 65-14 win over CPL rival Belle Plaine. They finished their season 7-2. They hadn’t had a winning record in more than a decade.
Douglass senior Zachary Dressler, Male Athlete of the Year, led the way as one of the top rushers in Kansas. The Bulldogs’ only losses came to Garden Plain in Week 2 and the first round of the postseason.
Garden Plain girls seal third title in three tries
Garden Plain had a lot of nominations for Moment of the Year, but the Owls’ girls track and field state championship was most impressive and most rewarding for the community.
The Garden Plain girls hadn’t brought home a title since 2013, and when they did in 2019, it meant 3-for-3. The GP girls started the 2018-19 school year with a Class 2A volleyball title and followed it with one in basketball. The track title was the cherry on top.
The Owls won four state championships, including three involving freshman Brooke Hammond. They had two runners-up and a top four finish.
Halstead childhood friends, teammates finish careers on top
Andrew O’Brien and Braden Gerber had hit the highest of highs with a basketball state championship in 2018, and they finished their high school careers the same way.
The pair helped Halstead to the Class 3A boys 4x800-meter relay title along with junior Isaac Radke and senior Joshua Talbott. They crossed the line at 8:08.45 to give O’Brien his second title of the day and fourth of his career. He was named Halstead’s Male Athlete of the Year.
Gerber delivered a buzzer-beating layup to clinch Halstead’s basketball championship over Phillipsburg, 44-43.
Haven defends home court with mid-season tournament title
Haven hosts one of the Wichita area’s top prestigious mid-season basketball tournaments every year, but the Wildcats hadn’t won it in six years.
Spurred with the death of a former assistant coach 360 days earlier, Haven ended the drought by beating two undefeated teams, including Cheney 54-40 in the championship game.
Led by Haven’s Female Athlete of the Year, Arie Roper, and future Division I player Faith Paramore, the Wildcats defended home court.
Sisters pair up to reach the top at state tennis
Winning a state championship is one thing, but doing it with your sister is another.
Senior Kylie and sophomore Michaela Martin won the Class 3-2-1A doubles tennis title with a 6-0, 6-4 match against KC Christian’s Jueliet Bartels/Emily Arnold. It was Hesston’s first doubles title since 2009.
Independent boys swim makes school history
Independent had never placed that highly at a state swim meet in school history.
The Panthers came third in Class 5-1A, just 11 points behind state champion Wichita Heights. Independent was in contention through the final race.
The Panthers had six top five finishes, including a runner-up finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay of junior Edward Sturm, freshman Daniel Jekov, sophomore George Jekov and junior Aidan Scott. They earned All-Metro honors for their swim and return their entire state team.
Sedgwick puts up astronomical football numbers
It seemed like every week of the high school football season had something more in store for the Sedgwick offense.
Playing in the run-happy Class 2-1A, Sedgwick zigged while everyone zagged. Senior quarterback Hooper Schroeder, Sedgwick’s Male Athlete of the Year, put up gaudy numbers and finished with 2,380 yards in 10 games, No. 8 in Kansas. Meanwhile his brother, Kale, was the No. 17 receiver in the state with 826 yards.
Definitely not forgotten, senior running back Colton Smith ran for 902 yards.
Trinity’s Olympics hopeful steals state swim with records
Sport specialization has come under fire recently, but Ben Patton showed it can still work.
Patton won the 200-yard individual medley at 1:46.78 and the 100-yard backstroke at 48.60. He won the 200 IM by almost 12 seconds and earned All-Metro honors.