Other Varsity Sports

State has been blessed with skilled athletes

As I pondered what to write about the year in high school sports, it didn't take long to come up with idea after idea.

* Wichita Collegiate's undefeated runs through Class 3A in football and boys basketball.

* The Heights boys winning the 6A basketball title after a 32-year drought.

* Hutchinson's continued dominance in football, Centralia ending Smith Center's 79-game winning streak in the Class 2-1A title game, Andover Central beating Andale-Garden Plain 2-0 for the 5A softball title.

But what I kept coming back to is just how spoiled I truly am in this job. Spoiled, because of the amount of athletic talent in the Wichita area.

Take a look at some of the talent we saw in 2009:

Bishop Carroll quarterback Blake Bell, who has made an oral commitment to Oklahoma, followed up his amazing first season as a starting quarterback by throwing for 2,752 yards and 32 touchdowns. He ran for another 22 touchdowns and 839 yards. For the second straight season he was named to The Eagle's Top 11 team and Kansas' Gatorade Player of the Year.

There's no doubt in my mind that one day I'll say, "I saw him play at Carroll."

Northwest running back Demarcus Robinson again showed his explosive speed and toughness with 1,720 rushing yards. He has committed to Kansas State and was named to The Eagle's Top 11 team.

Southeast's Joseph Randle and Derby's Devin Hedgepeth, both headed for Oklahoma State, were always thrilling to watch because you knew there was always the chance for a big play.

This past year certainly wasn't just about football.

In February I watched Goddard's Tyler Caldwell and Boaz Beard finish their wrestling careers with their fourth straight individual titles, the first teammates to do so.

In girls basketball, I spent the early parts of 2009 watching Goddard's Lindsey Keller (Oklahoma State), Derby's Joanna McFarland (Oklahoma) and Bishop Carroll's Julia Marshall (Boise State).

In soccer there was Goddard's Whitney Berry, now playing at Kansas. In swimming, Heights' Bailey Beins won the 100 backstroke, setting a state record.

And we're still watching some of the state's best talent.

There's Andover Central's Tiffany Bias (Oklahoma State signee) and Wichita Collegiate junior Ashia Woods. Both were All-State selections last March.

And, of course, there's Heights' Perry Ellis, the Gatorade Player of the Year and an All-State selection as a freshman. He's the most talked about basketball player in the area since Taj Gray and Brandon Polk in the early years of the decade.

As I look toward 2010, I know I'll continue to be spoiled. And I'll enjoy every minute of it.