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Top 10 Sports Stories for 2018
By Jonny Kane
Copyright: MSC Sports

Another year has come and gone and with that so has another exciting sports season around Northeast Kansas. The 2018 sports season was one for the books for area teams with state championships, broken records and even a runner-up finish in a national championship game. It’s always tough to try to rank the top sports moments for the year, but we at Kanzaland Radio have done our best to come up with the top 10 sports stories for 2018.

10. KSHSAA Announces Classification Changes

One of the biggest stories from 2018 was the classification changes that area high schools were forced to adapt to.  In all sports seven area schools saw classification changes with Holton, Marysville and Jeff West moving down to Class 3A from 4A, while Oskaloosa, McLouth, ACCHS and Horton each moved down to 2A from 3A. Several football teams were forced to adapt as well, and those changes can be found here.

9. Maur Hill-Mount Academy Boys’ Basketball Run to 3A State Tournament

For the first time since 2006 the Maur Hill-Mount Academy boys’ basketball team earned a trip to the 3A State Tournament winning the most games in school history. The Ravens finished the season 23-3, won the Northeast Kansas League and reached the state tournament after a thrilling win over Nemaha Central in the sub-state championship game. MH-MA went on to take fourth at state after a thrilling opening round win over Council Grove.

8. Axtell Senior Hunter Koch Breaks Two State Records

Two football state records saw a new name at the top of the list this season, as Axtell senior receiver Hunter Koch broke the 8-man single-season record for touchdown receptions and also the career touchdown reception mark. Koch finished the 2018 season with 33 touchdown receptions and 1,265 yards, while for his career he recorded 2,882 receiving yards and 63 touchdowns.

7. Benedictine College Football Earns Runner-Up Finish in NAIA Title Game

It was a storybook season for the Benedictine College football team in 2018 as the Ravens had their best season is school history. The Ravens went 11-1 in the regular season capturing a Heart of America Athletic Conference regular season title before making it to the school’s first National Championship game. The magical season came to a close in Daytona Beach, Florida as the Ravens fell just short to No. 1-ranked Morningside in the title game 35-28. Benedictine finished the season with an overall record of 13-2 and ranked second in the final NAIA Top 25 Coach’s Poll of the 2018 season.

6. 15 Area Athletes Place at State Cross Country

It was another solid year for area cross country runners in 2018 with five teams placing inside of the top 10 at their respective state meets and 15 area athletes finishing in the top 20. Individually the best area finish came in Class 1A from Axtell multi-sport athlete Quinn Buessing who took fourth to lead the boy’s top finishers, while the girls were led by McLouth’s Reagan Clark who took sixth at the 2A state meet. For the complete list of state placers from 2018, check out the story here.

5. Sabetha’s Strahm Caps off Seven Top Six Finishers at State Wrestling

The 2018 wrestling season was another strong one across Northeast Kansas with one state champion and seven total top six finishers at the state meet. The lone state champion came from Sabetha’s Elliott Strahm who took the 3-2-1A 285 pound title to finish the year 21-8. Also in the 3-2-1A classification Riverside had Scott Resler take second at 145 pounds, while Doniphan West had Zeb Speer take fourth at 160 pounds. Oskaloosa and Pleasant Ridge also each had guys finish sixth, as the Bears had Jared Miller finish sixth at 182 pounds while the Rams had Trevor Ragland take sixth at 106. In Class 4A Holton rounded out state placers with two guys in the top three, as Kyler Tannahill took second at 285 pounds while Kolby Roush finished third at 126. For the complete list of results from the 2018 state wrestling meets check out the story here.

4. One Team, Seven Individuals Win State Track & Field Championships

It turned out to be one of the best track seasons that Northeast Kansas has seen for several years in 2018 as one area team and nine individuals claimed state titles while over 130 area athletes earned state medals. For the second straight year the Nemaha Central girls claimed a team state title, as the Thunder were led by Jacy Dalinghaus who took home a state championship in the javelin. Three other individual state championships came from Centralia in 1A, as Breanna Schmitz and Maddy Lueger took the pole vault and javelin titles respectively while Dylan Boeckman repeated as a state champion in the pole vault. In Class 3A Pleasant Ridge’s Luke Oatney also won the 1600 meter crown, while the Sabetha girls’ 4X800 meter relay team took home gold as well. The final individual state champ came in Class 4A as Jeff West’s Alyssa Garza took home the gold in the discus. The complete list of state medalist can be found here.

3. Sabetha Boys Win Golf and Baseball State Titles

The Sabetha boys’ sports program is in the midst of one of the best runs that we have ever seen and 2018 showed just that with the golf and baseball teams each winning state titles in the spring. The golf team won the 3A State Title by two strokes in Seneca, led by Jesse Burger who shot a 76 to finish fifth individually. The baseball team claimed the school’s first ever state title in just its second year as a varsity sport finishing the year with a 23-3 overall record. The Bluejays were led by eight seniors, while Gabe Garber as a sophomore was named the 3A co-offensive player of the year according to Sports in Kansas. The complete story on the golf state championship team can be found here, while the baseball story can be found here.

2. Centralia Volleyball Claims Third Straight State Title in Final Year of Coach Kimbrook Tennal

The No. 2 story of the year is the story that tugs the most at your heart as the Centralia volleyball captured their third consecutive 1A state title finishing with a perfect record of 47-0 in 2018. Yes winning a state title is emotional, but what made this story bring tears to many is the fact that the Panthers pushed their match win streak to 80 in the final year of legendary head coach Kimbrook Tennal who is in a battle with cancer. Tennal capped off his coaching career with his 15th state title at Centralia to go along with six as the head coach at Nemaha Valley. The state title in 2018 also marked the end of one of the most highly decorated senior classes you can ever have, as the senior class finished with an overall record of 174-4.  

 1. Sabetha Football Claims Second Consecutive Class 3A State Championship (Full Story)

The No. 1 sports story for 2018 was a fairly simple choice as this year’s top story is the Sabetha football team capturing their second consecutive Class 3A State Championship. The Bluejays capped off a perfect 13-0 season with a thrilling 43-42 overtime victory over Pratt which pushed Sabetha’s current win streak to 20 straight games. Sabetha won the 3A State Title in 2017 as well with a 7-6 win over Marysville, and this year added to the state title by also claiming the Big 7 League regular season championship. The win capped off 26-1 record the past two seasons with two state championships giving the Bluejays the top sports story for 2018.

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Hiawatha, KS 66434
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