Thanksgiving is over, but the fall sports scene at Hillsboro High School and Tabor College was no turkey. In fact, the local sports season was a resounding success, and for that we can be thankful.
How cool is it that the Hillsboro High School volleyball team won its second consecutive state 3A volleyball championship?
It’s hard enough to win one title, and it may even be harder to repeat.
I realize that HHS has been blessed with a number of very talented student-athletes in recent years, but credit also must go to coach Sandy Arnold for her use of the talent and motivating the team to excel at the highest level.
When you’re defending a state title and have some good talent returning, you don’t sneak up on anyone. Rather, you get everyone’s best shot.
Teams that have high expectations don’t always handle it well or reach those expectations. Some put too much pressure on themselves and underperform. Others simply don’t play up to their potential. The Trojans didn’t back down when challenged. They’ve had an amazing run the past two years.
The HHS football team provided its share of excitement as well, finishing the regular season with a perfect record before winning one and losing one in the playoffs.
With the talent Hillsboro will lose to graduation, it’s unrealistic to expect an unbeaten season will happen again anytime soon, but new head coach Lance Sawyer certainly had an amazing year at the helm of the Trojans.
The Trojans certainly gave fans their money’s worth in terms of entertainment.
And let’s not overlook cross country with Emily Sechrist finishing second in the state 3A cross-country meet, and Josh Richert for earning a state medal by placing 16th.
Kudos are also is in order for Allison Weber for finishing fifth in Class 3-2-1A state tennis tournament last month.
Tabor College football may have been picked sixth in KCAC preseason polls, but they spent much of the year ranked in the Top 25 NAIA poll and would end up finishing second in the KCAC.
We knew from his first stint here that coach Mike Gardner could inherit a talented team and win a conference championship. Now we know he can take over a struggling program and in just a few short years, boost it to among the best in the KCAC.
If you were at the Tabor/Bethel game last month, you saw a record-setting performance, with the Bluejays scoring 75 points in the 75-6 win.
Lest we forget, Tabor knows all too well what’s like to be on the wrong side of a blowout. In 1999, the Bluejays surrendered 83 points to Hastings and 81 to Ottawa. The Jays also surrendered 73 points to McPherson, 72 to Kansas Wesleyan, 68 to Bethany, 66 to Sterling, 56 to Southwestern, 51 to Bethel, and 49 to Friends, but only 28 to Southwest Assemblies of God.
Suffice it to say, it wasn’t a good year for the home team.
It’s fair to say that it’s far more fun scoring 75 points than giving up 75 points. For that matter, winning while scoring 30 points is fun, too.
The difference between 1999 and 2012 is simply astounding. During that span, Tabor won two KCAC football championships and finished second twice. And if not for the bizarre finish to the Ottawa game, Tabor would have won the KCAC and made the playoffs after being picked to finish sixth in the preseason.
Tabor cross-country teams also had some significant individual successes. In the KCAC meet, Brielle Lund won the women’s title, while Joel Allen took second in the men’s race. Both finished among the top 100 runners at the NAIA nationals meet in Vancouver, Wash.
The Bluejay volleyball team also continued its winning ways with a 17-9 overall record in the regular season and 12-6 in the KCAC, good for fourth place in the standings.
And there’s more good news. The men’s soccer team finished second in the KCAC with a 7-2 conference mark and 12-6 overall. The Bluejay men also took second in the KCAC tournament.
The TC women were a respectable 9-9 overall and 4-5 in the KCAC. The program has shown steady improvement during the past couple of years.
I’m not aware of a single fall season with more collective success for both HHS and Tabor.
Congratulations to all coaches and athletes!