ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Local sports fans may remember 2003 as the breakthrough year for Tabor College football as the Bluejays (9-2) won the most games in school history and participated in its first NAIA playoff game.
But that was only one memory from a year filled with accomplishments and disappointments.
Following is a month-to-month account of those events.
Nathan Wilkey resigned as head coach of men’s soccer at Tabor College after leading the team to an 8-0 conference record, a 10-6 mark overall, and being named KCAC Coach-of-the-Year in 2002.
Hillsboro basketball coach Becky Carlson received a plaque in recognition of her 300th career coaching victory at HHS.
The Hillsboro Trojans boys won their seventh championship in the nine-year history of the Trojan Classic with a hard-fought 37-32 win over Inman.
The Hillsboro Trojan girls basketball team fell just short in its bid to win the Southeast of Saline Invitational, losing to Salina South, 39-21.
The Marion wrestling team went 4-1 to capture the Southeast of Saline Round Robin Dual Team Invitational.
Hillsboro qualified four wrestlers for state competition in Hays: Ryan Janzen, Tim Glahn, James Bina and Daniel Yoder. Marion also qualified four wrestlers: Steven Boone, Chelsea Arnhold, Zac Ewert and Jordan Trapp.
The Tabor men’s basketball team finished its season with an 18-11 record and a three-way tie for second in the KCAC. The Bluejays were defeated 79-70 by Bethel in the semifinals of the KCAC post-season tournament.
The Bluejay women concluded their season with an 18-12 record and a third-place finish in the conference. Tabor was defeated 72-61 by Sterling in the semifinals of the KCAC post-season tournament.
The Hillsboro Trojans boys defeated the Hesston Swathers in the sub-state championship game, 57-48, to earn a berth in the Class 3A state tournament in Hutchinson.
At Hutch, the Trojans defeated Riley County, 56-48, to capture third place and finished the year with a 23-3 record.
The Hillsboro Trojan boys’ track team scored 129 points to easily outdistance runnerup Smoky Valley and win the championship of the Marion Relays.
The Trojan boys’ track team captured the Smoky Valley Invitational, scoring 111 points to outdistance the second-place host team by 18 points.
The Tabor men’s tennis team, under the guidance of coach Lonnie Isaac, captured the schools first KCAC championship, qualifying them for the NAIA regional tournament.
Hillsboro Trojan senior Alan Yoder won the 100, 200, ran the opening leg in the winning 4×100 relay and placed sixth in the long jump to earn the outstanding senior male athlete at the Hesston Invitational. As a team, the Trojans placed first with 113 points.
The Trojans won their third consecutive MCAA track championship while the Marion Warrior boys claimed the CVL title.
The Hillsboro Trojans qualified 12 athletes for the state track and field championships while the Marion Warriors qualified six athletes.
The Hillsboro baseball team defeated Yates Center, 10-0, in the regional championship to qualify for the state Class 3A tournament in Manhattan.
The Marion Warrior softball team finished its season as the second-place finisher in regionals. The Warriors finished with a record of 17-5.
As temperatures hit the low 90s, the Hillsboro Trojan boys’ track team finished third in the state Class 3A track and field competition at Cessna Stadium on the campus of Wichita State.
Amy Becker of Canton-Galva won the girls Class 2A pole vault by clearing 10 feet 6 inches.
Phil Oelke resigned as head coach of the Hillsboro High School baseball program.
Battling 100-plus degree temperatures, the Hillsboro American Legion baseball team dropped both games of zone play in Ottawa, to finish its season with a record of 20-12.
The CVL 11-and-under All-Star team, comprised of youth from Chase County, Hillsboro and Marion, captured the Cal Ripken state baseball championship in Wellington and qualified to represent Kansas at the Midwest Regional Tournament.
Lincoln Wulf accepted the positions of director of soccer operations and head men’s soccer coach at Tabor College while Tina King was named as the new head coach for the Tabor softball program.
Tabor assistant football coach Mike Gardner was selected as an AFLAC National Assistant Coach of the Year.
Tina King was named the new volleyball coach at Hillsboro HIgh School after four-year coach Collette Burton announced her resignation. King led the Trojans to a 14-13 record in her first season.
The Tabor College football team was picked to finish second in the KCAC in the coaches’ preseason poll.
After dropping their openers, the Hillsboro and Marion high school football teams both won their next two games. Marion’s victories included a big win over league rival Salina Sacred Heart.
Tabor College reeled off three consecutive victories in football and found itself ranked among the top 25 in the nation for the first time in school history.
Hillsboro defeated Ellsworth 33-0 in the Trojans 2003 homecoming game at Reimer Field.
Former NFL All-Pro and Tabor College Bluejay Rolland “Bay” Lawrence was back in Hillsboro to have his jersey retired during halftime ceremonies of Tabor’s 47-35 homecoming victory over Friends University.
The Marion Warriors defeated Wichita Independent 35-0 to wrap up the final Cottonwood Valley League football title. The CVL will be disbanded at the conclusion of the 2003-2004 school year.
The Tabor Bluejays lost their first football game of the season in a showdown with Ottawa for the KCAC lead, 27-3. Ottawa’s Derrick Ward, a former Fresno State standout, rushed for 231 yards on 36 carries in the Braves’ win.
The Hillsboro Trojan boys’ cross country team, paced by a sixth-place finish from Aaron Yoder and an eighth-place finish from brother Daniel Yoder, brought home second place at the state meet for the third time in the past four years.
Conway Springs put an end to the Hillsboro Trojans’ football season with a 42-14 victory in the regional championship game after the Trojans defeated Riley County for the bi-district championship a week earlier. HHS finished at 7-4.
Hesston concluded Marion’s football season with a 24-6 win over the Warriors in regional play after the Warriors won the bi-district championship the previous week against Medicine Lodge. The Warriors were 9-2 for the season.
Peabody-Burns (8-4) had its season end with a 43-21 loss to Frankfort in Class 2A sub-state play.
The Tabor volleyball team defeated the Bethel Threshers to capture its third consecutive KCAC championship.
The Tabor football team and volleyball teams both headed to the national playoffs for the first time in school history.
The Tabor football team was defeated by eventual national runner-up Northwestern Oklahoma State University, 63-21, to finish its season with a 9-2 record, the most wins in school history.
The Bluejay volleyball team was defeated by Doane College 3-0 to conclude its season with a record of 20-13.
Tabor assistant football coach Mike Gardner won the prestigious Assistant Coach of the Year award from the American Football Coaches Association.
Tabor head football coach Tim McCarty was named the NAIA’s national coach of the year. Six Bluejays earned recognition as All-American football players. The list was headed by Chad Duerksen, a Hillsboro High School grad who was named to the second team.
Adam Jones of Peabody-Burns was selected to play in the Kansas Shrine Bowl which will be played on July 31, 2004, in Emporia.