Plenty of highlights for area sports fans in 2004

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
A state championship in high school track and a first-ever conference championship in college football highlighted another eventful year of sports competition in Hillsboro and the surrounding area.

It was a year in which several coaching transitions occurred, particularly on the local football scene.

Following are some of the highlights of another eventful year in sports.

January

The Hillsboro boys basketball team bounced back from a humbling 63-38 loss to Thomas More Prep the previous evening to beat Belleville, 52-33, and take third place at the 2004 Trojan Classic tournament. The win was the 300th career victory for coach Darrel Knoll in 151/2 season.

The Hillsboro girls made 16 of 23 free throws down the stretch to captured third place at the Southeast of Saline Invitational with a 52-44 win over Class 6A Junction City Jan. 30.

February

Tim McCarty, who took the Tabor College football program from perennial doormat to the NAIA national playoffs in five years, announced he had accepted the head coaching position at East Central University, an NCAA Division II school in Ada, Okla.

Mike Gardner, defensive coordinator for the past three years under McCarty, was named to succeed him the following week. Last summer, Gardner was selected as an AFLAC National Coach of the Year and in November he was named assistant coach of the year in the NAIA.

The Tabor College men’s basketball team won the regular-season Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference title with a 78-69 win over Friends University Feb. 21 in Hillsboro. Tabor, which started the year 0-7 in non-conference play, won the KCAC with a 14-4 mark and earned an automatic berth in the NAIA national tournament.

Hillsboro and Marion each qualified three wrestlers for state competition in Hays. The Trojans who qualified were Ric Johnson, Eric Cress and Daniel Yoder. Cress actually represented Goessel High School at Hays. Qualifying for Marion were Steven Boone, Chelsea Arnhold and Drew Looper.

The Tabor College women’s team ended its season with an 18-12 mark following a heart-breaking 62-60 loss to Sterling College in the semifinals of the KCAC post-season tournament.

March

The Hillsboro boys’ basketball team qualified for a return trip to the Class 3A state tournament in Hutchinson with a 58-44 win over Hesston in the sub-state finals in Brown Gymnasium. The Hillsboro girls lost to state-ranked Hesston in the semifinals of their tournament, 43-40, to finish 13-9.

The Marion girls lost to Hutchinson Trinity, 46-40, in the semifinals of sub-state play in Hillsboro to end their season at 15-7. The Warrior boys lost in the first round of sub-state to Halstead, 55-43, to finish 13-8.

At Hutchinson, the Trojan boys captured third place by defeating Riley County, 66-61. Hillsboro defeated Frontenac, 68-46, in the first round of the tournament, then lost soundly to Minneapolis, 68-46, in the semifinals. Hillsboro finished the season with a 22-4 record.

The Tabor men lost their opening-round game in the NAIA Division II tournament to fourth-ranked Albertson College of Idaho, 77-60. Albertson came into the tournament at 26-6. Tabor finished its season with a 16-16 mark, including an 0-10 record against non-conference foes.

May

The Tabor softball team ended its 2004 season with two losses in the KCAC tournament. The Bluejays finished 10-25 under first-year coach Tina King.

The Tabor baseball team, after a strong start, ended its season with an 18-26 record overall and a conference record of 7-17.

The Tabor men’s and women’s teams each placed second in the KCAC track and field championships in Winfield. First-place performances were turned un by Jeremiah Randall in the discuss, Clint Reed in the high jump and the 4×400 relay team of Matt Rorabaugh, Caleb Stanton, Tim Jones and Landon Goertzen.

Dustin McEwen, football coach at Hillsboro High School, resigned his postion after eight seasons. During those years, he compiled a 53-28 record. He also had been the head baseball coach at HHS for the 2004 season. McEwen and wife Sunshine accepted teaching positions in the Cheney school system after her contract was nonrenewed at Hillsboro Elementary School because of budget cuts.

The boys’ and girls’ track teams from Hillsboro High School won the Mid-Central Activities Association titles in their respective divisions May 14 at Halstead. The boys rolled up 105 points in a lop-sided victory while the girls upset favored Hesston with 98 points-all but two scored by freshman athletes.

The Marion boys’ track team won the Cottonwood Valley League track title in the league’s final year of existence. The Warriors rolled up 169 points to outdistance Wichita Independent, who was second with 138.

The Marion Warriors ended Hillsboro’s baseball season with a dramatic 12-11 win in the regional playoffs. The young Trojans finished 4-15 in Dustin McEwen’s first year as head coach. The Warriors then lost to Lyons, 12-2, to end their season with a 5-15 record.

The Hillsboro softball team ended its season with a 7-0 loss to second-ranked Southeast of Saline in regional play on Southeast’s home field. HHS finished 15-5.

The Marion softball team lost to Lyons in the first round of regional play, 8-7, at Lyons. MHS finished with 5-13 record.

The Hillsboro boys won their second consecutive regional track title and third title in four years while the Trojan girls placed second. The boys and girls each qualified athletes for state competition in eight events.

Three Marion track-and-field athletes qualified for state at the regional meet: Jessica DeForest in the 3,200-meter run, Gavin Moore in the boys’ 3,200 and Casey Nelson in the pole vault.

Tabor College inducted three people into its athletic hall of fame: Hillsboro natives Grace Jaworsky and Ron Klaassen and Gary Myers, former coach and athletic director now living in Hillsboro.

Nicholas Hett of Marion finished 17th at the Class 3A state golf tournament in Hesston.

Angela Kroeker, a 2000 HHS grad, was named Outstanding Scholar-Athlete at Tabor College during its spring banquet. Tyson Ratzlaff, also a 2000 HHS grad, was named Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year. Angela Jost of Oregon was named Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year.

The HHS boys’ track-and-field team won the Class 3A state championship and the girls placed a surprising second in their division. Trojan athletes won gold medals in five individual events, set four school records and nine personal-best marks. Winning gold medals were Caleb Marsh in the long jump, Aaron Yoder in the 1,600 meters, JuliAnne Chisholm in the 300-meter hurdles and high jump, Hannah Marsh in the long jump, and the 4×400 team of Kelsey Penner, Jessica Heidel, Chisholm and Marsh.

Scott Schultz of Hillsboro won the demolition derby held in conjunction with Hillsboro Family/ Folk Fesitval and city’s 120th birthday celebration during Memorial Day weekend.

Six Tabor College Bluejays competed in the NAIA national track and field meet in Louisville, Ky., May 27-29. The highest finisher was Landon Goertzen, who placed eighth in the 800 meters in 1 minute, 52.85 seconds and scored Tabor’s only team point. Also competing were Matt Rorabaugh and Clint Reed in the high jump, and the 4×400-meter team of Caleb Stanton, Jeff Anenson, Tim Jones and Goertzen.

July

The Hillsboro Babe Ruth team ended its season with a 5-1 loss in the finals of the zone tournament in Council Grove against the host team. Hillsboro posted a record of 18-11 for the summer season.’

Peabody-Burns standout Adam Jones played in the Kansas Shrine Bowl in Emporia July 15. He was the only player from Marion County to participate.

Len Coryea was named head football coach at Hillsboro High, succeeding Dustin McEwen. Coryea has been an assistant coach for the past 18 seasons.

August

Jesse Hamm of Hillsboro won the Marion County Fair Demolition Derby.

Dan Harrison was hired as the new golf coach at Tabor College, succeeding Randy Keck, who resigned to accept a similar position in Oklahoma. Harrison is a Tabor alum who teaches in the education department at Hesston College.

Great weather contributed to larger-than-normal crowds at the Goessel Threshing Days, Aug. 7-8.

Dennis Boldt, head track coach at Hillsboro, was named Kansas High School Coach of the Year by the Kansas Coaches Association. Boldt has won three state track titles, including two in the last four years.

September

Marion and Hoisington began competing as full members of the Mid-Central Activities Association with the start of the fall sports schedule. The MCAA is now a 12-school league.

The Tabor College football team made Mike Gardner’s debut as head coach a successful one with a 43-7 win over Southwest Assemblies of God Sept. 11.

October

HHS alums David Kuo and Lonnie Isaac were inducted into the athletic hall of fame at Bethel College. The two were members of the 1989-90 Thresher tennis team that captured the school’s first conference championship-the first of 10 consecutive titles Bethel teams went on to win.

The Hillsboro boys’ cross country team won its fifth straight MCAA title at the league hosted by Hillsboro Oct. 14 at Marion Reservoir. The team’s closest competitor, Wichita Collegiate, trailed the Trojans by 19 points. Accounting for the Trojans’ low scoring were team members Kody Borg, Karl Magnuson, Sean Leihy, Nate Holmes and Cody McMillen.

The Trojans’ two doubles teams placed seventh and ninth at the Class 3-2-1A state tournament in Hesston. Erin Wiebe and Lora Andrews placed seventh and Kelsey Kaufman and Amanda Faber ninth.

The Hillsboro volleyball team completed a late-season surge by winning the sub-state tournament in Marion and thereby earning a berth in the Class 3A tournament in Salina. At state, the girls lost all three pool matches to finish the season with a 15-18 record.

The Hillsboro cross-country boys added the Class 3A regional title to their resume Oct. 23, earning the right to compete at the state meet in Wamego the following weekend. There, the team placed fifth on a blustery day.

The Tabor football team clinched its first KCAC title in school history with a dramatic 43-42 win over Bethel College in double overtime Oct. 30. The win bumped 14th-ranked Tabor to 7-0 in the KCAC and 8-0 overall.

The Hillsboro football team ended a disappointing season with a 34-8 loss to undefeated Southeast of Saline in district play. Injuries to 17 players over the course of the season contributed to a 2-7 mark in Len Coryea’s first season as head coach.

Hesston ended Marion’s post-season hopes with a 35-21 win over the Warriors on the last night of district play. The Warriors finished their first season in the MCAA by tying Ellinwood for the Mid Division title at 4-1. They were 6-3 overall.

November

Tabor College won a share of the KCAC regular-season volleyball title with Ottawa. The accomplishment marked the fourth straight year the Bluejays have won or shared the title. The Bluejays’ season ended with a loss in the semifinals of the KCAC tournament.

For the second year in a row, the Peabody-Burns Warriors were the last team in the county to end the football season, losing a regional matchup with Sedan, 22-6. PBHS registered an 8-3 mark.

Tabor’s second consecutive foray into the NAIA football playoff system ended with a similiarly hard result as the Bluejays lost a 72-11 decision to No. 1 seeded Sioux Falls University in Sioux Falls, S.D. Tabor fininished the season with a 9-2 record.

The Hillsboro High School boys began their 2004-05 season by winning the Dickinson County Classic with a 46-34 win over Abilene in the the title game Dec. 11. They previously posted wins over Chapman and Rock Creek. The Trojans girls went 1-2 in the tournament and placed fourth.

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