ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Every win and loss is big news for fans of local sports teams. But the following are highlights from another exciting year of athletic endeavors.
Four members of the 2005 Tabor College football team were named All-Americans by NAIAfootball.net: running back Roger Butler and linebacker Jake Schenk were named to the first team; defensive lineman Justin Mathias and offensive lineman Grant Myers were named to the third team.
An unusual four-point play in the final seconds of the championship game of the Trojan Classic title game enabled Riley County to send the game into overtime and eventually post a 68-64 win over the Hillsboro boys. The Trojans girls claimed third place with a 48-44 victory.
Tabor College football coach Mike Gardner, who guided the Bluejays to a 21-3 record over two season, announced he had accepted similar duties at Malone College in Canton, Ohio.
The No. 5-ranked Tabor College women (23-3) clinched the KCAC title with an 81-78 win over Kansas Wesleyan.The team later completed a perfect 18-0 conference run.
Hillsboro High School qualified five wrestlers for state competition: Andrew Bina, Matt Brown, Jacob Yoder, Ric Johnson and Eric Cress, who will be wrestling for Goessel High. Bina went on to capture second place in Class 3-2-1 to win the first medal in state competition by an HHS athlete. Cress won a fourth-place medal.
Less than a month after Mike Gardner’s resignation as head football coach, Tabor College hired Robert Rubel to succeed him. Rubel had been the offensive assistant at Abilene (Texas) Christian University.
The Tabor women lost to Ottawa, 69-57 in the championship game of the post-season KCAC tournament. The loss was Tabor’s first since Nov. 22.
The HHS boys’ junior varsity team completed a 19-0 season.
The HHS boys’ basketball team lost to Halstead, 52-40, in the sub-state finals while the HHS girls lost to Osage City, 58-53, in the sub-state semifinals. The boys finished 16-7 while the girls were 12-10 under first-year coach Melissa Stenfors.
The Tabor women lost to Dakota State in the second round of the NAIA tournament in Iowa. The Bluejays defeated Eastern Oregon in the first round.
Two members of the Tabor women’s basketball team received All-American honors. Named to the second-team were Erica Hemmert and Donya Anderson.
Teams from the Mid-Central Activities Association swept both the girls’ and boys’ games from their counterparts from the Heart of America League in the first all-star game between them. The MCAA girls won 93-48 while the boys won 93-90.
Tabor College fullback Ben Brown, a second team All-KCAC selection in 2005, will be competing against 80 players for a position on the Green Bay Packers’ 56-man roster.
Melissa Stenfors resigned as head coach of the Hillsboro High School basketball team after one season. She will continue to teach physical education at Hillsboro Elementary School.
The Hillsboro High School softball team completed the most successful regular season in program history with an 18-2 mark. The Trojans lost 6-5 to Southeast of Saline in the first round of regional play to finish at 18-3.
Marion’s Travis Hett won the Class 3A state golf championship with a score of one-over-par 72. Hillsboro freshman Elliott Soyez finished in second place.
Don Dahl of Hillsboro and Grant Ringler of Kingman were inducted into the Tabor College Athletic Hall of Fame. Dahl, a 1968 graduate, was a four-sport athlete. Ringler, a 1984 grad, played basketball and tennis.
The Hillsboro High School girls fell four points short of defending their Class 3A track and field title at Wichita. JuliAnne Chisholm won her third consecutive high jump gold medal and picked up silver medals in two hurdle events. Hannah Marsh tied for the best height in pole vault, but took home a silver medal following a jump-off tie breaker.
For the Hillsboro boys, David Funk claimed a gold medal and a school record by clearing 15 feet in the pole vault. Three other area athletes claimed gold medals at the state track meet: Jeremy Vondenkamp of Marion in the 3A 300-meter hurdles, Andrew Topham of Peabody-Burns in the 2A 3,200-meter run, and Canton-Galva’s Stephen Jowers in the 2A 300-meter hurdles.
Hillsboro High School principal Dale Honeck was named head coach for girls’ basketball for the coming season. Honeck had extensive experience as a high school and college coach but had not been active in the field for some 15 years.
Micah Ratzlaff, a standout basketball player at both Hillsboro High School and Tabor College, was named assistant coach for the Bluejay men’s program under head coach Don Brubacher.
Butch LaBelle, popular broadcaster for area sports team, died as the result of a massive stroke suffered Aug 1. He was 39.
Kory Unruh, physical education instructor and strength-and-condition coach at Hillsboro High School, spent a week as a volunteer staff member at a Jacksonville Jaguars preseason training camp in Florida.
Hillsboro High School doubles partners Lora Andrews and Amanda Faber placed fifth at the Class 3-2-1A state tennis tournament.
The HHS volleyball team won its own Trojan Invitation for the first time in 11 years by sweeping all five of its matches.
The HHS volleyball team placed third at the Class 3A state tournament in Salina. Hillsboro made it to bracket play with a 2-1 record on pool competition, then lost in the semifinals to Wellsville before coming back to beat Osage City in the consolation match. HHS finished with a 35-3 record for the season.
In less than perfect health, the HHS boys’ cross country team placed ninth at the state meet in Wamego. The top two finishers for the Trojans were Cody McMillen in 24th place and Sean Leihy in 49th.
The Tabor College volleyball team won the regular season KCAC title, then won the conference’s post-season tournament. The Bluejays’ season ended at the Region IV tournament in Omaha, Neb., in November.
An unprecedented state playoff run for the Hillsboro High School football team ended with a 31-26 loss at the hands of highly ranked Garden Plain. The Trojans, who entered the playoffs with a 6-3 record, defeated Halstead, Cheney and Sacred Heart to advance to the semifinal round. No HHS team had won three playoff games previously.
Tabor College announced it would not be renewing the contract of head football coach Robert Rubel. In his first year, Rubel led the Bluejays to a 6-4 record. School officials did not indicate the reasons for nonrenewal.