Tabor sends five teams to national competitions

Tabor College teams, athletes and coaches experienced their share of notable achievements during 2016.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams won KCAC regular-season and tournament titles, then competed at the NAIA tournament.
The baseball team made it to the NAIA Opening Round tournament in Hutch­inson. Outfielder Manny DeLeon was named NAIA Player of the Year and later signed a contract with the San Diego Padres.
In fall, the football team won it’s second consecutive KCAC title, and the volleyball team qualified for postseason play for the first time in school history. Both programs competed at the national level.
Of particular interest locally, two Bluejays with Hills­boro roots, Dylan Delk in football and Tena Loewen in basketball and volleyball, received NAIA All-America recognition, while men’s basketball coach Micah Ratz­laff, also an HHS alum, was named the 2016 four-year college men’s Coach of the Year by the Kansas Bas­ket­ball Coaches Association.
The year in high school sports was highlighted by three county athletes winning gold medals at the state track meet and the Goessel girls winning the Class 1A cross-country team title.
And, midway through the year, former athletes from Marion and Hillsboro came together to compete in the first alumni football game between the two schools.
January
Dylan Delk, a Hillsboro High School alum, was named to the Ameri­can Football Coaches Associ­ation NAIA Coaches’ All-America team, becoming only the second AFCA NAIA All-American in Tabor history. Only 25 athletes nationwide are selected.
Aaron Yoder, a 2004 Hills­boro High alum, set a world record running long distance backward.
FEBRUARY
Tabor basketball players, coaches and fans celebrated Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference basketball regular-season championships by both the women’s and men’s team following wins against Sterling College.
The Tabor men completed an undefeated conference season with a win at Bethel College to finish 20-0. The last team to go undefeated in KCAC play was the 1995-96 Bluejays, who went 16-0 in a nine-college conference.
The Tabor men then punctuated a perfect regular season by winning the KCAC tournament by defeating No. 2 Southwestern, 75-68, in the finals. The top-seeded Tabor women’s basketball team won the KCAC tournament title by defeating No. 6 Ottawa, 59-53.
MARCH
The Tabor women’s national tournament run ended with a 73-67 loss to Southern Oregon in the NAIA Division II championship quarterfinals.
The Tabor men suffered a 91-68 defeat at the hands of Indiana University East in the first round of the NAIA Division II tournament.
Lance Carter and Tena Loewen received recognition on their respective men’s and women’s NAIA Division II All-America basketball teams.
APRIL
Joel Allen, an HHS alum, was hired as head cross-country coach at Tabor. A four-year participant on the Bluejay team, Allen returned to Kansas from Northwest Missouri State University, where he served as a graduate assistant in cross country and track and field.
MAY
The Marion track and field teams combined for 10 gold, seven silver and seven bronze medals to win the Heart of America track and field meet at Marion.
The Tabor baseball season came to an end in the early morning hours after an 18-2 loss to 11th-ranked Science and Arts. It was the Bluejays’ fifth game of the NAIA Opening Round tournament in Hutchinson.
Three area athletes came home with gold medals following two days of competition at the high school state track and field meet in Wichita. The local gold-medal winners were Marah Franz from Hillsboro, who won the Class 2A title a year after winning the 3A title; Cody Partridge of Peabody-Burns, who won the 1A long jump; and Goessel’s Brittney Hiebert, who won the 1A 800 meters.
JUNE
About 70 alums from Hillsboro and Marion high schools, ranging in age from 19 to 44, signed up to compete in the first alumni football game between the Tro­jans and Warriors June 17 in Hillsboro. The game served as a fundraiser for Hillsboro High, with the possibility of a rematch a year or two down the road to benefit Marion High.
For the first time in school history, Tabor College boasts an NAIA National Player of the Year in Manny DeLeon, a senior on the Bluejay baseball team.
Tabor’s Micah Ratzlaff received recognition from the Kansas Basket­ball Coaches Association as the 2016 four-year college men’s Coach of the Year. Ratzlaff’s squad swept the KCAC with a 20-0 record, won the KCAC tournament and earned a third-consecutive trip to the NAIA tournament.
Tabor tennis player Jessica Emoto achieved 2016 NAIA All-American recognition from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in women’s singles. The sophomore from Gresham, Ore., was one of 20 athletes to receive the distinction.
The first alumni football game between Marion and Hillsboro high schools ended as it should have: Quality competition with a high-drama finish. A one-yard dive into the end zone on fourth down by Jacob Yoder (Class of 2008) gave Hills­boro an 18-12 overtime win at Joel Wiens Stadium.
Less than a week after going undrafted, Manny DeLeon worked out for the San Diego Padres at the team’s camp in Peoria, Ariz. His performance led to a contract offer.
AUGUST
Tabor multi-sport athlete Tena Loewen was named KCAC Champion of Charac­ter Female Student-Athlete of the Year for 2015-16. A member of the volleyball and basketball teams, Loe­wen was a first team, All-KCAC selection in both sports during her junior campaign.
OCTOBER
The defending state cham­pion Goessel volleyball team finished third at the Class 1A-Div. I state tournament in Hays.
The Goessel girls’ team won the Class 1A state cross-county title for the first time in school history with a team score of 60, five points ahead of the runner-up.
Hillsboro’s Jonathan Hinerman earned a state cross-country medal by placing 11th in Class 2A with a time of 18 minutes, 14 seconds.
NOVEMBER
The 13th-ranked Tabor football team won its second-consecutive KCAC championship by beating Bethel, 40-10. The Blue­jays received help from the University of Saint Mary, who defeated 10th-ranked Kansas Wesley­an, 38-24, to give the Bluejays the KCAC title outright.
The Tabor volleyball team finished as KCAC tournament runner-up to Ottawa to qualify for postseason play for the first time in program history.
For the second year in a row, the Tabor football team suffered a season-ending defeat to Mor­ning­side College. After losing to the Mustangs, 51-6, in the NAIA quarterfinals a year ago, Tabor succumbed this year in the first round, 65-17.
Tabor’s historic volleyball season came to a close on the national stage at the conclusion of pool play. Tabor qualified for postseason play for the first time in program history, then defeated Wayland Baptist to earn a spot in the 32-team tournament field in Sioux City, Iowa.
Two members of Tabor’s 8-3 football team received All-America recognition. Evan Sprayberry, a redshirt sophomore, was one of 25 athletes to be selected to the AFCA-NAIA Coaches’ All-America first team. Junior offensive lineman Spencer Baalman was named to the second team.
Tabor senior outside hitter Tena Loewen received third-team All-America recognition from the NAIA. Loewen helped lead the Bluejays to a 20-2 KCAC record and their first postseason appearance.

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