It’s high five time around the 913 area high school sports scene, and there’s not a busier time for athletes, coaches and fans entering the Memorial Day weekend.
1 State baseball tournament on deck
A year ago, Blue Valley West went to the Kansas 6A state tournament without much pressure.
The Jaguars were 13-9 and drew the No. 7 seed, so any success was gravy atop an already delicious season.
BV West, of course, made the most of the situation, upsetting Haysville-Campus 11-3 and then surviving against Lawrence 3-2 in the semifinals.
Undefeated Maize ended the Jags’ run, but with most of that team returning intact BV West, 20-2, heads back to state with high hopes this spring.
“We’ve got big expectations,” senior Kyle Schlatter said. “We going there with a lot more confidence, but we know we can handle everybody’s best game now.”
Led by Vanderbilt-bound ace Collin Wiles and No. 2 starter Ryan Agnitsch, BV West believes it can match up with any pitching staff in the state.
But it’s the Jags’ pitching depth — including sophomores Zack Engelken and Ryan Ralston and junior Derek Hurt — that might make the biggest difference.
“Last year, it kind of ended after me and Ryan, but we’ve got five guys now and we feel good about our pitching staff,” Wiles said.
As proof, BV West has posted 13 shutouts this season.
“They are more assured of themselves,” Jags coach Bill McDonald said. “We’re 20-2 and we’ve come back in several games, because we have strong leadership. These are quality kids, who like each other, like baseball and understand baseball, so that makes my job easier. But there’s no question they are better equipped mentally this year.”
Finally, with Matt Ortman set to join the district’s administration, Blue Valley begins its final state tournament with Ortman on the bench at 4 p.m. Friday against No. 2 seed Hays, 20-2, at Wichita State’s Eck Stadium.
The game follows the quarterfinal between Mill Valley, 19-3, and Bishop Carroll, 17-5.
2 St. Thomas Aquinas Saints secure top 5A softball seed
St. Thomas Aquinas earned the No. 1 seed for the Kansas 5A state softball tournament, which begins Friday at Two Rivers Youth Complex in Wichita.
Led by sophomore ace Brooklin Hinz, the Saints went 21-1, avenging the only loss of the season – 2-1 on April 17 against Bishop Miege – with 14-0, five-inning win versus the Stags in the regional final.
Seniors Samantha Colgan, Katie Pascuzzi, who signed with Creighton, and Paige Mason, who signed with Wichita State, lead the Aquinas offense.
The Saints face Kapaun-Mt. Carmel, 13-9, in the opening round at 5 p.m.
The winner will face the winner between Mill Valley, 20-2, and Goddard-Eisenhower, 19-3, in the semifinals.
The Jaguars, who play at 7 p.m. Friday, are led by ace Jillian Jobe, while the offense is powered by Taylor Brunson, Abby Ford as well as Lexie and Lacy Meyers.
3 6A state softball, beginning Friday, has Olathe feel
Three Olathe teams reached the Kansas 6A state tournament, which begins Friday at Blue Valley West, for the fifth straight season.
That group includes defending champion Olathe Northwest, which won 6A two of the last three seasons.
Shawnee Mission East also made the 6A field, taking out Olathe North in the regional final and preventing a complete Olathe sweep.
The Lancers, 16-6, are heading to state for the first time since 1981 and open at 3 p.m. Friday against top-seeded Maize, 21-1.
Followed by Olathe South, 19-3, versus Wichita Northwest, 19-3.
Olathe East, 21-1, opens state tourney play against Derby, 18-4, before Olathe Northwest, 18-4, battles Washburn Rural, 19-3.
4 SM West’s Cash set to shine at state track and field
Based on regional results, local athletes ought to flourish at the Kansas 6A state track and field championships Friday and Saturday at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium.
SM West junior Alli Cash, who has the top 6A regional time in the 800 (2:16.8), 1600 (5:19.86) and 3200 (11:01.09), seems likely to be the show-stopper and could challenge a state-meet record or two.
But she’s not the only athlete with a top time heading to state.
SM South’s Clare Bingaman (200, 25.40), SM East’s Grace Pickell (high jump, 5-6), Olathe East’s Jenny Pinkston (long jump, 18-10 3/4), BV West’s Alyssa Kelly (triple jump, 38-9), BV Northwest’s Alyson Youngduff (300 hurdles, 44.86) and a trio from Gardner Edgerton – Hannah Schneider (shot put, 41-6), Danie Plank (javelin, 140-6) and Cassie Wait (pole vault, 12-10) – also head to state as favorites.
Meanwhile, Bishop Miege’s Ashanti Hutton in the 400 (56.54) and Anna Church in the 800 (2:22.02) have the top times along with St. Thomas Aquinas sophomore Bailee Cofer in the 1600 (5:13.90).
But the 5A show-stopper might be Mill Valley’s Emily Brigham, who has the top regional mark in the long jump (19-4 3/4), and owns the all-time state Kansas record in the pole vault (13-0).
5 Huskies’ high-jumper Giess hopes to soar at state
Blue Valley Northwest’s Jonny Giess, who tied the best high school high jump mark in the nation this season when he cleared 7-foot-1 en route to the regional crown, will try to match or beat that mark when the Kansas 6A state boys track and field meet commences Friday at Cessna Stadium.
But he isn’t the only Johnson County athlete toting a top regional time to state. SM West’s Jonah Heng is the favorite in the 1600 (4:23.02) and 3200 (9:24.30).
The list of local favorites also includes Olathe North’s Lee Loyd in the 400 (48.81), SM Northwest’s Jackson Barbour in the 800 (1:58.21) and Eric Pinkelman in the javelin (184-0), Lawrence’s Blake Hocking in the shot put (59-11 1/2) and Gardner Edgerton’s Ryan Weisenberger in the pole vault (15-2).
In the 5A ranks, Blue Valley’s Colton Donahue, who is the favorite in the 800 (1:57.71) and 1600 (4:26.68), and Mill Valley’s Ashton Proctor in the 400 (49.66) are the only athletes with top regional marks.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.