2015 sports in review: Baldwin High School teams had banner year

The BHS girls and boys cross country teams were two of four teams to win 4A state titles in 2015. The girls track team defended their state title, and the Bulldog wrestling team won its first-ever state championship. Enlarge photo

December 31, 2015

Selecting a top local sports story for 2015 is like choosing a favorite child among a large number of gifted offspring.

Baldwin High School athletes won four state titles in the past 12 months, played for another and placed in two others. The Bulldogs won in sports in which they have traditionally dominated, girls track and cross country, and brought home their first-ever state trophy in wrestling with a first-place finish in February. The girls basketball team finished second in 4A Division II, the boys track team was third and the surprising girls softball team was fourth.

The Bulldog wrestlers were solid all year and coach Kit Harris secured the 4A regional meet at the team’s home gym aware of the team’s potential. BHS qualified 10 wrestlers for the state meet, winning the regional. The next week, senior Jon Pratt and the now-departed sophomore Thomas LIsher won individual state titles, senior Joel Halford and junior Owen Tuckfield were third, Levi Green fourth, Jake Katzer fourth and Joel Katzer sixth as the Bulldogs edged Chanute for the state championship.

Two weeks later ,the Bulldog girls were in the limelight, playing their way to the state championship game in Wichita. The girls posted a 21-4 season record with two of those losses to Paola, who was undefeated until losing in the state 4A Division I finals. The girls destroyed competition in the sub-state at Perry-Lecompton and dominated in their first two games at state in beating Girard, 61-44, and Concordia, 67-42, before losing, 68-54, to Hugoton in the finals.

The always strong Bulldog track teams enjoyed another banner year with the girls defending their state championship and the boys finishing third.

Both teams arrived at the Wichita finals as regional champions. The girls easily won the regional at KC Piper while the boys passed the home school by winning the final race of the day, the 4-by-400 meter relay of seniors Joel Halford, Darius Johnson and Joe Pierce and junior Dakota Helm.

That team would go on to finish second at state, while the Pierce, George Letner, Helm and Parker Wilson won the 4-by-800 state title, helping the boys to a third-place finish.

Leading the way for the girls were the throws trio of seniors Alexia Stein and Jordan Hoffman and junior Kelsey Kehl, who swept state medals in the discus. Stein repeated as champion in the shot put and discus with her winning shot throw being the eighth-best ever in the state. Hoffman won the javelin.

The team of juniors Addie Dick, Fayth Peterson, Madeline Neufeld and freshman Abby Ogle won gold in the 4-by-800 meters.

That same week, the BHS softball team made the school’s first appearance in the state tournament. The team got there by beating No. 1 seed Tonganoxie in sub-state at the Bulldogs’ home ball field. They proved they belonged at state with a first-round victory against No. 1 seed Spring Hill, before losing to competitive games the the tourney’s second day.

It was a special year from the start for the BHS cross country teams. The boys entered the season as the two-time defending state 4A champions and returned most of the runners from those teams. The girls soon proved they, too, were state title contenders.

The two teams won Frontier and regional titles, qualifying teams once again for the state meet in Wamego. Seniors Letner and Dick paced the two teams all year long and again at state with Letner finishing seventh and Dick fifth. Also medaling at the event were senior Helm, 13th, and sophomore Wilson, 17th, for the boys and senior Mackenzie Russell, seventh, and freshman Natalie Beiter, 15th, for the girls.

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