Even though the spring sports season was canceled, there were still some memorable moments from the 2019-20 high school sports calendar. It is only right that we recap some of the moments that brought fist bumps, high fives, and tears of joy.
— Tyson Hermreck’s buzzer beater to lift Crest past Southern Coffey County in the first round of regional basketball.
— Andrew Watts taking sixth place for Humboldt at the 1A-2A-3A state wrestling meet.
— Humboldt topping Erie 63-62 after being blown out by the state-bound Red Devils at home in December.
— Forever Filly night: When the first girl’s basketball team at Iola High was recognized by Fillies current head coach Becky Carlson.
No. 10 — Humboldt’s Johnson twins set records
By the end of their senior years, twin sisters Alayna Johnson and Emma Johnson had scripted their names into the Humboldt volleyball record books. Alayna finished her career with 1,737 assists, and Emma dished out 550 digs.
The pair was recognized with a plaque of their achievement at the Humboldt fall sports banquet.
No. 9 — Crest girl’s cross country makes state
When Elka and Ursula Billings transferred to Crest High, they were aware Lancer cross country had been non-existent for the last nine years. They made it their priority to jump-start the program, and it paid off.
It takes four to field a team in 1A, and for most of the season, the Lady Lancers had been without no. 3 runner Rylee Beckmon due to a broken arm. Luckily, Beckmon competed with a cast at Crest’s regional meet, and the Lancers made it through.
Ursula Billings placed fifth with a time of 21:07.45, followed by sister Elka in 15th (22:40.55), Beckmon in 46th (28:13.38), and Bailee Griffeth in 47th (28.23.03).
No. 8 — Iola hoops tops Chanute
It is not often the Mustangs get one over their rivals, but in this instance, Iola High came with two Mustang stampedes on the Blue Comets’ winter homecoming.
The Fillies enjoyed a 32-19 lead over state-ranked Chanute at intermission, but would have to fight off the Blue Comets’ sparks. Chanute trimmed the deficit down to 42-35 heading into the fourth, and took a 44-43 lead halfway through the fourth. Despite relinquishing the big lead, Iola stood steady at the line, holding on for the 51-48 upset victory.
The Mustangs on the other hand kept their foot on the gas throughout. Seniors Cal Leonard and Calvin Delich led the way with 16 and 15 points respectively, while Iola throttled the Blue Comets 60-40.
No, 7 — Southern Coffey County girls vs Marmaton Valley (regional first round)
A technical foul called on MV’s Mykayla Ard with 13.3 seconds remaining in the fourth put SCC’s Rees Szambecki at the charity stripe. Szambecki converted 1 of 4, tying the score at 35-35. The next possession stayed with SCC, and after two Lady Titan misses, Taryn Lather collected her miss and beat the buzzer. The Lady Titans pulled off the dramatic 37-35 playoff victory.
Szambecki and Bryleigh Copeland led the Lady Titans with 11 points each.
No. 6 — Landon Carson’s 32 points
After consecutive home losses to Burlington on homecoming and Prairie View four days later, the Iola High Mustangs were in need of a spark. Iola’s Landon Carson exploded for 13 straight points in the first while Iola led 23-5 heading into the second.
Carson finished with a career-high 32 points, a mark that sits in the top 10 in Iola boys hoops history. His offensive prowess wasn’t his only feat. Carson collected seven steals along with a block, leading Iola to a bounce-back 77-59 victory over Anderson County.
No. 5 — Humboldt vs. Eureka
Trailing 32-22 with four minutes remaining in the first, Humboldt football stormed back to beat Eureka 38-22 in an away game that took place at Iola’s Riverside Park.
Senior quarterback Conor Haviland led the Cubs on a six-play 49-yard drive capped off by a two-yard scamper into the endzone by running back Isiah Coronado. After the score, Haviland connected with William Kobold for the 2-point conversion, pulling Humboldt within two with 1:33 remaining.
Usually making big plays at the right all season long, Haviland recovered the onside kick at midfield with 1:30 left. Humboldt faced 4th-and-12 from the 17-yard line, and Haviland worked a bit of magic, scrambling to the sideline before being knocked out near the goal line. Haviland then plunged his way in for the go-ahead touchdown, and later sealed the game with an interception at the horn.
No. 4 — Iola girls XC qualify for state
At Iola’s regional meet in Chanue, the Fillies were hungry for a state cross country appearance after barely missing out the last three seasons. In 2016, Iola missed qualifying for the 4A state meet by one place, the next year by one point in the state’s toughest regional, and then in 2018 they missed by two points. The fourth time was the charm for these seniors.
The Fillies placed third behind Fort Scott and Paola at the regional meet, and were led by senior Rachel Bycroft, who finished ninth (21:32). Also helping the Fillies advance were Josie Plumlee in 11th (21:53), Kelsey Morrison 21st (22:57), Elanie Sturgeon 22nd (22:58), Averie Sharon 25th (23:11), and Audrey Coltrane 36th (24:17).
When the Filly runners listened to the results, they could not contain their tears of joy after learning of their feat. It had been their dream goal for the season after losing their top three runners from a season ago, and they made it happen.
No. 3 — Haviland’s performance @ Nemaha Central
Some say football is the ultimate team sport. Eleven individuals with 11 different roles as one cohesive team. Only one man can do so much. But Conor Haviland proved that wrong in the Cubs’ state semifinal matchup against Nemaha Central.
While the Cubs fell to the future 2A state champions 44-28, Haviland led a second-half charge to keep the Cubs in the game. He finished with 317 total yards, playing a part in all of Humboldt’s four touchdowns. On the defensive end, he recorded 15 tackles and an interception. By the end of the game, Haviland could barely stand up, leaving every ounce of energy on the field.
No. 2 — Iola’s 5 OT loss @ Parsons
Arguably the best high school football game in the history of Southeast Kansas, the Iola Mustangs didn’t go down without a fight in a five-overtime loss to Parsons.
Iola enjoyed a 22-6 lead with eight minutes remaining in the fourth, but saw its lead collapse as the Vikings exploded for 16 unanswered points to force overtime.
For the five overtimes, Iola was without starting quarterback Bradyn Cole, who would go on to miss the rest of the season. Nonetheless, Casen Barker stepped in under center and helped the Mustangs keep pace with the surging Vikings.
Down eight in the second overtime, and backed up to their own 25-yard line after a penalty, and facing 3rd-and-goal, Barker threw a Hail Mary to the front pylon that was hauled in over multiple defenders by Drake Sellman, who managed to keep control while keeping one foot in bounds. That catch was one of the best in Iola football history, I’m sure.
After Sellman’s score and the successful 2-point conversion, Iola and Parsons went back-and-forth for two more OTs before Barker was stripped in the fifth overtime. The crazy spectacle ended at 56-48.
No. 1 — Logan Brown takes the crown
Without a doubt, Logan Brown’s run to become the 4A heavyweight state wrestling champion sits in a league of its own. Not only did Brown become Iola High’s first wrestling state champion, but he did it in dramatic fashion.
To get into the championship bout, Brown avenged his only loss of the year against Santa Fe Trail’s Evan Dean in the semifinals. Dean set the record for most pins in a season at 41, and was seconds away from pinning Brown before he earned a reversal, and pinned Dean seconds before the round was over.
In the championship match, Brown faced even a tougher test — 4A’s no. 1 heavyweight, Ulysses’ Aysten Perez. Perez held a 9-2 lead in the second round before once again…Brown was able to get a reversal midway through the round, and then seized the upper hand, pinning Perez at the 3-minute, 52-second mark.