Arkansas City High School had a banner year of sorts. Though the Bulldogs returned to Class 5A this season, competing in Class 4A in 2018 netted two State championships, a third-place State plaque and an overall solid year for the school, dominating the CourierTraveler Top 10 Sports Stories.

Robinson four-peats at State

Arkansas City High School senior Marcus Robinson became the 33rd Kansas wrestler in history and the fourth in the illustrious history of the ACHS wrestling program to capture four State titles in February at the KSHSAA Class 4A State Championships in Salina.

Robinson was ranked No. 1 in all classes throughout the season before making history with an 8-4 victory against Korbin Riedel of Tonganoxie in the 138-pound finals.

“A lot of emotions. It’s tough to put into words,” Robinson said at the time. “It’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders. It feels like a big accomplishment. It’s surreal that I actually pulled it off.”

Robinson, who now wrestles at Buffalo University, joined Justin Ware (1989-92), Devin Bahm (1993-96) and Trison Graham (2005-08) as four-time State champions at ACHS.

According to records provided by the KSHSAA, Robinson finished his illustrious high school career with a 177-25 record. Only four of those losses were to Kansas high school grapplers.

He went 45-11 as a freshman, capturing the 106-pound title at the Class 5A State tourney. He was 42-7 as a sophomore, winning 5A gold at 113. And he was 44-3 en route to the 126-pound 5A State title in his junior campaign.

Robinson compiled a 46-4 record his senior year, which he said was his toughest State title of the four.

“This last one, just because the hype coming into it,” Robinson said at the time. “It was my last ride — I knew this was it. I knew I was going to make my goal or I wasn’t.”

Robinson was one of four 4A State champions for the Bulldogs, who breezed to the 4A State team title, defeating runner-up Andover Central by 57.5 points.

All three reigning State champs repeated, only this time in 4A. Robinson was joined by repeat State champions Jake Beeson (145) and Montez Robinson (138), and Gabe Buckbee (126).

Beeson completed an undefeated season, recording a 29-0 record.

Bulldogs win 4A-II State title

Behind a stellar pitching staff, the Arkansas City High School baseball team captured the Class 4A D-I State championship in May in Emporia.

It is the first State baseball title for the Bulldogs (21-4) since winning the 5A State crown in 2002 in Salina.

Ark City’s vaunted pitching staff allowed just one run and six hits in the three State tourney games. And the defense did not commit an error in the tourney.

“There’s no magic formula,” ACHS coach Aaron Bucher said after the tourney.

“The four games we lost all season, we played terrible defense. To play as well as we did defensively all year, except those four games, is pretty phenomenal.”

For his efforts, Bucher was named Coach of the Year in the AV-CTL D-II.

The Bulldogs defeated league nemesis Andover Central 1-0 in nine innings in the State semifinals, then run-ruled Bishop Miege 11-1 in six innings for the title.

Hunter O’Toole, who later was named Pitcher of the Year in the league, took a perfect game into the seventh inning against Andover Central.

O’Toole finished the season with a 6-1 record and an 0.41 ERA. Garrett VanDeventer was a perfect 8-0 with a 1.17 ERA. The duo hooked up on a six-inning perfect game in April. VanDeventer and Andrew Brautman teamed up for a four-inning perfect game in May.

During Ark City’s magical run to the State title, Bucher recorded victory No. 200 in his 18th season as ACHS head coach with a 6-4 win at Andover in the second game of a doubleheader.

Bulldogs third at State

CJ Jennings, who took over the boys basketball program at Arkansas City High School just a few months before the death of close friend and former coach Anthony Brantley, led the Bulldogs to the brink of a Class 4A D-I State title.

Ark City fell short, falling to state power McPherson in the semifinals. However, the Bulldogs bounced back with a thrilling 57-55 victory against AV-CTL D-II nemesis Andover Central in the third-place game.

Hunter O’Toole — the same Hunter O’Toole who would go on to earn Pitcher of the Year honors in the league during the spring baseball season — hit a baseline jumper at the buzzer to snap a tie.

“We’ve been together since they were freshmen. We’ve been through a lot together,” Jennings said after the game. “That was the start of us building what we wanted to see them do as seniors. They were close friends before I ever got there, so I was on the outside looking in.”

The Bulldogs were off to a struggling start, entering the annual Chaparral Roadrunner Classic with a losing record.

A 74-49 thrashing of Belle Plaine to repeat as tourney champions was one of many small steps leading to a State run.

Ten days later, the Bulldogs defeated Class 5A No. 1-ranked Goddard-Eisenhower 56-51 in Goddard 

Ark City followed that up in late February with a 71-64 home victory against Eisenhower behind 47 points from Cevin Clark.

They were the only losses in the regular season for the Tigers, who were stunned in a first-round loss at State.

Four Horsemen go undefeated

The Four Horsemen were simply dominant.

Arkansas City High School seniors Enthony Banks, Jordan Wilson and Jake Beeson, along with junior AJ Wilson went undefeated during the spring track and field season in the boys 4x400-meter relay.

All the way to the Class 4A State championship.

In the final event of the two-day Big Show, the Bulldogs captured gold medals in a State title-winning time of 3 minutes, 21.5 seconds.

AJ Wilson collected individual gold as well, winning the 400 in 49.37 seconds.

The ACHS quartet went undefeated during the entire season, recording an all-classes season-best time of 3:21.72 during the season. 

Bulldogs reach 4A Sectionals

Jon Wiemers, who led the Arkansas City High School football team to its only winning season in the past 17 years, returned from coaching college football to take over a struggling program in need of a shot in the arm.

The Bulldogs opened the season on the last day of August with a 7-3 victory against arch rival Winfield in the Cowley Cup game.

What followed, however, was a five-game losing skid in which Ark City was outscored 187-81.

Things looked bleak.

Then came an inspiring 34-20 home triumph against Valley Center in Week 7.

And despite ending the regular season with a three-point loss at Andover Central, the Bulldogs were confident heading into the Class 4A State playoffs.

Yes, playoffs.

The new KSHSAA schedule format gave every team a Week 9 first-round playoff game. Not the greatest of seeds due to their 2-6 record, the Bulldogs only had to travel a half hour north to Mulvane.

Ark City defeated the host Wildcats 29-26, advancing to the Class 4A Regionals, where they surprised perhaps everyone but themselves with a dominating 28-6 victory at Coffeyville.

The season came to an end one week later with a 62-28 loss at State power McPherson, but the Bulldogs reached the Class 4A Sectionals — the Elite Eight — after starting the season 1-5.

For his efforts, Wiemers was one of three coaches to share AV-CTL D-II Coach of the Year honors.

Vikings win soccer Regional

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

The Winfield High School boys soccer team struggled to a 5-10-1 record during the regular season, and with it a low seed and road game in the first round of the Class 4-3-2-1A Regionals.

The season began with a four-game losing skid. A five-game losing streak near the end of the regular season was showing no signs of hope.

That’s when the Vikings turned the corner.

Handed the No. 12 seed, Winfield traveled to fifth-seeded Wichita Classical and stunned the home team with a 3-2 victory. When 13th-seeded Wichita Independent upset No. 4 Augusta 2-0, it meant a home game for the Vikings — this time for the Regional championship.

Winfield didn’t disappoint, posting a 2-0 shutout of Independent at Richard L. Jantz Stadium for the title and a berth in the Final Four.

The season ended with a 3-0 loss to AV-CTL D-III nemesis Buhler in the 4-3-2-1A State quarterfinals, but it didn’t take away from the third Regional title in a four-year span for seniors Tayton Thomson-Donham, Chris Ray, Dorian Smith, Giacomo Capicciotti, Kameron Knowles, Drake Hill, Caleb Olmstead, Manny Paz, Javier Ramirez and David Pape.

“I commend our seniors; this season wasn’t going the way we had envisioned,” WHS coach Charles Osen said at the time. “But they continued to work and listen, and they showed our underclassmen what leadership is.”

Tigers advance to Nationals

The Cowley College men’s soccer team made huge strides in the fall season under the tutelage of one of its former star players.

The Tigers defeated Cloud County 6-1 for the Region VI title, extending their winning streak to 16 games.

They weren’t finished.

Cowley made it 18 straight with a 1-0 victory against Rose State (Okla.) in the first round of the NJCAA D-I Championships, punching their ticket to Nationals for the first time in school history.

The winning streak was snapped in a 5-1 loss to Barton in the Plains District title game, but the Tigers made history by reaching the Big Show under Jayhawk East Coach of the Year Ruy Vaz.

The Tigers placed 11 players on the all-conference first team, including co-Players of the Year Santiago Gimenez and Elluan Martins Gomes, and Defensive Player of the Year Jesus Garcia.

Rivera is All-American

Southwestern College junior offensive lineman Dustin Rivera was named an AFCA first-team All-American after a standout season for the Moundbuilders’ football team.

According to the NAIA, Rivera “was a skilled blocker in both the passing and running attack.”

That helped sophomore Keyshawn Wyatt to earn honorable mention All-American status after a 1,313-yard, 14-touchdown season.

Sophomore linebacker Grant Torgerson, who led the team with 111 tackles, also earned honorable mention All-American.

O’Brien wins first KCAC title

The Southwestern College men’s basketball team captured the first Kansas Collegiate Athletic Association regular-season title for the first time in head coach Matt O’Brien’s nine-year career.

The Builders made their third straight KCAC championship appearance and finished with a 27-8 record, the second-most wins in school history.

O’Brien, now in his 10th season, has eight straight winning seasons, four straight 20-wins season, and has more than 200 wins which puts him amongst the most active winning coaches in the NAIA.

O’Brien became the winningest coach in the history of the college and captured KCAC Coach of the Year honors

Burroughs in NJCAA HoF

After 1,254 wins, 18 Jayhawk East titles, eight trips to the Junior College World Series, and back-to-back World Series titles in 1997 and 1998, Cowley College head baseball coach Dave Burroughs was rewarded with induction into the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in May.

In 31 seasons as coach of the Tigers, Burroughs is the all-time winningest coach in the history of the Jayhawk Conference and is the second-winningest active coach in the NJCAA.

Burroughs was previously inducted into the Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.

He has been named the Jayhawk East Coach of the Year seven of the past 12 seasons.

Honorable Mention:

Roark wins two league titles

The Winfield High School boys swim team had just 10 members last season. But Cameron Roark was among them.

Roark captured two individual titles at the AV-CTL D-II-IV Championships in February.

Roark won the 200-yard individual medley in 2 minutes, 5.7 seconds, more than two seconds ahead of the runner-up. His time also would have won the AV-CT D-I title.

He then competed in the 100 breaststroke, winning in 1:04.22, breaking his own school record in the event.

Beeson wins Geary title

Arkansas City High School senior Jake Beeson, already a reigning 5A State champion, made history at the prestigious Geary (Okla.) Invitational.

Beeson defeated Tate Picklo of Mustang, Okla., in a 3-2 overtime thriller in the 145-pound championship bout.

He became the first grappler from the state of Kansas to win a title at the event, which included teams as far away as New Jersey. Obviously, he also became the first ACHS wrestler to win at the tourney.

SC has successful debut

It took a furious ninth-inning rally, but the Southwestern College baseball team captured the first signature victory for the program in the modern era with a 6-5 triumph in April against No. 5-ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan in the first of a three-game series at the Broadway Sports Complex.

The Moundbuilders trailed 5-1 entering the bottom of the ninth before scoring five runs to win in dramatic fashion.

SC president Brad Andrews and athletic director Matt Shelton announced the addition of baseball as a sport in August, 2016.

The Builders opened the 2018 season by dropping both games of a doubleheader to Southwestern Christian, 3-1 and 6-4. However, they posted their first victory a day later, a 4-3 triumph in the first game of another twinbill.

Klaassen reaches State semis

Arkansas City High School junior Pierce Klaassen advanced to the semifinals of the KSHSAA Class 4A State Boys Tennis Tournament.

Klaassen settled for fourth in the state, falling to Jarrod Nowak of McPherson 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals. He dropped a 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) decision to Nowak’s teammate, Andrew Sneed, in the third-place match.

Lady Vikes earn State medals

The Winfield High School girls golf team just missed a third-place plaque in October at the KSHSAA Class 4A State Championships.

The young Lady Vikings were led most of the season by four-time State qualifier Kenna Biddle, the lone senior. Biddle tied for 17th in the final game of her high school career, earning a State medal.

Sophomore Elly Bertholf shot a 97 and also earned a State medal with a tie for 27th.

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