This is the first of a new localized feature focused on cross country, football and volleyball in Saline County
Kansas Pregame will begin to offer some localized coverage at the county and regional level on our website. This is the first installment of our new Saline County Sports Round-up which will cover cross country, football and volleyball at Salina Central, Salina South, Sacred Heart, Ell-Saline and Southeast of Saline high schools. Other fall sports coverage is not currently on the agenda due to our limited resources, but we do hope to expand in the future.
We're fortunate to have two of Saline County's best sportswriters, Harold Bechard and Huey Counts, provide this coverage.
This coverage of Saline County high school sports is brought to you by Visit Salina and Rolling Hills Zoo. For all there is to see and do in Salina and Saline County and a complete schedule of 20th anniversary events at Rolling Hills Zoo go to www.VisitSalinaKs.org and www.RollingHillsZoo.org.
Find Visit Salina and Rolling Hills Zoo on social media as well, and scroll down for the new Saline County Sports Round-up:
College decision helps Cobb focus on XC; Alderson has fastest time in 3A
By Huey Counts, For Kansas Pregame
Her strained left Achilles tendon is finally feeling 100 percent, but the biggest key to Kadyn Cobb getting her cross country legs under her again involved basketball.
A key member of the Salina Central basketball team since ninth grade, she entered her final school year trying to lock down her college choice.
When the team’s first meet rolled around, early September in Manhattan, Cobb had still not decided and it weighed on her mind during the race.
“Like, right after I finished, I just remember I was crying, because all I could think about while I was running was college and deciding between a few,” she said.
Not long after the Mustangs’ second meet, at Hesston, she tabbed Missouri Western as her college destination.
“I am in such a better place and there is so much less stress,” she said. “Cross country is so much more enjoyable because I’m not worried about where I’m going to college to play basketball.
“It’s made not just cross country, but the rest of my life less stressful.”
A Class 5A state cross country medalist in both her freshman and junior years, she closed out last season with a personal best time of 19:59.9 to take 13th at state.
She thought that would be a springboard into consistent times in the low 20s this season, but instead she’s still working to return to racing shape.
“After I strained my Achilles during summer basketball I was out for three weeks, no running at all,” said Cobb, who missed her entire sophomore cross country season because of a leg injury. “I feel like I’m still kind of out of shape from that.”
She has yet to break 21 minutes this season, but her placings still have been high, including a gold medal at the McPherson Invitational last week.
“I figured I wouldn’t be at my best in these first few meets, but it wasn’t until I ran at Manhattan (12th in 21:51) that I realized I would have to take it step by step because I’m more out of shape that I figured I would be. I’m just trying to get better every week.”
For the Mustangs to advance to state as a team, Cobb’s teammates all will have to run quicker than they have thus far. Senior Brianna Torres and sophomore Cora White could slip in as individuals, but senior Peyton Griffin and sophomore Elizabeth Young must step up for the entire crew to race Rim Rock in October.
“We have potential,” Cobb said.
Check out this collage of Salina Central Cross Country runners from Huey Counts:
As the racing calendar hits the midway point, here are some Saline County athletes to keep an eye out for as the post-season fast approaches:
· The Southeast of Saline boys, the defending 3A champions, are unbeaten on the season as they returned all the key components from last season, including juniors Luke Gleason, Dominic Jackson and Drew Hanson along with sophomore Dylan Sprecker. Freshman Damion Jackson and junior Spencer Smith figure into the mix as well.
Huey Counts grabbed these pictures of the Southeast of Saline boys at their recent home meet:
· Jentrie Alderson, a sophomore at Southeast who ran for Salina South a year ago, has the fastest time in 3A (19:55) according to Kansas MileSplit. If fellow young teammates sophomore teammate Mallorie Pearson and freshmen Ashley Prochazka, Savannah Sutton and Avery Casselman continue to improve they could very well all be at the state meet.
Alderson and Lincoln's Jaycee Vath battled twice last week with Alderson coming up victorious twice. Photos by Huey Counts:
· Sophomore Grace Allen leads a Salina South girls team ravaged by graduation, injuries and defections. Two-time state qualifier Morgan Fischer is out for the season with an injury, Alderson is racing at Southeast and a few others simply quit. Freshman Olivia Mancino-Hinde has shown promise.
· Sophomore Izaac Leonard and senior Alex Linenberger are running 1-2 for the Cougars, a senior-laden team last season that included current college runners Keetan Munsell (Washburn) and Brandon Rectenwald (Kansas Wesleyan).
· Central’s guys are coming off a first-place finish at McPherson in which senior Kyson Harmison placed third, sophomore William Griffith was sixth and senior Stoughton Windhotz was eighth.
· Ell-Saline and Sacred Heart will be looking to squeeze individuals into the 2A state meet in Wamego.
Gavin Brady placed 18th at state last year as a junior for Ell-Saline, but this season has yet to find his rhythm. Senior Caleb Umschied is looking for a return as well.
For the Knights, the girls will need sophomore Madisyn Ehrlich to get healthy for any type of chance to qualify, while the boys best bet may be freshman Jace Douglas.
Check out the second cross country team rankings of the 2019 season as voted on by Kansas High School coaches:
Ell-Saline, SES headline Saline County football at mid-season
By Harold Bechard, For Kansas Pregame
Four weeks into the 2019 football season, Southeast of Saline remains unbeaten, while Ell-Saline still has some work to do to keep its perfect record intact.
Southeast is 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the North Central Activities Association following Friday night's 48-18 victory at St. Marys.
The Trojans picked up a huge league win over Beloit (20-12) on the second Friday night of the season and have also rolled past Sacred Heart (54-0) and Russell (52-10).
Southeast's offense features a punishing running attack - 224.5 yards per game - which has been complemented by a passing game that has produced 438 yards through the air over the last three games.
Junior quarterback Jaxson Gebhardt has piled up 908 yards of total offense through four games - 440 rushing (seven touchdowns) and 468 passing (five TD throws) - while 6-2, 210-pound junior running back Bryant Banks has run for 381 yards and nine TDs.
Gebhardt has a variety of receivers to choose from. Tyler Breeding has 12 catches, Eli Harris 10 and Seth Eklund eight.
SES did this awesome field art for their Sept. 20 Homecoming Game:
Ell-Saline is still unbeaten at 3-0, but the Cardinals are looking at a 15-0 deficit to unbeaten Sedgwick heading into Monday night's weather-delayed game at Brookville. The game was halted by lightning at the 11:39 mark of the second quarter Friday night. The game will continue at 6 p.m. Monday.
UPDATE: Ell-Saline lost to Sedgwick Monday night by the final of 31-13 and are now 3-1 on the season.
Ell-Saline opened the season with three shutout wins - Sterling (41-0), Remington (40-0) and Trinity Catholic (36-0) - and was allowing its opponents just 90 yards a game heading into the Sedgwick showdown.
Senior running back Luke Parks and junior quarterback T.J. Morrical have been a solid 1-2 punch this season for the Cards. Parks has carried 53 times for 304 yards and six touchdowns, while Morrical has 283 yards on 29 carries and five scores. Sawyer Kramer has added 134 yards on 22 carries and has scored once.
Morrical has completed nine passes in three games for 141 yards and two scores.
Rocking M Radio provides coverage of Ell-Saline football weekly:
• Salina Central (2-2) has won two straight since opening the season with losses to Eisenhower and Derby. The Mustangs knocked off Salina South, 17-7, in the 50th annual Mayor's Cup and whipped Hutchinson, 31-12, last Friday.
Mustang quarterback Jackson Kavanagh has completed 57.6 percent of his passes - 53 of 92 - for 555 yards and five touchdowns. Logan Heigele leads the receiving corps with 16 catches for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
Cooper Chard has been the Mustangs leading rusher with 214 yards on 47 carries.
Huey Counts captured some great photos from Salina Central's win over Hutch:
• Salina South (1-3) entered the win column Saturday with a 49-19 victory over the Campus Colts in a game that was delayed because of Friday night's severe weather in central Kansas.
The Cougars got 131 yards rushing and two touchdowns from sophomore Brandt Cox in the win over Campus. Junior quarterback Terran Galloway completed 10 of 16 passes for 141 yards and two scores.
Cox has rushed for 309 yards on 73 carries this season, while Galloway has connected on 58.3 percent of his passes - 56 of 96 - for 623 yards and five scores.
Galloway's main target this season has been 6-3, 219-pound senior Ty Garrett, who is one of the top possession receivers in the state. Garrett has caught nine passes in three different games and has 32 catches overall for 346 yards.
Cox, Galloway and Garrett, pictured in this Tweet from Pat Strathman, are three of Saline County's most exciting offensive skill players:
• Sacred Heart (0-4) has struggled this season with losses to Southeast of Saline, Minneapolis, Ellsworth and Hillsboro - four teams with a combined record of 13-3.
Junior quarterback Mac Hemmer has thrown for 222 yards and two scores in four games, while running back Jared McCarthy has gained 147 yards on 51 carries.
Saline County volleyball teams struggle to reach .500
By Harold Bechard, For Kansas Pregame
The volleyball teams in Saline County have struggled throughout the month of September to reach the .500 mark.
• Salina South traveled to the always-tough Newton Invitational on Saturday and finished with a 2-3 record. The Cougars are 10-13 overall for the season and 3-4 in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League. One of those wins came early in the season against Maize.
"That was a big win for us," said South head coach Rose Wittman.
• Salina Central is 5-11 overall and 1-4 in the AVCTL-I heading into Tuesday night's home triangular against Maize and Campus.
• Southeast of Saline was 5-10 overall, but 4-2 in the North Central Activities Association heading into the weekend's Lyons Invitational, while Sacred Heart is now 9-11 overall and 2-4 in the NCAA after winning three of five matches on Saturday at the Herington Invitational to finish third. The Knights started the season with four consecutive wins.
For more about all there is to see and do in Salina and Saline County head to VisitSalinaKs.org and don't forget to visit RollingHillsZoo.org to check out the many fantastic 20th anniversary events scheduled at the zoo.