As 2016 comes to a close, here are five of the top area stories from the year.
Kansas City-area baseball talent wins big in MLB draft
It was one of the most successful years in history for Kansas City high school baseball talent. St. Thomas Aquinas pitcher Riley Pint became the highest-ever Major League Baseball draft pick from the Kansas City area when the pitcher was selected fourth overall by the Colorado Rockies in June. Joey Wentz wasn’t far behind; the Shawnee Mission East left-hander was drafted 40th overall to Atlanta.
That dynamic duo was followed by one more pick in the first three rounds of the draft: Turner’s Nolan “Nonie” Williams to the Angels with the 96th overall pick.
Bishop Miege’s 2016 dominance
It was a good year to be a Stag. In the 2016 calendar year, Miege won Kansas state titles in football, boys and girls basketball, boys track, and boys and girls soccer. Jon Holmes’ football team won its third straight championship. Terry English also led the girls basketball team to its third straight in the spring. Out of the 22 varsity sports offered to boys and girls by the Kansas State High School Activities Association, Miege won a championship in six of them this calendar year.
Two former Blue Valley quarterbacks play for national titles
Logan Brettell (Baker University) and Kyle Zimmerman (Northwest Missouri State) used to be on the same depth chart at Blue Valley. Brettell had been Zimmerman’s backup when the two were Tigers teammates. This year, both led their college teams to their respective national championship games in December (Baker in NAIA, and Northwest Missouri State in NCAA Division II). Both offenses were potent behind the leadership of the two former Tigers – Brettell helped Baker average 47.7 points per game and Zimmerman led Northwest Missouri State to 45.5 points a game.
Although Baker lost to Saint Francis in the title game, Zimmerman and Northwest Missouri State did get a championship ring, beating North Alabama during a snowstorm at Children’s Mercy Park.
High school gymnastics sticks around
Coaches and gymnasts in Johnson County believed that their sport was done. District athletic directors had floated the idea of ending funding for the sport in local high schools, and those involved were preparing for this season to be the sport’s last. But supporters came together for a last-ditch fight, making T-shirts for their cause and voicing their support to district officials. In the end, both the Shawnee Mission and Olathe school districts committed to the sport for next year, leaving dozens of area gymnasts on a more stable foundation.
Molly Born’s record-breaking year
Between the 2016 spring track season and then her fall cross country season, Shawnee Mission Northwest runner Molly Born had quite the year. In the Kansas state track and field championships, she won titles in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter races, setting state records in both. Then at Rim Rock Farm, Born won her second straight Kansas Class 6A state cross country title. She also set a course record there, with a time of 17:32.7.