Thunderbirds #9 Jordan Garvin and #2 Issac Wilson look for a goal against Manhattan

{Photo by Rex Wolf of TSN}

Washburn's Channon Ross goes Bear Hunting

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Shawnee Hgts' Carter Olsen

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TSN 2021 All-Shawnee County girls tennis team

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Seaman's Lauren Sweeney & Grace Unruh State Champs 36-0

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TSN names All-Shawnee County girls golf 2021

[photo Rick Peterson TSN]

Washburn Rural Volleyball 36-0 season

[photo by Rex Wolf]

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Big-time player, big-time plays: Neal's takeaways help key Ichabod wins

Rick Peterson



How big were Kevin Neal Jr.'s defensive takeaways in back-to-back Washburn University wins over then-No. 2-ranked Northwest Missouri and Central Oklahoma?

Big enough that Neal himself isn't sure which play he enjoyed the most.

Neal, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior defensive back, came up with a game-saving interception at the goal line in the Ichabods' 17-16 win over perennial MIAA power Northwest two weeks ago and turned in another huge takeaway in 6-2 Washburn's 29-17 road win at Central Oklahoma last Saturday, preventing a Broncho touchdown when he stripped the ball away from a UCO ball-carrier in the first half.

"To be honest, in both circumstances I was just trying to make a play for the team, do whatever I could to help the team,'' Neal said. "They were both super cool and both big plays in the game obviously, but neither one of them sticks out.

"I was just glad to make the plays for the team.''

KevinNealJrNWKevin Neal Jr. is congratulated by his Washburn teammates after a game-saving interception against Northwest Missouri. [File photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

Neal said big defensive plays, particularly the strip against Central Oklahoma, come down to anticipation and a little bit of gambling.

"It was just taking a chance,'' said Neal, a native of Platte City, Mo. "I saw the ball-carrier running with the ball and I could tell that he didn't know I was behind him, so I thought if I could get close enough before he got to the end zone hopefully I could pop it out.

"I saw the ball at the last second so I just took a chance and it worked out.''

Neal, who ranks third on the team with 37 tackles (28 solo), said Ichabod co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Zach Watkins works with Washburn's players on putting themselves in position to get takeaways.

"Coach Watkins does a great job of having us work on different types of situations and drills on how to take the ball away,'' Neal said. "That's something we definitely practice and we've been trying to make big plays and help our offense out for the whole season.

"We've done a pretty good job of it, so that's definitely thanks to coach Watkins and having us do drills and extra work.''

 KevinNeal2Washburn junior defensive back Kevin Neal Jr. makes a game-saving interception in the Ichabods' 17-16 win over Northwest Missouri. [File photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

Washburn's defense has been solid most of the season, but has stepped up its game during the Ichabods' current three-game winning streak, with none of WU's last three opponents scoring more than 20 points.

"We have a lot of trust in each other and we've been with each other a long time and played a lot of snaps together,'' said Neal, whose Ichabods will host 2-6 Northeastern State Saturday at Yager Stadium (1 p.m.). "Everything's based on us getting better each week and we try to make sure we don't get too high or too low and just try to get better and I feel that's what we've been doing a great job of.

"It's been pretty good so far, but we know how much better we can still get and we just keep working at practice to get better and better and reach our maximum potential.''



Ichabod men's basketball to begin 2021-2022 season ranked No. 11 in nation

Rick Peterson



Washburn University's men's basketball team was tabbed No. 11 in the National Association of Basketball Coaches 2021-22 Preseason Poll announced Tuesday. 

The Ichabods, who finished No. 17 in the final NCAA Division II poll last season, will open the year in Kansas City, Mo. on Nov. 12, facing off against No. 15 Northern State at 12:45 p.m. in Municipal Auditorium. The Ichabods will then take on Augustana (S.D.), which received votes in the poll, at 6 p.m. on Nov. 13 as part of the Central Region Tipoff Challenge.

Washburn was picked second behind defending national champion Northwest Missouri in both the MIAA Preseason Coaches and Media Polls that were released at the 2021 Basketball Media Day earlier this month.

The Ichabods return four starters from last season's 20-7 team that finished second in the MIAA in the regular season and won the MIAA Tournament Championship before reaching the second round of the NCAA Regional.

TylerGeiman2Senior point guard Tyler Geiman returns to lead Washburn, which will start the season ranked No. 11 in NCAA Division II. [File photo]

The Ichabods will be led by senior guard Tyler Geiman, who was a third-team D2CCA All-American and first-team all-MIAA pick after averaging 20.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists while starting all 27 contests.

The Ichabods also return honorable mention All-MIAA selection and MIAA Tournament Most Valuable Player Jalen Lewis, a junior who averaged 13.4 points a year ago. Jonny Clausing was an honorable mention all-MIAA pick after averagin 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 61 percent from the field.

This season the Ichabods return 85 percent of their scoring, 67 percent of their rebounds, 84 percent of their field goals, 93 percent of their 3-pointers, 83 percent of their free throws and 89 percent of their minutes played from a season ago.


Regional soccer: Undefeated Rural leads city teams to regional finals

Rick Peterson



 Washburn Rural continued its perfect 2021 season Tuesday night, opening postseason with a 7-0 Class 6A regional romp past Wichita Northwest.

The Junior Blues, now 16-0-0 on the year, got two goals apiece from junior Easton Bradstreet and senior Porter Schafersman while junior Ty Stead, senior Mason Grogan and senior Jonah Molina added a goal apiece.

DSC 0737Senior captain Porter Schafersman had two goals and two assists in Washburn Rural's 7-0 Class 6A regional win over Wichita Northwest Monday night. [File photo by Doug Walker/TSN]

Schafersman also contrbuted a pair of assists for Rural, while sophomore Devon Rutschmann, junior Jaxon Padilla and junior Cayden Lee were also credited with assists.

Senior Wyatt Arnold and sophomore Ethan Uhlrig combined for the shutout in goal for the Junior Blues against Northwest, which ended its season 6-12-0.

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