By RICK PETERSON
It's always tough paring down a whole year of sports stories to the top two or three.
Do team accomplishments get the edge over individual accolades and does one particular sport get the edge over any of the others?
My answer to both those questions is no. All accomplishments and sports should be judged on their own merit while realizing that no matter how many of these lists you put together you're not always going to be right.
That was especially true when looking at the 2021-22 sports year for Shawnee County high school boys teams, but after changing the order a time or two or 12 here's my version of the Top 10 Shawnee County boys prep stories of '21-'22:
1. DAWGGONE GOOD PART FIVE -- Derick Hammes' Rossville's football team turned in a dominating 2021 football season, capturing its second straight Class 2A state title and its fifth state championship over an amazing eight-year run, which has included four perfect seasons, including '21. The Bulldawgs capped a second straight 13-0 season with a 32-12 win over Beloit in the state final. The Bulldawgs overcame some adversity along the way, including an injury to star senior quarterback Torrey Horak which kept him out of multiple games, but star running back Corey Catron took over at QB and the Bulldawgs didn't miss a beat, outscoring their opposition 611-111 on the season.
2 REPEAT FEAT -- After winning their first-ever Class 6A team championship in 2021, Washburn Rural's boys wrestling team did it all over again in 2022, with senior state champions Aidan Boline (160 pounds) and Austin Fager (182) leading the way as the Junior Blues topped Derby by a 151-142.5 margin over Derby. Freshman Easton Broxtermaan (106) joined Boline and Fager in the state finals while Jonathan Morrison and Jacob Tangpricha added third-place finishes as Rural gave first-year head coach Josh Hogan his first title.
3. GOING THE DISTANCE -- Hayden star distance runner Tanner Newkirk hadn't run in the state track meet since his freshman season due to COVID-19 and an injury but finally got his chance as a senior and responded with one of the best individual performances in the 111-year history of the boys championships. The Kansas signee won the three longest individual races, setting Class 4A state meet records in two of them, and just for good measure picked up a fourth state medal with an outstanding relay leg. Newkirk was also a four-time state medalist in 4A cross country, posting three top-three finshes, including a state crown, in his final three seasons.
4. A FINISH FOR THE BOOKS -- Sitting at 7-7 more than halfway through the 2021-2022 season, to say Craig Cox's Seaman basketball team finished with a bang would be a a gross understatement. The Vikings ended their season with 11 straight victories and dominated the 5A state tournament from the No. 8 (bottom) seed. After dispatching No. 1 seed Kapaun Mt. Carmel by 11 points in the opening round, Seaman took a 14-point win over 2021 state champ Maize and then rolled to a 19-point win over De Soto in the title tilt, notching the first boys basketball state title in school history.
5. TWIN WIN -- After sweeping city, Centennial League and 5A regional doubles championships in their first year of high school tennis in 2021, Topeka West junior twin brothers Ian and Miles Cusick took things one step farther this spring, winning the 5A state title and propelling Topeka West to a runner-up team finish. The Cusicks posted a 37-4 record on the season, capping their season with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Maize South's Grayson Wright and Mitchell Krumm in the state final.
6. RULING THE LANES -- Seaman's boys bowling team captured the 5A-1A team championship in February at Northrock Lanes in Wichita, riding its balance to a 3,483-3,372 margin over Eisenhower. Led by junior Ethan Burn's 10th-place finish and putting three bowlers in the top 20, the Vikings set the stage for a Seaman title sweep, with the Viking girls following the boys title with a state championship of their own.
7. MINING MEDALS -- Highland Park junior Tre Richardson and Hayden freshman Jensen Schrickel both brought home three medals from the state track and field championships last weekend, including their first individual state championships. Richardson won the 5A 200-meter dash, finished second in the triple jump and fifth in the long jump while Schrickel made his state debut with the 4A state title in the long jump, winning the title by a half inch on his final jump, and added a seventh-place finish in the 400 dash and a third-place finish in the 4 x 400 relay.
8. MR. BASKETBALL -- Coming off a record-setting season for Topeka West's boys basketball team, 6-foot-4 senior Elijah Brooks was named Mr. Kansas Basketball by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. Brooks led West to a second straight Centennial League title and a second straight state tournament berth while becoming West's single-season and career leading scorer during the 2021-2022 season. Brooks put together a string of 30-point-plus games this past season with a high of 43 points while averaging 25.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.5 blocked shots.
9. OH SO CLOSE -- Washburn Rural's boys soccer team came within a 1-0 sudden death overtime loss to Olathe West in the 6A state championship game of a perfect 2021 season, finishing second in 6A with a 19-1-0 record. Brian Hensyel's Junior Blues weren't the only ones that came within an eyelash of a state crown, with Rural star senior thrower Zach Sulzen-Watson coming within two inches of the 6A state discus title while Hayden senior Michael Sandstrom and junior Gus Glotzbach posted a second-place doubles finish in 4A tennis for the second straight year and Shawnee Heights junior Luke Perkins taking second in the 5A-1A state swimming meet in the 100-yard butterfly.
10. LIONS ROAR -- Cair Paravel Latin, which will compete in the Kansas State High School Activities Association Eight-Man ranks next football season, turned in the most dominant season in school history this past fall, posting an 11-0 record and capturing the Kansas Christian Athletic Association state championship while outscoring its opponents by a 624-94 margin. The Lions capped their season with a 64-16 victory over St. Mary's Academy in the KCAA championship game.