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  • TopSports.news' 2022 Shawnee County football players to watch

    Rick Peterson

    By RICK PETERSON

    TopSports.news

    TrentonBarkerTrenton Barker

    Trenton Barker, Rossville

    Barker, a senior running back/ linebacker, is one of four returning starters on defense for Rossville, which is coming off a second straight 13-0 season and a second straight Class 2A state championship. Barker earned All-Mid-East League honorable mention on offense as a junior.

    EliBarnesEli Barnes

    Eli Barnes, Silver Lake

    A junior wide receiver/defensive back, Barnes is part of a strong returning nucleus for Silver Lake, which is coming off a 9-3 record and a Class 2A semifinal berth in the 2021 season.

    FavqaXfXkAE69igCallen Barta

    Callen Barta, Seaman

    A 6-foot, 160 junior, Barta saw extensive action for Seaman as a sophomore, helping the Vikings post a 6-4 record. Barta earned TopSports.news honorable mention last fall as well as All-Centennial League honorable mention on defense.

    MalachiBergnewmugMalachi Berg

    Malachi Berg, Topeka West

    Berg, a 6-2, 190 senior is starting his fourth season as Topeka West's starting quarterback. Berg received TSN All-Shawnee County Second 22 recognition and All-Centennial League honorable mention last season. Barg  has also helped Topeka West to back-to-back Class 5A state tournament berths in basketball.

    FawhpplXEAI4SC2Packson Bettis

    Packson Bettis, Washburn Rural

    Bettis, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior defensive end, was named the TSN All-Shawnee County defensive newcomer of the year last season and earned Second 22 all-county honors after helping lead the Junior Blues to an 8-2 record and a share of the Centennial League title. Bettis received All-Centennial League honorable mention.

    JachinBonuraJachin Bonura

    Jachin Bonura, Cair Paravel Latin

    Bonura, a senior wide receiver/returner/defensive back, helped lead Cair Paravel to a perfect 11-0 record and the Kansas Christian Athletic Association state title last fall. Bonura earned TopSports.news All-Shawnee County Second 22 recognition and KCAA first-team honors as a receiver and kick returner and a second-team spot as a defensive back.

    IanBrianIan Brian

    Ian Brian, Cair Paravel Latin

    A senior, Brian was a first-team KCAA selection as an offensive lineman and linebacker last season after helping lead Cair Paravel to a perfect 11-0 season and the KCAA state championship. Brian earned TSN All-Shawnee County honorable mention.

    BJ CanadyBJ Canady

    BJ Canady, Topeka High

    Canady, a 6-5, 240 junior, is a returning starter on both sides of the ball for Topeka High, which is coming off a 2-7 record last fall. Canady has seen action at tight end and quarterback on offense and defensive end on defense for the Trojans. Also a standout basketball player, Canady received All-Shawnee County and All-Centennial Leaue honorable mention in 2021.

  • TopSports.news' Best of the Best project hits high gear

    Rick Peterson

    By RICK PETERSON

    TopSports.news

    Nearly 29,000 reader votes have been received since TopSports.news kicked off its Best of the Best project in early July.

    Now it's time to honor Shawnee County's all-time greats in a series of lists over the month of August.

    More than 500 current and former county athletes received Best of the Best votes in 23 different sports/categories, including 44 men's bowlers, 36 baseball players, 34 women's bowlers and football players, 33 men's cross country runners, 31 women's soccer players and 30 men's tennis players.

    Eight sports compiled more than 1,200 reader votes, while four sports topped the 2,000-vote mark, two topped 4,000 votes and women's bowling led the way with more than 9,300 votes.

    Melvin DouglasMelvin Douglas

    Dajia AndersonnewDajia Anderson

    Chris BarnesChris Barnes

  • Shaffer-Dahl gets nod as Best of Best in loaded women's hoops field

    Rick Peterson

    By RICK PETERSON

    TopSports.news

    Narrowing down the list of women's basketball candidates for TopSports.news' Best of the Best list to 25 was a tough task.

    Picking a No. 1 out of a talent-heavy group of Shawnee County legends was even tougher.

    The TSN Top 25 list is jam full of high school stars and state champs, many who went on to earn All-America collegiate honors as well as recent multi-sport superstars like Carly Bachelor of Washburn Rural and NiJaree Canady of Topeka High, who ran away with the Readers Choice title despite still having a season of high schoolnbasketball remaining.

    With more than a handful of candidates that were legitimate contenders for the top spot, the Best of the Best nod, by the slighest of margins, goes to former Shawnee Heights and Washburn University legend Brenda Shaffer-Dahl.

    BrendaShaffer DahlBrenda Shaffer-Dahl

    Nadira HazimNadira Hazim 

    Shaffer-Dahl, a 1986 Heights graduate, led the T-Birds to an undefeated state championship as a senior and went on to set 24 Washburn basketball records from '86-'90. Shaffer-Dahl is Washburn’s all-time leading scorer (2,613 points) and all-time leading rebounder (1,106) and earned All-CSIC honors four seasons and was a two-time NAIA and Kodak/WBCA All-American.

    Shaffer-Dahl, a member of the Washburn and Topeka Shawnee County halls of fame, also set school records for most games played (126), best scoring average for a season (23.9, 1989-90) and a career (20.7), and most single-game rebounds (23), among others.

    Former Topeka West star Nadira Hazim, who scored 42 points in a Class 6A state tournament game, holds down the No. 2 spot, while Seaman and Washburn star Shelley Foster, Cair Paravel Latin and Kansas State product Peyton Williams and Washburn Rural and Notre Dame star Jeneka Joyce round out the top five in the TSN Top 25.

    NiJareeCanadyRuralNiJaree Canady

    As mentioned earlier, Canady, who will also be a strong candidate in softball and the multi-sport division, was a clearcut winner in Readers Choice voting, garnering more than 1,700 votes while former Seaman and Fort Hays State star Tatyana Legette also received strong support from readers.

    Shaffer-Dahl was third in reader voting while Williams and former Washburn Rural and WU standout Erika Lane tied for fourth.

    Here's a look at the Top 25 and Readers Choice Awards:

    TSN TOP 25 BEST OF THE BEST WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

  • Former Heights, WU star Mainz tops TSN women's soccer list

    Rick Peterson

     By RICK PETERSON

    TopSports.news

    Narrowing down candidates for the TopSports.news Shawnee County Best of the Best women's soccer list was a tough chore.

    Picking the Top 25 was even tougher, but in the end former Shawnee Heights and Washburn University star Jessica Mainz got the nod as No. 1 at the top of a a talent-heavy group of athletes.

    Mainz scored 97 goals and dished out 44 assists for Shawnee Heights, helping lead the T-Birds to a state team championship in 2004 and a runner-up finish in '05, before going on to become an All-American and a two-time MIAA player of the year while setting 14 career records and 15 single-season records.

    Jessica MainzJessica Mainz [Washburn Athletics]

    Also a basketball standout for WU, Mainz was the first Washburn soccer player to be inducted into the school's Hall of Fame.

    Another former T-Bird, Leea Murphy, sits No. 2 on the Top 25 after starring for Heights and helping North Carolina win the '03 NCAA national championship, while perennial city, Centennial League and Class 6A state power Washburn Rural earned the next five positions and earned 11 spots overall, led by No. 3 Kaira Houser, No. 4 Darby Hirsch and No. 5 Kelly Lemke.

    More than 4,200 votes were cast in Readers Choice Awards balloting, with two athletes receiving more than 1,400 votes and five receiving more than 100 votes.

    KellyLemkeKelly Lemke [Twitter]

    Lemke ended up No. 1 in the Readers Choice voting with nearly 1,900 votes while Washburn Rural alum Kate Schroeder was No. 2 and former Seaman standout Chelsea Hopkins third.

    Here's a look at the Top 25 and Readers Choice Awards:

    TSN TOP 25 BEST OF THE BEST WOMEN'S SOCCER PLAYERS

  • National champ, college stars highlight TSN volleyball candidates

    Rick Peterson

    By RICK PETERSON

    TopSports.news

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the coming weeks, TopSports.news will recognize hundreds of Shawnee County's all-time greats in 25 sports/categories as part of our Best of the Best project. Readers will have the opportunity to vote through July, with the Top 25 in all categories announced in August. To cast a vote for the Best of the Best, click on: https://linkto.run/p/4XB1UK5FEmail votes/nominations will also be accepted atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

                                                                                   -------------------------------------------------------

    Shawnee County has been a hotbed for outstanding women's volleyball, with county high schools combining for 24 state championships while a long list of local products have gone on to achieve success at the collegiate level.

    That makes picking the top player in county history a formidable task.

    Shawnee Heights products Jazz Sweet, Megan Cooney and Faith Rottinghaus teamed up to help lead the T-Birds to a Class 5A state championship before Sweet went on to help Nebraska win a NCAA national championship, Cooney made it to the NCAA Final Four for Illninos and Rottinghaus has earned All-MIAA honors for Division II power Washburn.

    Jazz SweetJazz Sweet [Huskers.com]

    Dani McHenryDani McHenry [Washburn Athletics]

    Kaylee MannsKaylee Manns [Iowa State Daily.com]

  • Women's basketball next up in TSN's Best of the Best project

    Rick Peterson

    By RICK PETERSON

    TopSports.news

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the coming weeks, TopSports.news will recognize hundreds of Shawnee County's all-time greats in 25 sports/categories as part of our Best of the Best project. Readers will have the opportunity to vote through July, with the Top 25 in all categories announced in August. To cast a vote for the Best of the Best, click on: https://linkto.run/p/7NXPFJZLEmail votes/nominations will also be accepted atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

                                                                                   -------------------------------------------------------

    There may not be a clearcut favorite when it comes down to picking the top women's basketball player in Shawnee County history.

    Or to lock at it another way, there's a whole bunch of favorites.

    The list of candidates includes former Kansas State stars like Nadira Hazim, Kristie Bahner and Peyton Williams as well as former Washburn University stalwarts Brenda Shaffer-Dahl, Shelley Foster, Nikki Olberding, Latisha Yarnell, Kelly Jennings, Lorie Roenbaugh, Jessica Mainz and Erika Lane.

    Jeneka Joyce was a NCAA national champion for Notre Dame, while Crystal Kemp was an All-Big 12 pick for the Jayhawks, Cierra Ceazer made her mark at Grambling and Indiana State and both Deana Alexander and the late Tisharria Huggins played at Wichita State.

     BrendaShaffer DahlBrenda Shaffer-Dahl

    TatyanaLegette1Tatyana Legette

  • TopSports to take on task of picking county's Best of the Best, with a lot of help from our friends

    Rick Peterson

    By RICK PETERSON

    TopSports.news

    Shawnee County athletes have long distinguished themselve in a multitude of sports at the high school, collegiate, high amateur and professional levels, with county high schools producing Super Bowl and World Series champs, national individual and team champions, Olympians, local and national Hall of Famers and even U.S. Open champs in a pair of sports.

    And while you're familiar with a lot of those local legends, there are others who have carved out impressive careers in their chosen sports that you aren't as familiar with, and some you've probably never head of.

    Over the next several weeks, we'll try to change that.

    Beginning this week and continuing through the summer, TopSports.news will attempt to honor hundreds of the county's all-time greats in some 25 sports/categories as part of our Best of the Best project, and we're counting on a lot of help from our readers to make that happen.

    We want to know who you rate as the best athletes in the history of the county and not just in marquee sports like football, basketball and baseball but in a plethora of other sports, including many that don't normally get the same attention.

    TopSports.news plans to publish Top 25 Best of the Best lists in all 22 male and female sports offered by the Kansas State High School Activities Association that Shawnee County High Schools participate in as well as an at-large list to cover sports like shooting, handball and any other sport that local athletes past and present have distinguished themselves in as well a list of the county's all-time multi-sport athletes.

    The project will conclude with TSN's list of the Top 100 Athletes in Shawnee County history (all sports combined).

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    Shawnee County Olympians Melvin Douglas (wrestling), Preston Carrington (track and field) and Margaret Murdock (shooting), former Major League Baseball stars Mike Torrez and Ken Berry, U.S. Open golf champion Gary Woodland, PBA Hall of Fame and U.S. Open champion  bowler Chris Barnes, Super Bowl participants like Tom Dinkel, Troy Wilson and Michael Wilhoite and Silver Lake and Kansas State basketball star Lon Kruger are likely to receive a lot of support from their fans as are national college champions like Lisa Carey (softball), Tom Meier (basketball) and Fred Slaughter (basketball) and Topeka West tennis great Sheri Norris

    But don't forget about the late Steve Tilford, one of the greatest cyclists in United States history, and athletes like boccia champ Austin Hanson, handball star Max Gaither or polo's Jack L. Bybee, Paralympian Dan Cnossen or multi-sport Cair Paravel Latin and K-State star Peyton Williams.

    Or... well, who knows? The possibilities are too numerous to mention, so you tell us.

    To cast a vote for the Best of the Best, simply visit TopSports.news and participate in our polls. Nominations/votes will also be accepted by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    You can vote as many times as you wish, with the only requirement that eligible candidates must have grown up in Shawnee County or attended one of the county's 10 high schools.

    Over the coming days/weeks we will post a poll for each of our categories and list some of the top candidates to pick from while also giving readers the option of writing in other names.

    Final selections will be based on reader vote as well as input from TopSports.news contributors and current and past local sports media professionals.   

    We will accept votes through July 31 before publishing our Best of the Best lists in August.

    So, who you got?

    FIRST UP: Baseball (ballot will be published on TopSports.news on July 6).

    Related Stories and Videos

  • Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards: Fall Male Nominees

    FALL SPORTS: OUTSTANDING MALE NOMINEES

    E4xlOZLX0AAvRYHEliseo Barreno

    ELISEO BARRENO | Highland Park

    PARENTS: Ruben and Yohanna Barreno

    SPORT: Soccer | GPA: 4.36

    Barreno was a standout player for Highland Park's boys soccer team while also establishing himself as a team leader. "Eliseo has always been a hard worker, both on and off the soccer field,'' Highland Park soccer coach Colin Moriarty said. "He is one who leads by example. He seeks excellence in all that he does. He always wanted to know how he was doing and what he could improve on. From a coach's perspective, you couldn't ask for more from a true student-athlete.'' Barreno, who plans to attend Wichita State University, also played tennis for the Scots and was a Class 5A state qualifier in doubles.

    EthanHensyelmugEthan Hensyel

    ETHAN HENSYEL | Washburn Rural

    PARENTS: Brian and Sherri Hensyel

    SPORT: Soccer | GPA: 4.31

    Hensyel scored 23 goals as a senior last fall (second most in Washburn Rural history) and led the Junior Blues with 12 assists, earning first-team All-City, All-Centennial League and All-State (Class 6A) honors and being named the Centennial League player of the year as Rural posted a fourth-place state finish. "Ethan made more improvements as a player from his freshman year to his senior year than any player I've ever coached,'' Rural coach Brian Hensyel said. "He was a good player, but no one expected the leap he made his senior year.'' Hensyel will play collegiate soccer at Baker University. 

    RobbieKeysSenior 054Robbie Keys

    ROBBIE KEYS | Cair Paravel Latin

    PARENTS: Robert and Bev Keys

    SPORT: Soccer | GPA: 3.98

    Keys was the leading scorer for Cair Paravel in the Lions' first season as a full Kansas State High School Activities Associaiton member, earning All-City honorable mention. "Robbie is the type of leader that every coach desires to have on their team and lead their team,'' Cair Paravel soccer coach Doug Woolery said. "He not only was one of the hardest working players, but also led by example both on and off the field. I felt comfortable playing him in any position, knowing he would give his best effort no matter what. Keys was voted team captain as a junior and senior. He will attend John Brown University.

    Mehrens JulienMehrens Julien

    JULIEN MEHRENS | Topeka West

    PARENTS: Andre and Allison Mehrens

    SPORT: Football | GPA: 3.29

    Mehrens was a standout wide receiver as a senior in West's abbreviated 2020 season, catching 18 passes for 190 yards and 3 touchdowns. "Julien has displayed the characteristics and work ethic that we strive for our student-athletes at Topeka West to show,'' Charger football coach Ryan Kelly said. "Julien is an incredible teammate, has a contagious personality and leads both vocally and by example. He is an excellent young man and a joy to be around.''  Mehrens was also a member of West's basketball team that finished second in the Class 5A state tournament. He will attend Washburn University.

    JeronPoteete2Jeron Poteete

    JERON POTEETE | Seaman

    PARENTS: NA

    SPORT: Soccer | GPA: NA

    Poteete turned in an outstanding senior season for the Vikings, earning All-City, All-Centennial League and All-Class 5A recognition. "Jeron has been a three-year starter for our program,'' Seaman coach Jacob Kirmer said. "He has been our leading scorer in his junior and senior seasons. He has an incredible gift of speed and intelligence. He is a leader by example and works relentlessly to play the best he can. He creates not only for himself, but for his teammates.'' 

    DesmondPurnellDesmond Purnell

    DESMOND PURNELL | Hayden

    PARENT: Etoi Purnell 

    SPORT: Football | GPA: 3.32

    Purnell was a four-year varsity letterman in football and also played basketball and baseball during his high school career. Purnell was a two-time All-City Top 11 selection and earned All-Class 3A honors as a senior while being named the Wildcats' Most Valuable Player and selected to play in the Kansas Shrine Bowl. "Desmond Purnell is a natural athlete with a team-oriented attitude that makes everyone around him better,'' Hayden football coach Bill Arnold said. "He's not only an outstanding athlete, but an even better person with a good heart.'' Purnell will play his college football at Kansas State.

    BoReevesmugBo Reeves

    BO REEVES | Rossville

    PARENTS: Todd and Karol Reeves

    SPORT: Football | GPA: 3.8

    A four-year starter who played wide receiver and defensive back and kicked, Reeves helped lead the Bulldawgs to the Class 2A state championship last fall. Reeves was an All-2A selection and was also picked to play in the Kansas Shrine Bowl. "Bo had a tremendous presence on the football field as Rossville claimed its fourth state championship in the last seven years,'' Rossville coach Derick Hammes said. "In the hallways of Rossville High School, Bo is known for being polite, outgoing and respected by his peers and staff.'' Also a standout baseball player, Reeves will play his college football at Central Missouri. 

    AddisonSiggAddison Sigg

    ADDISON SIGG | Topeka High

    PARENTS: Chad Sigg and Michelle Criqui

    SPORT: Cross country | GPA: 3.90

    Sigg was a Class 6A state qualifier his senior cross country season and was a two-time All-City selection. "Addison trained religiously through the summer and the cross country season,'' Topeka High cross country coach Ken Bennett said. "He made the new people on the team feel like they were included. Addison worked hard to be the best in practice and in the meets. (He) was consistent in maintaining the No. 1 spot on the guys team for four years.'' Sigg also played for Topeka High's baseball team and plans to play college baseball at Highland Community College.

    HunterWohlerHunter Wohler

    HUNTER WOHLER | Shawnee Heights

    PARENTS: Brian and Jami Wohler

    SPORT: Football | GPA: NA

    Wohler, a quarterback, was a first-team All-United Kansas Conference selection as a senior and finished his career with 2,875 passing yards and 19 touchdown passes and 1,322 rushing yards and 24 TDs. Wohler, who also played baseball for the T-Birds, finished his career in the top five at Shawnee Heights in seven rushing and passing categories. Wohler was a three-year starter at quarterback for the T-Birds and was named the city offensive newcomer of the year his sophomore season. Wohler plans to attend Northwestern College in Iowa, where he will play football and possibly double up in baseball.

    RobbieKeysaction

     AddisonSiggaction

     BoReevesaction

     

     

     

  • Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards: Spring Female Nominees

    SPRING SPORTS: OUTSTANDING FEMALE NOMINEES

    OliviaBrunomug2 2Olivia Bruno

    OLIVIA BRUNO | Washburn Rural

    PARENTS: Tom and Shawna Bruno

    SPORT: Softball | GPA: 3.8

    Bruno, who is headed to Kansas to play softball, was a three-time All-Centennial League and Class 6A All-State honoree and was named the Centennial League player of the year this spring. Bruno is tied for the No. 1 spot on Rural's all-time list with 25 home runs despite having her junior season canceled due to COVID-19 and is also tied for the No. 1 spot with a career batting average of .545. Bruno ranks No. 2 at Rural in career doubles and third in runs batted in. "She started for us as a freshman and played every game for us on the varsity field since,'' former Rural coach Tricia Vogel said. "She was a big part of our third and second-place finishes at state.''

    Alyssa Carlson Alyssa Carlson

    ALYSSA CARLSON | Cair Paravel Latin

    PARENTS: Mike and Connie Carlson

    SPORT: Soccer | GPA: 3.52

    A first-team All-Shawnee County selection, Carlson was a star defender for the Lions as Cair Paravel earned a Class 4A-1A regional championship in its first season as a full Kansas State High School Activites Association member. Carlson was a four-year starter for the Lions and plans to play collegiately at Emporia State. "(Alyssa) is a true leader both on and off the field,'' Cair Paravel soccer coach Doug Woolery said. "During the offseason Alyssa led a group of athletes in a strength and conditioning program to be better prepared for the season. She was stronger, faster and more physical than at any point in her career.''

  • Nominees set for 2021 TopSports.news' high school senior awards

    Rick Peterson

    By RICK PETERSON

    TopSports.news

    All 10 Shawnee County high schools have nominted multiple senior athletes for the 16th annual Topeka Shawnee County High School Sports Awards, which will be presented on June 30 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel's Maner Conference Center Sunflower Ballroom.

    TopSports.news, in conjunction with Envista Credit Union and A-1 Lock and Key, will present awards to top female and male athletes in the fall, winter and spring seasons, as well as overall female and male athletes of the year and the most inspirational female and male. A complete of nominees is listed below.

    ZoeCarylHRTopeka High's Zoe Caryl (right), who helped lead the Trojans to the Class 6A state softball title, is a nominee for the 2021 Topeka Shawnee County High School Sports Awards, which will be presented on June 30. [File photo/TSN]

    Alex ShereractionRossville's Alex Sherer, who captured the Class 3A-1A state singles tennis title, is a nominee for the 2021Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards. [File photo/TSN]