Jones, Angeles become Pittsburg’s first girls wrestling state qualifiers

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – Pittsburg’s Rebeccah Jones and Mercedes Angeles made history on Friday night, becoming Pittsburg’s first ever girls wrestling state qualifiers.

“I’m so proud of these girls,” says Pittsburg head wrestling coach LC Davis, “Rebeccah knocked off the 5th-ranked girl in the state in triple-overtime to qualify for state. I’m super proud of them both. They made history today. They’re one step closer to being Pittsburg’s first state medalists.”

Both Jones (115 lb) and Angeles (170 lb) went 2-2 Friday to finish 4th in their respective weight classes at sub-state.

They’ll now be the first two girls ever to represent Pittsburg at the state tournament.

“Girls wrestling is so new, and they all have a chance to make history,” Davis adds, “It’s been a selling point for me, and I’ve been trying to use that as motivation to get more girls out for wrestling. It paid off. We have two girls that just made history. Mercedes is our first regional champion, and her and Rebeccah are our first state qualifiers. It’s awesome that I could be a part of that.”


Joplin fisherman wins Strike King Co-Angler title in first appearance in Major League Fishing

JOPLIN, Mo. — Ever since Joplin’s Kelsey Ray could remember he’s had a fishing rod in hand. But fishing is just a snapshot of what Ray does best.

It’s his escape. It’s a place where the only thing he needs to worry about is being able to get the fish inside the boat.

“Every time you get bit, it’s like, ‘Get in the boat! Get in the boat!” Ray laughs.

“Getting that bite and reeling in that fish, there ain’t nothing like it,” Ray continued. “When I’m on that water, everything goes away. I’m like a free bird so to speak.”

Ray’s whole family has been surrounded by fishing. His cousin fishes on the pro side, and Ray thought why not give it a try himself. A three-day trip down to Brookeland, Tx., later and Ray won his first Major League Fishing event.

“I hate to say it’s beginner’s luck, but I don’t want to say that,” Ray said. “We put in a lot of practice, we put five days of practice in before the tournament and the game plan worked.”

A winning total of 14 bass weighing 36 pounds, 12 ounces earned Ray the Strike King Co-Angler title. From sun up to sun down, Ray says you’re just out there on the water finding what will earn a bite from the fish.

But it’s more to Ray than reeling in and catching fish, it’s the memories. The memories that create those snapshots.

“You’re always going to remember the fishing trip or what you caught, how big the fish, if you didn’t catch fish, you know it doesn’t matter,” Ray added on about what else makes fishing great.

It was a trip of a lifetime that has changed Ray’s life. It’s more than the prize money, or more than winning a brand new boat. It’s fulfilling something he’s dreamed of since he was a kid.

“It still amazes me every time I see that trophy, I’m like, ‘Goodness, that happened,'” Ray said. “I’ve waited all my life to win something like this, and it finally happened. It’s like a dream come true.”


Columbus girls wrestling sees rise in numbers, success in year two

The girls wrestling program at Columbus High School is still very new. In fact, girls wrestling teams across the entire state of Kansas are new. The Kansas State High School Activities Association sanctioned the sport, for girls, last year.

Columbus started with just four girls on the team in its first year. Now, it has doubled in size. Its athletes and coaches take recruiting efforts seriously.

“We try to be in contact with everyone around the school and advertise the sport on social media,” says first-year wrestler, Dixee Lacen. “We want to show girls what it’s actually about and that it’s not as scary as it looks.”

It’s important to them to dispel the misnomers of the sport.

“Girls just don’t know what this sport is about,” Lacen says. “They say it’s a “guy thing.”

The majority of  the team had never wrestled prior to high school and the sport’s sanctioning.

“They’re pretty green as far as knowledge,” says head coach, Marcus Bowman. “We don’t have any girls that started wrestling when they were 6 or 7 years old like some other schools do. We’re really starting from scratch and it’s good.”

The lack of experience hasn’t shown on the mat. This year, the Columbus girls won their district and were runners up at regionals. Five girls qualified to compete in sub state this weekend.

“They picked it up fast. They’re like sponges,” Bowman says. “Since they are new to the sport, they don’t have any bad habits. They’re very coachable and they have passion.”

The program has grown and achieved a lot and in a short amount of time.

“That just really shows a lot about our school, coaches and community,” Lacen says. “They’re all out there supporting us. We’re taking that support and going and getting results out of it.”

Second year wrestler, Addison Saporito agrees. “We’re all really hard workers and we’re all just really passionate about it and want to prove to people what we can do,” she says.

No matter how the season finishes, the girls say they have a lot to be proud of.

“I might not win sub state, I might not even make it state, but doing as well as I’ve done and encouraging the girls around me to do as well as they’ve done… that’s what keeps us going,” Lacen says.


Pitt State volleyball preps for first match in more than a year

PITTSBURG, Kan. – February is normally off-season training time for Pitt State volleyball.

“This would be the time of the year where we’re working on individually getting better, and then putting it together later in March,” says head coach Jen Gomez.

Instead, the Gorillas are preparing for their first match in more than a year.

“We are excited,” Gomez adds, “It’s kind of a new feeling again.”

“We’ve been anticipating this for so long,” says junior outside hitter Meg Auten, “We’re finally going to get to show people what we’ve been working so long on.”

Pitt State’s fall season was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Instead, they’ll play 14 matches this spring – beginning with two on Saturday.

“We’re going to play, and it might not be for a conference tournament or any of that, but it’s still worthwhile and it’s helping us get stronger and better every day,” Auten says.

“We’ll take whatever we can get,” Gomez adds, “It’s odd to get to play in February, but we don’t care. We’re ready play, and I’m ready to see somebody else.”

The Gorillas will use their spring schedule to compete, and see what they have heading into fall.

“There’s nothing wrong with getting some of these new kids and the young ones some experience,” Gomez says, “I want to kind of gauge where we’re at.”

Although it will be a quick turnaround to fall 2021 – it may be a blessing in disguise for PSU.

“It could just be the opportunity for us now to see what works, and then solidify that and keep working on it,” Gomez says, “Maybe it won’t hurt us. Maybe it will be great and we’ll move on. We’ll see.”

“It will be really good to get a cohesiveness going with the same people,” Auten says on the short turnaround, “We’re not going to be losing anyone. We’ll all be coming back next year, so we’ll be more comfortable playing with each other.”

Pitt State will host two matches on Saturday, playing Washburn at 10 AM and Northwest Missouri at 6:30 PM.


Former MSSU national champion Presley aims for shot at Olympics

JOPLIN, Mo. – Emily Presley is chasing her goal of making the US Olympic team.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do all my life,” Presley says.

“I have no doubt she will achieve what her goals are,” says Missouri Southern Track and Field head coach Bryan Schiding.

“You’ve just got to focus on yourself and focus on your abilities and just keep striving every day for that,” Presley adds.


Presley was a 3X pole vault national champion for Missouri Southern.

She will compete in her first nationally televised meet on the 21st in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

“It’s a big meet with a lot of competition. Probably one of the most competitive meets I’ve been in,” Presley says, I’m pretty young in the professional circuit, so it’s going to be exciting to get my feet in there.”

She hopes that competition is the next step in qualifying for the US Olympic trials this summer.

“Right now my goals are to jump 4-60 (meters) indoors. That will be a qualifying mark for Olympic trials,” Presley says, “I want to do that in the indoor season, and then focus the rest of the outdoor season on the Olympic trials, which are in June.”

“Her run form looks better, her posture looks better, her plant sequence has improved,” Schiding says of Presley, “With those improvements and her already great work ethic, I think she’ll achieve pretty high goals.”

While she is done at Missouri Southern, Presley knows where she came from – and knows the Lion family is behind her as she chases her dream.

“I talk to coach Schiding on almost a daily basis. I feel like our relationship is very strong,” Presley says, “It’s great to have those connections and be a part of Missouri Southern.”

“We check in very often. I love to learn what she’s doing. She’s always asking how the kids are doing here,” Schiding finishes, “I think just having that ability for her to have that assurance that we’re still here, everything is good to go, and if she ever needs to lean on us, we’re always here.”

Presley will compete in the American Track League event on Sunday, which will air on ESPN. She currently trains at Spire Institute and Academy in Ohio.


Gorillas and Lions prepare for rivalry rematch

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Pitt State and Missouri Southern are set to meet this weekend for the second time this season.

“We know what they want to do, but we don’t want to be too sure,” says Pitt State’s Antonio Givens II on seeing MSSU for a second time, “We’re still learning and checking them out, trusting coach A to bring the right game plan…and executing that.”

The Gorillas won the first matchup by 16 back in January against a Southern team missing two starters.

“They out-toughed us. They outplayed us in every aspect of it,” says Missouri Southern head coach Jeff Boschee, “Especially in the second half. I thought we competed in the first half, but the second half they were too much for us, too big.”

Missouri Southern has been on a roll the last few weeks.

“They’re playing real well right now,” Givens says of his rivals, “They got a little different swagger to them.”

After a 40-point loss to Washburn on January 14th, the Lions have won 7 of 10 to climb to 3rd place in the MIAA.

“That was our breaking point,” says Southern’s Cam Martin of the Washburn loss,” Since that game, we’ve been a whole new team. We all bought into what coach Boschee is trying to have us do, and we’re just a whole different basketball team.”

“We changed up the lineup. I thought our demeanor and our sense of urgency (since then) is where we’ve been trying to get it to the whole year,” Boschee says.

Southern is trying to even the score with PSU.

“Our fans and our community really want this win,” Martin adds.

The Lions know they’ll have to work for it, with the Gorillas hungry to sweep the season series from them for the first time since 2007.

“I think this year coach Anderson has done a great job getting them guys to buy into what he’s coaching and playing as a team,” Martin says of Pitt State, “They’re playing really good this year and they’re playing well (right now).”

“I want to be a winner. I want to win the MIAA,” Givens finishes, “I want to go to the national tournament. So it would mean everything to me to win.”

The two teams will square off in Joplin on Saturday. The women’s game begins at 1:30 PM, with the men’s game following at roughly 3:30 PM.


Chanute prepares to host 4A sub-state wrestling

WATCH: The Chanute Blue Comets prepare to host 4A sub-state this weekend. The Comets will host the tournament on Saturday.

Chanute is the defending 4A state champion, and is currently ranked #2 in the state in the KWCA 4A poll. The Blue Comets have 6 wrestlers individually ranked in the top-6 in their respective weight classes.


5-year-old girl wakes from coma after crash involving Chiefs coach Britt Reid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — The family of a 5-year-old girl left in a coma after a wreck involving Kansas City Chiefs coach Britt Reid says she’s now awake.

Tiffany Verhulst, who has been posting updates for the family shared the news Monday on 5-year-old Ariel Young’s GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $480,000.

Ariel was with her mother, who was helping a relative who had run out of gas, when the crash happened just after 9 p.m. Feb. 4 near Arrowhead Stadium. Ariel was critically injured while her 4-year-old cousin suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Reid is under investigation for suspicion of driving impaired. No formal charges have been filed.

While there are no names in the crash report, sister station WDAF obtained court documents last week that match the details of the crash and say that Britt Reid told officers he was driving the pickup truck involved in the incident, one noting that his eyes were bloodshot, and he had a moderate odor of alcohol. Britt Reid told the officer he had between two and three drinks and was on a prescription for Adderall.

The officer conducted an initial and full sobriety test and saw four clues of impairment. Officers requested and received a search warrant to draw Britt Reid’s blood.

The Chiefs confirmed last week that Britt Reid is no longer employed by the club. He had been placed on administrative leave through the duration of his contract, but that contract has expired.

Kansas City police say the investigation will take at least a month to finish. As part of that, blood test results to determine if Reid was driving impaired will take four to six weeks or more.


MSSU’s Atiba Bradley has long history with assistant coach Joe Bettasso

Atiba Bradley and Joe Bettasso are childhood friends and Joplin natives. They are also former college teammates. Now, they reunite on the same coaching staff at their alma mater, Missouri Southern.

Bettasso has spent the past three years with the Lions including a stint as interim head coach in 2018. Bradley was announced as head football coach earlier this week.