The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 16, 2014

Prep notebook: Titans' Watkins sets goals high

After taking third at state in each of the past two seasons, Columbus Titans wrestler Taylor Watkins is focused on bringing home the top prize as a junior.

“He’s set his sights on winning the state title this year,” Columbus coach Eric Napier said. “That’s the main goal.”

Watkins is off to a good start, opening the season with a 16-0 record. He is ranked No. 1 in the Class 4A 160-pound division by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association. Watkins competed at 138 pounds as a freshman and 152 pounds as a sophomore.

“He’s pretty much dominated so far this year,” Napier said. “He’s won all but two of his matches by either major decision or technical fall.”

His toughest challenge of the season thus far could come this weekend at the Basehor-Linwood tournament, which includes top-level competition from Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma and Iowa.

“It’s considered one of the best tournaments in the state,” Napier said.

As far as the state tournament, Watkins’ top competition may come from Goodland’s John Peden, who is ranked No. 2. Watkins edged Peden with a 1-0 decision at last year’s state tournament.

Sophomore Jace McDown is ranked No. 6 at 182 pounds. A state qualifier as a freshman, McDown is 14-1 this season. His only loss to No. 5 ranked Spencer Bird from Smoky Valley.

As a team, Columbus has struggled at duals because it is missing competitors at several of the lower weight classes. However, Napier said he has been pleased with individual success.

“We have seven guys with a record of .500 or better,” he said. “We’re wrestling well even though we haven’t won a lot of duals. We’re winning a lot of matches.”

Titans with a winning record include 113-pound freshman Ryder Mathes (8-7), 132-pound freshman Peyton Hale (7-5), 138-pound senior Ryan Thomas (7-5), 195-pound senior Bradley Vanhoose (11-4) and 220-pound sophomore Austin Napier (8-7).

Second half propels Frontenac

The Frontenac Raiders girls basketball team — ranked fifth in Class 4A Division II by the KBCA — outscored the Louisburg Wildcats 39-26 in the second half to earn a 63-52 victory on Tuesday night in Frontenac.

Frontenac (6-1) was led by Haley Wilson with 28 points. Wilson made four 3-pointers. Also scoring in double figures for the Raiders were Tabor Spurling and Bailey Flora with 10 points each.

Through seven games, Wilson leads Frontenac with 14.4 points per game. Flora is second with 10.6 points, while leading the team in rebounds with 7.6 per game. Senior Ryleigh McCartney averages 9.1 points and 7.0 rebounds.

Riverton, Fort Scott to play at PSU

After losing a couple of games on its schedule, the Riverton Rams have added a game against the Fort Scott Tigers on Jan. 28. To cut the travel distance in half, the teams have decided to play the game at Pittsburg State University’s John Lance Arena.

“It will be a good experience for the kids,” Riverton boys basketball coach Zach Martin said.

Riverton’s boys have opened the season with a 5-0 record.

It will be a girls and boys varsity doubleheader with the girls’ game starting at 6 p.m. The boys’ game will follow. Fort Scott’s girls are ranked No. 2 in Class 4A.

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