Local athletes hone talents at Sunflower State Games
For 15-year-old Wyatt Coffin this was his first, but will not be his last year to participate in the Sunflower State Games.
The Tonganoxie High wrestler decided to attend the games last month in Topeka after THS coach Jeremy Goebel encouraged his wrestlers to attend the event because it would be a good experience.
Coffin started wrestling in the first grade and has enjoyed it ever since. He participated in the Tonganoxie Predators wrestling club and last year was a freshman on the Chieftain squad.
Coffin said he didn't do as well as he would have liked to at the Sunflower State Games, but said it was a good experience. With only one other wrestler from the surrounding area in his bracket, the games presented a lot of tough competition from different regions of the state. Coffin finished the tournament at 0-2.
"It was just something that showed me that I have to work harder," Coffin said.
In the future, Coffin hopes to again compete in the Sunflower State Games, but he hopes to attain a better record at the summer event. And, of course, Coffin said he wants to eventually compete in the Class 4A state high school tournament.
Tae kwon do
The students of the Rex Hutton's Tonganoxie tae kwon do academy also participated in the Sunflower State Games
Once again, the local academy dominated the field.
Coming home from the state games with 16 state champions, the group was eligible to participate in the America Games.
The team arrived in Colorado Springs, Colo., for the America Games with 11 participants, the biggest group to participate in the martial arts competition. Three days of competition took place at the Air Force Academy.
Colten Weaver, an 8-year-old black belt, received a gold not only at the Sunflower State Games, but took a gold in both sparing and forms at the America games. Colten competes in about 10 tournaments each year and still is undefeated.
Other gold winners for the America Games included 8-year-old Derek Rose, 11-year-old Amanda Laffler, and in the 35-and-older division, Stacey Schian also received a gold.
The team also arrived home with two silver medals, awarded to 10-year old Joe Beach and 33-year-old Kurtis Campbell.
The other students who attended the America Games also fought very well and aggressively, Hutton said. Because of the different rules at the America Games, though, many of the students were penalized for being too aggressive and using too much kicking.
To attend the event in Colorado, the tae kwon do students held fund-raisers and had the help from local businesses.
Grand Master Hutton said he was very proud of all of his students and looks forward to possibly having his students participate in the international games.
"In the last five years, 85 percent of my students have been tournament winners," Hutton said. "The America Games were a big deal and though not all of my students came home with medals they all dominated the matches they fought in."
Although Kenneth Lott is new to the Tonganoxie High soccer program, he's no stranger to the Sunflower State Games. Last month's event marked Lott's fifth year of participating in the Sunflower State Games. This fall, he'll begin his first year as the Chieftains' soccer coach.
After starting an adult soccer league in Leavenworth, Lott has attended the state games on a regular basis.
This year his team participated in 30-and-older competition and won second place in its pool. The team played three games during a two-day period and won two of those games.
Though Lott enjoys playing soccer in the state games, he is unsure if he will do it again next year. He hopes to take a high school team up to give his new players more experience.
"I think participating in the Sunflower State Games would help the team," Lott said. "It would help them get a view of some of the other teams and the other ways that different high schools play."