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Northwest Kansas scholars making their way to state

Nine other area high school teams in addition to Russell qualified for Saturday's state scholars bowl tournaments across the state. Locally, Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, Hays, will join Russell in 3A state action at Cimarron. The Class 3A state tourney will be at Cimarron, Class 2A at Brookville, Class 1A, Division I at Rosalia and Class 1A, Division II at Natoma.

Atwood-Rawlins Co.

Class: 1A, Division I

Coach: Brenda Henry (7th year)

Regional finish: 3rd at Stockton

State roster: Seniors Diahonia Olson, Billy Palmer, Bobby Reuther, Tyler Sattler and John Solko; sophomore Neal Portschy.

Team notes: This year's group of seniors were eighth-graders in junior high scholars bowl when the last Buffalo high school team finished in the top four at state (fourth in 2A in 2009). Their third-place effort at regionals was one of their top finishes of the season.

Brewster

Class: 1A, Division II

Coach: Kathy Banister (4th year)

Regional finish: 1st at Wilson

State roster: Seniors Will Allen, Ben Baird, Amber Barrie and Dan Brown; juniors Ashley Barrie and Justin Culwell.

Team notes: The Bulldogs qualified for state for the first time in a big way. After placing in the top four of five meets this season, they tied with two other teams (all with 3-2 records) in pool play at the Wilson regional, then went undefeated in the finals to claim their first tourney title of the season.

Bird City-Cheylin

Class: 1A, Division II

Coach: Kevin Dixson (5th year)

Regional finish: 3rd at Wilson

State roster: Senior Josh Keltz; sophomore Jacob Brubaker; freshmen ElsaCraig Burr, Ivan Kemp and Reece Leonard.

Team notes: The Cougars are back at state for the third time in four years after barely missing last year's season finale. Dixson said his young squad finished "dead last" at four meets this year but has come on down the stretch.

Grainfield/Wheatland-Grinnell

Class: 1A, Division II

Coach: Monica Countryman (2nd year)

Regional finish: 2nd at Wilson

State roster: Seniors Austin Lager, Nicole Reith, Paige Tuttle and Brett Zordel; juniors Heather Heier and Ester Todd.

Team notes: The Thunderhawks missed going to state a year ago by one spot, tying for third at regionals and losing out in a tiebreaker. They placed in the top three at five of their meets this season and look forward to state, where their pool will include perennial state power Rolla, which has placed in the top three at state the past five years, including state titles the past two years. That doesn't bother Countryman, a graduate of Baileyville-B&B and a former volleyball coach at Olpe, which both excelled in multiple sports at state.

Hoxie

Class: 1A, Division I

Coach: Jackie Campbell (7th year)

Regional finish: 2nd at Stockton

State roster: Senior Kyle Ewers, juniors Mitchel Johnson and Quenton Johnson; sophomore Lisa Stone; freshman Tabor Rucker.

Team notes: Saturday is one of the scheduled dates for the ACT test, as well as the school's midwinter Snowball Dance and activities, so some of the team members who competed at regionals won't be able to make the trip to state. However, Campbell has plenty of others waiting in the wings and is confident in the squad she is taking to state.

Oberlin-Decatur Community

Class: Class 2A

Coach: Marlene Moxter (20-plus years)

Regional finish: 2nd at Lincoln

State roster: Seniors Miki Dorshorst, Matthew Helm and Elizabeth Nedland; juniors Caleb Koerperich and Sierra Lohoefener; sophomore Garrett Scott.

Team notes: This marks the ninth trip to state, and third in the last four years, for the Red Devils. Moxter said her squad was disappointed in just missing out on state-medalist contention last when it finished fifth last year, losing out for fourth place on a tiebreaker. So this year's seniors would like to go out on a winning note.

Ransom-Western Plains

Class: 1A, Division II

Coach: Debbie Hagans (27th year)

Regional finish: 2nd at Rolla

State roster: Seniors Nephtaly Gomez and Katie Showalter; junior Chad Ryersee and Andrew Flax; sophomore Brady Mishler.

Team notes: After qualifying for state, but not placing, the past two years when they went 2-3 each year, Hagans said the Bobcats "want to take another step here." Western Plains will enter state competition with an impressive season resume, having finished first or second in all but eight of their nine meets this season.

Smith Center

Class: 2A

Coach: Donna Devlin (6th year)

Regional finish: 1st at Lincoln

State roster: Seniors Payton Buckmaster, Kelli Jones, Faith Karg and Alex Kirnie; juniors Robert Strine and Taylor Zabel.

Team notes: The school is so excited about the scholars bowl team making it to state for the first time that the team members are being sent off with a breakfast Saturday. In their best season ever, the Redmen finished in the top two of six meets, and was fourth at another, this year, and won league and regional titles. Smith Center will immediately get to see how it stacks up against the rest of the state as it is in the same pool as defending state champion Inman and Leavenworth-Immaculata, which has finished in the top four the past three years.

Stockton

Class: 1A, Division I

Coach: David Reed (2nd year)

Regional finish: 1st at Stockton

State roster: Seniors Koby Beougher and Delilah Griebel; juniors MaKayla Reed and Reed Stephens; sophomore Cayden Conyac; freshman Andrea Buss.

Team notes: When the scholars bowl coach left a couple of years ago, David Reed, father of then sophomore MaKayla Reed, volunteered to take over the program. A farmer and crop adjuster, David Reed said he gets a lot of help from Sue LeSage, a paraeducator in the Stockton school district. The Tigers have enjoyed a lot of success this year, winning four meets, including their own regional tournament last week with a 9-1 record.