Branson gets respect in the preseason Coaches Poll…

The preseason coaches poll has been released for Missouri High School Girls Basketball.  And, fresh off a State quarterfinal appearance, last year, the Branson Lady Pirates debut at #4.

Heres a look at the entire poll,by class, with the teams from SW Missouri in bold…

Class 1
1 Walnut Grove
2 South Iron
3 Wheatland
4 Southwest (Livingston County)
5 Norborne
6 Jefferson
7 Mound City
8 Leeton
9 Community
10 Madison

Class 2
1 Skyline
2 Oran
3 Neelyville
4 Thayer
5 Mid Buchanan
6 Clopton
7 Scotland County
8 Richland
9 Santa Fe
10 New Haven

Class 3
1 Strafford
2 Trenton
3 Whitfield
4 Principia
5 Monroe City
6 Lutheran North
7 Boonville
8 Hermann
9 Central (Park Hills)
10 Father Tolton

Class 4
1 Incarnate Word
2 Lincoln Prep
3 Parkway North
4 Dexter
5 St. Pius X (Kansas City)
6 Carl Junction
7 Lutheran South
8 Center
9 Osage
10 Chillicothe

Class 5
1 Kirkwood
2 Rock Bridge
3 Jefferson City
4 Branson
5 Washington
6 Lee’s Summit
7 Jackson
8 Lee’s Summit North
9 Republic
10 Webster Groves

Skyler Harris Baseball Days Will Continue…

Branson senior third baseman Skyler Harris still has a full season of high school baseball ahead of him.  The Pirate baseballer is well known for his grit and hustle.  And those attributes have paid off as, earlier today, he signed a National Letter of Intent to further his career at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, MO

The Vikings compete in the Heart of America Conference.

Branson Tri-Lakes News Sports Director Jim Connell and I, got a chance to talk to Harris on his big day… SkylerSigning (click link for interview with Skyler)

Harris and family
Coach Nimmo
making it official
no signing is complete without snacks..


Ross Heads to Elite NAIA Program…

Alexis Mitchell took over the reigns of the Hollister Volleyball program this year, and did so, with only one senior.  But, what a senior she got.

Raven Ross proved to be a special one.  She had 309 Kills on the season to lead the Lady Tigers.  But, she was far from a one season wonder.  She ended her Hollister career with 635 Kills, 98 Aces, 666 digs and 99 Solo Blocks.

On Thursday she signed a National Letter of Intent to further her volleyball and academic career at Park University near Kansas City.

Park is 29-3 this season and ranked #7 in the country and is currently awaiting the start of the National Championships.  They are a perennial top ten team.

RavenSigning (click link to hear interview with Raven)

Raven with parents and Coach Mitchell
Coach Mitchell talking about Raven’s accomplishments
Teammates celebrate he big day with her

Forsyth Tournament Bracket Released..

The Bracket for the 57th annual Forsyth Tournament has been released.  And features a number of area schools.

Reeds Spring and School of the Ozarks will tip off the event when they get together at 6:00 on Monday Nov 27th.  That game will be followed by Strafford vs Berryville, AR.

Tuesdays games will pit Blue Eye against Hollister at 6:00 while the host Panthers entertain Marshfield at 7:30.

Consolation games will take place at 6:00 and 7:30 on Thursday Night while the Semi-Finals will be played on Friday at the same times.

All eight teams will take the court on Saturday.  The seventh place game tips at 4:00 with the consolation finals, the third place game, and the Championship Game to follow.

57th Annual Forsyth Tourney Bracket


Final All-COC-Small Football Team Released

The final All-Conference team for the Small Central Ozarks Conference has been released.  Next year Reeds Spring, Hollister, Catholic, Rogersville, and Marshfield will move to the newly expanded Big 8.  Buffalo heads to a newly formed league, leaving only Bolivar without a league to call home.

A number of area athletes received honors…

As expected Reeds Spring got a lot of recognition after going undefeated in league play.   The entire offensive line receive a spot on the list…

Autin Bradfield, Asa Baker, Cole Crutcher, and Tight End Logen Plumb were named to the first team.  They were joined by record setting running back Kelly Newton.

Connor Wiest took a spot on the second team as did quarterback Blake Gronvold.  And, Justin Miller received Honorable Mention.

Defensively, Austin Bradfield got first team recognition for his play as a Defensive End.  He was joined on the top squad by Linebacker Ben Moler and Safety Seth Stamps.

Defensive Tackle Collin Cross was named to the second team.  OLB Devin Hackathorn joined him.  And, Cornerback Cole Nordin was on the team as well.

Kyle Modlin was named honorable mention for his play at the corner position as well.

Hollister got a little recognition as well.  Josh Neville was named 1st team outside linebacker…

Player of the year honors on defense went to Wolves linebacker Ben Moler.  While one the offensive side of the ball the coaches decided to split the award between Catholic quarterback Tyson Riley and Reeds Spring Running Back Kelly Newton.

It should be noted that the awards are voted on by conference coaches and that during the voting process you are not allowed to vote for your own players….


So Much More Than Wins and Awards….

by Dori Rapinchuk. CofO Sports Information Director


Just six months ago, College of the Ozarks cross country member Jeremy Wood (West Plains, Mo.) underwent surgery.  The surgery would not benefit him physically but was instead entered into with the goal of saving the life of his aunt, who was in desperate need of a liver transplant.

While it was a difficult decision to make, Wood’s character did not falter, nor did he hesitate to step up when he found out he was a match.  According to Jeremy, his coach, Clint Woods, was especially helpful in walking through the decision-making process with him.

Surgery for the donation was scheduled in Memphis to remove a portion of Wood’s liver during Wood’s spring break this past March, and the surgery was accomplished with great success.  Wood stated, “It helped to know my team was thinking about me and praying for me throughout the entire process.  They really are more like family to me—not just a team.”

The hard work for Jeremy began following the surgery.  He returned to finish out the semester at school, and his body slowly began to heal.  Wood noted that his professors at the college were very understanding and helpful in allowing him to make up missed work.  A bigger challenge for Wood was not being permitted to do any strenuous activity and being limited to lifting no more than 10 pounds for the first six weeks—difficult restrictions for an athlete who loves to run.

With steady determination and discipline, Wood began to work out in an effort to return to his prior level of health.  His goal was to be prepared for the fall season so he could compete in collegiate meets with his team.  Wood noted, “At the start of the season, I wasn’t anywhere close to the front of the pack like I was last season, and I fell behind on longer runs, but my teammates always encouraged me. Coach Woods helped me regain my confidence as the season went on.  He always believed in me and pushed me to not make excuses for myself.”

Jeremy, a junior, has run in all of his team’s races this season, steadily improving his time.  He closed out the season just 30 seconds behind his best posted time from 2016.  While he did not qualify to run in the national championship with three of his teammates, he will certainly be cheering them on from afar, and he hopes to qualify himself next season.

Looking back, Wood says, “It has been a great experience. My recovery has gone better than expected, and seeing my aunt active and energetic again makes the hard times well worth it.”

photo courtesy of C of O

My Take on the CofO vs NAIA Controversy….

I have been asked time and time again, over the past week, about my views on the stance the College of the Ozarks has taken and announcement that the NAIA Championships will no longer be held at the school.

While I will miss the incredible week the tournament brings, and will miss the opportunity to broadcast games for schools all over the nation, I am proud of the stance that my alma mater has taken.  In my view, Dr Davis has really not broken any new ground here.  Instead he has just enhanced the mission already promoted by the school.

Most people know about the five fold mission of the school emphasizing academic, Christian, vocational, cultural, and patriotic growth, and to provide society with productive, responsible citizens.  While patriotic growth might be listed last, it is no less important.

Between the flag controversy and the announcement of a new required class,  I have read comments like “forced patriotism is not patriotism at all”..  I have read comments complaining that Davis is being selfish and should be more aware of what this brings to the Community.

To those arguments I say that there is a big difference in “forced patriotism” and the education and history of proper flag etiquette.  Learning history and the right way to do things is part of proper education.

As far as what the tournament leaving will mean financially to the community,  I agree that the area will take a hit.  But I also believe that, if this is the stance that Dr Davis and the College believe they should take, they would be totally hypocritical to turn a blind eye just so the community can make a few extra dollars.  Lets not forget that if it were not for Dr Davis, Al Waller, and others at the College, the NAIA would never have even considered bringing the Championships here much less come and stay 18 years.

I realize that there are people that will disagree with my opinion of this.  I probably have friends that have different thoughts on the situation.  And that is fine.

I can’t help but wonder what I will do that week.  For 18 years those days were pretty well set for me.  Perhaps I will finally get to go call the games for the Women at the Championships, in Iowa.  Perhaps I will travel with the men to wherever the Championships are moved to.  One thing I know is that I wont be working for the NAIA network calling games here at Point Lookout.  While I will miss that without a doubt, I am fine with that,  I happily stand behind the schools decision.


District Title Eludes Wolves..

The wetness and fog gave a memorable background to Friday’s District Championship game between Reeds Spring and Mount Vernon.  But, in the end it was Mount Vernon that ended the night with the result that they want to remember.

The Mountaineers won their third consecutive playoff game on the road, defeating the Wolves 30-28 and advancing to the State Playoffs.

Reeds Spring showed the ability to move the ball but all to often they would shoot themselves in the foot.  Costly turnovers and drive stopping penalties were hard to over come.

The Wolves defense actually accounted for the first score.  Dakota Romesburg picked off a Ty Boswell pass and turned it into a touchdown.  The Mountaineers would answer a short time later with a Sammy Robinson run

Each team would score a special teams touchdown as well.  Mount Vernon got a score on a blocked punt and the Wolves got a kickoff return for a TD from Davaughn Irvin.

Reeds Spring did not give up, trailing by 9 with time running out they march the length of the field and let Kelly Newton finish it for the 21st time this season.  That brought them back to within two.

An onside kick was unsuccessful and Mount Vernon was able to run the clock out.

Newton topped the 200 yard mark again and went over 1900 for the season.

Reeds Spring saw another successful season come to an end.  18 Senors say goodbye to the Wolves program.  They set a number of records and put their mark on the program.

Steele Headed to Hutchinson, Kansas

Jenner Steele made it official Friday morning, signing a National Letter of Intent, to take his athletic talents and further his education at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas.

The All-State Catcher hit .453  and drove in 27 runs, last year for Hollister and is looking forward to big senior year.

“We are really excited to add Jenner to our signing class.” said Blue Dragons head coach Ryan Schmidt  “He brings a presence to the middle of our line up.  He is a kid with some juice in the bat but we are also impressed with how good of a pure hitter he is”

Hutchinson is one of the top programs in Jr College Baseball.  A year ago they were ranked as high as #3 in the nation and finished with a ranked of #12.  They were 47-13.

JennerSteele  (click link to hear interview with Jenner)

Steele with his Hollister teammates