2020 Fall Sports Recap

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The varsity volleyball team celebrates after a successful match.

Ann Pomeroy, Newtonian Editor-in-Chief

The NHS fall sports teams have excelled this season despite many unprecedented challenges. With no certainty that they would have the opportunity to compete, many athletes participated in summer sports practices and training in order to strengthen their various skills. They worked hard and pushed through adversity all preseason and season long in order to compete to the best of their ability. Their dedication and determination was evident by the overall results of the teams as many excelled both on and off the field.

Masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing became the norm. Coaches were forced to adapt and change the way they conducted practices. Various teams were prevented from practicing due to facing athlete quarantines as were some games postponed and even cancelled. Many were fearful that their seasons would be taken away in the blink of an eye. Building team culture and cohesiveness became one of the biggest challenges. Overall the 2020 season proved very memorable for our fall athletes, not only because of COVID-19 but also because of all their hard work and success. 

Cross Country

The team started the season off strong placing third in the varsity boy’s 5,000 meter race and second in the junior varsity boy’s 5,000 meter race at the Hays Invitational on Sept. 17. Following that, the junior varsity boys team placed first at the Newton Invitational hosted at Centennial park on Oct. 3. The junior varsity boys team continued their streak and placed second at the El Dorado Invitational on Oct. 10. 

Newton had the honor of hosting the AVCTL XC Championship this year at Centennial Park on Oct. 17 in which all NHS teams did very well. Varsity boys placed fifth, varsity girls placed sixth and junior varsity boys placed fourth. The varsity teams competed at the Class 5A Regionals hosted in Great Bend on Oct. 24 where the boys team placed fourth and the girls placed sixth. The team ended the season by wishing senior Luke Schmidt good luck as he competed in the KSHSAA Class 5A/6A State Competition on Oct. 31. Schmidt placed 35 out of approximately 100 participants.

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“My favorite race was probably the Newton Invitational because it reminded me of seventh grade how we would all line up at the start,” senior Elijah Edwards said. “This season was very different because we couldn’t do as many team socials as we used to due to COVID also because we were always on edge about the season and canceled meets. I just want to say that through all four years of participating in a fall sport we haven’t had this much improvement on the course as well as off the course. It’s been great team!”

 

Football

The 2020 Newton football teams may have faced one of the most challenging seasons of all the teams due to pandemic restrictions. The team’s spectors were limited, reducing the numbers cheering them on in the student section and the cordial handshake following the game was changed to a helmet raise. Athletes were also asked to wear facial coverings when not engaged in physical activity. Despite these limitations, the Railer football teams produced exciting and competitive football that did not always show up in the win column but clearly shows that we are heading in the right direction. 

The varsity team began the season in four very close, approximately 10-point losses to Andover Central (41-31), Derby (43-31), Maize (34-27), and Hutch (54-42). The team then faced two 20-point losses to Maize South (30-10) and Goddard (37-17). Next the team faced Salina South for a one point victory (42-41). Following was a 27 point victory against Haysville Campus (42-15). The team concluded their season with a very competitive and close game to Newton’s rival of Hutch, ultimately losing 46-41.

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“One thing I learned this season that I will never forget is that whenever you give 100% for your family you will never be disappointed,” senior Aiden Kendall said. “My favorite memory from this season was when Jonah Remsberg got his pick six against Derby because that was such a momentum shift for our team and it was one of the best defensive plays I saw all year. This season we had a team that worked together better than any other group I have played with. Us seniors really came together this year to play a great season of football.”

 

Girls Golf

The girls golf team, although mainly an individualized sport, was led this season by four returning seniors, Mallory Seirer, Alondra Valle, Anna Harder and Alyssa Lujano. The team hosted two home tournaments this season, the Newton Invitational at Hesston Golf Course on Sept. 15 and the AVCTL Championship on Oct. 6.

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The team began the season strong with a fourth place finish at the Derby Invitational on Aug. 31, a sixth place finish at the Lady Stang Invitational hosted by Salina Central on Sept. 8 and a fifth place finish at the Winfield Invitational on Sept. 10. Some may say the team had a home course advantage placing second at the Newton Invitational on Sept. 15. Next, the team had an eighth place finish at the Salina South Invite on Sept. 21. The team concluded the season by wishing senior Mallory Seirer good luck as she competed at KHSHAA State girls golf on Oct. 19-20 in Salina. Seirer finished 32 of approximately 65 participants.

“This season I learned how important teamwork is. Although golf is an individual sport, it takes a lot of teamwork and in the end it’s all about fun and making new friends, all while playing the sport we all love,” senior Anna Harder said. “My favorite meet I played in this year would be the Invitational at Hesston Golf Course, this was probably one of my best meets I’ve played in, I ended up getting first place and one of the best scores I’ve got. We [were] all so thankful that we got to have a season. This ended up being one of my favorite seasons, with some really great senior leaders.”

 

Gymnastics

The NHS Gymnastics team had eight participants for the 2020 season, freshmen Violet Bartley and Berkley Roberson, sophomores Elisa Fernandez and Janessa Sutton, junior Georgia Garcia, seniors Toria Thaw and Elise Jantz and foreign exchange student Cecilia Merlini. The team is led by coaches JoAnne Thaw and Keely Boston.

Photo by Ann Pomeroy

The team competed six times throughout the season. With a score of 96 they defeated Emporia in their first meet of the season at home on Sept. 8. Next the team placed third at both Indian Creek Competitions on Sept. 23 and Sept. 29. The team then defeated Emporia again at their home dual on Oct. 3 and then placed second out of four teams at Emporia on Oct. 13. The team ended their season by hosting the Class 5A State competition on Nov. 7, in which the team placed seventh.

“Gymnastics has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember with me beginning formal training at 18 months, but with my grandma owning a gymnastics center I’ve basically been around it since I was born,” senior Toria Thaw said. “I look forward to seeing everyone’s final routines not just from our school, but also the others. Since gymnastics is a pretty small sport in comparison to the other sports, you get to know more of the gymnasts from other schools and have developed a closer relationship with them than I have with any other activities I’ve done and I’m excited to see how they do as well.”

 

Girls Tennis

The varsity girls tennis team started the season off strong placing first in the Salina Singles competition on Aug. 27. The team then played at the McPherson Invitational and placed seventh. The team continued the season participating in various invitationals across South-Central Kansas including the Andover Invitational on Sept. 17 (fourteenth), Wichita Collegiate Invitational on Sept. 22 (sixth) and the Winfield Invitational on Sept. 24 (eighth). 

The team wrapped up the season with the AVCTL competition on Oct. 5 in which the team placed fifth and the Regional championship on Oct. 10 in which the team placed sixth. The team ultimately did not qualify for State championship rounds and Bishop Carroll took home first place this year.

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“My favorite meet of the season would have to be the first one, it was at Salina South and we placed first as a team and I placed first in my pool. This was the first time the girls had placed first as a team in awhile and I was proud of all of us,” senior Shelby Spreier said. “Something I learned this season that I’ll never forget is that you’re never alone, being a senior was hard. At my last couple of meets I started to think about how it was my last few and I got really sad during the meets, my teammates and coaches were always there to cheer me back up and I wouldn’t have been able to finish this season with a smile without them.”

 

Volleyball

What a season for NHS varsity volleyball! The team was led by seniors Makaylee Ybarra, Taylor Hill, Lindsey Antonowich, Asha Regier and Marah Zenner. The team began the season strong going 3-1 at the preseason Newton Invitational on Aug. 29. They continued their winning streak up until Oct. 6 at the Salina South Triangular where they fell to both Derby and Salina South. 

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Luckily this was the only setback for the Railers and they bounced right back the following Saturday defeating Liberal, Arkansas City and Maize South at the Derby Invitational. The team progressed to Sub State where they defeated both Andover and Andover Central to win the Sub State Championship. The team advanced to State Qualifiers where they were defeated 0-3 by Bishop Carroll.

“My favorite memory from this season was beating Maize South at the Derby tournament because it was our first time playing after losing two of our varsity players due to quarantine and injury and it was a huge turning point for our team and the season as a whole,” senior Asha Regier said. “This season I learned how important friendship and being a team player is. Despite all our setbacks this season, we ended up doing better than I think most people expected us to because of our closeness as a team and ability to adapt and not let those minor setbacks keep us from moving forward and improving.”

 

Boys Soccer

The NHS varsity boys soccer team led a great season. They entered the post season with a standing of 10-6. This is an improvement from their record of 4-11-2 from the 2019 season. The team versed the Emporia Spartans in the first game of Class 5A regionals. The team was victorious (3-2) and advanced to play the Regional Championship hosted at home on Halloween night. Ultimately the team lost with a game ending score of 1-2 and this concluded their 2020 season.

The team congratulates five of their very own Newton High School Railroader soccer players in earning AVCTL Division One Honors. First Team Defender Alex Sanchez, Second Team Forward Santiago Fernandez, Second Team Midfielder Collin Hershberger, Second Team Goalkeeper Selvin Abrego and Honorable Mention Defender Carson Ebert.

Photo by Jamilid Romero

“I have been a part of the NHS soccer program all four years of high school,” senior Santiago Fernandez said. “This year I would definitely have to say was the best yet. My freshman year was one to remember but this year was something different. Chemistry was most definitely one of our greatest strengths when it comes to this team. When everyone’s mindset was on we were unstoppable.”

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