Area Athlete of the Week: Emporia's Braxton Higgins
HIS PERFORMANCE: Higgins capped an undefeated season with his first Class 5-1A State Diving Championship on Saturday in Lenexa. After breaking the Spartans’ six- and 11-dive records held by two-time state champion Reed Slayden earlier this season, Higgins won his state title by a whopping 140-plus points, scoring 487.70. His total also would have won the 6A title by more than 40 points. COACH’S COMMENT: “One of the first things he did this year, he kept looking up at the board to see what Reed’s records were,” Emporia diving coach Barbara Clark said. “That was his goal. Almost every day, he was going over the difficulty list to see what dives he wanted to tackle. That’s pretty fun to see. His form is so good and he just has great body awareness. The first year was really enjoyable and there’s a lot he wants to do. The next two years will be exciting.” IAN BLAKE, SEABURY SWIMMING: Blake posted a pair of top-two finishes at the Class 5-1A State Swimming and Diving Championships in Lenexa on Saturday, including capturing his first state title. Blake left the field in the 100-yard backstroke in his wake, winning by nearly a full second in 52.28 seconds. He also took second in the 100 breaststroke to St. James Academy’s John Amrein, who broke his own state meet record to beat Blake by two-plus seconds. Blake was first-team All-State. CLARA EDWARDS, CLAY CENTER BASKETBALL: Edwards scored 27 points in the Tigers’ 52-19 win over Abilene as the Tigers continued their undefeated season, improving to 17-0. The Tigers clinched the North Central Kansas League title and are ranked No. 2 in Class 4A. MAHPIYA IRVING, ROYAL VALLEY BASKETBALL: After going over the 1,000-point milestone the previous week, Irving seemingly dropped that many 3-pointers on Hiawatha on Saturday in a 64-54 Panther win. Irving buried a school-record nine 3-pointers in the game, scoring 29 points. JACOB JUENEMAN, HANOVER: Jueneman scored a season-high 25 points to help the Hanover boys wrap up the Twin Valley League title with a 69-59 win over Troy on Friday. Jueneman hit 10 of 14 field goal attempts in the game and also had 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. He also had 12 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals in a Thursday win over Onaga. TREY MEDINA, LAWRENCE WRESTLING: Medina was named the co-outstanding wrestler at the Class 6A sub-state at Olathe North after winning the 145-pound title. Medina improved to 18-0 on the season, taking a 4-2 win in the finals over Olathe South’s Cash Thomas after pinning his first foe in 29 seconds and taking a 14-1 win in the semifinals. GRAYSON SONNTAG, TONGANOXIE WRESTLING: A returning state champion, Sonntag improved to 23-0 with a 13-1 major decision against Chanute’s Trey Dillow in the 126-pound finals at the Class 4A sub-state in Chanute. Sonntag faces a loaded bracket in his bid for another state title with four returning state champions at 126 pounds. BURK SPRINGER, WAMEGO BASKETBALL: Springer scored a career-high 27 points as Wamego outlasted Concordia 84-78 in six overtimes last Friday. Springer scored nine of his points in the overtime periods, hitting 5 of 8 free throws late to help seal the win. He finished the game with five assists and four steals and also scored 11 in a win Thursday over Chapman. KONNOR TANNAHILL, HOLTON WRESTLING: After suffering his first loss of the season in his Class 4A 195-pound regional final against Tonganoxie’s Branden Martin, Tannahill got a measure of payback in the sub-state finals at Chanute. Tannahill, who beat Martin in the district finals, improved to 27-1 with a tough 3-1 win against Martin in the sub-state finals. DEREK WALLIN, WABAUNSEE WRESTLING: Wallin scored the big upset of the Class 3-2-1A sub-state tournament at Marion, knocking off undefeated and No. 1 Brennan Lowe of Eureka, a 2019 state champion. Wallin took a 4-2 overtime win in the semifinals and then pinned Wellsville’s Wyatt Bird in 44 seconds in the finals to improve to 31-6 on the season. JOLIE ZIEGLER, COUNCIL GROVE WRESTLING: An undefeated state champion at 170 pounds a year ago as a freshman, Ziegler continued her pursuit for a second straight title with her toughest win yet. At the Girls Division II sub-state at Ellis, Ziegler knocked off unbeaten Ava Mull off Larned with a ride out in the ultimate tiebreaker tied 1-1. Ziegler improved to 11-1.