By Bailey Pennycuff/Co-Sports Editor

The Hutchinson Community College football team defended its first-ever No. 1 ranking in NJCAA history. Additionally, football coach Rion Rhoades won his 99th career game after beating Iowa Western 34-27 Oct. 7 in suburban Omaha.

The Blue Dragons are now 3-0, winning in Council Bluffs for the first time in series history. Iowa Western fell to 1-2.

HutchCC’s defense had 10 quarterback sacks. Sophomore Latrell Bankston, sophomore Oliver McDowell and freshman Anthony Greene had two sacks each. This is the first time Hutch has had 10 sacks in a game since 2015, when they had 11 sacks against Garden City.

Breaking seven tackles, Tiyon Evans opened the second half with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. This gave the Dragons a 27-13 lead.

Trey Coleman was Hutch’s leading rusher with 61 yards on 14 carries. Kendall Cross had 36 rushing yards on six carries. Mitchell Tinsley had a team-high five catches for 53 yards. Cortez Braham had three receptions for 48 yards and his first career touchdown.

Women’s soccer – Hutchinson defeated Barton 2-0 on Saturday at the Cougar Soccer Complex. The Blue Dragons have opened the Jayhawk West season with a key victory over reigning league champion Barton. Freshman Samantha Vaughn had a goal and an assist in the win.

Vaughn scored the first goal in the 12th minute when she dispossessed a Barton player near midfield, and sprinted down the field, beating Barton goal-keeper Itzel Diaz, and giving the Blue Dragons a 1-0 lead.

The Blue Dragons took a 2-0 lead just five minutes into the second half. Naomi Waithira played a long ball to the corner that was chased down by Vaughn. Vaughn, after drawing two Barton defenders, left a perfect cross for Eshther Karhayu, who beat Diaz with a shot to the lower left hand corner and doubled the Blue Dragons advantage.

Volleyball – The volleyball team battled the No. 1 team in the nation, but ultimately dropped its first Jayhawk West match of the season. The top-ranked Seward County Saints defeated Hutchinson 25-18, 25-15, and 25-20 at the Sports Arena.

Hutch and Seward were tied 11-all in the first set before the Saints pulled away. The Blue Dragons were only dominated in the second set as the Saints jumped out to a 9-2 lead and never looked back. The Blue Dragons had a 15-12 lead in the third set before the Saints rallied to complete the sweep.

Freshman Katelyn Elstun finished with a team high eight kills to go with a season high 14 digs and two aces served to lead the Blue Dragons. Freshman Camila Espejo had six kills and freshman Myracle Lettries finished with four kills.

Sophomore setter Eboni Sapien had 12 assists and also added eight digs. Freshman Lainey Robertson had eight assists, and freshman libero Alissa Bautista finished with a team high 15 digs. Yanliz Feliz and Djuly Schmorantz led Seward County with 12 kills each. Mesalina Severino had seven kills and four total blocks. The Blue Dragons are on the road Wednesday to take on the Pratt Beavers.

Men’s cross country – Andrew Kibet and Sylvestre Kibarar were competing in a high-speed duel with Cloud County Sept. 6 at Fun Valley, much like the same scenario from a year ago when Cloud County had a runner neck-and-neck with two Blue Dragons. In the final half, Kibet ran away from the field to open what became a national championship season for him.                                                                                                          On Sept. 6 at Fun Valley, the two Blue Dragon runners and Cloud County were yet again owning their other opponents in the four-mile course. Cloud County’s Dais Malebana ended up defeating Kibet and Kibarar to earn the first place position. Malebana’s individual title helped the Thunderbirds defeat Hutchinson for the 2019 team title. Cloud County had 23 points to Hutchinson’s 42.                                                  The Blue Dragons had three runners finish in the top nine, but the Cloud County runners who finished first, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh helped the Thunderbirds to the team championship.                                                                                                             Kibet finished with a second-place time of 19:56.2. Kibarar was third with a time of 20:27.5. Freshman Teagan Flanagan was ninth with a time of 21:43.7.

Women’s cross country – The HutchCC women’s cross country team had four place in the top 25 on Sept. 6 to lead the Blue Dragons to a third-place finish in the season-opening race.

Cowley College had three runners place in the top five as the Tigers ran away with the team title with 35 points. Butler Community College was second with 54 points and the Blue Dragons were third with 91.

Sophomore Sheila Too finished in sixth-place. The Blue Dragons’ 10,000-meter record holder ran a three-mile time of 19:56.8. All-American sophomore Gabby Collins finished 15th with a time of 20:52.3. Sophomore Christina Bruce was 23rd with a time of 21:49.3. Freshman Megan Miller was 24th with a time of 21:49.8.

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