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Grainfield, KS : Community News

Area players earn all-state tourney honors
October 30, 2012 - Hays Daily News

Wheatland-Grinnell High School senior setter Brooke Ostmeyer is one of the most decorated players in western Kansas. Her teammate, junior Paige Ramey, is known for her enthusiasm and all-around play.

For Weskan, 6-foot-1 junior Kelsey Hale is arguably the Coyotes' top offensive player. However, she had to overcome an ankle injury early in pool play Friday at the Class 1A, Division II state tournament at Gross Memorial Coliseum. Hale eventually returned and had a solid weekend.

Sophomore Robyn See delivered a huge match against LeRoy-Southern Coffey County when Hale went down.

For Hoxie, junior Kristina Farber also had an ankle injury in pool play and missed part of the match against Centralia. She returned, but the Indians were never the same. Sophomore Carly Heim is known for her all-around play.

The divergent storylines led to the same result for the quintet. They all earned honors on the Kansas Volleyball Association state tournament team. Wheatland-Grinnell finished third in Division II, while Weskan took fourth. Hoxie collected a fourth-place showing in Division I.

Ostmeyer, a four-year starter and two-time all-state setter, holds the school record for career assists and was the foundation for another strong season for the Thunderhawks.

"I love it," Ostmeyer said. "My mom was a really good setter, so I think I got it from her."

Ramey was strong throughout the tournament.

"She kind of picks the whole team up when they are down by playing the way she does," coach Allison Polifka said.

For Weskan, See had a solid state tournament, but was well-known for her play in the pool matches. The 5-foot-4 See continually collected kills against Southern Coffey County's 6-foot middle blocker as Weskan overcome its fifth injury to a starter this fall.

"She stepped up and it's crazy to think they are sophomores, but like I have been telling them, a lot of these girls want to play college volleyball," Welsh said. "This is a time here where a lot of recruits are here, a lot of people are watching, and this is when you can show that off. They just stepped up. Both of my sophomores did -- Robyn See and Shaelynn Compton."

Hale bounced back from the injury and returned to the floor. She wasn't 100 percent versus SCC, but still attacked and delivered several kills.

"She came back in and she was strong for all of us," See said. "She did a really good job. I am proud of all of them."

For Hoxie, the weekend marked a return to state under coach Shelly Hoyt, the longtime successful basketball coach who returned to volleyball after a hiatus this fall. Hoxie collected its fourth fourth-place finish since 2001. The Indians also took fourth in 2003, 2007 and 2010.

"It's pretty awesome," Farber said of Hoyt coming back. "She knows how to win, and she knows we know how to win, so we work really well together."

Heim was one of the team's top setters, attackers and serving throughout the season and tournament.

"At any point, anyone of them can get on a roll," Hoyt said. "It has a lot to do with how the other ones are going to help them keep the serve. At any given point, we have some pretty good servers that can get on a roll. Carly has probably been our most consistent."

Collins, Stewart earn honor for Hill City

After the best finish in 10 years under coach Alan Stein, the Hill City Ringnecks had two earn all-state tournament honors in Class 2A. The Ringnecks, who took third with a win against Jefferson County North in Emporia, were represtented by 5-foot-10 senior Darrien Collins and 5-1 senior libero Shelby Stewart.

Hill City finished its season with five losses after falling to eventual state champion Washington County in the semifinals.

Wheatland-Grinnell tops Weskan for third
October 28, 2012 - Hays Daily News

The Wheatland-Grinnell High School volleyball team had a few tears after it lost to Argonia in the Class 1A, Division II state tournament semifinals, 25-22, 25-21. Some emotions occurred again after a third-place victory against rival Weskan, 25-19, 25-22, on Saturday morning at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

The Thunderhawks wanted to play for a championship and the last match meant the end of the season -- and careers for two senior standouts, setter Brooke Ostmeyer and defensive specialist Brandi Goetz.

However, Wheatland-Grinnell also wore plenty of smiles. The program, with several new faces, reached the state tournament after falling short last year. The Thunderhawks still placed. Plus, they capped the fall with the victory versus rival Weskan, a team it had played multiple times this fall.

"It's hard in some ways, but it's happy in others," Goetz said. "It's nice to end our season with a win, even though it wasn't the one that we wanted. But overall, we met a lot of our goals, and it was a good end."

At the start of the season, many people questioned whether the Thunderhawks could play deep into October after graduating two-time all-state hitter Megan Heier. Wheatland-Grinnell finished 32-11.

"I knew we would," Ostmeyer said of reaching state. "This summer, when I saw how many girls there were in the weight room, and how much that they wanted it, I knew we would be here at the end of the year. I am very proud of all them."

It was the second state placing in three years after a runner-up finish in 2010 and a narrow sub-state loss to Weskan last year.

"More than anything, it's great to end the season on a win," coach Allison Polifka said. "We are in the top three teams in the state. I am extremely proud of the girls. I told them going into the third place match that before the season started, nobody thought that we would even be at state. All I heard is everything that we were losing, and did a great job of filling in, and they have just come so far."

Weskan, in its fifth straight trip to state, battled through injuries all year. It lost to Baileyville B&B in the semifinals 25-13, 25-15 before the defeat to the Thunderhawks. Weskan finished 28-15. Weskan coach Morgan Welsh believed she had more talent last year, but the Coyotes lost out in pool play. She graduated five seniors off the 2011 team.

"The girls are sad, but I kind of joked with them," Welsh said. "I said, 'I promise you, while we are eating, you guys will get on your cell phones and you will write on Facebook, 'We are so happy that we got fourth at state.' ' "

Baileyville-B&B defeated Argonia 25-18, 24-26, 25-18 to finish 40-5 and win its second straight state championship. In pool play Friday, Wheatland-Grinnell played the Falcons close after a tactical change and believed it could win a title Saturday. However, Argonia played nearly mistake-free volleyball in the semifinal. Wheatland-Grinnell led 6-0 in the first set, but Argonia tied the set at 10 and finished the set on a 5-3 run.

"They are really scrappy, and a lot of times, we wait for the other side to mess up," Ostmeyer said. "They had a pretty clean offense. A lot of times we wait for the other side to mess up, and they had a pretty clean offense. We really needed to clean it up in our back row. Just little mistakes."

The second set had six ties, the last coming at 15. However, the Thunderhawks never led after that. A 4-0 run with Argonia leading 20-19 effectively sealed the match. Goetz, the program's all-time leader in digs dating back to 1998, had tears in her eyes as she served out the final point.

"It was very tough," Goetz said. "I knew after we let the ball drop, I knew it was partly my fault. The back row is my main spot, and that should have been my ball. It was hard."

Wheatland-Grinnell's biggest league rival in volleyball is the Coyotes. After the first set win, the Thunderhawks never trailed again after 5-4 in the second set.

"It was great," Goetz said. "I don't think there is anybody that I would rather beat for the third place game. They have always been our competition."

Afterwards, the Thunderhawks posed for multiple photos. During one photo, Ostmeyer's dad, Terry, stood a few feet behind his smiling daughter. Terry, the school's athletic director, had tears running down his cheeks.

"He is a tough guy, but being the athletic director, he is proud and he has always loved watching me play volleyball," Ostmeyer said. "I am sure that it is a sad time for him that's it over now."

Thunderhawks 2-1 in pool play
October 28, 2012 - Hays Daily News

The Wheatland-Grinnell High School volleyball team has played together since the fourth and fifth grade. Many Thunderhawks on the close-knit group were key players on the state runner-up team from two seasons ago, including seniors Brooke Ostmeyer and Brandace Goetz.

All season, Wheatland-Grinnell has focused on returning to the state tournament and playing for a championship after a narrow loss in sub-state last fall.

"We have been looking forward to this all year," Ostmeyer, a four-year starter and two-time all-state setter, said.

On Friday, the Thunderhawks had a solid Day 1 at the Class 1A, Division II state tournament at Gross Memorial Coliseum. The No. 5 seed, Wheatland-Grinnell went 2-1 and finished second in its pool behind top seed and defending state champion Baileyville-B&B. The top two squads in each pool advanced to Saturday's semifinals.

The Thunderhawks defeated Ingalls 25-20, 23-25, 25-12, lost to B&B, 25-13, 25-22 and beat McPherson-Elyria Christian 25-13, 25-9. Serving was the lone problem for Wheatland-Grinnell (31-10).

"I think we were just not focused," junior Paige Ramey said. "I think the court has a big role, because you can't see the end line. In our gym, you can always see the end line, so it's really hard to place your serves."

However, Wheatland-Grinnell played much better against B&B after an early switch in tactics, a change that provided the team with confidence entering Saturday.

"It's our turn tomorrow," Ostmeyer said. "They got it today, we get it tomorrow."

The Falcons, paced by junior Laura Sudbeck and senior Haley Strathman, have a big front line. Early on, the Thunderhawks tried for powerful swings and consistently had their attempts blocked. Wheatland-Grinnell trailed 10-3 early in the first set.

Then, the Thunderhawks made some rotation changes and tried for more placement hits.

"We wouldn't go for the taller block," Ramey said. "We went for the shorter block."

"We had to outsmart them," Ostmeyer said.

In the second set, the Thunderhawks were tied at 21, but the Falcons went on a 4-1 run to close out the set.

"I think what cost us in the second set, we just made some really stupid plays, and the girls will all say that, too," coach Allison Polifka said. "It's normally very uncharacteristic of us to make those kinds of plays. Overcoming that I think would help, but they also got some confidence in that second set, that we can play with them and we can go right with them."

In the day's first match, Wheatland-Grinnell split its first two sets with Ingalls, making its first trip to state since 1978. In the third set, the Thunderhawks trailed 9-6, but finished on a 19-3 run.

"We always said, 'They get one serve,' " Ostmeyer said. "We always try to side out as soon as we can. If we mess up, we don't let it bother us."

Junior Tristan Rathgeber collected seven kills and Ramey had two kills late. Often, Ingalls had trouble blocking on the outside.

"All morning, she played really smart," Polifka said of Ramey. "A great player. She is seeing the court well, and not only that, but what she is providing in the back row. She does a great job of putting the ball down and making the adjustments that she needs to. But when she puts it down, it's her enthusiasm afterwards and kind of gets the whole team fired up."

In the last match, the Thunderhawks rolled out to a 7-2 lead in the first set and a 7-1 advantage in the second set and never trailed against No. 8 seed Elyria Christian.

The victory helped keep Wheatland-Grinnell from having to qualify based on a tiebreaker - and moved the program closer to a coveted first state title.

"Over the last several years, it seems like anytime that we get into a three-way tiebreaker, that we are the team on the outside looking in," Polifka said. "We knew we had to take care of business in that last match."

Thunderhawks chasing history
October 26, 2012 - Hays Daily News

Some of the toughest competition at the state volleyball tournament for two Gove County high schools during the 1980s were their opponents just 10 miles away from each other.

Twice, in 1984 and '85, Wheatland High School at Grainfield beat Grinnell -- just 10 miles to the west on Interstate 70 -- in the state championship match.

The very next year, Grinnell's Warriors returned the favor, beating Wheatland in the state semifinals, preventing the Shockers from winning a fourth straight state title.

The Shockers and Warriors don't have to worry about each other anymore.

Students from those two schools now all attend classes together, at the Wheatland building in Grainfield, and they still play some pretty good volleyball.

Now called the Thunderhawks, Wheatland-Grinnell came into Hays for the Class 1A Division II state tourney this morning with one goal in mind -- adding another state volleyball title to their long list that includes 15 championships in either Class 1A or 2A from 1974 through 1991.

Four girls on this year's Thunderhawk roster are daughters of former volleyball players who won state titles at either Wheatland or Grinnell.

One of those is senior Brooke Ostmeyer, whose mom, Stephanie (Bixenman) Ostmeyer, helped Grinnell win three state trophies, with a third-place finish her junior year in 1980 sandwiched between two state championships in '79 and '81.

Brooke Ostmeyer is the youngest girl in the family and helped the Thunderhawks finish second two years ago. A state championship would help one-up her older sister, Taylor, who was a sophomore on the 2007 Thunderhawk squad that finished second at state.

"We're absorbing every possible moment we can, because she's our last girl in volleyball," said Brooke's dad, Terry Ostmeyer.

Terry Ostmeyer is athletic director at Wheatland-Grinnell, so he still will follow Thunderhawk volleyball after this year, although his interests as a dad now will include football in the fall. The Ostmeyers' youngest child, Chandler, is a seventh-grader at Grinnell-Wheatland Junior High in Grinnell.

Also planning to be in the stands at GMC today was Peggy Moore, who coached Grinnell to four state titles and several other top-four finishes from 1979 through 1987 and now lives in Hays.

The banner year for Wheatland and Grinnell volleyball arguably was 1982, when Grinnell won the 1A state title and Wheatland was the 2A state champ.

"Those were some really fun years," Peggy Moore said. "There was a lot of great volleyball played in Gove County back then."

This year's assistant coach, Shannon (Baalman) Foster, grew up around tradition-rich volleyball in Gove County, but this will be her first trip to state other than as a fan. Her younger sister, Allison (Baalman) Polifka, is the team's head coach who helped coach the Thunderhawks to their state runner-up finish two years ago. Polifka also played on two top-four state teams, finishing third at Grinnell her junior year in 2001 and fourth her senior year.

The sisters' mom, Joyce (Lubbers) Baalman, was a junior on Grinnell's first state title team in 1976. Stacy (Ostmeyer) Tholen -- mother of current player, sophomore Tenille Tholen -- was a senior on that team.

* Other Wheatland-Grinnell players whose mothers won 1A state titles at either Wheatland or Grinnell are junior Tristan Rathgeber, whose mom, Christy (Wildeman) Rathgeber, was a member of one of Wheatland's state championship teams her senior year in 1989, and junior Hannah Gillespie, whose mom, Carlene (Huelsman) Gillespie, helped Grinnell win the 1A title her junior year in 1979, then finished second as a senior in '80.

Thunderhawks looking for state title
October 25, 2012 - Hays Daily News

Setter Brooke Ostmeyer and defensive specialist Brandi Goetz are the two seniors for the Wheatland-Grinnell High School volleyball team and have enjoyed well-decorated careers.

Coach Allison Polifka calls the duo "by far" the team leaders. Ostmeyer is a two-time all-state selection and has 741 assists this season and 1,932 career assists, easily the school record for Wheatland High School (records kept since 1996).

Goetz has recorded 851 career digs and recently broke the school mark. The seniors were part of the 2010 Thunderhawk team that finished as Class 1A, Division II state runner-up to Hutchinson-Central Christian. Last year, Wheatland-Grinnell narrowly lost in the sub-state championship match in volleyball and basketball.

This fall, the Thunderhawks have returned to the state tournament looking for a missing line on their resume: a state championship.

"I think maybe they are a lot hungrier," Polifka said of the veteran group that returns five players who saw significant action on the 2010 squad. "They are very focused. They have their goals, they have worked hard all offseason, so it's kind of a different attitude out of them. More of a 'We're not going to quit.' They don't give up as easily, I would say."

Wheatland-Grinnell has the No. 5 seed at 29-9 and is in Pool I with three other teams, including No. 1 seed and defending state champion Baileyville-B&B (35-5).

"They are pretty solid," Hoxie coach Shelly Hoyt, who has seen the Thunderhawks as both a coach and an official in the last several years, said. "They don't hurt themselves. That's a big key in volleyball. Don't hurt yourself. They are well-coached."

The Thunderhawks' first match is at 9:30 a.m. Friday at Gross Memorial Coliseum. Polifka considers B&B the favorite. No area team has won a volleyball crown since Weskan won Class 1A in 1996.

"Since they made it to state and made it to the championship game, just making it to the tournament this year I don't think is enough," Polifka said. "They are happy to be there, but I think they all feel like they still have more work to do. They know what it feels like to be in that championship game. They know what it feels like to lose."

Ostmeyer, a second-team all-state selection as a sophomore and an honorable mention pick as a junior, has led a team that has continued its success without Megan Heier. Heier, a two-time all-state hitter, is now playing at Hutchinson Community College.

"We are more balanced than we have ever been," Polifka, in her fourth season as head coach and fifth with the program, said. "The last two years, we have ran everything through Megan Heier."

Ostmeyer has set for the varsity all four years and runs a 5-1 offense this fall. At first, Ostmeyer didn't want to play setter as a freshman. But Polifka, knowing Ostmeyer has strong court sense and hands, talked her into running a 6-2 when she was a freshman.

"She was mentally tough enough," Polifka said. "To be a great setter, you have to have that mental toughness, and you have to have the smarts, knowing how to distribute the ball. ... Her decision-making is wonderful. You can watch, every team we play is always guessing where the ball is going, and she never goes into the same pattern."

Goetz was the libero in 2011 and plays more on the outside this year. The other four starters are: junior outside hitter Tristan Rathgeber, sophomore right side Tenille Tholen and juniors Hannah Gillespie and Paige Ramey play in the middle.

Rathgeber leads the team with 265 kills, and Ramey has 240. Polifka calls one of the team's greatest strengths its intelligence.

"(Brooke) runs the team," Polifka said. "She runs the offense. She does a great job of it. Brandi anchors our defense. After that, it's really great, because between all six of them that play, it just depends on the night. They take turns on carrying the team."

by Mike Corn
August 21, 2012 - Hays Daily News

GRAINFIELD -- There's been a steady stream of vehicles crossing a fresh pair of cattle guards northwest of Grainfield.

Interest in Apache Corp.'s new horizontal drilling rig certainly was enough to draw nearly 500 people to the Grainfield American Legion Hall -- nearly twice as many people actually living in Grainfield.

Apache started drilling the well Wednesday, its first venture into Kansas. The well is aiming at what's known as the Mississippi Lime formation, approximately 325 million years old and nearly 5,000 feet below ground.

It wasn't just the free meal drawing in Thursday's crowd.

There were questions, and Apache has been offering $300 an acre to Gove County farmers for the right to drill for oil on their land.

Already, Apache has leased nearly 600,000 acres of Kansas land, much of it in northern Gove County and southern Sheridan County. That's where virtually all of the landowners attending Thursday's barbecue came from, and they streamed in to hear what Apache had to say.

Some landowners have received lease checks, most apparently later than first agreed to, while others still are waiting.

Apache acknowledged the problem, as did its contractor, Transcontinental Leasing Co.

But the offers simply are too good to pass up, and in some cases are more than what farmers originally paid for the land.

A section of ground, 640 acres, for example, would fetch $192,000 for the landowner. Apache's drilling projects in the Gove-Sheridan county area, five of them already lined up, each cover a section of ground.

Apache representatives sought to allay fears about the project.

There were plenty of questions; however, several asked publicly and many more as the crowd streamed forward for the meal, allowing individuals to ask questions.

"We're blunt," said Luke Lawrence, Apache's drilling manager for new ventures. "We put it right out there."

But, he said, Apache also wants to be a good neighbor.

That means converting some of its vehicles to compressed natural gas, even its drilling rig to a liquid natural gas-diesel setup.

"It reduces emissions," he said.

They've also eliminated pits, other than a small one used for cuttings brought up by the drilling rig.

And the six horizontal wells that will be drilled all will be done on the same spot, a massive operation that includes trailers and equipment.

"It's a little more expensive," Lawrence said of using a single pad. "It's the right thing to do."

Apache's also using above ground water storage, rather than digging a pit.

"When we remove it, there's very little impact," he said of the tanks.

Lawrence said the Gove wells are exploratory, with a 10 percent to 20 percent success rate.

While there were questions -- and concerns -- about water use, Apache representatives said they've drilled four wells to get the water it needs.

It takes anywhere from 84,000 to 126,000 gallons of water to drill a well, said Jaime Ramirez, Apache's completions engineer.

The drilling and fracturing of rock far underground to withdraw the oil -- in horizontal extensions nearly a mile long -- could take as much as 1.9 million gallons.