By Aubreigh Heck
Co-Sports Editor

Across Region 6 and the Jayhawk Conference, Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragon athletics are typically a force to be reckoned with. In the 2021-2022 school year, the Blue Dragons only proved that statement true, as they continued their success in the fall, winter and spring seasons.

Here’s a wrap-up of all Blue Dragon sports from the 2021-22 seasons.

Volleyball – The Blue Dragons finished their season with a 19-16 overall record, 7-9 in their conference.

“This season’s team was athletic, dynamic but very young,” said Blue Dragon coach Delice Downing. “Only two returning sophomores, one only played in the beginning of the season, so we lacked experience on the court. With that being said, we were very explosive and tenacious.”

Athletic director Josh Gooch said, “This was Coach Downing’s first year that wasn’t disrupted by COVID-19. I’m excited for the future of volleyball, and I know she’s excited about the recruits she has coming in. As far as this season goes, I thought they progressed as the season went on. The future definitely looks bright.”

Standout athlete: Andrea Serrano, a freshman setter from Arecibo, Puerto Rico, had a hitting percentage of .239. She also led her team with 7.23 assists per-set on average.

Football – After going 8-2 and winning the Region 6 title, the Blue Dragons awaited to see if they had earned a trip to the NJCAA championship playoffs. Instead of earning a bid, they were given a Salt City Bowl matchup against Hinds Community College to complete their fall season.

“We undoubtedly were a team that wanted the opportunity to defend our national title by making the four-team playoff, but ended just shy, finishing No. 5 in the last regular season poll, one spot out of the playoff field,” second-year coach Drew Dallas said. “Our team was able to stay hot, regardless of the let down, and finished off the season with a huge victory against a top 10 ranked school from the Mississippi league, Hinds College.”

STANDOUT ATHLETE: Sophomore running back from Pensacola, Fla., Anwar Lewis finished with 1,052 yards after playing in all 11 games for the Blue Dragons. Lewis averaged 95.6 yards a game, and led the team among non-quarterbacks with 11 touchdowns.

photo by Shelby Sprier

Men’s cross country – The Blue Dragons finished their season with no medalists at the NJCAA championship. However, coach Justin Riggs said, “We had some depth and injury issues in 2021.”

Gooch added, “Because of COVID-19 and travel restrictions, some of Coach Riggs’ athletes were unable to make it to the team this season.”

The Blue Dragons were only able to have four runners at the championship.

STANDOUT ATHLETE: Freshman Collin Oswalt from Hutchinson was able to place 35th out of 198 runners.

“Oswalt led the men’s team all year running the 13th fastest 8k time in school history (25:16),” Riggs said.

Women’s cross country: The Blue Dragons finished third this year in Region 6, and proceeded to finish 12th at the NJCAA championship after scoring 328 points.

“The women’s team competed at a high-level at each one of its events,” Gooch said.

STANDOUT ATHLETE: Sophomore Louise Cocking from Derbyshire, England,  dominated over opponents all season long, winning the Region 6 individual championship. She won the Jayhawk Conference Runner of the Week multiple times, and set many personal records.

Soccer – Soccer finished their season under coach Sammy Lane with a solid record of 8-6-1 overall, 7-5-1 in conference play. This was their 17th season in a row with a winning record. “Sammy always fields a super-competitive squad, this year being no different. I think his season being back-to-back from COVID-19 didn’t allow him to work with some players. Sammy is building this team for something really special,” Gooch said.

STANDOUT ATHLETE: Hadlie Lowe, a Wichita freshman forward, scored 18 goals and 39 points, leading the team in both categories. She tied the previous game-winning goals record in a single season for the Blue Dragons.

Men’s basketball – The Blue Dragons finished a successful season under first-year coach Tommy DeSalme when they lost in the second round of the NJCAA Basketball Championship Tournament. Their final record was 26-9 overall, and 17-7 in the conference.

“Coach DeSalme set the bar high for his program. We’re really looking forward to what a full year of recruiting can do for his teams in the future,” Gooch said.

STANDOUT ATHLETE: Sophomore guard from Brooklyn, N.Y. Angelo Stuart made a name for himself his first year at HutchCC, averaging a Jayhawk Conference best 21.5 points-per-game. He was named NJCAA third-team All-American.

Women’s basketball: After John Ontjes’ team won the Region 6 title, the Blue Dragons lost in the second round of the Women’s NJCAA Basketball Championship. With an overall record of 29-6 and conference record of 19-5, the Blue Dragons shared the regular season Jayhawk Conference title with Independence.
STANDOUT ATHLETE: Freshman guard Mya Williams of Waxahachie, Texas, made the most of her first year as a Blue Dragon. Williams led the Jayhawk Conference in points-per-game with 18.7, and was named NJCAA first-team All-American.

Spirit Squad – Coach Sami Bell led her cheerleaders to win Region 6 in their division in her first year.

“I can’t explain the value that the Spirit Squad brings to our games. Whether it’s outdoor events at football, or indoor with basketball, or just general public events where they are showcased, they bring so much positive recognition to our college,” Gooch said.

*Men’s track and field – The Blue Dragons are gearing up for the NJCAA 2022 National Outdoor Track and FIeld Championships that will take place May 18-20 at Gowans Stadium.

“I am excited for our student athletes to compete at home on such a big stage,” coach Robert Spies said.

The Blue Dragons have seven athletes qualified for the championship so far.

“Coach Spies continues to have four to five elite competitors on his teams,” Gooch said.

STANDOUT ATHLETE: Junction City sophomore Antonio Cooper has been named Jayhawk Conference Track and Field Athlete of the Week, and has qualified for the championships in shot put and discus earlier this season.

*Women’s track and field: The Blue Dragons have five qualifiers for the championship so far. Spies said, “I feel we are positioning ourselves really well going into our Regional Championship meet the first weekend of May.”

Gooch said, “This is another group that since the national track meet is held at our home venue, the excitement is high. They’re very excited about what that means to their program.”

STANDOUT ATHLETE: Louise Cocking moved on from a steller cross country season to again perform well for the track and field team. Earlier this season, Cocking earned third-team All-American honors after setting a school record in the 3,000 meters with a time of 10:25.89.

*Baseball: After a slow start, coach Ryan Schmidt’s team is starting to find its footing. Currently at a 30-21 record overall and a 16-12 conference record, the Blue Dragons have at least eight games left on the season as of April 22.

“Bottom line, our kids are fighting,” Schmidt said. “They have battled some adversity and I think we will be playing our best baseball when it matters the most and that is at the end when we start postseason play.”

STANDOUT ATHLETE: Sophomore infielder from Golden, Colo. Ben McLaughlin leads the team with a .396 average, and has hit 13 home runs. His 60 runs batted in also lead the team.

The Blue Dragons celebrate a walk-off win with Goat

*Softball – Head Coach Jaime Rose’s team has exceeded everyone’s expectations, with a 38-6 overall record and a 29-3 conference record. After splitting their first series of the season against Butler Community College, the Blue Dragons went onto win 13 games in a row. Their current No.15 NJCAA ranking is the highest it has been since 1989.

STANDOUT ATHLETE: Riley Wertz, a Wichita freshman pitcher, is batting .304 while pitching with a 0.74 ERA. She has hit five home runs this season, and has been named the Jayhawk Conference softball pitcher of the week two times this season.

*Golf – Coach Chris Young’s team looks to become back-to-back national champions after qualifying for the NJCAA National Championship for the 21st consecutive season.

The Blue Dragons have also won their third-consecutive Jayhawk Conference Championship. “The golf season has been successful to this point,” Young said. “Our returning All-American Ben Partridge and Harry Crockett have led the team to our third conference title and we are ready to compete in the national tournament.”

STANDOUT ATHLETE: Sophomore Ben Patridge from London repeated as the Jayhawk Conference Individual Champion for golf. He earned All-District and All-Region first-team honors

this season.

Sports that are currently in-season have a * by their name.

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