Speaking of Sports: Make it 'Golf City'; Lady Cougars continue dominance; RMS football in playoffs
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

In the mid-70's I wrote a couple of publications about the history of local sports. I called the one about the first four decades of football at Russellville High School "Football City." The basketball version, which included all six high schools from 1932-75, was entitled "Basketball County."
A few years ago when the Panthers had cemented their basketball dominance by reaching two straight state Final Fours and the Cougars had won four straight football Clashes, I thought I had the titles backwards.
Now, however, you can make a case for calling Russellville "Golf City."
Russellville High's golf excellence began when Buddy Linton built the program in the 1960s, culminating in the 1970 state championship. By then the late Ron Beckham had taken over coaching duties for Linton, who had become an administrator. 
Starters on that state titlist team were Gerry Switzer, Steward Wheeler, Hal Freeman and Tommy Threlkeld.
RHS teams were competitive throughout the seventies with guys like Freeman, Wheeler, Tommy Riley, Randy Wilkins and Phillip Hatchett leading the way.
Some super players have come along over the years, including Wheeler's sons Brian and Hamilton along with Dustin Siletchnik.
The girls teams were competitive from their beginning under Coach Melanie Baker, who is one of the travelers featured and pictures in the Alaska tour story written by Marguerite Kirkpatrick. 
You can read "The Last Tourists in Talkeetna" under Guest Writers on  The LoJo.
Names that come to mind among the top Lady Panthers include Angie Anderson, Mary Wis and Page Estes, Allison and Rebecca Hartley, Tiffany Cowan and April Steenbergen.
All of that was impressive, but what has happened the last six years is mind-boggling for a school the size of RHS.
It began in 2004 when senior Victoria Sansom finished fourth in the state as an individual. Freshman Nikki Koller also qualified for that state tournament.
The following year, the Lady Panthers were regional runner-up and placed tenth as a team at state. Koller placed 15th overall. Other team members were Owen Townsend, Priscilla Page, Amanda Brown and Kimberly Baugh.
Then in 2006, the Russellville girls won the team's first-ever regional championship with those same five players. They placed eighth at state. Koller won the first of her two state individual championships, a feat none of the Panther boys have ever accomplished even once.
For the fourth straight year, the Lady Panthers qualified for state in 2007, this time as regional runner-up. They placed eighth at state again. The team also was state Class A runner-up, losing by a single stroke to Villa Madonna. Koller was overall state champion again. Team members were state medalist Koller along with Townsend, Page, Baugh and Jessica Stuart.
Koller went on to play for the University of Arizona, a perennial national powerhouse. Sansom was finishing her career on the Western Kentucky University golf team, becoming the first Lady Topper to hit a hole-in-one in tournament play. She was also named the top female academic athlete at WKU.
In 2008, not enough girls played to field a team, but Townsend and Page qualified to play in their fourth straight state tournaments; fittingly they tied for 16th overall. Before that, Townsend was both All A state champion and regional medalist. They both could have played college golf but elected not to do so.
The RHS boys were All A regional champs in 2006 and again this year. Team members were Paul Sansom, Oliver Townsend, Daniel Pardue, Dylan Allen and Clay Morris in '06. This year Sansom and Townsend are still around and were joined by Davis Pardue, Caleb Wills and John David Reeves. This team finished as state Class A runner-up.
Even more impressively, they won back-to-back regional titles in '08 and '09 for the first since 1976. They placed 10th in the KHSAA state as a team.
Paul Neal Sansom  finished third overall at state as an individual this month, after leading the field following suspended play on opening day. A front-runner for RHS valedictorian this year, Sansom also has earned a significant honor as one of a dozen golfers in the nation named HP Scholastic All American by the American Junior Golf Association.
Throughout all of this the past six years, Dennis Pardue has been the coach of both teams. When he was hired to come back to the Russellville School System (he had been very successful as the RMS boys basketball coach before going to Todd Central), he was called the "new boys basketball coach." Yet his greatest successes have come in golf. Not only have his teams won impressive championships, but his sons have gotten to be a part of those teams.
Credit also goes to former Panther great Phillip Hatchett, a highly successful player on the international professional circuit who has been even more successful as a teaching pro. Most of these Panther stars owe a large measure of their success to the tutelage of Hatchett.
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When the Logan County Lady Cougars won the 13th District Volleyball Tournament at Franklin-Simpson Tuesday, a remarkable streak remained in tack. Or maybe it should be "in attack," with their aggressive style of play.
With their 25-13, 25-11 win over RHS in the first round and their 25-16, 25-11 decision over Todd Central in the finals, CoachTina  Lynch's team not only won their seventh straight district championship but also their 20th straight match against district opponents. Logan has not lost to RHS, Todd or Franklin-Simpson since falling to F-S in three games on Aug. 17, 2004 in the first match of that season.
Another streak also continues that the Lady Cougars have reached the regional finals six straight years, winning the championship for the first time last fall. They also won a match at state.
This was supposed to have been a rebuilding year with the loss of so many outstanding, experienced players the last two years, and it has been somewhat. Still the team-- which is also coached by Steven Lyne, Rob Imlay, Buddy Wright and James Imlay-- is 23-12 overall and 13-4 in the region. They have played another tough, tough schedule.
Three of their four regional losses have been to perennial state contender Greenwood. The Lady Cougars and Lady Gators have met in the last five regional championship games.
The Lady Cougars' chances of repeating as regional champions suffered a blow in the final weekend of the regular season when one of their best and most experienced players, junior Hannah Hudnall, suffered a serious knee injury in the final match of a prestigious tournament at Louisville Assumption. Logan lost that match 25-21 to Louisville Christian and went into tournament play without Hudnall.
A bright spot is that the regional will be played at LCHS next week. Being at home is a help. The team and coaches deserve the support of a huge crowd for their continued excellence.
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Russellville Middle School's football team  has qualified for the state 8th Grade Football Playoffs in Division II.
The Panthers will play visiting Hopkinsville North Drive at 2 p.m. this Saturday at Rhea Stadium.
If they win, they will advance to a state quarterfinals game at Trigg County on Oct. 24. A win there would put them in the state semifinals Saturday, Oct. 31 at Lexington Catholic High School. Other teams in their side of the bracket are Meece, Glasgow, West Hardin and Bloomfield. The state championship game will be on Sunday, Nov. 1.
Toby Baptiste  is head coach. Greg Meacham is the assistant who made me aware of this.
Coach Baptiste released the following statement to The LoJo:
“The Russellville Middle School Panthers have our town talking. This team features an experienced group that has put together a strong season with a record of 10-1 going into the state playoffs this Saturday.
“Last year we started mostly seventh graders with a few very talented eight graders and had a great year, so hopes were high coming into the 2009 season.
“The offense is lead by quarterback Christian Naylor with a great offensive line anchored by a group that are very impressive. The defense is lead by DJ Hoosier, who has really stepped up this year as a leader for the team.
“What’s even better then the success on the field is the success off the field. We elected this year to start a Big Brother program, where there is more reaching out to the players through teaching them about the game of life. Our four priorities are Faith- Family- Grades- Football. I figure if we take care of the first three then Football will take care of itself and it definitely has.
Every Wednesday you can come at about 4:30 and see a guest speaker talking about how life relates to the game of football and teaching these players values and true life lessons. There has also been an increase in the map scores with our players in school and this is awesome to see.
“We have like 80 percentof the male population in middle school playing football, and it is great to go from 22 players last year to 40 players this year. We would like to thank the Russellville Athletic department, Assistant Coaches, School, Parents, Fans, & Boosters for getting behind this special group. Russellville Middle plays North Drive at home for a district championship, and we need all the fans we can get.”
This is the second of two big games at Rhea Stadium this weekend. Friday the high school Panthers will entertain Adair County in an important district contest. That game starts at 7 p.m.
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Friday’s game is one of the biggest for the Cougar football team in quite a while. Coach Lee Proctor’s team would make news around the state by upsetting undefeated Allen County-Scottsville on the road in a district contest.
AC-S is a talented, well-coached team. Buddy White of Russellville, who went with Lon Sosh to watch AC-S edge F-S at Franklin last week, says the Patriots may have the biggest defensive line he’s ever seen in high school, and he’s seen a lot of them as the traveling companion of Roy Morgan.
Logan, which has a 4-3 record and is 2-0 in the district, will send a potent offense out against that line.
Quarterback John Logan Dockins has completed 85 of 164 passing attempts for 1,151 yards, including one for 73 yards. Senior speedster  Thomas Washington, who may be the state’s quickest player, has rushed 27 times for 362 yards, including a 44-yard romp, and he has a 56-yard kickoff return. He has caught 12 passes for 177 yards, one of which went for 44 yards, and he’s scored 38 points. Jonathan Barbee is averaging 7.7 yards on 54 carries and has scored 32 points. He’s also caught 15 passes for 168 yards.
Reuben Rawlings Watson  has caught 25 passes fro 464 yards and has scored a team-high 58 points. Sophomore receiver Twin Lancaster has caught 21 passes for 276 yards.  Nathan Oberhausen has 164 yards on 27 totes.
On defense, Cameron Collier is the leader with 55 tackles, 45 of them unassisted. Barbee has 46 tackles, all but 9 of them unassisted, and has returned two interceptions for 54 yards. Rawlings-Watson, who has returned a pair of interceptions for 69 yards, and Oberhausen have 40 tackles each, and Todd Haley has 31. Phillip Stratton is the team leader with two tackles for losses and returned an interception 42 yards.
The Cougars’ last regular season home game will be the following Friday, Oct. 23, in another important district matchup with Franklin. If the Cougars win either of these games, they will play at home in the first round of the playoffs come November.
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The season came to an end for the Panther soccer team in the district tournament at Franklin-Simpson Tuesday night.
Coach Nathan Thompson's team lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to the host Wildcats.
Russellville went 5-7-4 on the season, including 1-3-1 in a district that includes the new Muhlenberg County High School, a consolidation of Muhlenberg North and Muhlenberg South high schools.

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