All Colton Wilmes did during his senior season was fight back from adversity. The winning mentality combined with a career-capping state championship is why the Northeast Nodaway student earned The Forum's Male Athlete of the Year award.
Wilmes' fall consisted of trips to Worth County High School in Grant City to participate in the Bluejays' co-op with the Tigers for football. The Tigers went 43-11 in Wilmes' four years with the program.
Their best season came in Wilmes' junior campaign when the Tigers completed a perfect 15-0 season with a state championship. That dominant season included a a regular season with the closest game being a 56-14 win over Stanberry — they rolled 64-21 in the state title game over Sacred Heart.
The Tigers lost several of their top players to graduation after the state title run including Northwest Missouri State commitments Drake Kinsella and Devan Jackson on the offensive and defensive lines. Wilmes returned as a starter on the line after being a First-Team All-State offensive lineman as a junior.
Wilmes raised his level of even further as a senior, earning First Team All-State honors on both the offensive and defensive lines. Worth County extended its winning streak to 19 games with a 6-0 start to the season.
The regular season ended with disappointment two losses to Pattonsburg and Stanberry in the Tigers' final three games. Worth County bounced back in the playoffs with three-straight wins including a 32-20 victory over Stanberry and a 56-0 win over Pattonsburg to earn a spot in the Show-Me Bowl — where they fell to Mound City.
Wilmes said his top memory from his high school career — which included the state title last year and shot put state title this year — was the district title win in Stanberry after the loss to end the regular season.
“That first loss really got to me,” Wilmes said. “I knew I really had to kick it in. Coming back and making it all the way to the state game really got me pumped up. I had a great time this year.”
Wilmes' took his personal success into the track and field season; where unlike his storybook junior football season, his junior track and field season ended in tremendous disappointment.
In the 2018 district track meet, the 275 Conference champion was unable to get any of his shot-put throws in bounds. He was disqualified and his season ended in Weston in disappointment.
After a strong start to his senior year was marred with mid-season doubt as South Holt/Nodaway-Holt freshman Hayden Elifrits, who took over the state lead from Wilmes and won the 275 Conference championship.
The senior saved his best work for the biggest meets of the season with Wilmes topping Elifrits in the district meet with a 47-foot-6.5 throw. That ended him a place in sectionals for the first time in his career.
Wilmes' momentum continued the next week in Albany at sectionals. He upped his mark to 48-foot-8 to enter the state meet as the top seed.
“That felt great to finally make it to state and then to actually win it,” Wilmes said.
At state, Jasper senior William Hale took the state lead from Wilmes with a 48-foot-8.5, but Wilmes had the answer in his second-to-last attempt. A 50-foot-1.75 won Wilmes the state title and shattered the school record.
Now Wilmes will continue his athletic career with the Missouri Valley College football program in Marshall.
Dalton Luke, Jefferson/Platte Valley — The junior turned in a a strong all-around season on the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond. In football, the First Team All-District running back led the Longhorn offense with 1,015 yards with 16 touchdowns on 158 carries. For basketball, Luke took a step back individually and served a key role as the sixth man for Jefferson as they won the state championship. Luke played starter's minutes for the Eagles and was a pivotal defensive piece. In baseball, Luke hit .474 as an unanimous First-Team All-275 Conference selection.
Tyler Houchin, Maryville — The senior was either first or second-team All-Midland Empire Conference in football, basketball and baseball. A running back and linebacker for the Spoofhounds — Houchin was a a First-Team All-State running back with 1,397 yards and 21 touchdowns. In basketball, Houchin was a First Team All-MEC selection after averaging 11.2 points per game and shooting 41 percent from three-point range. The senior was a Second Team All-MEC selection in baseball after hitting .389 with a .500 on-base percentage. Houchin's athletic career with continue this fall with the Northwest Missouri State football program.