Senior Showcase: Oxford’s Andrew Hills, Hunter Norland, Ty Carter

In our continuing effort to highlight our senior student-athletes, we are presenting our “Senior Showcase” feature. Whether a senior intends on continuing their athletic career at the next level or not, we are wanting to highlight the accomplishments of this year’s senior class. Click here to submit your nomination for “Senior Showcase”.

OXFORD — It’s always tough for a coach to say goodbye to seniors when their high school careers come to an end. Yet, this year was especially tough for Oxford High School coach Kyle Green as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced him to say farewell to three key seniors a little earlier than he had hoped.

Those seniors — including Andrew Hills, Hunter Norland and Ty Carter — were each three-sport athletes, playing every year in football, basketball and baseball. Unfortunately, their dreams of a successful end to their career came to an abrupt halt as their senior campaign was cancelled by the Kansas State High School Activities Association.

“I wish there was something I could do to get them back their lost spring seasons,” said Green, who is the head boys’ basketball and baseball coach at OHS, and was previously an assistant coach in the football program. “It robbed us of one last dance together in sports. I still get emotional thinking about it. We thought after hoops we had a whole season left to say goodbye, and we didn’t get it.”

Hills, Norland and Carter have been through the ups and downs as an athlete at Oxford. Of course, the highlight was their freshman baseball season when they helped lead the Wildcats to a 20-2 record that included the 2017 Walter Johnson League/South Central Border League championship and the Class 2-1A Sedan Regional title.

It was the fifth time in program history the Wildcats had claimed at least 20 wins in a season. OHS went on to lose to eventual 2-1A champion Leon-Bluestem in the opening round of the state tournament in Great Bend. One year later, they repeated as league champion but came up short of a second straight trip to state with a loss in the regional finals.

That group was also part of a district championship as freshmen in 2016.

“These three guys have meant a ton to all three of the sports programs that they participated in, but they also mean a lot to me as the young men they have grown into,” Green said. “They had success in all three sports, team championships, winning seasons, but they also were a part of rebuilding projects in the middle of their careers in all three programs that were hit hard by graduation. All three were leaders when we needed them, when we had a ton of young kids around them. All three developed into quality athletes.

“The biggest thing for me is the young men they have all become. They were immature as a freshman. They are fine young men now … men who I know will be successful in life. They all have a plan, they all know what they are going to do, and I have no doubts that they will be successful in executing their plans.”

Green said Hills, Norland and Carter have all been part of a culture in Wildcat athletics.

“They believed in what it was to be a Wildcat,” Green said. “They modeled that for our young kids and tried to show them how to continue the tradition and the culture. They are now Wildcat Alumni and they are forever family. I love these guys.”

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ANDREW HILLS

Andrew Hills had a standout season in his final year of basketball at Oxford.

Averaging a double-double at 18.1 points and 12.1 rebounds per game, Hills was named All-Class 1A Second Team by VYPE in Kansas and Honorable Mention by both The Wichita Eagle and Sports in Kansas. He was also named First Team All-South Central Border League and Second Team Al-Region by SEK-Sports.com.

Earlier in the season, he set a new single-game school record with 20 rebounds in a victory over Flinthills in the consolation semifinals of the Dale Misak SCBL Tournament in Arkansas City. He finished that game with a 20-20 performance, adding a game-high 25 points.

“I have seen my self improve and get better in the game,” said Hills, who was a two-year starter for the Wildcat basketball program. “I started lifting a lot of weights since my freshman year, and it just took off from there. And staying after practice to have my coach help me correct the things I was struggling with helped out as well.”

Prior to the hoops season, Hills was also a key player for the Oxford football team last fall, earning All-SCBL Honorable Mention on Special Teams as a kick returner. He also played running back and offensive line and was a two-year starter on both sides of the ball.

“I consider my role on the team would be a leader, and to just be there for anyone when they were in need,” Hills said. “When it came to each sport, I just worked as hard as possible until the season because, if you leave all your effort and energy on the field or court, there is nothing to be upset or ashamed of.”

Although Hills had success in football and basketball, he considered baseball the sport he enjoyed the most. That’s what made the cancellation of this season so difficult to swallow.

“I was feeling really upset and sad because I wouldn’t be able to finish high school baseball with all my fellow friends and family,” Hills said.

His junior season proved to be his final year with the Wildcat baseball program. Last year, he hit .355 at the plate and was 1-4 on the mound. A three-year starter for OHS, he also spent time in center field when not pitching.

“As a team, for the few practices we had, I saw a lot of potential in us this season,” Hills said. “We were young, but we worked great as a team. In my eyes, I feel like we could have been one of the top teams in the league. And I was hoping to show off how much time I put in for pitching and batting.”

Missing this spring may have cost Hills a chance at a scholarship in college. Right now, he may consider walking on at a program but is currently finishing up school in welding at Cowley College.

“I am honored to have (Green) as a coach,” Hills said. “He pushed me to be my best I can be. Without him, I don’t think I would be here today. All I know is that if you work hard and put in the effort anything can happen. He made me realize that.”

A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ANDREW HILLS …
SEK-SPORTS: What are some of your interests and hobbies away from school?
HILLS: “I like to go outdoor and hang with my family and friends. And most of all go fishing.”

SEK-SPORTS: Who is your favorite athlete? Favorite sports team? Favorite music group/singer?
HILLS: “My favorite athlete would have to be Marshawn Lynch. Favorite team would be Seattle. Favorite singer would have to be Ryan Upchurch.”

SEK-SPORTS: Who are the people that you look up to as far as role models?
HILLS: “I would have to look up to my mom, grandpa, and my boss.”

SEK-SPORTS: What is a fun fact about you that people may or may not know?
HILLS: “That I have a deformed pinky in my right hand.”

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HUNTER NORLAND

During his four years of high school, Hunter Norland earned league recognition in both football and baseball.

This past fall, Norland — a two-year starter on offense and three-year starter on defense — was named All-SCBL First Team at center. Prior to that, he was a .443 hitter as a junior for the Wildcat baseball team last spring. He led OHS in batting average and RBIs as he earned All-WJL/SCBL Honorable Mention as a catcher.

In addition to those sports, Norland started several games in his high school basketball career. During the winter, he averaged 4.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game for the Wildcats.

“Probably my favorite team moments have been freshman year being district football champions and also being down 4-1 in the regional championship game vs. CVD in baseball,” Norland said. “We came back that game, and it was a fun one to watch. The experience going to Great Bend (for state) was something I’ll never forgot.

“I felt like I preferred football more, but I think I’m better at baseball. I probably put in more work during baseball to be one of the best catchers in the league. I can hit, throw and catch good. That’s the mentality I have during this sport and all sports.”

Norland was definitely disappointed that he was unable to play baseball his senior season. He has used it as motivation as he tries to find a spot on a college team.

“The thing I thought about was not school or prom or graduation being cancelled. It was baseball. It was sad that I couldn’t play with my senior guys I grew up playing this game with and also the freshmen that I had strong connections with. After that, what had been going through my mind, was I was very, very emotional after putting in all the work I put in over the summer and during practices. It was a tough one to swallow. Things in life will happen that won’t go your way, but you got to move on.

“I want to continue playing baseball. So far, no schools have shown interest in me. I would like to go to a Juco like Cowley or Butler, but if I don’t receive any offers, I would try to walk on. Coach (Scott) Smythe said to me ‘It doesn’t take a piece of paper from some high college to be successful. It takes hard work and the drive to go to the next level.’ That motivated me even more to work for my goals.”

Although it has been a bizarre end to his high school career, Norland said it has been an honor to be an Oxford Wildcat.

“Man it means so much to be a Oxford Wildcat,” Norland said. “Everyone at school is like a huge family to me, but on sports teams, I’m even closer to my teammates and coaches. I can call them my brothers and fathers. I would take a bullet for anyone on my team. They mean so much to me. They’ve always been there for me through tough dark times, and I’ve been there for them when they’ve needed it. We care and take care of each other like we’re blood. Oxford made me the person I am today. If I didn’t go to Oxford, I couldn’t imagine what I’d be like today.”

A LITTLE MORE ABOUT HUNTER NORLAND …
SEK-SPORTS: What are some of your interests and hobbies away from school?
NORLAND: “Some hobbies and interests are watching NFL film and football highlights and also listening to music.”

SEK-SPORTS: Who is your favorite athlete? Favorite sports team? Favorite music group/singer?
NORLAND: “There are two athletes that are favorites of mine. One would be Michael Vick, really one of those dual-threat quarterbacks I love with the big arm he has and the scrambling ability. Michael Vick also made a great use of a second chance in the NFL. And my other one would be Russell Wilson, just a great guy in general. Loves the game of football and always has faith and always believes he will win no matter how many points he’s down by. My favorite sports team would be the Dallas Cowboys. My favorite singer would probably be either Post Malone or The Weekend. “

SEK-SPORTS: Who are the people that you look up to as far as role models?
NORLAND: “The roles models I look up to are my parents. My mom works really hard for me to have a great life. Then my dad, he’s had to fight through many life-changing obstacles, but he keeps working through it like he’s not affected by them. That’s what I really look up to him about.”

SEK-SPORTS: What is a fun fact about you that people may or may not know?
NORLAND: “A little fun fact I would say is that I’m terrified of grasshoppers, especially when I’m mowing and they jump all over me.”

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TY CARTER

Ty Carter was also a four-year player in all three sports for Oxford, although his senior season of baseball was cut short.

A four-year starter on both sides of the ball, Carter opened his senior campaign by earning All-SCBL football honors at defensive end. Previously, he earned Honorable Mention as tight end as a sophomore and linebacker as a junior. He was also a two-year starter at the quarterback position.

“I think I played a pretty good season and kept getting better throughout the year until I messed up my shoulder,” Carter said. “Nothing is wrong with it now, but it moved out of place then went back. I couldn’t throw very hard for about two weeks.

Carter was also a two-year starter for the Wildcat basketball program. During the winter, he averaged 7.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

Just like Hills and Norland, Carter was looking forward to his senior season of baseball this spring. A year ago as a junior, he was a .373 hitter for the Wildcats. He was a four-year starter, including some games as a freshman for the 2017 state-qualifying team.

“Individually, I wanted at least second team (all-league) at pitcher,” Carter said. “But as a team, I really thought with the younger kids filling some spots and the pitching depth we had that we could have made a run for state.”

The toughest part of missing the spring, according to Carter, was not being able to play alongside his fellow seniors one last time.

“Baseball isn’t my favorite sport, but I was really bummed out that I didn’t get to play my last year and have those memories with my friends,” Carter said. “They have been my boys for forever. They have my back, and I have theirs. It helps to show younger kids how to have each other’s backs when the captains all get along.”

Carter’s athletic career has officially come to an end. In fact, in addition to receiving a diploma from Oxford High School, Carter also graduated this spring from Cowley College with an associate’s degree in auto mechanics.

“Being an Oxford Wildcat means you’re a family,” Carter said. “If you’ve been loyal to the program, then you know that someone will always be there for you.”

A LITTLE MORE ABOUT TY CARTER …

SEK-SPORTS: What are some of your interests and hobbies away from school?
CARTER: “Fishing and working on project cars.”

SEK-SPORTS: Who is your favorite athlete? Favorite sports team? Favorite music group/singer?
CARTER: “Tony Gonzalez and the Chiefs. I don’t really have a favorite singer.”

SEK-SPORTS: Who are the people that you look up to as far as role models?
CARTER: “My grandpa, Sheldon Carter, because he is the hardest worker I know.”

SEK-SPORTS: What is a fun fact about you that people may or may not know?
CARTER: “I could live on chicken.”