Bob Lisher will debut as head coach of Lawrence High's boys track juggernaut Friday. But when LHS opens the season at the Topeka West Relays, it will have been largely de-juggered.
"We did lose a lot of points," Lisher said. "There's no mistaking that."
The Lions, winners of the last two Class 6A state team championships, lost individuals who represented 82 of the 123 points they scored at last year's state meet, including standouts Howard Harris, David Johnston and Kendall Meade.
Lisher, who takes over for the retired Bill Freeman, isn't fearful of runaway expectations.
"Track is not a high-visibility sport," said Lisher, who also is an LHS assistant football coach. "You don't have five- or six-thousand people in the stands on Friday watching track. The pressure comes from within for both the coaches and the athletes."
A COUPLE of young Lion girls handled the pressure admirably last year during their first high school meets and won Sunflower League titles. Sophomores Kim Buchleitner and Jill Oelschlager are returning league champions in the 100 and long jump respectively. They return, along with senior jumper Heather Flachsbarth, for this year's girls team.
Lawrence's girls track squad, however, will be hampered by injuries inflicted during the past basketball season. Oelschlager, who suffered a concussion, is set to undergo surgery, and Casse Jones, a staple on one of the state's top 3200 relays, was lost to a knee injury.
Coach Steve Sublett is encouraged, nonetheless.
"Everybody came along last year," Sublett said. "We had a good league meet and a good regional meet. Assuming we stay healthy, we'll be a pretty good team."
DON'T GET the idea that the Lion boys are finished before they start, either. Returning is sprinter Christian Adair, who was runnerup in the 400 and took sixth in the 100 at state last year. He is the sole returnee from Lawrence's state champion 400 and 1600 relay teams.
Other returnees include Witek Busse, fifth in the state last year in the discus; Ned Ryun, who was third in the state 800 last season; and twin brother Drew Ryun. Both Ryuns ran on the Lions' fourth-place 3200 relay.
"Adair has been very good the last two years, and I hope he gets better as a senior," Lisher said. "And we've got the Ryuns. There are two who have scored and can score. Witek placed at state in discus, and we hope he's improved.
"We also have (senior) David Low, and we'll count on him to produce, which he did at the end of last year on the 3200-meter relay team. Other than that, we're going to have to have a lot of kids come on in other events."
FLACHSBARTH is the girls' most consistent returning performer, having placed at state in the high jump each of the last three years. She tied for second last year after clearing 5-5.
"Heather is a known quantity," Sublett said, "and we have a pretty good upperclass two-mile relay team coming back with Jennifer Holmes, Melody Currie and Carole Cadue."
The track coaching staff has been reorganized with Freeman's retirement and former assistant Ted Juneau's promotion to assistant principal. Two assistant coaches have been added: David Drennan will coach javelin and pole vault, and Linda Wedge will work with hurdlers.
Also, Lisher will coach the shot put and discus; Sublett, distance runners; Mark Lange, sprinters; and Cheryl Hamilton, jumps. Each coach will work with both boys and girls in their specified event.
LAWRENCE HIGH BOYS
Seniors: Christian Adair, Kevin Beers, Brian Boyle, Witek Busse, Lewis Hardin, David Low, Justin Lungstrum, Michael Oatis, John Proctor, Greg Reeves, Drew Ryun, Ned Ryun, Todd Sliski, James Tweed, Matt Weingart.
Juniors: Jan-Eric Anderson, John Barber, O.J. Bell, Bill Bowen, Matt Bunch, Michael Cosey, Paul Crozier, Steve Fogelsong, Tony Greb, Steve Harvey, Grady Hawley, Jonothan Kliem, Hayden Krizman, Steve Lane, Omari Miller, Nate Penny, Dalton Pierson, Jason Pych, Eric Ring, Jim Sampson, Brad Steeples, Danta Tanner, Brent Talbert, Darren White.
Sophomores: Aaron Almanza, Ben Borland, P.J. Born, Kelly England, Michael Foster, Jamey Hare, David Heller, Brad Hoffmeier, Richard Jarrett, Rod Johnson, Corey Koester, Brian Martin. Charlie Nadvornik, Andy Phillips, Robbie Popp, Damian Powell, David Reeves, Brian Robb, David Rynders, Chgarles Womack.
LAWRENCE HIGH GIRLS
Seniors: Melody Currie, Heather Flachsbarth. Jennifer Holmes, Anna Kehde.
Juniors: Carole Cadue, Dannette Edwards, Tamara Kimball, Heather Poteet, Holly Poteet, Carolyn Schumm, Stephanie Spratt, Alice Walker, Stephanie Williams.
Sophomores: Twyla Blackbird, Tonya Brown, Kim Buchleitner, Emily Forsythe, Kelly Kelly, LaTonya Logan, Candice Loupee, Diedre Mumford, Jill Oelschlager, Alisha Rooman, Heather Rytting, Jennifer Trapp, Rachael Treamor.
LAWRENCE HIGH SCHEDULE
March: 22 at Topeka West.
April: 2 Leavenworth, Topeka at LHS. 5 at Junction City. 11 at Manhattan. 18 Topeka, Topeka West at LHS. 19-20 Kansas Relays. 26 at Topeka Seaman.
May: 3 at SM North Relays. 10 at Sunflower League. 17 Regional at TBA. 24-25 State at WSU.