It's that time of year again. Time for the annual Lawrence High athletic awards.
If you want to capture that big-time award atmosphere, seal this column in an envelope, put on your tuxes and formal gowns, and announce the winners at The Granada.
In case you forgot, here were the Lions' top teams at the state level for the 1996-97 school year -- Lawrence High's last as the lone high school in town: boys swimming, first; boys track, first; girls swimming, second; girls track, second; baseball, second; volleyball, third; and girls tennis, third.
Now, for the LHS athletic award winners (named the Rottsies for the columnist):
Team of the year: Boys swimming. The Lions won all but one meet, capped by the state championship in February. Steve Miller, Jonathan Hemphill, Ben Legler and Jun Kuribayashi claimed the 400 freestyle relay to account for the team's lone gold medal at state.
Coach of the year: Pat Grzenda. Guided the boys swimming team to the state crown -- the program's first -- and the girls to second place at state. Both squads won their Sunflower League meets.
Top male performer: Senior Nate Coffman. An all-league defensive back and state qualifier in wrestling, Coffman came up big as a 5-foot-8, 130-pounder. He took a 28-2 record into the state wrestling tournament.
Top female performer: Senior Kristin Brune. Survived a grueling day at the state track and field meet. She placed fourth in the 400 and 800, and anchored the winning 4x400 and 4x800 relays. The 4x800 relay set the school standard of 9:38.72.
Junior male athlete of the year: Todd Heitshusen. Averaged 19 points a game in basketball, scored at least 20 points in 11 games and was the team's leading scorer in 20 of 22 games. Also a second baseman for the Lions' baseball team, he led the squad in home runs (four) and RBIs (32).
Junior female athlete of the year: Kizzie Ricks. Figured in three of Lawrence's four golds at state track. She won the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles and led off the victorious 4x400 relay. Her 300 hurdles time of 45.53 was a school record, breaking her preliminary time.
Sophomore of the year: Swimmer Jonathan Hemphill. One of the top freestylers in the state, Hemphill placed second in the 200 free and 500 free at the state meet. He was a Sunflower League champ in both events.
Freshman of the year: Swimmer Caitlin Standish. The West Junior High student won the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke at league. At state, she finished fourth in the 200 IM and fifth in the 100 backstroke.
Scholar-athlete of the year: Senior Bryce Crady. One of 16 valedictorians and named to the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Assn. top 11 scholar-athlete team, Crady was a hard-hitting defender for the football team and started 12 games for the basketball squad.
The surest thing: Senior Scott Tallman. The left-hander went 7-0 with a 1.04 earned average and hurled shutouts in the first round of regional and state for the baseball team. He never lost a varsity game, going 12-0 in two seasons.
Transfer of the year: Junior Jennifer Vaughn came from Jeff City, Mo., and went 21-0 to win the Class 6A girls state singles tennis title. She lost just 21 games in her 21 matches.
Surprise of year: LHS boys track team tying Wichita Southeast for first.