With Lawrence High baseball rushing to beat the deadline for my annual LHS athletics awards nominations, all ballots have been accounted for.
So, here are your 2000-01 LHS award winners, otherwise known as the Rottsies:
Team of the year: Baseball. The Lions, who lost several key players from their 2000 state championship team, opened the season at 2-4, regrouped and finished third at state with a 16-9 record.
Coach of the year: Keith Nelson. The first-year LHS coach guided the boys soccer team to the Class 6A state quarterfinals for the first time ever and the LHS girls soccer team won six games to tie a school record. He pumped life into both programs and gained the respect of Sunflower League schools.
Senior male athlete of year: Devin McAnderson. A rare multi-sport talent at LHS during the past season, the 5-foot-4 senior played football, basketball and ran track for the Lions. He quarterbacked the Lions to the Class 6A state playoffs, rushing for 890 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also threw for 732 yards and had four TD passes. In a 35-0 rout of Free State, he rushed for 156 yards and had three TDs. In basketball, he averaged six points a game and showcased several nifty moves.
Senior female athlete of year: Emily Schwartz. Schwartz averaged seven points a game for LHS basketball and high jumped for the Lions. Plagued by injuries most of the seasons, Schwartz recovered in time to win the regional high jump with a 5-4 mark and place third at state.
Junior male athlete of year: Rob Scott. Scott, a capable offensive back, was more known for his prowess in the LHS secondary. In baseball, Scott hit .338 and delivered the game-winning hit in the Class 6A regional win over Manhattan.
Junior female athlete of year: Ashley Burnett. A basketball starter before a season-ending knee injury late in the year, Burnett was the top pitcher for LHS softball. She tossed a no-hitter against Shawnee Mission East.
Sophomore male athlete of year: Brandon McAnderson. Younger brother of Devin, Brandon had one of the most productive sophomore seasons for an LHS football player, rushing for 559 yards and five touchdowns. He played 19 varsity basketball games and ran track.
Sophomore female athlete of year: Mag Obiefule. She gained attention as a lineman on the sophomore football team. In track, she was a Sunflower League champion in the shot put and placed 10th in the shot at state.
Freshman of year: John Gatti. He placed third in diving at the state swimming and diving meet.
Scholar athlete: Emily Schwartz. A letter-winner in basketball and track, Schwartz had a 4.0 grade-point average and is headed to prestigious MIT in the fall.
Comeback of the year: Burnett. After missing the final seven games of the basketball season because of a torn ACL, Burnett held off surgery and was able to pitch for the LHS softball team.
Shot of year: D.J. Watkins. In the Capital Classic final against Shawnee Mission South, Watkins popped a three-pointer from the top of the key with seven seconds left to give LHS a 53-52 victory. The Lions had trailed by eight points with three minutes left before closing with an 11-2 run.
Breakthrough of year: LHS wrestlers Sean Patton (135) and Jeff Hauber (160) placed second at the state tournament in their respective weight classes, losing close decisions to the top-ranked wrestler in their brackets. Lawrence hadn't had two state wrestling finalists in the same year since 1978.
Newcomer of the year: Freshman Jenni Morrell. The South Junior High student played shortstop for the Lions and earned all-Sunflower League second-team honors.
Game of the year: Lawrence 5, Manhattan 4. On Manhattan's home field, the Lions rallied behind the pitching of Brandon Bingham and a clutch double by Scott in the bottom of the sixth to beat the top-ranked Indians in a Class 6A baseball regional final.
Most improved team: Boys basketball. Behind juniors Stephen Vinson and Watkins, the Lions finished 15-7 and won two tournaments Blue Valley Shootout and Capital City Classic during the regular season. The 15 victories were three more than the 1998-99 and 1999-00 teams combined.
Clutch performance: Needing a victory in the final match, Lawrence High sophomore heavyweight Kenny Poeverlein pinned his opponent with 46 seconds left to give LHS a 37-30 dual win over Free State.
Most dominating performance: LHS 35, Free State 0. Lawrence High scored on its first four possessions and led 28-0 at halftime before rolling to the most lopsided margin in the four-year history of the football series. In the first half, LHS outgained FSHS 255 yards to six (all passing) in the first half. For the game, the Lions amassed 400 yards and limited the Firebirds to a mere 49 yards.