Every year, something happens on the high school sports scene that stands out, be it a state title, a heartbreaking close call, a new record or a fancy first.
With that in mind, 2009 was memorable for city sports.
Here’s a top-10 list:
1. Lawrence High baseball wins 6A state title
LHS coach Brad Stoll becomes the third skipper in school history to lead a baseball team to a state championship. The Lions, led by a deep and experienced senior class, racked up an overall record of 21-4 and outscored their three opponents at the state tournament, 24-3.
2. Lawrence High cross country goes back-to-back
The LHS boys cross country team was fixated on proving its 2008 state title was not a fluke. Led by senior Roy Wedge, the Lions won their second straight title at Rim Rock Farm. Joining Wedge, the individual state champion, on the medal stand were senior Calvin Morgan (10th) and junior Joseph Springer (14th).
3. Swimmers give Free State first girls state championship
After finishing second at state in 2008, Free State High girls swim team reached the top in 2009. Behind all-staters Molly Albrecht, Morgan Flannigan, Chloe Portela, Reilly Moore and Heather Clark, the Firebirds captured the school’s first girls state championship and third overall.
4. Free State gymnasts co-champs at state
It wasn’t exactly the way they envisioned it, but Free State girls gymnasts stood atop the podium at state. The Firebirds vaulted from what it believed to be third place into first because of a late deduction against another team. Leaders were all-around champion Drue Davis and medal-winners Kelcy Bowers and Aly Frydman.
5. City schools debut in campus football stadiums
After 78 seasons of high school football at Haskell Stadium, Lawrence High and Free State finally had their own facilities. Although the grand openings were delayed for one reason or another and portions of both venues remain incomplete, the moves were met with exuberance.
6. Individual track champions
At the state track meet in Wichita, Free State junior Drue Davis won the girls pole vault with a school-record leap of 11-feet, 6-inches. One day later, LHS senior Chebon Dawes closed his high school career with a winning throw (54 feet) in the shot put.
7. Ninth-grade wrestlers move up
Acting on a request of the city prep wrestling coaches, the school board approved allowing ninth-grade wrestlers to compete at the high school level starting with the 2009-2010 season.
8. Free State boys soccer hits new heights
The Firebirds smashed school records for victories (16) and shutouts (12) on their way to an unprecedented trip to the state championship game, where they bowed to powerhouse Washburn Rural. Led by senior Daniel Chance and junior Diego Gonzalez, Free State finished with a 16-5 record.
9. NCAA Div. I signings
Lawrence High basketball standout Dorian Green signed with Colorado State, Free State swimmer Albrecht inked with Yale, and Free State’s Hull twins, Maggie and Rosie, signed to play softball at Kansas. They were joined at KU by Free State distance runner Kyra Kilwein, LHS volleyball standout Tayler Tolefree and LHS basketball player Tania Jackson. In November, Free State’s Chantay Caron signed a basketball tender with Kansas State, and Free State swimmers Flannigan and Clark opted for Nebraska and KU, respectively. Also, LHS baseball standout Albert Minnis made his commitment to Wichita State official.
10. Forgettable seasons
Lawrence High and Free State had at least one season they wished they could forget. For the Firebirds, the boys basketball team suffered through 20 straight losses during a 1-20 campaign. For the Lions, the football team wound up 1-8 with the lone victory coming in a 13-6 overtime decision over winless Leavenworth in the season finale. It was the Lions’ worst football season in 36 years.
TOP 5 AREA HONORS
Kendall Patterson breaks state hits record
McLouth High senior catcher Kendall Patterson blasted a two-run homer in the top of the first inning on May 5 at Holton to become the all-time hits leader Kansas high school softball. Patterson, who signed with Kansas, was 6-for-7 on her record-breaking day and went on to finish with a four-year batting average of .753 (also a state record) and career totals of 164 hits and 66 doubles (another record).
Ottawa Legion baseball perfection
During the summer, Ottawa’s Legion baseball team won 43 games without a loss while cruising to the Class AA state championship. Ottawa was the first team in Kansas Legion baseball history, regardless of class, to post a perfect win-loss record.
Baldwin girls three-peat
The Baldwin High girls cross country team did it again. Mike Spielman’s squad won its third straight Class 4A state title in the fall.
Callahan ties brother’s state record
One year after watching his brother earn the state record for career wrestling victories, Baldwin High senior Alan Callahan finished his career tied with his older brother at the top. Callahan, who went 43-5 during 2009 and lost in Class 4A’s 112-pound state title match, recorded 171 wins as a prep.
Eudora girls basketball reaches state
The Eudora High girls basketball team qualified for its first trip to the Class 4A state meet in 17 years. The Cardinals bowed to eventual state champ Concordia, 63-55, in the first round. Senior Haley Epperson was named first-team All-State.