Head coach: Matt Anderson, 6th year
2009 finish: 8-8, lost in regional championship to Washburn Rural
Key returners: Olivia Dykes, senior; Kristy Gerard, senior; Marley Sutter, junior; Kendyll Severa, junior; Sarah Stuever, junior; Kaley Tesdahl, senior; Clare Payne, junior.
Impact newcomers: N/A
Reason to hope: The Lions will feature a strong returning corps of players looking to build off last season’s success, which Anderson called one of the program’s better statistical seasons. “We have had the strongest preseason that I have been a part of, and the team is very hungry to try and get to that double-digit win plateau,” said the coach.
Reason to fear: The goalie position could be a concern for the Lions, as the team’s projected starter sustained an injury that could cause her to miss the season. If she is unable to play, the Lions will be forced to break in a new goalie.
If you go to one game make it this one: Lawrence High vs. Free State, April 13, at Free State High. “I’m a big rivalry person, and I love playing Free State, especially this year because this will be the last time that I will get to go head-to-head with (Firebirds coach Jason) Pendleton,” Anderson said.
Coach speak: “This team has a great early vibe,” Anderson said. “We have had a group of upperclassmen embrace their leadership roles and they want this to be ‘their’ team. My trust in them allows them to have the confidence to lead and also to enjoy a high level of empowerment. The overall chemistry during the preseason and early on in practice has been at an all-time high.”
Head coach: Reenie Stogsdill, 14th season
2009 finish: 1-20, lost to Olathe Northwest in regional tournament
Key returners: Lauren Massey, junior; Kristen Bell, junior; Kasey Waite, junior; Mallory Reynolds, sophomore; Jamie Jarrett, senior; Lauren Byrn, sophomore; Jamie Morgison, senior; Kelsey Kilburn, sophomore.
Impact newcomers: N/A
Reason to hope: The team returns a good deal of experience from last year’s team, and figures to be solid defensively. The Lions are also excited about the prospect of playing on their new field.
Reason to fear: With the exception of Massey, last year’s top pitcher, the Lions figure to be thin at the pitching position. Masey should handle the majority of work at pitcher, but the emergence of another option or two certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Coach speak: “We finished 1-20 last year, so we really need to step up our offensive production if we want to win this year,” Stogsdill said.
Head coach: Dirk Wedd, fourth year
2009 finish: Finished ninth at Class 6A state tournament, third at regionals
Key returners: Jon Cohen, senior; Alex Thompson, senior; Tyler Kahn, senior; Steven Melton, senior.
Impact newcomers: N/A
Reason to hope: Four of the golfers that competed at last year’s state tournament — Cohen, Thompson, Kahn, Melton — will return this year, meaning experience should be a strong point for the Lions this spring.
Reason to fear: The Lions lose their top two golfers from last year’s team, Spencer Scott and Joe Noller, and will need two younger golfers to step up and fill the void. Four of the team’s six spots figure to be filled with returning players, leaving a group of about four newer players battling for two spots.
If you go to one game make it this one: Lawrence High Invitational, May 12, Alvamar Public Golf Course. Some of the state’s top teams will participate in this 25-team tournament featuring schools from multiple classifications. Will also serve as a tune-up for the regional meet less than a week later on May 17.
Coach speak: “I think we’re good enough to get back to state,” Wedd said. “I’ve had most of these kids all four years, so it’s time for them to step up and be counted. I think they have the talent to place in state, and I’d be disappointed if we didn’t go back as a team. So that’s a big goal for us.”
Head coach: Chris Marshall, first year
2009 finish: Did not qualify for state meet
Key returners: Byron Varberg, senior; Michael Sang, senior; Conner Schmidt, senior
Impact newcomers: N/A
Reason to hope: The team’s roster has grown significantly since its first practice this season, moving from eight players to over 20.
Reason to fear: As of last week, the team hadn’t been able to work much outdoors. Weather could be a hindrance in the team’s preparation this spring, while Marshall is hoping the team’s courts are completed in the near future.
If you go to one game make it this one: Lawrence High vs. Free State, April 12.
Coach speak: “My goal as a coach is to make tennis as enjoyable as possible,” Marshall said. “If the players are enjoying the game, they will try harder in practice and develop into better players. My goal is to see improvement in all my players, (whether) it’s the No. 1 player or No. 21 player.”
Girls swimming and diving
Head coach: Kent McDonald, fourth year
2009 finish: Finished 18th at the state meet
Key returners: Jessica Boyer, senior; Caitlin Haig, senior; Ida Greenwell, senior; Mallory Neet, junior; Katie Stites, senior.
Impact newcomers: Heather Cistola, freshman; Anne Glasker, senior.
Reason to hope: The Lions will enter the season with a group of experienced divers and with a number of potentially promising younger swimmers. Boyer is a three-time state qualifier, and Cistola enters the year with state-qualifying times despite being only a freshman.
Reason to fear: A small roster could prove challenging, particularly when putting together relay teams. Youth could also be a problem. “Numbers win,” McDonald said.
If you go to one game make it this one: Senior Night, Free State vs. Olathe South, Free State High.
Coach speak: “(We) should have several individuals qualify for state, which should move us up from where we have placed in the past few years,” McDonald said. “We need to get some relays into scoring position. Our divers, with their experience, will also help us move up in the state standings.”
Head coach: Brad Stoll, sixth year
2009 finish: 21-4, Class 6A state champions
Key returners: Tanner Kilmer, senior; Landon Moseley, senior; Albert Minnis, senior; Taylor Gentry, senior; Ben Wyatt, senior.
Impact newcomers: Aaron Gile, junior; Alex Laughlin, junior; Jake Johnson, junior; Ross Johnson, junior.
Reason to hope: Four of the team’s players were on the field for last year’s state title game, and several were key contributors throughout the season. Pitching depth should be a strongpoint, as the Lions figure to have six or seven quality pitchers, including Wichita State-bound Minnis.
Reason to fear: The Lions could face some road bumps early on, particularly during a season-opening tournament in Oklahoma that will feature a number of quality teams.
If you go to one game make it this one: Home opener, Lawrence High vs. Blue Springs South, March 26.
Coach speak: “We feel we will pitch good enough to make a run at getting to the state tournament,” Stoll said. “Last year, we banged it out offensively, so we are asking some kids to step their offensive game up a notch and be that guy. We like to pressure teams with the running game, so hopefully our kids will be aggressive on the basepaths and try and make our opponents uncomfortable.”
Boys and girls track and field
Head coach: Jack Hood, fourth year
2009 finish: Boys finished seventh at state meet and second at regional; girls finished 28th at state meet and sixth at regional.
Key returners: Roy Wedge, senior; Calvin Morgan, senior; Lucy Daldorph, senior; Shelby Clark, senior; Whitney Demby, senior; Ryan Marienau, senior.
Impact newcomers: Blake Hocking, sophomore; Brianna Anglin, sophomore; Emily Davidson, junior; Alexis Schiebler, junior; Trent Edwards, junior.
Reason to hope: The teams’ distance runners should represent a talented group this year, particularly Wedge, who is coming off an individual state cross country title last fall that earned him the Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year award for the state of Kansas.
Reason to fear: Despite a number of talented athletes, only time will tell whether the Lions can turn their season into something special. “You never know what’s going to happen,” Hood said.
If you go to one game make it this one: State meet, May 28, Cessna Stadium, Wichita.
Coach speak: “We have a great group of kids this year,” Hood said. “Our numbers are pretty good (85 kids out). I’m excited to see how we improve as the season goes on.”