Some have state championship experience, others have ambitions of reaching that level, but all of Lawrence High’s spring sports athletes can’t wait to get the season in full swing once spring break ends next week.
Here is a look at what all of the Lions’ programs expect out of the upcoming months of competition.
Losing in the first round of the 2012 Class 6A state tournament has Lawrence’s baseball players eager to get on the field this spring and erase the painful memory of a 1-0 loss to eventual state runner-up Blue Valley West.
Though coach Brad Stoll said the Lions don’t have a lot of depth with their position players, he is confident in the LHS starters, as well as the pitching staff.
“I think the pieces are there to make a good run,” Stoll said. “We can’t have anybody get hurt.”
Back from last year’s 14-9 team are shortstop Shane Willoughby, utility player CJ Stuever, catcher Drew Green and outfielder Kieran Severa.
Stoll plans to use Bryce Montes de Oca, Adam Rea and Brandon Bell as starting pitchers. Stuever and Easton Barnes are available for middle relief and Willoughby, too valuable defensively to pitch many innings, will close.
Infielder Michael Sinks and first baseman Jacob Seratte could make an impact as newcomers.
The Lions open their season Friday at Edmond Memorial, Okla.
Winter weather put Lawrence boys golf tryouts behind schedule, but coach Dirk Wedd thinks the next couple of months will be more manageable, with two returning state-qualifiers leading the Lions.
Senior Brett Van Blaricum shot an 85 at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, in Garden City, at last season’s championship, where junior Narito Mendez joined him in the state field. Wedd said senior Cole Cummins would have been there too, but an uncharacteristic off day at the regional tournament kept that from happening.
This spring, the Lions hope to be better represented at state.
“Our goal is always to get our team there,” Wedd said. “Right now I feel pretty good. We’ve got those three kids who have played a lot of varsity.”
The seventh-year coach said LHS will need a newcomer such as Tucker Sutter or Brad Strauss to step up and help the team’s overall scoring.
Lawrence opens its season March 27 at the Free State Invitational.
A two-time state-qualifier and returning state medalist, junior Thomas Irick has — by far — the most experience on Lawrence’s boys tennis team.
Coach Chris Marshall’s program lost nine of its top 10 players from last season. He is trying to look at the positive side of that equation.
“There will be plenty of opportunities for our younger players to make an impact,” Marshall said.
Despite the loss of so many seniors from last year, Lawrence actually has better overall numbers this season.
“There is a growing interest in tennis at LHS,” Marshall said, “so it is my job to get all of them better and play some competitive tennis this year.”
The fourth-year coach admitted matches will be a challenge, especially early in the season. Austin Abbott, Tim Thongone, Christoph Brandt, Kley Bolivar, Adam Eudaly and Elliott Abromeit look to be the top contenders to join Irick on the varsity level.
The Lions start their season Tuesday at Emporia.
Lawrence’s girls soccer team has a new direction this spring, with first-year coach Justin Young. In pre-season workouts and practices, Young has been struck by the players’ unity as he learns about the group as a whole.
“They are (a group) to accept challenges and they are one to always try to achieve, no matter what they’re asked,” Young said.
LHS has a number of returning players, and just a few that have stood out are midfielder Ella Magerl, forward Addison Campbell and goalkeeper Alex Ewy. A new varsity addition, sophomore Keeli Billings, is expected to make an impact in the lineup, too.
Though Lawrence struggled through a three-win season in 2012, Young thinks more victories are on the horizon.
“With the work ethic and the drive that they’re showing, as long as they can maintain that,” he said, “they have every capability of improving on that number.”
The Lions open the season Tuesday with a 7 p.m. home game against Baldwin.
In 2012, Lawrence girls swimming placed fifth in the Sunflower League and seventh at the 6A state meet. In 2013, coach Kent McDonald’s team returns every swimmer that contributed to the team’s points at the postseason meets.
“We also have a relatively large team,” McDonald said, “with 39 swimmers and divers. We should get some good performances from many of these girls this season.”
Reigning 200 IM state champion junior Gretchen Frick and 2012 100 fly state runner-up Heather Cistola lead the talented Lions. Seniors Miranda Rohn and Chandler McElhaney return, as do juniors Annie Odrowski, Allison Williams (diver), Madison Ruder, Sarah Smoot, Andrea Summey and Mary Wroten, as well as sophomores Alex Ginsberg, Hannah Lee and Nicole Oblon.
McDonald expects swimmer Taylor Schoepf and divers Ashley Ammann and Katelyn Oury to contribute as freshmen, as well.
LHS finished sixth at the season-opening Emporia Invitational. The Lions host the Lawrence Invite on Tuesday.
Coach Nick Wood’s first season leading Lawrence softball had more setbacks than victories, but the Lions anticipate a more successful 2013, with most of their position players and two starting pitchers — Megan Sumonja and Amanda Montgomery — back for a chance to improve upon a 5-16 season.
“This team will still be pretty young, as we don’t have any seniors,” Wood said, “but a lot of these girls that we will be putting on the field have played at a high level and understand what it is going to take to compete day in and day out in the Sunflower League.”
Junior infielder Marly Carmona (second team all-league in 2012) leads Lawrence’s key returners, a group that includes infielder Morgan Byrn. Wood said freshman Katelyn Murrish could contribute immediately, likely as Lawrence’s catcher.
Wood expects the Lions’ March 28 opener at home — against a Shawnee Mission Northwest team that swept LHS last year — to serve as a handy gauge of where the team stands.
Lawrence track coach Jack Hood doesn’t know yet exactly who will emerge from a slew of newcomers, but he is optimistic many will add to the talented collection of veterans the Lions have running, jumping and throwing this season.
“We are excited about the potential we are seeing in the early practices,” Hood said. “We have a lot of young athletes that we hope can help us.”
LHS also owns a valuable mix of experience on its girls roster. Seniors Monica Howard and Grace Morgan, junior Caitlin Broadwell and sophomores Leah Gabler, Matia Finley and Rebecca Finley have all qualified for or medaled at state.
The same is true of junior Erik Parrish on the boys side, but he is a rare commodity on the young team. The Lions expect to gain experience on the fly and at the team’s first meet of the year Nick Benton, J’Mony Bryant, JD Woods and Tae Shorter won a 4x100 relay.
Lawrence’s track teams host Free State on Tuesday.