Year in Review: Lions notch track title during strong season
photo by: Chris Duderstadt/Journal-World File Photo
It was another successful year for the Lawrence High athletic program, which captured a state title on the final day of the season.
The girls track team won a state championship with a commanding performance at Wichita State University, marking the 108th state title in school history. Athletic director Bill DeWitt, who plans to step down this summer after five years at the helm, broke down the year the Lions had.
Here’s a look at the notable athletic accomplishments from the 2017-18 season.
Lions claim crown
The girls track team took home the only state title this past school year for LHS.
Behind a strong junior class, Lawrence scored 81 points to notch the program’s first state victory since 2015. Olathe Northwest scored 61 points, finishing as a distant runner-up in Class 6A.
Junior Evann Seratte finished first in the 800-meter run, breaking a school record with a time of 2:16.09. The Lions’ 4×100-meter relay team of Ashley Wildeman, Amaya Harris, Bella Kirkwood and Asjah Harris also won a state title with a school-record time of 47.90.
“I know how hard these kids work,” DeWitt said. “They really peaked at the absolute right time. They won that tournament going away. Part of that is that you have an outstanding staff. Coach (Jack) Hood really does an amazing job at having those kids ready at that particular point in the year.”
The Lions managed to record a podium finish in all three relay races to go along with nine individual medals.
“They are a good group,” DeWitt said. “That is the best part. As good as athletes as they are, they are just really good kids. So you are excited for them just as people to see that happen.”
The fall sports teams set the tone with a strong start to the school year.
For the first time since 2009, the volleyball team made it to the state tournament. The Lions, who posted a 27-13 record, finished fourth after going 1-2 in their return to the state tournament in October.
In addition, the football team went to the second round during the last season under the guidance of Dirk Wedd. The gymnastics squad placed fifth at the state meet behind junior Josie Hickerson, who placed sixth in the all-around leaderboard.
“It does set the tone for the entire school building,” DeWitt said. “Those programs in the fall are positioning themselves to be successful. That sets up other seasons, because you have that championship mentality as you transition from season to season.”
It was business as usual for the boys basketball team, which notched a fourth trip to the state tournament in as many years.
Lawrence eventually finished with a 13-10 record after falling in the 6A quarterfinals. The girls team, however, finished shy of returning to the state tournament. The Lions fell in the sub-state championship, though they have compiled a 35-10 record over the last two seasons.
E’Lease Stafford, who will play at East Tennessee State University next year, averaged 15.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game to lift LHS to a 15-7 record in her final season.
“Boys basketball has always been very high profile,” DeWitt said. “You can now see our students showing up earlier for games, because they know they are going to see great competition in the girls game before the boys game.”
Senior Stephen Johnson netted two victories during the state swim meet in February. He finished first in the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle with a time of 1:40.74 and 4:41.68, respectively. Senior Relle Dye took third in 138-pound class at the state wrestling meet, while senior Melle Dye finished fourth in the 145-pound class.
Holly Evans also placed eighth in the state bowling meet.
Rest of spring
Lawrence senior Hunter Krohm capped a stellar season by notching second at the state meet in the javelin competition with a throw of 204-02. Krohm also played football and was a member of the bowling team for the Lions.
Junior Emily Guo won a state title in the 100 breastroke with a time of 1:05.75, finishing just ahead of teammate Marian Frick at the 6A state swim meet in May. Guo nearly competed in another event, lifting the girls swim team to a fourth-place finish.
In addition, boys tennis placed 12th at the state tournament in May. Junior Cooper Wright and sophomore Kanak Masten, the top doubles team for the Lions, registered ninth in their first trip to the state tournament.
“I thought we had a really nice season,” DeWitt said. “I liked the way we competed as a school. We had a few programs accomplish some goals that they have been working toward.”