FSHS senior returns to soccer team after year off

photo by: Mike Yoder

Free State soccer player Rowan Laufer (4), center, kicks in a shot for a score during the Firebirds match against the Leavenworth Pioneers on Sept. 28, 2016 at FSHS.

Rowan Laufer made his much-anticipated return Tuesday at Free State High School against Olathe South in the season opener. Laufer scored both goals, including one on a penalty kick, during a 3-2 defeat in Free State’s first match of the 2018 season.

Prior to that, the Free State senior attacking midfielder hadn’t played a match with his high school team since his sophomore season in 2016. Laufer, who spent a year with the Sporting Kansas City Developmental Academy, is officially back for one more season with the Firebirds.

“It’s definitely a different environment,” Laufer said. “I enjoy playing at Free State. It’s a great place to play, and the coaching staff is great.”

About this feature

Preps Notebook is a new feature from Journal-World high school sports reporter Shane Jackson that will run several times a week and highlight results and other information about local teams. For more on this new coverage plan, please read Shane’s introduction here.

Laufer went to tryouts in June of 2017, and he trained with the team for a few weeks before earning a spot on the U-17 team.

After making the team, Laufer never stopped moving. He drove to Kansas City after school for practice, and even took some classes online to free up his schedule. Laufer traveled with the team to several different locations on the weekends, including Los Angeles and Houston.

The season ultimately ended in May of 2018, as Laufer’s team didn’t make it out of its group in the postseason.

“It’s like a full-time job,” Laufer said. “I could play for the rest of my life. It’s fun playing anywhere, but when you are playing with kids who are as committed to the game as you, it’s definitely a good experience.”

Still, Laufer admitted that he monitored how the Firebirds were doing last fall when they went 7-8-2.

Laufer is ready to go out on a strong note in his final season with FSHS, which returns to action at 6:30 p.m. Thursday with a home match against Topeka Seaman.

“I think we are going to prove a lot of people wrong,” Laufer said. “We lost a couple people, and people are doubting us a little bit. I think we are going to do better than people expected us to.”

LHS seniors embracing leadership role

Gary Schmidt still remembers when LHS boys soccer coach Mike Murphy had a meeting with the junior class near the end of the 2017 season.

The theme of the meeting revolved around leadership, as Murphy challenged the group to become more vocal on a daily basis. Murphy stressed the importance of getting better in the offseason as well.

“He gave us a talk about it being a 12-month season,” Schmidt said. “It was about preparing for each year, whether it is physically or mentally, and getting prepared to lead.”

The conversation from last fall has proved to be beneficial, as LHS has been more prepared during the first few weeks of the new season behind a nine-player senior class of Jack Anderson, Ross Brungardt, Garrett Hart, Trey Hulse, Spencer King, Nathan Stoddard, Cole Shupert, Will Yanek and Schmidt.

“I feel like it has been a seamless transition because the leadership didn’t just start this year,” Schmidt said. “You have to lead every time you are on the field.”

The Lions (1-1) suffered a 2-0 defeat in the season opener in Friday’s match against Manhattan, which finished third in Class 6A last season. Lawrence then followed that up with a 4-2 home victory Tuesday, scoring three goals in the second half.

“Considering we didn’t have a lot of seniors last year, they knew (they had to lead more),” Murphy said. “I’m hoping that’s going to be something that they took to heart.”

LHS travels to Shawnee Mission East at 7 p.m. Friday.

Perfect fit

Earlier this month, Lawrence senior Trey Quartlebaum verbally committed to play collegiate basketball at St. Francis Brooklyn College.

Quartlebaum admitted that he wanted to make the decision before the start of the senior season, though it was a rather easy choice. After considering multiple schools, Quartlebaum believed St. Francis Brooklyn College was the best school.

“It was a very good fit,” Quartlebaum said. “I’m from New York, so I have a lot of family support there.”

More than that, Quartlebaum has known head coach Glenn Braica for about 14 years.

Braica was on the same coaching staff as Fred Quartlebaum, who is Trey’s father, at St. John’s University for eight seasons. Fred Quartlebaum is now the director of student-athlete development for the University of Kansas men’s basketball team.

So when St. Francis offered Trey Quartlebaum in July, he didn’t need to wait long to make his decision.

“It just made sense to go there,” Quartlebaum said.

Quartlebaum expects to play point guard at the next level, and he hopes to spend the season getting stronger and faster. He also wants to improve on his ability to get to the basket, driving through any traffic in the lane.

After all, playing at the Division I level has always been the plan for Quartlebaum since he first picked up the sport.

“That’s always been my goal since I was always around it,” Quartlebaum said. “I knew what I had to do to reach that goal.”

Cross-country teams on preseason polls

The Baldwin girls cross-country team enters the season as the favorite in Class 4A, earning a No. 1 spot in the Jim Maska Preseason Cross-Country Poll. Meanwhile, the boys cross-country team is listed at No. 6. Both Tonganoxie and Eudora received votes for the two preseason polls in Class 4A.

Free State’s girls cross-country team has high expectations once again. The Firebirds were ranked No. 7 in Class 6A after finishing seventh at the state meet in 2017. The boys cross-country team received two votes in the preseason poll.

“On the girls side, they are already motivated and I’m seeing some good chemistry right there,” FSHS head coach Steve Heffernan said. “I think the girls are on their way and we just have to race. On the guys side, we are still inexperienced. We are talented, but we are going to have to gain some racing experience.”


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.