Heat greets prep practices
The first day of preseason practices for high school fall sports teams opened with a lot of heat, but that didn’t put a damper on any enthusiasm for the upcoming season.
Lawrence High’s football team didn’t need much time to ease back into an energetic atmosphere, as the Lions are motivated by last year’s losses despite the temperatures rising in the 90s.
“It’s a great group,” LHS coach Dirk Wedd said. “They came ready to practice. I think (last season’s) 3-6 (record) left a bad taste in their mouth, and they want to do something special.”
The Lions had high participation numbers throughout summer practices, and after those ended, they stayed in shape as the team’s seniors led practices over the past week.
“I’m so pleased,” Wedd said of the senior class. “They’re few in numbers, and they’ve had no success, but they really have done a good job of being leaders today and then all summer. I couldn’t ask any more from them.”
Free State High’s football team returned to the gridiron after a nearly three-week break from the end of summer workouts. FSHS coach Bob Lisher said he hoped to see the seniors who took a leadership role this summer on the field and in the weight room take an even bigger role as the season approaches.
“I’m pleased with what they’ve done through the summer,” Lisher said. “As a group, they worked hard. Now they’ve got to understand they’re the senior leaders this year, and as soon as they understand it better, things should start happening.”
However, the first day didn’t go without a few hiccups.
Nearly 20 Free State football players couldn’t practice because they didn’t have the necessary paperwork completed.
Lawrence High volleyball opened tryouts with a conditioning test before heading into the gym to work on passing and serves. If the summer served as an indicator, the Lions are ready for the season to begin.
“Oh, I was extremely happy,” LHS coach Stephanie Magnuson said. “I was most impressed with the leadership over the course of the summer. A lot of our seniors were present for the majority of the events throughout the summer and really set the bar for everyone else.”
Magnuson will have to make about a dozen cuts, with about 25 freshmen and 30 upperclassmen at tryouts, while Free State coach Nancy Hopkins will trim from 60 girls to around 40 this week.
“We try to spend a lot of time looking at combinations, kids who work well together,” Hopkins said. “Like I told them when I was talking to them before we even started, I look at attitude. People who are willing to listen to the coaches, do what the coach says, encourages their teammates and don’t roll their eyes or that kind of stuff.”
Free State boys soccer coach Kelly Barah is thrilled to have nearly 80 athletes trying out for the team this year, but that also means he will have to make a lot of cuts.
“It’s one of the things as a coach you really don’t want to do, but for a cut sport, you have to do it,” Barah said. “It is absolutely brilliant and satisfying that kids want to be involved in the program, and so I would like not to have to cut anybody, but it’s just the nature of the sport.”
FSHS and Lawrence High had everyone go through timed conditioning tests while also working on drills on the field.
LHS coach Mike Murphy said he expects a high level of competition in tryouts as players fight not only for varsity spots, but starting roles.
“We had, on average, 40 guys out here on each (summer day),” Murphy said. “For the most part, I liked the numbers, and I liked the work ethic from most guys, particularly the upperclassmen, who worked really hard.”