Lions begin fall sports season with high hopes
photo by: Nick Krug
Lawrence High’s fall sports teams will officially kick off the 2019-20 season this week.
The LHS girls tennis team will start things off with a quadrangular at 3 p.m. today at the College Boulevard Activity Center. LHS boys soccer, meanwhile, will travel to Manhattan at 6:15 p.m. Friday. The rest of the fall sports squads will begin play next week.
Here is a peek at all of the Lions’ fall sports programs ahead of the 2019 season:
The Lions have plenty of reason to believe that they will be better than last year.
In Steve Rampy’s first season, LHS went 1-8 and was eliminated by Derby in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs. The team’s lone victory came during a 21-6 win over Olathe Northwest, though LHS appeared to get better toward the end of last season.
“What I told them in our exit meeting last year was that we can’t ever get this going where we want it to be if we practice like a 1-8 football team,” Rampy said. “They have to practice with confidence, they have to prepare in the summer with confidence. They have done that. My expectation is that we are a lot better than we were a year ago.”
The Lions are returning a ton of talent, especially on the offensive end. Junior running back Devin Neal should be a huge part of Lawrence’s offense, while senior receiver Chris McGee will be a go-to option in the passing game.
Junior quarterback Jackson Dooley now has a better understanding of the offense. Junior defensive back Tre’ Jackson will also be involved on the offensive end this season. Junior center Porter Dannevik will anchor an improved offensive line.
Lawrence will have to replace key contributors on the defensive end, but junior Cole Mondi could be one of the better linebackers in Class 6A. Senior Deshon Lewis will play both defensive back and receiver this year.
“This team has a lot of skill guys with a lot of talent,” Rampy said. “Everybody is going to have their moments.”
LHS will play in a preseason jamboree at 7 p.m. Friday at Shawnee Mission North. Lawrence will then play host to Olathe South in the season opener on Sept. 6.
A new-look squad will be responsible for defending last year’s dominant run.
The Lions went 38-2 en route to a Class 6A state title last season, which marked their first state crown since 1995. Many of the players responsible for last year’s impressive run have since graduated, and LHS will have to lean on some new faces in order to make a third consecutive trip to the state tournament.
Seniors Ashley Wildeman, Asjah Harris, Keely English and Haven Bellerive are all expected to be key contributors this fall.
“(I’m) looking forward to seeing how far we go given how hard each one of the players works everyday,” said Stephanie Scarbrough, who is in her 13th season as the head coach.
Lawrence will play host to Blue Valley Northwest at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
In his 10th season at the helm, Mike Murphy’s soccer squad aims to get back above .500 this fall.
Following a 6-9-2 campaign, the Lions have the pieces to do just that. Senior Matteo Kalusha-Aguirre and junior Tanner Glanton are both captains this fall. Senior Kanak Masten, junior Mason Anderson and junior Alec Murphy will also be crucial to the team’s success.
“This talented team will be exciting to watch this season,” Murphy said.
LHS will travel to Manhattan for the season opener at 6:15 p.m. Friday.
After a rebuilding year last fall, Lawrence’s cross-country team is poised to have success in 2019.
Senior Sophie DeWitt will lead the way for a girls team trying to run in meaningful meets at the end of the year. Lucy Hardy, who is coming off a national track run, will have an impact in her freshman campaign. Sophomore Jack Ryan should anchor the boys team this fall.
“2019 is shaping up to be a great year for our younger athletes,” fifth-year head coach Laura Brensing said. “We have some talented freshmen coming in that will be a nice addition to our returning team.”
LHS will compete in its first meet at Warner Memorial Park on Saturday, Sept. 7.
It will be a tough task replacing some key seniors from last year’s team that finished as a runner-up at the state gymnastics meet.
But first-year head coach Katrina Farrow, who was an assistant the previous three seasons, believes she has capable gymnasts to step up. Sophomore Paris Spotted-Tail will look to build on a strong rookie season. Junior Beth Brandt, junior Reece Wohlford, junior Caroline Dunlap and senior Cierra Krauss will also bring something to the table this season for the Lions.
“It’s going to be very exciting to see who steps up to fill the big shoes for LHS,” Farrow said. “We have some very talented girls that I believe are ready and excited for the opportunity.”
Lawrence’s first gymnastics meet of the year will be at Shawnee Mission Northwest on Saturday, Sept. 7.
LHS hopes to qualify its entire team for the state meet this fall after sending three last season.
Senior Josie Abernathy and sophomore Rylie Hayden, who both earned their first state berths last season, will lead the way for LHS this year. Lawrence also has some younger players that should embrace bigger roles this fall.
“We will be counting on our younger players to improve, and move up to the varsity level, to add to the two returners from last year,” third-year head coach John Moos said. “This will allow the players to drive towards our team goal of making it to state.”
Lawrence will begin its season with a tournament at Prairie Highlands Golf Course at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The Lions have a real shot of improving on their 12th-place finish in the Sunflower League this year.
LHS has plenty of experienced players looking to take that next step. Senior Lana Chieu, junior Lilli Derby, junior Laura Teska, junior Bella Kirkwood and sophomore Katie Logan are all back and eager to show their improvements.
“This year we are much more experienced and deeper than we have been in the past,” ninth-year head coach Chris Marshall said. “We have a lot of new players who have shown a desire to get better at tennis this year. So this should be a fun year.”
LHS tennis is the first team in action in 2019, as it will compete in a quadrangular at 3 p.m. today at the College Boulevard Activity Center.