Preps notebook: Top area athletes from opening month of winter sports season
photo by: Chance Parker
One month of the high school winter sports season has been completed, though it wasn’t completely uninterrupted.
There have been at least three local teams who have been asked to quarantine due to COVID-19 protocols, while everybody is doing their best to navigate through this strange season. There have been fan restrictions along with other social distancing measures that have taken place at every event.
While this year has been as unique as ever, the one sense of normalcy is the number of talented athletes in the area. This list will highlight some of those standouts.
Here is a look at the top area athletes from the opening month of the winter sports season:
Zeke Mayo, Lawrence High boys basketball — The Lions (No. 3 in Class 6A) are 5-0 to start the season, and the play of Mayo is a big reason why. The talented senior guard has scored at least 20 points in all five games, leading LHS with an average of 25.4 points per contest. In addition, Mayo is averaging 6.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals per outing.
“It’s not a surprise,” LHS head coach Mike Lewis said of Mayo’s strong start. “He’s playing very much within our group. He’s been very steady. He’s been working really hard on defense and leading us in rebounds, so it’s not just the scoring. He’s a balanced player.”
Will Rau, Veritas boys basketball — It is not hard to find Rau on the box score after every game. The senior combo guard really knows how to pile up the stats for the Eagles, who are 4-2 after the first month of the season. Rau, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound captain, is averaging 22 points per contest for Veritas. He is contributing eight rebounds per game for the Eagles as well.
Justin Fawcett, Eudora boys basketball — Despite having to replace plenty of players from last year’s squad, the EHS boys basketball team is 2-1 after the first month. The Cardinals earned wins over Turner and Bonner Springs in December. Senior center Fawcett, who is 6-foot-6, is averaging 18 points per game to lead the way for Eudora.
Amaya Marshall, Lawrence High girls basketball — One of the best moments of December was Marshall’s return to the court. After suffering a season-ending ACL injury on Feb. 27, Marshall returned on Dec. 10 to lead Lawrence to victory in her first game back. Marshall scored a game-high 18 points in the Lions’ lone win of December.
Shannon Clarke, Free State girls basketball — Due to a quarantine, Free State’s girls basketball was limited to just two games in December. During the Firebirds’ 1-1 start, Clarke has been about as strong as expected. The senior standout scored a team-high 15 points in Free State’s win over Shawnee Heights. Expect even better numbers after the break from Clarke, who is committed to play at the Naval Academy at the collegiate level.
Katy Hurd and Campbell Keller for Perry-Lecompton girls basketball — A pair of players have led the way for the Perry-Lecompton girls basketball team. Junior Katy Hurd is nearly averaging a double-double through six games, posting 8.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest. She also has 25 blocks on the year. Junior Campbell Keller is shooting 44% from 3-point range, while averaging 8.7 points and 2.0 assists per outing.
Hayleigh Wempe, Baldwin girls wrestling — It has been an impressive start to Wempe’s high school wrestling career. The freshman from Baldwin has won eight of her nine matches thus far. Three of Wempe’s wins have come against the No. 1 ranked wrestler, No. 3 ranked wrestler and No. 6 ranked wrestler in her weight class in girls wrestling.
Toby Thomas, Baldwin boys wrestling — Thomas already has a dozen victories on the wrestling mat after just one month of action. Thomas is 12-1 to start his senior season, with his lone loss coming at the hands of the defending state champion in his weight class. Thomas is ranked fifth in Class 4A in his weight group entering the break.
Giuliano Lule-Paredes, Lawrence High boys swim — The sophomore Lawrence swimmer was honored as athlete of the week on Dec. 18 after netting two event victories at the Shawnee Mission South triangular. In that event, Lule-Paredes won the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke for the Lions. It is just one month, but Lule-Paredes is in a good position to have a strong postseason performance given his work ethic and commitment to his craft.
Riley Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Free State boys swim — Leading the way for the Free State swim squad, Sirimongkhon-Dyck is one of the few seniors on the season. That leadership is more important than ever this year, but Sirimongkhon-Dyck is also gifted in the pool and constantly claiming multiple individual victories in every event. Last time out, Sirimongkhon-Dyck won the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke at the Olathe Northwest triangular on Dec. 17.