Lions eager for start of winter sports season
photo by: File photo
Just a week after finding out that the high school winter sports seasons would go on as scheduled, four Lawrence High programs will jump into competition in the coming days.
Lawrence’s swim and dive program and the wrestling team will kick off the 2020-21 campaign on Wednesday, though fans of all winter sports will not be allowed at games through at least Jan. 28, 2021. The LHS girls basketball team will play its season opener on Thursday and the LHS boys basketball team will begin play on Saturday.
Here’s a look at what’s ahead for Lawrence High’s four winter sports programs heading into the 2020-21 seasons:
photo by: Carter Gaskins
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
For the second year in a row, Lawrence High’s talented guard Zeke Mayo is the team’s only returning starter. Despite that being the case last year, though, the Lions went 18-5 (10-2 Sunflower League) on their way to securing a share of the league title and eventually earning a sixth consecutive trip to the state tournament.
Lawrence is in a position to reload once again with a talented group led by Mayo, who signed to play Division I basketball at South Dakota State University before his senior campaign.
“We are very blessed and spoiled with a group of guys that love being around each other and love being in the gym,” said head coach Mike Lewis, who enters his 15th season at the helm. “We are also very blessed to have a guy with the talent of Zeke Mayo to lead the team this year.”
Mayo, who is a 6-foot-3 senior guard, was the Journal-World’s boys basketball player of the year as a junior last season. He proved to be a well-rounded player who was consistently the best on the court. Mayo averaged 16.0 points per game to go along with 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per contest.
The Lions will have to replace seven players, including four starters, if they hope to make program history by earning a seventh-straight state berth. Senior guard Jackson Dooley and senior forward Ntense Obono are expected to embrace bigger roles this year.
Juniors Avion Nelson, Truman Juelsgaard, Grant Cleavinger, Jack Ryan and Pearse Long are going to contribute to this year’s varsity squad as well.
“We look forward to getting the guys back in the gym and building that camaraderie that last year’s team was blessed with,” Lewis said.
Lawrence will travel to Manhattan High at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
photo by: Carter Gaskins
LHS girls basketball will also play in that doubleheader in Manhattan on Saturday, with its game starting at 4 p.m. But the Lions will actually start the season at home on Thursday with a matchup against Blue Valley Northwest. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
The Lions had a young squad a year ago when they went 5-16, especially after losing their top senior to a season-ending injury. It provided the opportunity for many young players to get some meaningful minutes, putting LHS in a better position entering this year.
“We are a year older in most cases and, like all schools, we are struggling with injuries and COVID concerns,” seventh-year head coach Jeff Dickson said. “But we are Lawrence High Lady Lion basketball so you know (we) will have a group of kids that are going to play hard, compete hard and will truly care about each other, their coaches, our program and our school.”
Junior Layla Harjo, sophomore Amaya Marshall, sophomore Hailey Ramirez, sophomore Serenity Keo, sophomore Lucy Hardy, senior Jayden Wilson and sophomore Cree Stewart are all among the key returners coming back for Lawrence.
“I am extremely excited for these kids to have a chance to get out and do what they love and still do everything in our power to keep everyone safe,” Dickson said. “I hope that this trying situation helps everyone outside of our program to appreciate what these kids and coaches go through.”
photo by: Nick Krug
Lawrence’s lineup should feature a nice mix of proven veterans and promising young wrestlers for a season that begins with a home dual against Gardner-Edgerton on Wednesday.
“We have a good balance of experienced and young wrestlers, which should be a good mix to navigate this season,” said Patrick Naughton, who is in his 13th season at the helm. “Most of our wrestlers have competed in the fall sports season.”
Junior Kevin Honas, who is a two-time state placer, is back to lead the way for the Lions. Honas finished fourth in the 120-pound weight class at the state wrestling meet last year. He went 33-10 during his sophomore campaign.
Sophomore Jack Elsten netted sixth at the state meet in the 106-pound weight class. Elsten posted a 24-20 overall record during his first season wrestling at the high school level. Seniors Trey Medina and Logan Farrell are also back for one more year with LHS.
With no fans being permitted, Lawrence is attempting to stream its duals this year online. The dual against Gardner-Edgerton will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday at LHS.
photo by: Courtesy photo
Lawrence expects to have another young group of swimmers with plenty of potential this year.
The Lions finished eighth at the Sunflower League meet a year ago and claimed 21st as a squad at the state meet. LHS brings back a number of athletes who managed to qualify for the state meet last season.
Swimmers Giovanni Lule-Paredes and Trenton Snyder, along with diver Salvador Good, will be the key seniors on this year’s team. Junior diver Keyan Crawford is also returning after qualifying for the state meet.
Sophomores Ryan Christian, Giuliano Lule-Paredes, Christopher Oral and Max Whittaker are looking to build off strong freshman campaigns that ended with them qualifying for the state meet as well.
“(This is a) good group of hard-working swimmers and divers who deserve to be able to compete this season,” said head coach Kent McDonald, who is in his 15th season guiding this program.
Lawrence will begin the season on Wednesday with a meet that includes Free State, Leavenworth and Shawnee Mission South. The meet is slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. at LHS.