Preps Notebook: LHS, Free State wrestlers jump out to fast starts

photo by: Contributed photo

Free State High's Cole Wright executes a lift and return against a Blue Springs South opponent at the Leavenworth Challenger event last weekend.

The Free State and Lawrence High wrestling teams made promising strides in their opening slate of matches last week, as the boys and girls teams each brought home some hardware.

The LHS boys won the prestigious Leavenworth Challenger event with 287 points, outscoring Washburn Rural (267) and Free State (253), both of which were ranked in the top seven in the state.

Aiden Carmack and Elijah Gray took first for the Lions, while Lou Elsten, Andrew Honas, Jack Elsten, Trevor Swearinger and Tucker Corbin all placed second.

Harrison Kirkwood finished third for LHS and Logan Sheldon, Daniel Parrish, Brandt Wolleson and Anthony Phommaseng all took sixth.

Defeating Olathe East and Holton on Dec. 1, the Free State boys kicked off their season with some momentum. The Firebirds fought a tough battle at the annual Leavenworth Challenger this past weekend, as seniors Eric Streeter (7-0) and Matthew Macrum (7-0) finished the tournament undefeated. Drew Streeter, Nolan Bradley and Gavin Blanchard each posted second-place finishes.

Other top-five finishers for the Firebirds included Grayson Hagen (3rd at 126 pounds), D’onte Goodman (3rd at 138), Braxton Blanck (3rd at 285), Gabe Swoyer (4th at 157), and Cole Wright (5th at 150).

Also making its way to Leavenworth, the Free State girls’ team brought home four fourth-place medals between Ava Corbin, Daijah Preston and Charity Bittinger at its second match of the season. The Free State girls fell to Gardner-Edgerton by a single match in last week’s season opener.

The Firebirds return to the mat this weekend, with the boys traveling to Manhattan on Saturday and the girls heading to Basehor-Linwood on Dec. 17.

On the girls’ side for the Lions, Goldy Stephens finished 5-1 at 190 pounds and took second place, scoring 23 team points.

Girls hoops roundup

The Lawrence High girls basketball team delivered a big-time win in Tuesday’s season opener, blowing out Washington 86-14 at home. Senior Amaya Marshall led the Lady Lions, with a career-high 27 points against the Wildcats. Serenity Keo and Daphne Bracker-Sturm posted 12 points each on the way towards LHS’ first win of the season.

Last Thursday, the Free State girls basketball team fell on the road to Blue Valley West 49-14 in the Firebirds’ season opener.

Free State swim takes gold in home opener

The Free State swim and dive team took first place at its first home meet, scoring a tournament-high 422 points. A first-place finish by the 200-meter medley relay included strong opening performances by Sina Khosh, Ari Mattes, Dawson Bonnell and Jackson Waggoner.

Individual finishes included Dawson Bonnell in the 200-meter IM (2nd) and the 100-meter butterfly (1st) and Jackson Waggoner in the 50-meter freestyle (2nd). Khosh also finished first in the 100-meter backstroke and the 500-meter freestyle. Mattes added a first-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke to the Free State score.

Three Firebirds, Michael Leonard (1st), Isaiah Wilkins (2nd), and Elijah Sabatini (3rd), captured all three medals in the 1-meter dive. Free State will compete in another triangular at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center on Dec. 14.

LHS boys basketball wins opening round of Blue Valley Shootout

The Lawrence High boys basketball team defeated Ruskin 72-58 in the first round of the Blue Valley Shootout on Tuesday night.

Zaxton King led the Lions with a game-high 20 points, knocking down three 3s along the way. Jaylon Case broke double-digits as well, scoring 11 points for the Lions, including a 3 of his own. Kenton Simmons and Macade Lewis each pitched in nine points. Simmons finished the night shooting a team-best 5 of 5 from the stripe. LHS will face Veritas at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Grzenda honored by KSHSAA

Longtime Lawrence High swimming and diving coach Pat Grzenda, who started coaching at LHS in 1978, was recently named one of five people selected for the 2023 class of the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame.

Grzenda also coached a few years at Free State until her retirement in 2001.

Throughout her career, her teams recorded a .850 winning percentage, 10 league championships and eight state championships. That included consecutive girls state swimming titles at LHS from 1989 to 1994.

In 1995, Grzenda was named the National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association National Boys Swimming Coach of the Year. She also earned Kansas Coaches Association boys coach of the year honors in 1997 and 2001.

In 2004, Grzenda also received the Kansas Master Teacher Award for her dedication and innovation in adaptive physical education.


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