Opinion | KSHSAA should change postseason assignment process

As each team begins its season, players and coaches anxiously await to find out regional or sub-state assignments. It seems every year the reactions to assignments are either very excited or very disappointed.

As of now, high schools smaller than class 4A are split up into regionals and sub-state by the location of the school. Their records and level of competition are not taken into consideration.

Every regional seems to vary in the level competition. For an example, this year’s WHS softball regional assignment has a 2-1A state champion, 3A runner-up, and a couple recent state placers in the same tournament. Meanwhile, there are several regionals with teams we have run-ruled in the regular season as the top seed in the tournament. This has happened in all sports, but this year creates a particularly tough road for softball.

Although there are more schools in the 4A, 5A, and 6A classes, how the assignments are set up in the lower classes can be a modified version of the upper classes. By taking the upper half of team records in each class and dividing them up into different regionals, it allows regionals and sub-states to be evenly separated like the upper classes.

This will also make the state tournaments have a balanced level of competition and allow teams that have had great regular seasons to have a fair shot at state.

From personal experience of playing high school sports, my teams have competed in some of the most difficult games of our season in the regional or sub-state tournaments. Although the desire of making it to state may have contributed to these games, more often than not the teams played at a higher level of competition than the ones at state. The road to the state competition shouldn’t be more difficult than state itself.

— Abby Oliver, @AbbyOliver27

WHS spring sports coaches respond to regional assignments

Baseball will host regionals this year, which will take place May 13 and 15. Also participating in the tournament are Burlingame, Mission Valley, Lebo/Waverly, Lyndon, Northern Heights, Olpe/Hartford, and Rossville.

“This is the first time that 2-1A has had regionals with more than 5 or 6 teams. With 8 teams, there is no pitching advantage for the #1 or #2 seeds anymore as they will have to play quarterfinal games now, instead of just moving into the semi finals with a first round bye.  Otherwise, for our specific regional, there are some quality teams and there will be some good matchups. No matter what seed you end up with, it will take a very strategic and efficient game plan to advance,” coach Jeron Weisshaar said.

The softball team will compete in regionals at McLouth High School on May 13 and 14. McLouth will also host Atchison County, Mission Valley, Oskaloosa, Rossville, Troy, and Valley Falls.

“It’s gonna be very tough, there are a lot of good teams. There are eight teams in it compared to the usual five, so the chances of one of them being good is higher. I don’t know how they divided them up, but ours is very top heavy,” coach Brian Henry said.

The track team is to compete at Jefferson County North High School on May 17 against Valley Heights, Atchison County, Mission Valley, Horton, Jackson Heights, Bishop Seabury Academy, Lyndon, McLouth, Heritage Christian Academy, Oskaloosa, Kansas City Christian, Central Heights, Rossville, Maranatha Christian Academy and Jefferson County North.

“It’s kind of early to start telling whether it’s an easy regional or a tough regional, so that’s going to shake out. It’s a lot of the teams we usually see at a regional meet. How we’re going to compete with them, it takes later in the season to actually know that,” coach Roger Alderman said.

Check out all regional assignments at the links below:

http://www.kshsaa.org/Public/Baseball/Regionals.cfm

http://www.kshsaa.org/Public/Softball/Regionals.cfm

http://www.kshsaa.org/Public/Track/RegionalAssignments.cfm

Smart not anticipated to return as WHS boys basketball coach

Boys basketball coach Chris Smart will not return next season.

The school board voted on rehiring winter head coaches at Monday night’s board meeting. Wrestling coach Joey Heersche was the only WHS coach on the list, which was approved unanimously.

Principal Jan Hutley and athletic director Jeron Weisshaar declined to comment.

Reflecting on the team’s season, Smart said “We made huge strides this year. I think that’s what I’m most disappointed about is that I won’t get to continue that. Not only as basketball players but maturing as people.”

Smart ends his time at WHS with a record of 5-19.

The district is currently searching for a replacement. The new head coach will be the charger’s  third in three years.

— Laurel Barber, @Lawl_e_20

Barber wins powerlifting competition

Barber wins powerlifting competiton

Junior Laurel Barber out-lifted the state powerlifting competition.

This was Barber’s third year competing at 1A state powerlifting where she competed in bench, clean and squat. Barber placed 1st in clean and bench, 2nd in squat, and 1st overall. Due to the meet being a new powerlifting competition, Barber holds the record for clean and bench in 1A state along with the overall weight record of 515 pounds.

“I think I started the day off strong, then throughout the day I started to lose energy, but I’m still proud of my overall performance,” Barber said.

Barber created a personal goal this year to finish each lift five pounds from her max lift.

“Although I was a little farther away from my personal goal I was still proud of how my performance was and how I ended this season,

WHS Cheerleading announces 2019-20 roster

With a larger team, including five newcomers and five returning All-Americans, coach Cheryl Lewis looks forward to a exciting season.

“I’m very excited for our stunting possibilities as well as our continued growth as cheerleaders and dancers,” Lewis said.

Along with the growth and possibilities, Lewis said she was looking forward to the new and exciting ideas that will be infused to the team.

The team has fourteen members who are excited to see where the season take it.

“I am excited to see how far the team can grow and improve,” junior Kaytlyn Mekese said.

Next year’s squad is Jazlyn Posch, Danielle Murphy, Bri DeVader, Ryleigh Jones, Lilly Ogden, Kaytlyn Meseke, Laurel Barber, Emma Frey, Macy Falk, Shelby Wright, Jordan Magette, Justice Houston, Raegan Feyh, Kaelyn Conrad

Baseball team returns lots of experience

Junior Jackson Frank pitches during a varsity baseball game last season. The team returns an experienced roster from last season. “We really need to improve our focus during games and practice,” Frank said. The Chargers opened the season Tuesday against Chase County.

Baseball opens its season 4:30 tonight against Chase County

If a few plays had gone differently, the Charger baseball team could be looking at three straight state appearances.

The team made the school’s only state appearance in 2017, but in both 2016 and 2018, the season ended in the regional championship game — one run short of victory.

According to senior Logan Brown, that history makes this team hungry for success. The Chargers opened the season Tuesday against Chase County, the team that ended its season last year. “We really want revenge for regionals,” Brown said.

The team should have the offensive firepower to be competitive again, returning four of the top five batting averages from last season. “Batting average and runs scored was the highest it has been in my time here,” assistant coach Jess Rutledge said.

Despite graduating several seniors, the team is full of experienced players. “We have lots of depth overall. A number of kids can play multiple positions, so we’ll be pretty versatile,” head coach Jeron Weisshaar said.

Rutledge said the versatility could provide a strategic advantage. “Last year we had to adjust a lot for injuries, so we have a lot of guys with varsity experience,” Rutledge said. “We have enough depth to potentially play two completely different lineups in a double header without missing a beat.”

Pitching will provide more or a challenge, as the team looks to develop a larger roster of talent early in the season. Pitchers include juniors Jackson Frank and Eli Wollenberg, sophomores Tyler Lohmeyer and Isaac Lira and freshman Cade Oliver. “We have several pitchers, but we graduated about 50 percent of our innings pitched, so gaining experience early in the season will be important,” Weisshaar said.

Junior Eli Wollenberg said the team’s experience playing together will make them more competitive. “Everyone from our old 14 and under team, the Rattlers, is on the team this year. You know how they play and can count on them during a game,” Wollenberg said.

“We’ve been playing together since grade school, so we have good chemistry as a team,” junior Chad Chambers said.

Brown said the team is ready to compete, but they need to stay focused throughout the season. “We need to work hard to continue getting better. A lot of younger players are stepping up. We have good leadership too — everyone wants to hold each other accountable.”

Chambers also expects the team to play well. “I think we have the athleticism to win lots of games, but we need to make sure we have the mentality of a winning team. We have to work hard during practice. I think we expect to be a team that can go to state.”

Results against Chase County were not available at press time, but the team will continue its season Tuesday at home against Mission Valley.

— Brendan Praeger, @bpraeger

Softball reloads after winning state championship

Softball opens its season at 4:30 tonight against Chase County

After winning a state championship last season, softball hopes to reload for a return to state this spring.

Coach Brian Henry has high expectations for the team. “It really depends on how they come together as a team,” Henry said.

Losing only two players from the state team last year, graduate Hadley Schreiner and injured sophomore Reagan Kelley, the team plans to return strong.

“We only lost one senior and we gained some really good freshman,” senior Abby Oliver said. “We have some good underclassmen who are improving and gaining experience.”

Freshman joining the team this spring include Kaelyn Conrad, Madisyn Havenstein, Kara Hafenstine and Mayah Mumpower. “There are some underclassmen who will push for playing time. There’s some pretty good ones,” Henry said.

Wabaunsee still plans to have some competition entering the 2019 season. The girls fell to Rossville last year, and with Rossville dropping to 2A they expect to have competition in their regional this year.

“We still have to play in the tough Mid-East League and there’s a possibility of Rossville being in our regional,” Henry said, “A lot of the teams we lost to last year are returning the same talent.”

The team returns some talent of their own this year, including junior pitcher Autymn Schreiner. Schreiner announced her verbal commitment to Washburn University last week. “I’m super excited about committing to Washburn. I’ve heard so many good things about Coach Holaday and Washburn’s softball program,” Schreiner said, “Plus, they are continuing to upgrade their facilities which is awesome. Even though I can’t wait to play at the next level, I still have two more state championships to go win with our high school team.”

“It should be a good year. As long as we get along, we’ll be fine,” Henry said. The team hopes to see a lot of the same success they saw last year.

“I’m really excited to get the season started and see what our new group of really talented girls can get accomplished,” Schreiner said.

— Emma Frey, @_emmafrey_

Girls basketball heads to state for the third time in five years

The Chargers basketball team is #ALLIN for the state tournament.

The Chargers enter state as the top seed at 20-3 and face 9-12 Heritage Christian 3 p.m. Thursday at Gross Memorial Stadium in Hays.

The team entered sub-state as the number one seed and was able to dominate the teams and bring home the sub-state championship. They first played Goessel, the eighth seed, at home and won 58-24. From there they faced the fifth seeded Hillsboro and defeated them 52-19. For the championship the girls played second seed Northern Heights winning 59-43, qualifying the team to state again.

The players have been preparing themselves since the beginning of the season for this moment.

“We have practiced and prepared ourselves for the moment and when it comes, I think we will be ready,” junior Madelyn Hutley said.

This hard work and preparation makes this team special to head coach Shanna Perine.

“We are all on the same page. We know what we want and we knew from the beginning what we had to do to get there. Everyone bought into our goal and worked hard everyday to get to this point,” Perine said, “The sky’s the limit for this group. They are all very unselfish and want to win for each other. We know there are no shortcuts to the top and it will take all of us to get there.”

About half of the girls traveled to state two years ago, but only a few of them were able to have the experience of playing on the court. But senior Abby Oliver said this year is different.

“This team has a certain chemistry on the court that is like something I’ve never been a part of. If we keep playing like we have been, I think we’ll put up a tough fight at state,” Oliver said.

“Nothing surprises me about a group of kids who are #ALLIN,” Perine said.

— Kaytlyn Meseke, @Kaytlyn_nelle

Bailey Coon, Bryce Tharman compete in indoor track outside of high school season

Two WHS students are preparing for the high school track season with the NEK Track Club.

Senior Bailey Coon and junior Bryce Tharman participate in the Northeast Kansas (NEK) Track Club program. The NEK club was created to teach youth the necessary skills and develop them over time with an indoor and outdoor competition season.

Coon has been with the club for four years competing in the indoor and outdoor season. For the indoor season, she participates in shot put and weight, and shot put, hammer and discus for the outdoor season.

“I decided to do it because I did track in junior high and liked it,” Coon said, “Then in high school my dad wanted me to play softball, but I still wanted to to do track. So then junior high long distance) coach Greg Baron talked to me and introduced me to NEK.”

Coon also had the opportunity to compete in both the USATF and AAU Junior Olympics last summer. Coon participated in hammer and shot put at both of these competitions. For the USATF Jr. Olympics, competition started in Liberty, MO. To move onto the next meet in the competition, Coon had to place in the top five. Coon continued to place in the top five to advance to Little Rock, MO. and Greensboro, N.C. For the AAU Jr. Olympics the set up was the same. Coon was able to advance from Independence, MO. to Joplin, MO. and then to Des Moines, Iowa.

This is Tharman’s first year with the program after deciding he wanted to prepare for the high school season year round. “I wanted a good way to help get in shape for outdoor track in the spring,” Tharman said. For now he is competing in just the indoor season, but still debating on the outdoor season. Unlike Coon, Tharman participates in the running events. He runs the 800, the 1500 and the 3000 meter races.

Coon and Tharman both agree that it’s a great way to prepare for the high school season and enjoy everything that the program does. “I like the environment. Everybody there is friendly and competitive and they’re all there for the same reasons I am,” Tharman said. Coon said it’s also a great opportunity to meet new people and college coaches at the meets too.

Practices are held at Kansas State University and meets are mostly in Kansas, Missouri or Nebraska, so the main difficulty of participating is the scheduling between school and other extra activities. Coon and Tharman have found it important to improve their skills so they found ways to work the meets and practices into their busy schedules.

“I have a job this year, so I’m slightly late to practices on Sunday. And since I’ve been doing it for four years, I have it worked well in my schedule,” Coon said.

Coon competed at Northwest Missouri State University last weekend and placed first in shot put and weight. Tharman was supposed to compete at Pitt State University, but was unable to compete due to bad weather conditions.

— Kaytlyn Meseke, @kaytlyn_nelle

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