Athletes return ready to compete

After successful seasons in 2015, varsity Lions return with confidence

By Gary Schmidt

Girls’ Swimming

Fresh off a season that exceeded expectations, which saw the team place eighth at the state meet, the program expects much more where that came from this year.

Junior Mary-Reed Weston is one of the few on the swim and dive team who has multiple years of experience, something she says is a good thing.

“I’m really excited to work with the new freshmen. There’s a lot of talent coming in from the club team, so I think it will be good to have a stronger team than we have had in the past,” Weston said.

Weston led the Lady Lions at the state meet last year, earning second team all-state honors for her fifth-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke, and her place in helping Lawrence High place its 200 meter medley and 400 meter freestyle relays teams.

To top those efforts from last year, lots of work needs to be done, according to Weston.

“For me personally, [my biggest challenge] would just be getting back into shape and back into the swing of swimming and going every day to practice,” Weston added.

The Lady Lions open their season against Emporia High School on March 23.

Track and field

The goal of track and field head coach, Jack Hood, is simple every year: win a state title. This past season, the Lady Lions were able to do just that. Reaching that goal again this season appears to be the challenge for the track team.

Senior Kyleigh Severa, who played a pivotal role in the 2015 state title, is looking forward to this season, still brimming with optimism from the state title.

Severa is a three-time champion in the 4×400 meter relay, but despite the loss of three of the members who helped win the title last year to graduation, Severa says her No. 1 goal remains to four-peat.

The boys team had a disappointing finish to the season last year, dropping several points in different events on the second day of state, resulting in a tie for eighth place. The team returns many of the athletes it sent to state a year ago and believes that a much improved finish at state its within its reach.

Trey Moore, a junior who placed fifth in the 110 meter hurdles at state last season, said that the boys time is now.

Moore also was on the Lions’ 4×100 meter relay last year, which finished sixth despite having the top preliminary time. Some of the goals Moore has heading into this season are to improve his finishes at state, but also for the Lions to end the season with a podium finish.

The Lions’ first meet of the season is a dual against Topeka West on March 24.


“Practice, practice, practice,” was the mantra for LHS senior golfer Dawson Dykes. Practice will be a big theme for the Lions this year, as they look to build upon their 11th place finish at the class 6A state tournament last year. Dykes, among the four returners from the Lions’ state team last year, looks to improve his score of 76 from last season, good for 20th place.

The Lions, who were regional champions a year ago, return along with Dykes, senior Braxton Olson, and juniors Cole Brungardt and Garrett Wildeman to a much more experienced lineup.

Dykes, one of two seniors, doesn’t feel pressure to perform any better, even if it will be his last season.

“Just it being my senior year and being able to play in lots of different tournaments and going to state,”

Dykes responded when asked about why he is looking forward to this year.

After finishing ahead of Free State and Olathe Northwest by one stroke at regionals last season, coincidentally the Lions’ only tournament victory, the team hopes to reproduce some of that same magic.

“My goal is to go to regionals again as a team this year and to place [better individually],” Dykes said.

The Lions open their season away at the Deer Creek Golf Course on March 30.

Girls’ Soccer

Moving on from a lackluster 2015 season, the Lady Lions soccer team is welcoming change. Senior defender Elaine Harris cherishes the opportunity for one last season wearing the Lions uniform, but is still open to changes undertaking the program.

“Just the fact that it is a new season and a bunch of new freshmen coming up and that we have a bunch of new teams we are playing this year,” Harris said.

Last summer, LHS hired a new head coach Matt McCune following the resignation of former head coach Justin Young. McCune comes to Lawrence High with an impressive resume, having played at the collegiate and professional levels and being a director of the Vinland Valley Soccer Association.

For the team, which finished 4-13 overall last year, moving on from a disappointing season a year ago presents more challenges than meet the eye.

“Our biggest challenge this year? Definitely like us not getting into our heads, being confident and being ready to play not letting last season affect us,” Harris said.

The Lady Lions open up their season against Pembroke Hill today.


Falling one game short of a trip to the Class 6A state championship tournament last year, the Lady Lions Softball team went into the offseason carrying lots of momentum, but still lots of hunger to do better.

Spurred off of their first regional win since 2011, the Lions are optimistic about the possibilities of this year. Among the returnees from last season’s varsity lineup is senior Sophie Taylor, a shortstop who proved to be one of the team’s most consistent hitters last season, both for average and power.

The Lions, who finished 12-10 last season, will not replicate that success without trial, however. Last year, the team graduated four seniors, of whom head coach, Joe Dee Tarbutton, said in a previous interview with the Lawrence Journal-World, “There will never be another four as good as those.”

Taylor, along with other leaders of the team, are stepping up to push the girls to further success.

“The team has been doing speed school, we have weights, we all go to open fields and we all have our fall ball practices,” Taylor added.

The Lions open up their season with a doubleheader against Seaman High School on March 25 at home.


After a grueling, nine-inning loss in the first round of regionals to Washburn Rural last year, the Lions are looking forward to this season with their eyes set on even bigger things.

Senior Daonte’ Lowery, who has committed to Johnson County Community College for baseball, is among a strong group of returning seniors who look to rally the team together to produce a better product on the field this season.

“Senior year. Top dogs. We got a pretty good underclass coming in, I’m pretty excited,” Lowery, an outfielder, added.

With young talent however, comes growing pains.

“Having some of the underclassmen grow up, that’s gonna be a challenge,” Lowery said.

In addition to helping the underclassmen mature, Lowery hopes to serves as a leader in the clubhouse when it comes to helping the team grow closer together.

“To keep the team tight and to have everyone on the same page,” Lowery said when asked about his goals for the year.

The Lions opened up the season with a road trip to Springdale, Ark., during spring break to face Springdale Har-Ber March 18.

Boys’ Tennis

The boys tennis team is a year separated from only sending one qualifier to state, but looks forward to this year as one where it can send many more.

Senior Elliott Abromeit, the lone qualifier for the Lions last year, is heading into this year with more experience after qualifying for state last year for the first time, something he had been looking forward to ever since his freshman year.

“Medaling at state, getting 12th place, that was pretty big for me,” Abromeit said.

But this year, Abromeit, among others, looks to improve upon his results from last year.

“Top six in state probably. Just having a positive record this year,” Abromeit said.

The Lions finished ninth out of 12 at the Sunflower League meet last year, so an improved finish this year is a team goal for the Lions, according to Abromeit.

The Lions open their season on March 29 against Emporia High.