Lawrence high graduates succeed


By Zia Kelly

Emma Reaney

At the early age of 8, Emma Reaney joined the Lawrence Aquahawks Swimming and Diving Club. Little did she  know, this was the start of her long and prosperous athletic career.

On Feb. 22, Reaney broke the US womens’ record in the 200 yard breaststroke, besting the time of an Olympic gold medalist and advancing toward international competition.

In high school, Reaney already had years of club team experience under her belt, and only found time to swim for the school team her sophomore year.

“I only swam for LHS for one year, but I had so much fun,” Reaney said. “High school swimming is a lot different than club swimming and I’m glad I got to experience it once.”

Although her swimming career at LHS was short-lived, she partially attributes her collegiate success to the competitive experience she gained at Sunflower League meets.

“It definitely prepared me for college because high school dual meets were a lot like they are now in college,” Reaney said. “It was definitely good to have had a little bit of an idea what I was going to be dealing with.”

After her graduation in 2011, Reaney signed with Notre Dame University. While she competed and excelled with the Fighting Irish, she also began competing on the global stage at the Olympic trials.

She made her first appearance at trials at age 15 before the 2008 Summer Olympics and then again with her Notre Dame teammates in 2012.

“[Olympic trials was] the most fun meet I’ve ever been to,” Reaney said. “It’s not every day that swimming gets to be on such a big stage like that and they put on a show. There were fireworks, light shows, celebrities and great food… that was one of the first meets where I realized I could make an impact on the national and even international stage.”

While Reaney failed to qualify for the Olympics at both trials, on Feb. 22 she earned a spot on national leader-boards at the ACC Swimming and Diving Championship. She beat the time of US gold medalist Breeja Larson’s record by .14 seconds in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:04.34

“It was so emotional,” Reaney said. “There was a lot of crying that night and I think it’s just now starting to sink in that I am the fastest woman to ever swim the 200 yard breaststroke in the US. It sounds so weird to say that.”

With a bright future ahead, as she prepares for the 2016 Olympic Trials, Reaney reflects back on her time at LHS as positive and influential, in and out of the pool.

“[LHS] was a second home to me and I could not have imagined a better high school experience,” Reaney said. “LHS taught me to explore, challenge and find myself whether it was being creative in the photo room, taking AP courses that I thought were going to kill me or just being around amazing people. I am so proud to be a product of LHS. The staff was and still has been nothing but supportive and I will always consider myself a Chesty Lion.”

Danny Manning

Basketball has always been a primary focus in Danny Manning’s life. With the influence of NBA player and coaching father, Ed Manning, Danny grew up in the gym.

In Lawrence, his name is everywhere. Manning has been a local celebrity since 1988, when he and his teammates won the NCAA National Championship game against Oklahoma.

The local legend got his start at Lawrence High, however, it was at LHS where he gained skills on and off the court.

Manning thrived in the sports-oriented environment at LHS.

“LHS was a special place,” Manning said. “I loved how people embraced basketball. The people treated me so well when I came in.”

Manning joined the KU team in 1984. By the end of his collegiate career, he left the school as the program’s all-time leader in points and rebounds.

He made his mark in Lawrence by leading the Jayhawks to the Final Four in ‘86 and to a NCAA Tournament victory as a lower-ranking seed in ‘88. The underdog win got the team tagged the iconic “Danny and the Miracles.”

Manning was also chosen for the 1988 US Summer Olympic team, the last all-amateur lineup in US basketball history. The team took home the bronze medal after being defeated by the Soviet Union.

After graduating from KU, Manning was drafted with a No. 1 pick to the Los Angeles Clippers. He played forward for 15 seasons.

Towards the end of his career, Manning suffered from knee injuries and became a part-time player. He was the first NBA player to return from reconstructive surgery on both knees.

After retiring from the NBA, Manning joined the coaching staff at KU where he was a manager and assistant coach from 2003 to 2012. Last year, he received the head coaching position at Tulsa University.

Although he now coaches one of his hometown’s opponents, Manning still associates strongly with the city of Lawrence and the LHS community.

“I am fortunate to have the success that I have had,” Manning said. “I still associate myself with LHS and the City of Lawrence as much as I can. Both places have always been great to me.”

Though Manning will be remembered for his basketball career, he took a lot more away from his LHS experience. He uses the academic skills that he learned in high school in his coaching career now.

“My experiences at LHS were great. Academically LHS taught be how to study and be successful in the classroom,” Manning said. “This helped with the transition to college. I spent a lot of time in the library there working on my study habits. These help me today in coaching.”