Junior Avery Johnson drives to the basket during the away game on February 2.
Junior Avery Johnson drives to the basket during the away game on February 2.
Maison Flory

Winter sports wrap-up: boys swimming, girls wrestling, boys wrestling go to state

Boys and girls basketball fall short in substate after seasons of ups and downs
Girls basketball wins 4 of last 5 games
Girls basketball wins 4 of last 5 games

After a season-ending injury for star junior Brynnae Johnson, the rest of the girls basketball team looked around to determine who would fill that gap. The answer? All of them. 

Lawrence High girls basketball finished 12-9, winning four out of their last five regular season games on their way to a home sub-state matchup with Olathe North. The Lions dropped that game 53-42, but not without a fight that had been building the whole season. 

“The first part of the season we were kind of hot and cold, and we weren’t really gelling very well,” head coach Jeff Dickson said. “Then that happened, we talked about how you don’t replace somebody like her. But if everybody did a little bit more, you could mitigate it. And that’s exactly what happened.”

Seven games in, the Lions were hovering under .500, the following nine games, however, propelled them to a winning record. Freshman Camille Nauholz was essential to the effort. 

“It was huge. You cannot win in our league without somebody that can score inside the post,” Dickson said. “For Cami to step in and play at the level that she did as a freshman, I can only think of one other freshman since I’ve been here that’s played as well and had as big a contribution as she had this season.”

That one other freshman Dickson referred to? It was Chisom Ajekwu, who graduated in 2019 and went on to play for KU. Senior Destiny Savannah did not hesitate to praise Nauholz for her play this year. 

“Oh my gosh. Cami, she was a lifesaver this year,” Savannah said. “It was very nice having her on the team. She’s very reliable, and she provided us with a lot this year.”

Nauholz pointed out that after Johnson got hurt, the team had to step up to find scoring options that didn’t rely on Johnson’s elite playmaking abilities. 

“It was fun, but it was also kind of a lot put on me,” Nauholz said. “But I think I handled it pretty well and my teammates helped me get through it and so that’s good.”

The highlight of the season for Dickson was the senior night win over Gardner-Edgerton, where the Lions won 54-51 in overtime. Savannah finished with 16 points and two threes, a season high. With that win, they secured a substate game at home in the Jungle. Despite the subsequent substate loss, Dickson praised the team for their grit. 

“Those things happen,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for more from this group, and they really gave everything they had to give. My message to them was that I was proud of them. They hung together when other people pulled apart, they were unselfish.”


Boys basketball finishes season 8-11
Boys basketball finishes season 8-11

Though their season was chock-full of trials and tribulations, the boys basketball team found ways to come together as a whole. After finishing the year with an unfortunate 8-13 record, the team reflected on how their chemistry and resolve changed throughout the year.

The season, by all accounts, started on a terrible note, with several losses and outright incompatibility within the unit. According to junior Avery Johnson, this performance, or lack thereof, had to be addressed before any real progression could be made.

“We didn’t know who we were,” Johnson said. “We couldn’t find our own identities, individually or as a team,”

The entire team came together to discuss and alleviate their internal troubles. To Johnson, they had to start communicating and learning what needed to change.

“We started talking a lot, we had a team meeting,” Johnson said. “We put things together and made a list about who we were supposed to be and about what LHS basketball is.”

This meeting, for seniors like Sean Wondrack, was not only a wake up call, but a rallying cry, putting the team back on the same page to find success later in the season. 

“From there the energy just changed,” Wondrack said. “The chemistry really just started to build and that’s when the wins started to stack up,”

To Wondrack, this change in energy came both from players new to varsity, and experienced people on the team.

“It was really just a big brother type of role from the older guys,” Wondrack said. “There were lots of younger guys throughout the varsity and JV program so we were just those big brothers to them.”

Other seniors  played a huge role in this environment, setting a tone for teamwork and performance on the court. To sophomore Edward Roman-Nose, feeding off of the seniors was more important than anything.

“Zaxton [King] being one of the best players in the state helped by getting a lot of points for us, Kem [Allen] gave us a lot of support on and off the court,” Roman-Nose said. “Gordon [Fineday] has always been so helpful, impacts the team so much.”

This change in environment and tone, throughout the whole team, made for tangible individual improvements too, as players like Roman-Nose had their roles shift and grow.

“Beginning of the year to now, I’m definitely a much better player,” Roman-Nose said. “I’ve never shot that much before, and I went from averaging around 2 [points per game] to over 10ppg.”

Overall the team, despite having a rough and disappointing season, found ways to cope and move through their struggles, discovering new things about the game and each other through the process. 

“We really dialed in on the team aspect, the ‘we’ aspect,” Wondrack said. “We were off from that, and it took all of us to find it.”

Senior Andrew Honas pins his opponent during a meet on January 24th at home.
Boys wrestling sends two wrestlers to state; both find the podium

After working all season towards State, sophomore Lou Elsten and senior Andrew Honas both placed third in their respective brackets.

Elsten won by sudden victory over Jaxson Scott of Olathe North in the 113-pound weight class.  Honas won by decision over Blake Samuelson, also from Olathe North, in the 132-pound weight class.

“It was a good feeling to know that all my hard work paid off,” Elsten said. 

This year, Elsten’s record was 39-4, and Honas’ was 40-5. 

LHS placed 14th overall with a score of forty-four. Other wrestlers including seniors Harrison Kirkwood, Arlo Collier, and Brandt Wollesen; junior Reece Meyer, and sophomore Jadin Harrell all joined Elsten and Honas in representing Lawrence High at state. 

Along with it being Elsten’s second year at LHS, it’s also his second year placing at state; last year he placed fourth. This year however, he was determined to place higher, so he worked on his skills outside of practice.

“I would run in the mornings,” Elsten said. “Which helped throughout my matches, I wasn’t as tired.”

Honas also was very determined to place at state for his fourth and final year. He is planning on continuing his wrestling career in college.

“I’m wrestling in college,” Honas said. “I hope to keep getting better at wrestling and all aspects of it.”

Head coach Patrick Naughton recounts on both of their efforts this year. 

“Lou and Andrew excelled through the season,” Naughton said. “They came to practice with a plan in mind.”

Senior Andrew Honas pins his opponent during a meet on January 24th at home. (Lydia Folks)
Standing in neutral position, junior Isis Cross competes in a wrestling match at Billy Mills Middle School on Dec. 12.
Girls wrestling sends two wrestlers to state

Ending their season strong by sending a pair of team members to state, the girls wrestling team developed their roster, with many expecting to find even more success next season.

Before the season, athletes had set forth goals that would shape their season. Sophomore captain Goldy Stephens achieving hers by working on all aspects of her game.

“My biggest goal this year was qualifying for state and I just tried to work hard all season and stay consistent with conditioning and learning my technique and whatever else I needed to improve,” Stephens said.

Others held the same goals but fell just short, with junior Avery Sutton missing out on State by just one match.

“I really worked for my goal by putting in a lot of effort during the season but it was just one match that was really equal and I just ended up losing it,” Sutton said.

Their goals weren’t just realized overnight. Wrestlers put in work in the gym every day of the week after school to reach where they wanted to be.

“We did whatever we needed to work on depending on if we had a duel or a tournament so it was usually just drills and a little conditioning at the end,” Ford said.

All the time spent in practice has cultivated a strong bond throughout the team, making the rigorous schedule more bearable.

“With wrestling there’s a lot of camaraderie and I love the community we have as a team,” Sutton said. “We have to be close together because it’s a hard sport and you’re doing it yourself and you need your team to back you up.”

This closeness does not only include their own team, but extends to friends from other schools and their respective programs.

“Not only is our team really close but we’re close with other teams, we even watch our friends from other schools wrestle,” Stephens said. “We stayed at state for an extra two days to watch other people wrestle because we’re just really invested in everyone’s future.”

As one of the only wrestlers to reach state, Stephens commented on what practicing for state looked like in comparison to their usual schedule.

“A lot of teams go really hard before state but my coaches and I took it kind of easy, you know? Like if I wasn’t already good at wrestling it would be a little too late to save me from that, so we just made sure to get a little repetition in and just had fun,” Stephens said.

Emotionally, however, the competition did not faze Stephens as she took it more as a learning opportunity.

“It was really exciting. I actually wasn’t too scared since my one goal was to qualify. It’s not too bad because I already got there, all I had to do was wrestle and it’s okay if I lose,” Stephens said. “So it was just fun, a little hype, a little build up.”

The team was ecstatic that their teammates went to state, many commenting on Stephen’s journey.

“I was really proud of her. She’s really been putting in the effort and she’s been wrestling longer than me.” Sutton said. “When I saw her do her last match I was so happy and excited for her and everyone was screaming for her. It was so great.”

Although they did not make it far in their postseason, the team was happy with their effort and its payoff in the postseason, and all of them are looking forward to next year.

“Next year we’ll hopefully qualify six or more people,” Stephens said. “Overall, it was just a really good season with our new coaches and program.”

Standing in neutral position, junior Isis Cross competes in a wrestling match at Billy Mills Middle School on Dec. 12. (Maison Flory)
Senior Jack Tell swims the 200 individual medley at the home meet on January 18.
Boys swimming sends six swimmers to state; four advance to finals

The boys swim and dive team finished off their season by sending six swimmers to an electric state championship meet in Topeka. 

Throughout the two-day event at the Topeka-Capitol Federal Natatorium, the team raced three relays and three individual events. They found success particularly in the relays, placing 11th and 13th in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, respectively. Sophomore Alex Oral, who was a member of both teams that placed in the relays, explained how the process of tapering was crucial to the effort.

“We tapered like about a week before, just easier practices, just tried to sleep more, nothing too fancy,” Oral said. 

As for individual races, junior Ryan Lane stood out in the 50 and 100 freestyle, placing 12th in both. Lane credits a lot of his speed to the friendly competition he faced daily in practice.

“Racing Luke [Velte] in practices really helped because it gets you motivated and in the right mindset to compete,” Lane said. 

Head Coach Elle Weber noticed differences at state in not only her team, but in the atmosphere of the competition as a whole. 

“State is always a little bigger of a platform than the other meets,” Weber said. “All the athletes are just in a different mindset, everyone’s ready to compete and ready to race.”

Amidst the tense environment the week leading up to the meet, the team decided to lighten the mood by shaving their heads. While at the team dinner the Thursday before state, senior captain Jack Tell proposed the idea of losing their hair. Coach Weber was surprised at the decision the team made.

“I didn’t know that all of them were going to, I was surprised the next day when I saw all six of them,” Weber said. “I saw the start of it happening, but there was a little bit of talk about it beforehand, and yeah, they all shaved their heads.”

Not all of the team members were on board, at first.

“I didn’t really want to because about four months ago I got a buzz cut on my own, and I was just growing it out, and I was like, finally, you know, I don’t have this buzzed hair,” Lane said. “Then Jack was like ‘oh hey guys let’s all get buzz cuts,’ and I was like ‘bro, are you serious right now,’ most of us didn’t even want to get buzz cuts. But he somehow convinced us to, and now we all have shaved heads.”

Some were mostly indifferent.

“I didn’t mind it,” Oral said. “I don’t know if I would do it again, but it was kind of fun.”

Regardless, the team focused in when it mattered, and it paid off.

“There was a lot of visualization happening at practice,” Weber said. “I didn’t know the boys were able to be that serious, so it was good.”

Senior Jack Tell swims the 200 individual medley at the home meet on January 18. (Maison Flory)
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