Moving up a challenge for Lansing
When comparing schools in Class 4A to schools in Class 5A, the difference is purely mathematical.
Schools in 4A have more kids than 5A, thus there's a larger pool of potential athletes to draw from. Lansing High cross country coach Errol Logue is all too familiar with this little equation.
"At Lansing we've got 500 kids and I've got a Rachel (Pride), a Bianca (Manago), and an Erin (Eustice) and an Ashley (Mayes)," Logue said, "and then you add another 500 to that and (some schools) have 1,000 kids. Now I've got three or four kids, and they've got three or four more just as good. The numbers game is what you're playing."
That numbers game didn't do any favors for Logue's girls squad, which narrowly missed qualifying as a team for the state meet at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence. Instead, just three runners went, meaning LHS didn't have enough runners to compete for a team trophy.
The level of competition at the 5A regional meet wasn't that much tougher than 4A, he said. Other schools just had more runners to choose from.
At the state meet, however:
"It's definitely tougher when you get here," Logue said. "What we saw here is tougher than what we'd have seen at Wamego (at 4A state)."
Logue's impression differed slightly from that of other LHS coaches. The boys' cross country and girls' tennis teams didn't qualify any individual athletes for state, but the volleyball team and boys' soccer team each advanced in the playoffs but neither brought home any hardware.
Football remained in Class 4A because the Kansas State High School Activities Assn. reassigns districts every two years.
The primary complication Lansing encountered in its first season in Class 5A was luck of the draw - or lack thereof.
Coach Julie Slater's volleyball team made its fifth straight appearance in a state tournament after going the last four years in 4A, but it was paired against eventual champion Bishop Miege and third-place finisher Wichita Bishop Carroll in pool play.
Randy Brown's soccer squad drew a similarly daunting challenge when it ran into eventual state champion Blue Valley West in the regional final after blasting Washington, 8-0, two days earlier. In any other bracket the Lions might have advanced.
"To me it isn't a question of 5A," Brown said. "We can play with 5A teams. That's not an issue. The fact is this team is probably one of the top two 5A schools in the state. It just so happened we were going up against them."
Slater shared similar sentiments and said her team definitely was tournament-tough. She cited the fact that her squad played - and beat - numerous 5A and 6A teams throughout the season as evidence that climbing a class wasn't too big of a deal.
"Three of the four teams that advanced (to the semifinals) in 6A are three of our losses," said Slater, whose team amassed a 30-8 record this season. "Two more losses are (to teams that) are going to be going on for 5A, so five of the eight losses are in the final four in 5A and 6A."
Still, Slater admitted there were some physical differences between 4A and 5A schools that her team wasn't quite capable of matching.
"When you can't match up at the net blocking-wise, and with these big hitters that we saw here: We tried, but it's tough," she said. "It's an uphill battle."