Archive for Thursday, September 1, 2005

All eyes on Lions this fall

September 1, 2005

It's that time of year again.

Time to gather up all of your red-and-black Lansing Lions T-shirts. Time to throw a few lawn chairs in the trunk and grab your grill and some burgers. Time to gas up the car and clip the sports schedule from The Current.

It's fall, and there is a full slate of sports to be seen. There's no better time than now for you to get out there and watch, because this could be just the beginning of a major breakthrough for Lansing High fall sports.

That's right, this fall is going to be big. All five fall sports programs are in position to have explosive seasons, so you'd better follow them closely. You don't want to miss a thing.

People all around the Kaw Valley League and, in some instances, across the state, already are watching Lansing to see what happens here this fall. The volleyball program has been a juggernaut for so long that opposing schools automatically assume LHS will make another trip to state. Add in the fact that All-State outside hitter Casey Welch and varsity veterans Whitney Lozenski, Dayna Norwood, Kate Courtney, Dana Sanders and Lauren Griffen are back, and the Lions are poised to make a run at another league title and another trip to state.

Statewide, people also are eyeing the LHS football team. And why shouldn't they? The Lions went 8-3 in 2004 and return most of their impact starters from a year ago. Most of the Lions put in a rigorous weight-room regimen this summer to get bigger, stronger and faster. You'll see the results of that effort in the play of quarterback Matt Warner, wide receiver/defensive end Ryan Robbins, fullback/linebacker Lance Fink, and linemen Chris Clemmons, Jordan Pratt and Logan Ryan, among others, throughout the course of the season.

The Lions already have been ranked in two preseason polls, and they were featured on television on Metro Sports' high school football preview show. Starting Friday night against Tonganoxie, we can watch them take the first steps toward making that happen.

Although the football team isn't going to sneak up on anybody this year, the girls tennis team will. You can bank on that. The Lions went just 4-10 in duals last year, but first-year coach Rachel Elkins - a former college tennis player - likes the talent pool she has to work with. Four seniors (Rachel Darrow, Jaclyn Gann, Bethanie Hill, Lindsay Parks) bring both athleticism and experience, while juniors Heidi Schultz and Kersten Probst, an exchange student, both could make a run at state.

Don't limit your focus to just the football field or the volleyball and tennis courts, though. There are two more LHS teams to keep an eye on this fall. The boys soccer team is poised to reclaim its place in the upper echelon of the KVL after struggling to an 8-9 mark a year ago. Ten players participated in a summer conditioning program, and most of the Lions also played competitive club soccer during the offseason. Everybody reported to camp slimmer and faster than in 2004, and that likely means good things are to come for this experienced bunch.

On the cross country course, the Lions have a few runners who could make some serious noise in the KVL. On the girls' side, look no further than junior Bianca Manago (40th at state in 2004) and seniors Ashley Mayes and Erin Eustice. For the boys, sophomore Griffin Davis could be a state qualifier, and newcomer Stewart Jones could be the surprise runner of the fall.

With five sports in session this fall, there are opportunities about five nights a week to catch the Lions in action. Lansing sports are on the move, and there is plenty to see. Don't miss it.

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