Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2006

Opinion: At BLHS, girls rule

May 4, 2006

First of all, I mean no disrespect to the male athletes at Basehor-Linwood High School. They're a great group of guys and obviously fairly talented, since we've seen a lot of them sign to play college sports this year. But this column is all about the Lady Bobcats.

They usually don't draw as many spectators, their coaches don't always get paid as much and they sometimes get less media attention, but it's still a pretty darn good time to be a female athlete at BLHS. The girls are young and talented and many of their teams are on the verge of becoming truly special, if they aren't there already.

Through the fall and winter seasons we've seen girls teams really short on seniors, and the spring is no different. Kristal Holland and Rachel Stierly are the only senior girls competing right now, which traditionally would spell trouble. When you don't have seniors you're supposed to be "rebuilding," but that's hardly the case at BLHS.

The track team is trying to make do with a skeleton crew on the girls side this year and yet has been surprisingly competitive. Distance runners Megan Tush, Amanda Vitt, Caren Chellgren and Emily Lackner have led the way and should provide the Lady 'Cats with plenty of points for years to come. Tush and Vitt are juniors, while Chellgren and Lackner are only sophomores, yet they've all held their own with more experienced athletes.

The girls who lead the field events are even younger. Freshmen throwers Kristy Kozar and Lauren Downing have both provided a boost to the squad, even though it's their first year in high school.

The softball team is only slightly older, with Holland the lone senior. Everyone knows what the young team did last year, making it into the state tournament, but this year and next year are looking bright as well. Holland will certainly be missed after this season, but there's plenty of juniors to take over the leadership role and the young talent just keeps streaming in. Sophomores like Chelsey Patton and Jennifer Sirridge and freshmen like Kara Douglas and Annie King are already contributing at a high level, along with a host of their classmates.

Of all three girls teams this spring, though, the one with the most talented, promising young athletes might be the soccer team. The number of players is a record high this season and Stierly is the only senior. This is a team that could be downright scary in the next couple of years if the players improve with each season.

Audrey Brock and Shanna Couch are just sophomores, yet both routinely make moves that leave spectators saying, "wow," if they're not rendered speechless, that is. Then there's all-league standout and prolific scorer, Jessica Smith. Smith might not have quite the same power behind her shots as, say, Austin Knipp, but her placement is second to none and she runs by and jumps over defenders like a gazelle.

Next year could be very exciting for the girls soccer players at BLHS, but don't count them out this year, either. Like the girls track, softball, basketball, volleyball, cross country and golf teams, the soccer program is loaded with outstanding young athletes who play beyond their years. Until the boys prove otherwise, in the realm of Basehor-Linwood athletics, girls rule.

And the future starts now.

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