2013 spring sports season in review: Sorrow spawns unity, resilience for BLHS soccer, softball
Among the lasting images of the spring sports season at Basehor-Linwood is one of 10 purple-clad girls soccer player, hands adjoined, standing on their field a man down.
Barely a week after freshman Shealyn Hayes died in a traffic collision and dozens of students barely old enough to drive accounted for the too-soon loss of a classmate, the girls soccer team on which Hayes had already earned a starting spot came together amidst the sorrow.
The reaction was impossible to forecast — really, one can never know how anyone, regardless of age, deals with the unimaginable — but impossible without an already existing strong sense of community in and around BLHS.
As for the rest of the spring sports slate, there were wins and losses, memories made and lumps taken. The season has already given way to summer. Fall is on the minds of some and winter pursuits like basketball and wrestling on the minds of still others. But before the memory of spring 2013 recedes for good, let’s take one last look back.
On several occasions, the BLHS baseball team negated the need for a doubleheader, opting instead for packing enough baseball into one game as to make the evening’s Kaw Valley league twin bill impossible to complete before sundown.
First, there was the 11-inning thriller against Lansing early in the season, in which Avery Fliger singled home Zac Hevel for the game-winning run to win, 13-12. And then, against Turner, the sun slunk away before the Bobcats and Turner could complete their nightcap — the April 22 17-12 opener taking up most of the day’s play.
The season marked a final tour for Tanner Garver, Seagar Smith, Drew Potter, Joe Merino, Zach Joyce and Zac Hevel. Smith, Potter, Merino and Hevel were recognized on the All-Kaw Valley League team. Curiously absent from the team was Garver, the snub all the more strange given Garver’s inclusion on the 4A all-state team (second-team outfielder).
Alec Otting led a sixth-place BLHS boys golf team at the annual Kaw Valley League tournament in a year in which the Bobcats fielded a smaller team.
Though Otting and BLHS didn’t advance past regional play the following week, the senior did depart BLHS with $1,500 in community scholarships last month. Not bad at all.
“Play for Shea” rang out before each game the rest of the season following Hayes’ death. BLHS coach Derek Mazeitis walked with grace the line between keeping enough pressure on the team and making sure it found a way to have fun.
Longtime teammates Kara Stephens and Sam Rutherford received a well-deserved curtain call on senior night, each a fixture on team for the duration of the BLHS tenures. In recent years, low numbers dictated the inclusion of underclassmen in the starting lineup, but that’s not to suggest those spots were undeserved.
Stephens and Rutherford each netted a senior night goal. For Stephens, her two strikes padded the stranglehold she maintained on her being the team’s leading scorer for multiple seasons.
The cupboard is far from bare for 2014. Stephens was as close to incoming senior Jordan Nirschl as she was Rutherford, and sisters Hailey and Courtney Robinson and Nicole Rutherford will be among the several returning starters looked upon to form the new-look team’s core.
Losing four senior starters notwithstanding, the season figured to be a difficult one after the death of assistant coach Mary Nutter the summer before.
It began well enough after the Bobcats split their opening doubleheader against eventual co-KVL champ (and 5A state runner-up) Mill Valley, but coach the death of coach Susan Mayberry’s mother, Joyce, coincided with the sudden loss of Hayes to create a mountain of adversity.
The Bobcats navigated the difficult stretch with admirably, even stringing together a late-season stretch of commanding league sweeps to set up a share of the league title.
Along the way, freshman Gaby Brown emerged as the team’s catcher and transfer Asia Larsen became the Bobcats’ go-to pitcher.
The season ended sooner than the girls planned, but this year’s juniors now comprise a suddenly deep 2014 senior class hungry for a return to state.
Candice Jennings (first-team All-KVL), Allison Kasick (first-team All-KVL), Katie Lackner (first-team All-KVL) and Kayleigh Schoenfelder (honorable mention All-KVL) are among those to highlight the Bobcats’ Class of 2014.
Track and field
Kansas University alum and former Olympian Scott Russell's first season at the helm boosted turnout at spring’s onset and turned heads early on. It’s easy to envision a group of student-athletes doing all they could not to be the first to disappoint or draw the ire of the man who once won nine Kansas Relays javelin titles in a 12-year stretch.
All told, it was a fantastic debut season for Russell as coach. He spoke of returning to the Kansas Relays as a coach and not competitor, the task no less impressive.
Ben Johnson capped his time as BLHS student-athlete with a third-place state medal in the discus, doing so for a second straight year.
Those coming back next year do so having tasted considerable success in 2013. The boys 4x800-meter relay team advanced to state for the first time in more than a decade.
Sophomore Marriah Clayton qualified for three events at the state championships and Sierra Smith and Allison Heinen also made it through in the triple jump.