Fall sports previews: Maranatha, SM North, St. James Academy
The Dispatch sent questionnaires to fall sports coaches at Maranatha Christian Academy, Shawnee Mission North and St. James Academy in addition to those at Mill Valley and SM Northwest. Here's a look at some of the Shawnee-area's fall sports teams' 2013 prospects.
Maranatha Christian Academy cross-country
Maranatha returns all of its girls cross-country team, which tied for second at the Class 2A state meet in 2012. Included in that group is seniors Christa Johnson and Ana Adams, and all three of the Eagles' runners who finished in the 2A top 10 at state: juniors Lauren Harrell, Hope Manning and Taylor Morrow.
"I look for them to be very competitive again this year," coach Bianca Williams said.
Meanwhile, the boys need to replace the graduated Nick Hoduski and Caleb Henderson. A trio of freshmen — Austin Boatwright, Gideon Metz and Alston Walker — join returning runners C.J. Shiner, Ben Bailey, Trey Lingle and Xavier Henderson. Senior Jensen Lemon is nursing a foot injury while sophomore Micheal Poleleyeva will try to make a move to varsity. The boys are coming off a second-place finish at regionals and a sixth-place state finish.
Shawnee Mission North's boys cross-country team finished seventh in 2012 and also qualified two girls to 6A's final meet. The boys return five letter winners, including seniors Ben Burchstead and John Swagerty and juniors Forest Kinsey and Joe Roubinek.
"Our issue will be finding a solid fifth and possibly sixth athlete," coach Ryan Colburn said. "If we can do that we will have a chance. We have expierence but we lack depth. We have the largest team we have had in a few years so hopefully we will see what they can do."
On the girls side, juniors Sada Kernodle and Emily Stave are back and must help fill the void left by the graduated Micki Krzensinski. Also back is junior Ali Yancey, sophomore Gretchen Burchstead and senior Crysta Moon.
"We are counting on our returning athletes to lead our team this year," Colburn said. "Emily and Sada will need to be vocal with the rest of the girls to get them on the same page."
Walter Mansfield takes over for John Stone as girls golf coach. Meanwhile, former football coach Dennis Grayless will coach boys golf in the spring. And after his first season as boys tennis coach, Zachary McKamie will coach his inaugural season as girls tennis coach.
Chuck Lundblad will again coach both the SM North and SM East gymnastics teams. For the Indians, Sarah Grandgenett, Caitlyn Howard and Natalya Freeman return and seek to offset the graduation of Jenn Lanman and Elaina Zinn.
"We will definitely miss Jenn Lanman and Elaina Zinn this year," Lundblad said. "We have added a few new freshmen, including Natalie Lanman who should help with our depth."
Grandgenett has been on the team all four years, Lundblad said. Lundblad said Free State and Olathe East should continue to field the most experienced gymnasts and hat the league meet will again be tight — last year, four points separated six Sunflower League teams.
SM North's junior goalkeeper Kenny Herron is back, as is senior center back Colin Dujakovich — each earned honorable mention postseason honors on the All-Sunflower League team. Also back are seniors Miguel Molina at outside back/midfield and midfielder/forward Mario Garcia (also entering his second year as student body president). Coach Jim Ricker said traditional powers Olathe East, SM East, SM Northwest and Olathe South again figure to be at the top of the consistently difficult Sunflower League.
"We will do our best to disrupt the current," he said.
Helping matters is a roster that includes 11 seniors, including senior foreign exchange student Petter Bakkan. Junior Jesus Herrera returns at forward/midfielder after suffering an injury his freshman year.
St. James Academy
St. James' cross-country team is gearing up for its first full 5A season and returns a large roster from a year ago.
Key returners include Caroline Goode, Molly Devine, Lindsay May, Molly Engen, Madi Gothard, Lily Hecke, Nolan McCall, Andrew Growney, Daniel LaPlante and Alex Bentzinge.
What was an underclassmen-heavy girls golf team in 2012 now figures to be a more experienced Thunder squad this season. Leading the way will be two-time state qualifier Abby Dorsey. A junior, Dorsey is coming off a season in which she placed 17th as a sophomore in 2012.
Coach Rick Enna hopes a strong senior class will help the Thunder make some noise in the postseason, but St. James will first need to address the graduation of Chris Kohlrus, Tanner Gray and Joe Hoog.
"Although we have lost only a few players, they were key players so our success may hinge upon how well we fill the huge shoes left by last year's three key graduates, and whether we can find the chemistry to compete for a final four berth by season's end," Enna said.
Back for St. James this season is Shawn Boerner, Nick Frank, Blake Nearmyer, Matt Brophy, Brian Chubb, Garrett Suter, Spencer Jones and Steven Enna.
The Thunder volleyball team responded to its move to Class 5A and to the challenge of reshaping its entire starting lineup by winning its fifth straight state championship. St. James again opened its season with the annual Metro Sports Volleyball Slam against Blue Valley West on Aug. 31. The Thunder notched a 2-0 victory (25-11, 25-23) led by sophomore Audriana Fitmorris' 11 kills and two blocks. Senior Arianna Person added seven kills and senior Brie Lewis finished with a team-high three aces.