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Thinking of (and Preparing for) Spring…

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Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow on Friday, and, for the first time in four years, didn’t see his shadow. According to tradition, that means an early spring. Here at Rockhurst, the season always comes early for spring sports athletes, some of whom have been preparing for weeks. Lacrosse, baseball, golf, track and field, volleyball  and tennis all officially make their returns on Feb. 26.

Last year, spring sports were not able to lock down any state championships. The lacrosse Hawklets, however, put together a perfect 18-0 season and won the Lacrosse Association of Kansas City’s championship for the third straight year. It was the sport’s first ever three-peat.

Similarly, the other club spring sport, volleyball, went 26-0 in their regular season. They won their second consecutive KC League Championship and were invited to the state tournament. The volleyball Hawklets advanced to the quarterfinals before being stopped by Parkway South.

This season for volleyball will feature a big change. For the first time in Missouri state history, volleyball will be recognized as a MSHSAA (Missouri State High School Activities Association) sport.

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“Yeah I’m definitely excited about it,” said junior Knox Nail. “It feels like a chance to play more competitive teams.”

Being a MSHSAA sport means the volleyball team will be able to play against other MSHSAA teams, opening the door to new competitors. Being a part of MSHSAA will also allow them to win an official state championship. Nail is also excited about the structure the MSHSAA regulations could bring and how it will affect the atmosphere of their games.

“With focusing on one opponent for a week’s match it feels more like a game week and there may be even more possibility for stronger rivalries,” said Nail.

The 2022-2023 volleyball team consisted almost entirely of seniors. This leaves the roster light on experience, which means the underclassmen will need to step up if this year’s team wants to bring home Rockhurst’s first ever volleyball state title.

Out of all the spring sports, the golf team came the closest to winning a state championship, placing second overall. After winning their district, the golf team lost the state championship by only one stroke. Similar to the volleyball team, seniors made up a majority of last year’s golf team, leaving new varsity spots available to underclassmen.

Two other teams were able to win their districts as well. Baseball finished the 2022-2023 season with an 18-15 record. They managed to win their district tournament, but got stopped by Liberty North in the first round of the state championship.

The tennis team also won its district. Following a shaky regular season, the young team came through in the postseason. Winning their district kept the tennis Hawklets’ streak of consecutive district crowns alive at 28. Their season came to an end after falling to Pembroke Hill in the state tournament quarterfinals.

Coming off of a 27% win percentage, the lowest win percentage in the past 15 years, the tennis team will face one big difference this year. Longtime Rockhurst teacher Richard Sullivan will take the reins as head coach. Junior Varsity coach Max Dunmire will return for his second year on the tennis coaching staff.

“I’m feeling good about the changes,” said sophomore varsity player Leo Menghini. “I think it will be beneficial for the team and the players, to try and get our team back on our feet.”

The tennis team does not have any formal preseason training before tryouts. However, players have been encouraged by the coaching staff to train on their own to prepare for the coming season.

The track and field Hawklets came close to winning their district, falling short with a second-place finish. They still managed to qualify seven events for state and had five of them earn All-State.

With an eye on bigger and better results this year, the track and field team has had optional running after school since the end of the cross-country season. While this conditioning is not specifically for track runners, it is meant as an optional practice to get track runners ready for season. Track sprinters and jumpers officially began their preseason training Jan. 18.

The lacrosse team has had a similar approach getting ready for this coming season. The team has been in the weight room for pre-season training and has been practicing their stick handles.

While every spring sport might not have begun their preseason training, each and every team is hungry. With many teams coming just short of glory and some even obtaining it last year, the 2023-2024 season is going to be an exciting new opportunity for players of all sports to prove themselves once again.

 

 

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About the Contributor
Charlie Porto, Staff Reporter
My name is Charlie Porto. I am a junior, and this is my first year on the newspaper staff. English has always been my favorite subject at Rockhurst, so writing for the newspaper has always been an enticing idea. Newspaper has also been interesting to me as a way to further dive into the Rockhurst community. I have never had the opportunity to interview people, so I’m looking forward to the chance. Outside of newspaper, I am on the cross country and tennis teams. In addition, I am involved with the Ignatian Leadership Program, and I am a candidate for NHS. This year I hope to have successful sports seasons and get more involved with the Rockhurst community. I also hope to further improve my writing abilities, and my ability to perform interviews and edit stories. I’m looking forward to building connections with the newspaper staff and helping spread stories across Rockhurst. Beyond high school, I’m not sure what I would like to pursue in college and later on in a career, but a career involving English has always interested me.
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