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Numbers up for all LHS fall programs as athletes battle through heat

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Last fall, each of the four Louisburg High School athletic programs had something to brag about.

Whether it was football’s 10-1 season that ended with a regional championship, volleyball’s state runner-up finish, cross country’s two state medalists and state qualifying girls team or the boys’ soccer regional championship appearance – the Wildcats had plenty to cheer about and several athletes took notice.

Numbers are up for all four programs following the first day of practice Monday and the coaches and athletes are excited to get the season started after last year’s successes.

The Wildcat football team saw a big jump in numbers as they have 70 students out this season and football coach Robert Ebenstein and has liked what he seen through the first couple days of workouts.

“Our numbers are up and based on the numbers at the middle school and youth programs and I expect them to keep growing,” Ebenstein said. “I am very excited for practice to get going. When you finish the season off with a loss in the playoffs it sticks with you and the opportunity to go play another game creates that energy and that eager feeling to get going. So far I am very pleased with our kids’ focus and effort. We need to continue to get better every day.”

Louisburg volleyball has also seen a spike in its numbers as 40 athletes have attended tryouts. Those tryouts will go through Wednesday and head coach Jessica Compliment believes those high numbers will be beneficial down the road.

“The players are excited, but I think some are nervous as well with tryouts and cuts these first few days,” Compliment said. “Forty is the most we’ve had tryout for quite some time. Generally we have around 35. The higher numbers leads to more competition for uniforms and playing time.”

Cross country head coach John Reece is pulling double duty this season as he, and assistant coach Paul Restivo, will also be leading the new Louisburg Middle School program. The Wildcats have a combined 59 runners out between the two programs, including 37 on the high school side.

Louisburg returns a majority of its girls team that qualified for state a year ago, including its two state medalists in senior Trinity Moore and sophomore Reese Johnson.

Despite a little hiccup with the heat during the first two days of workouts, coach Reece likes what he sees from both teams.

“It was great to get started, and yes the heat caused us to change our workout a little bit, but we still got in our miles,” Reece said. “We had a good turnout during summer running, so as a whole they are ready to get to the good stuff and go compete.

“There is definitely a huge difference with LMS joining the crew. Two coaches managing 59 kids is a lot, and we might need more help for supervision as we get more personalized with workouts for different levels of runners, but this is a good thing for Louisburg’s cross country program. It is going to be a fun year.”

Soccer also saw a big increase in interest as the Wildcats have 44 athletes trying out this season and they will continue the tryout process through Thursday. It is a good problem to have for head coach Kyle Conley and he has liked what he has seen so far as the Wildcats look to take another step forward this year.

“The kids worked hard, but showed we have a lot of work to do,” Conley said. “We had a really, really good summer, but we got a little rusty with the month off. This year we are getting back to focus on our culture and getting back to playing for each other. The boys have been focused and determined to improve this season.”

However, the first two day of practices weren’t without their challenges as intense heat and humidity caused some of the programs to change their schedules, including soccer, which moved its practice to the evening on Tuesday and spent some time indoors Monday.

“The heat was an interesting factor to go along with the late start due to the KSHSAA schedule,” Conley said. “We started in the AUX gym for the first hour and 15 minutes then transitioned outside for an hour. It was frustrating but the boys handled it very well.”

With the heat advisories, teams had to take precautions with their athletes and everything seemed to go smoothly with the hot weather.

“There is nothing you can do about the heat, and it is not centralized to Louisburg, so everybody has to deal with it,” Ebenstein said. “So you just do what you have to do when it comes to moving practice to the evening or whatever. I do not mind these hot early practices as it sets the tone that athletes need to take care of their bodies, and the acclimatization process gets going from the beginning. I would much rather have it this way instead of it being cool and the first hot week comes on a game week.”

With the first day of practice starting later than normal, the start of competition will also be pushed back. Team scrimmages will be the Friday before Labor Day and actual competition won’t start until Sept. 3.

Soccer will host Fort Scott in its season opener on Sept. 3 and volleyball will travel to Paola for dual on the same day. Cross country opens its season on Sept. 5 at the Anderson County Invitational and football will travel to Spring Hill on Sept. 6.

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