LHS cheer wraps up successful season

The Louisburg High School cheerleading team had a busy 2017-18 season and one that ended  with an awarding finish at the Baldwin competition in February when the Wildcats earned grand champion honors.


The end of the winter sports campaign also marks the conclusion for the 2017-18 Louisburg High School cheerleading team as it will put away the pom-poms for a few months as the Wildcats begin looking toward next year.

This past season brought a lot of highs, and a few lows, for the Wildcat program under first-year head coach Dana Shaffer.

One of the biggest moments for the LHS cheer squad came on Feb. 3 when it competed at the Baldwin Cheer Festival at Baldwin High School. The Wildcat group put on one of their best performances of the season as they earned a ‘1’ rating, that included grand champion honors.

The 20 member Wildcat cheer team includes Jadyn Amren, Avery Barber, Olivia Barber, Cecilia Bindi, Billie Casebeer, Andrea Gaza, Hallie Hutsell, Bria Jensen, Addie Katzer, Kaitlyn Lewer, Ashlyn McManigal, Brooklyn Mitchell, Lexi Pena, Leia Shaffer, Ashley Stuteville, Gabby Tappan, Kaitlyn Urban, Lauren Vincent, Shaylor Whitham and Eleanor Willming.

Louisburg also finished first in dance, choreography and stunts in the competition that featured teams from approximately 20 area schools. What made the accomplishment even more impressive was the girls had just two weeks to perfect their routine.

“That was pretty amazing and the girls did a really great job,” Shaffer said. “If you put something in front of them, no matter the time frame, they are going to get to work and they are going to do it well.”

For the first time, the LHS cheer team also included a manager in Hannah Jones, who Shaffer relied on throughout the season.

“Hannah has been a great manager for us,” Shaffer said. “Cheer has never had a manager before. She has gone to every game, every practice, gone to camp and I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Among the regular performances at football and basketball games, the team also made history in November when it traveled to Topeka to compete in the KSHSAA Inaugural Game Day Spirit Showcase.

Louisburg was one of 18 Class 4A programs to participate in the first-year event. The team was judged based on three categories: Band dance, fight song and crowd leading.

Like with any new competition, there were a few hiccups and one of them cost the Wildcats. Instead of being given a three-point deduction, the judges made a mistake and accidentally gave Louisburg a 13-point deduction that could not be rectified.

That cost the Wildcats a possible spot in the finals as they would have had a chance to battle it out for a state championship.

“It was overwhelming, just for the fact that we didn’t know what we were getting in to and everyone else thought the same because it was new for everyone,” Shaffer said. “We got kind of raked over the coals on our score. They recorded a lot of the scores by hand, and not electronically, so instead of deducting us by three points, we got a 13-point deduction. They admitted their fault and it was a learning experience for them too.

“If the score we were supposed to have gotten would have happened, we would have been in third position to go for first. It stings a little bit still, but with it being a first year I understand everyone is trying to work out the kinks. We will go back next year and are looking forward to doing even better.”

Coach Shaffer is already looking forward to next season for the Wildcat program with a few changes, along with hoping to make amends at the state competition.

One that is already in place in creation of the Cheer Cat-Backers, an parent-run organization to help raise money for the team.

“The parents have been great and they started the cheer version of the Cat-Backers and we are going to do some fundraising for next year so we can afford to go to high school nationals,” she said.

Another change could be the size of the group, along with the possibility of hosting their own competition.

“I don’t think we are going to have as big of squad next year, because I would like to focus on a little smaller scale and nail it that way,” she said. “That is just a preference though. Next year we will have a mascot, too.

“We will have a competition of our own, somewhat like the Baldwin one that we go to, and I think that will be a lot of fun. Hopefully it will be a great fundraising opportunity for us as well. We want to get up to the standards of bigger schools. Everyone knows who Louisburg is, but we don’t have the funds that those other schools have and hopefully we can get there and have a chance to maybe attend nationals.”

Final round helps Louisburg debate to third-place finish

The Louisburg High School 4-speaker debate of team of (from left) Garrett Mills, Skylar Keaton, Isabelle Holtzen and Grayson Anderson pose with their third place state trophy on Jan. 13 following the state tournament in Coffeyville.


Skylar Keaton, Garrett Mills, Grayson Anderson and Isabelle Holtzen had about enough.

On the final day of the Class 4A state debate tournament on Jan. 13, the Louisburg quartet found themselves sitting in the lunch room of a Coffeyville elementary school, losing their patience, waiting to hear their fate after the final round of competition.

If the Wildcats had just one losing ballot in the final round, they could find themselves out of a state medal.

Then they look up to finally see their coach, Claire Haflich, walking towards them and it didn’t look promising.

“We are sitting in the commons waiting for the results and we see (Haflich) come striding in to the room,” Mills said. “I swear, whatever it was, she looked angry. She was irritated. She told us all to go outside.”

“We all thought we lost,” Anderson said.

Appearances were deceiving, however, as Halfich informed her team that they won both ballots in the final round, which gave them third-place state trophy.

Emotions were hard to hide as the Wildcats were able to bring home their first 4-speaker state debate trophy in several years.

“If we had dropped both rounds, we would have ended up in last,” Keaton said. “The fact the tournament was so competitive this year, and that we were able to place, was very exciting. It was nice to give Halfich her first 4-speak trophy and it is nice to work with three other people instead of just one.”

Louisburg finished the tournament with an 8-6 record, and finished just two wins behind state champion, Piper, who ended with a 10-4 mark. Bishop Miege was second at 9-5.

It was a difficult competition for the Wildcats as they were part of an 8-team tournament that featured the best 4-speaker teams in the state. The tournament brought a lot of highs and lows that the Louisburg group had to battle through.

The Wildcats were able to come through in the final round as Mills and Keaton, who argued for the affirmative, and Anderson and Holtzen, who argued the negative, each won their final debate. Those victories pushed Louisburg over the top.

“It was the toughest competition that I had ever faced at one tournament,” Holtzen said. “I know when I go to a singular tournament, there could be a couple good teams there, but every team was challenging and they were all well-prepared for their arguments. It was really hard to find a hole in their case.”

All season long, debaters from across the state were to argue on the topic of education and the four Louisburg seniors did a lot of research from the beginning of the season. Early on, it was apparent to Halfich who her 4-speaker team was going to be.

“Three weeks into school, I let them know that they were going to be my 4-speak team,” Haflich said. “Although they didn’t start competing until much later, they really came together and the team did a lot research to help.

“It was incredibly broad topic and there were thousands of affirmative cases. You couldn’t have one theory you can use all year. Every judge wanted specific case evidence so they did an absurd amount of research.”

Before the holiday break, the 4-speaker team competed in their regional tournament and finished second overall to earn a spot at the state tournament. They had limited time to research upon returning to school, and the weather made it even more difficult when the start of classes were postponed due to winter weather.

“State isn’t until after the semester has ended and I don’t have them in class anymore,” Haflich said. “They did a lot outside work. We ended up having a snow day at school, which was one of our last times to work together, so there was a lot of Skype practice debate rounds. I definitely pushed them and I think it paid off.”

This isn’t the first taste of success Louisburg has had in debate. The last two seasons, Anderson and Holtzen finished in third-place at state in the 2-speaker competition and that experience helped make this latest trophy possible.

“I have been honored to have Isabelle as my debate partner the last few years,” Anderson said. “It was also awesome to work with Garrett and Skylar and we really became a close team. It was really awesome to work with this group of people in my last season and it was an honor. I am so excited that this how we get to go out as this is the last debate tournament for a lot of us. We represented our school well, but also our abilities and school as well.”

Wyatt Axmann, Billie Casebeer, Janae Kuhlman and Jordan Shaner pose with their 2-speaker state medals.

It wasn’t the only success the Louisburg team encountered at state. The teams of Billie Casebeer and Janae Kuhlman, along with Wyatt Axmann and Jordan Shaner, each finished among the top 16 2-speaker teams in the state and earned a medal.

The two day tournament was a long one as the 4-speaker team had to compete in three rounds the first day and four more on the second, which left them exhausted.

“You have that adrenaline rush going,” Mills said. “You just have to get locked in and find a groove to make it through all the rounds. Our first day was pretty good and only lost one. We knew the really tough teams were on the second day, so we knew it was going to be a lot tougher.”

Although the affirmative team of Mills and Keaton lost just one on the first day, Holtzen and Anderson hit a couple bumps in the road on the first day with two losses and they were there was going to be no room for error on the second.

“It was hard for us because we had lost a couple rounds Friday so we went in Saturday knowing we had to win so many rounds for each of us to even have a chance to place,” Anderson said. “We had extra pressure, but Isabelle and I had that our junior year too, so we weren’t strangers to it, but it wasn’t fun either. By the time the tournament was over, we were really tired, but all that stress and anxiety was there.”

All the hard work paid off as the Wildcats left the state tournament with another trophy and a place in Louisburg history.

“I was really excited to represent my school in debate one last time,” Holtzen said. “I know senior year is filled with so many lasts, so it was exciting to go out and leave an impact on our school and leave a mark behind on our last season.”

Meet the LHS 2018 Winter Homecoming Candidates

Members of the 2018 Louisburg High School winter homecoming court are (front row, from left): Grant Ryals, Scott Murphy, Kai Tinich, Mitchell Drew; (back row) Haven Trageser-Turner, Isabelle Holtzen, Alexa Goodspeed and Tomi Frederes. 


Homecoming week at Louisburg High School kicked off Monday and events are in full swing. With something going on every day this week, it will be a busy time for students. All of it is, of course, centered around the crowning of the 2018 winter king and queen. Eight students were selected as nominees and here are their names and profiles.

The crowning will take place on Friday at halftime of the boys basketball game with Eudora. Tipoff for that game is set for approximately 7:30 p.m. Good luck to all the participants and make sure to come out on Friday to support the Wildcat girls and boys teams against the Cardinals.


Kai Tinich and Alexa Goodspeed


Kai Tinich

Kai is the son of Terry and Susan Tinich. He has been involved with student council for four years. Kai has participated in golf for three years, Leo’s Club for three years, FCCLA for two years, FCA for two years, Spanish Club for two years and basketball for one year. After graduation, Kai plans to attend the University of Arkansas to study international business with a minor in Greek or Italian.


Alexa Goodspeed

Alexa is the daughter of Susan Goodspeed. She has participated in cross country for four years, FFA for four years, softball for two years, Spanish Club for two years. She was a basketball manager for one year and participated in Leo’s Club and choir for one year. After graduation, Alexa plans to attend Pittsburg State University and major in physiology.


Tomi Frederes and Mitchell Drew


Tomi Frederes

Tomi is the daughter Christy and Jerry Frederes. She has participated in FFA for four years, cross country and Leo’s Club for three years, softball and Spanish Club for two years and track and volleyball for one year. After graduation, Tomi plans to attend Pittsburg State University and major in business.


Mitchell Drew

Mitchell is the son of Pat and Shanna Drew. He has participated in baseball for four years and football for four years. After graduation, Mitchell plans to attend Pittsburg State University and pursue a bachelor degree in nursing.


Scott Murphy and Isabelle Holtzen


Scott Murphy

Scott is the son of Gene and Amanda Murphy. He has participated in soccer, band, stage crew, Model United Nations, student council, Scholars Bowl and Technology Student Association for four years. He has also taken part in track and Spanish Club for three years, Jazz Band for two years and National Honors Society, Math Club and Science Olympiad Club for one year. After graduation, Scott plans to attend Cornell University to study mechanical engineering.


Isabelle Holtzen

Isabelle is the daughter of Craig and Michelle Holtzen. She has participated in debate, basketball, cross country, track and Fellowship of Christian Athletes for four years. She has also taken part in choir for three years, National Honors Society and Model United Nations for two years and musical, Leo’s Club and Student Advisory Council for one year. After graduation, Isabelle plans to attend the University of Northern Iowa to major in business and will pole vault for the track team.


Grant Ryals and Haven Trageser-Turner


Grant Ryals

Grant is the son of Janelle Ryals and Jason and Michelle Ryals. He has participated in soccer for four years, student council for three years, National Honors Society and girls soccer manager for two years, and Leo’s Club and golf for one year. After graduation, Grant plans to attend William Jewell College to play soccer and major in biomedical engineering.


Haven Trageser-Turner

Haven is the daughter of Jeff and Katie Trageser and Courtney Turner. She has participate in FFA, student council and musical for four years, basketball and choir for three years, FCCLA for two years and softball, Leo’s Club and Spanish Club for one year. After graduation, Haven plans to attend the University of Kansas and major in nursing.


OPINION: 2017 was a banner year for Louisburg

Having the opportunity to cover Louisburg High School athletics, for what has been almost 10 years now, I have seen a lot of different highs and lows.

I have been lucky enough to cover state championship teams and watched several athletes perform at the highest level. However, this last year has to be one for the record books when it comes to success at Louisburg High School.

For Wildcat athletics, 2017 was a banner year for many reasons.

Louisburg qualified for the state tournament in three different sports – volleyball, girls soccer and boys basketball – and the first two each placed in the top four.

The volleyball team was just a point away from winning the school’s first state title after the Lady Cats finished second to defending state champion Rose Hill, and tied for the best finish in school history.

The Wildcat girls soccer team qualified for the state semifinals in just its second year of existence and suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in the semifinals to eventually take fourth overall.

In boys basketball, the Wildcats qualified for the state tournament for the first time in 12 years despite getting knocked out in the first round by defending state champion Bishop Miege.

Most schools would love to have that success with their athletic programs, but for Louisburg, that was just the tip of the iceberg. As special as the seasons were for those three programs, the Wildcats also thrived in a few other sports.

Louisburg’s cross country program, which has been around for 19 years, had the best season in its history – by far. Not only did the Wildcats have three state medalists for the first time ever, but it had a year that featured the school’s first female league champion in Trinity Moore and the best league finish by a male, Wyatt Reece, who took second.

Tim Smith continued the Wildcat success as he became the school’s first regional cross country champion, and Moore, Reece and Smith each went on to win a state medal. Moore and Smith also set school records for the fastest time.

The Wildcats also qualified the girls team for the first time in school history as Moore, Carlee Gassman, Reilly Alexander, Isabelle Holtzen, Kaitlyn Lewer, Payton Shaffer and Emily Williams took third at regionals and eventually 10th at state.

The Wildcat wrestling team tied a program best by qualifying eight for the state tournament and came back with a medal by Ryan Adams, who finished sixth.

Louisburg’s track and field team persevered and qualified for state in 10 events and had two regional champions in Quinn Rigney and Chris Williams. Isabelle Holtzen and T.J. Dover each brought home their first state track medals.

The boys soccer team was one goal away from making its second consecutive trip to the state semifinals, but their run was halted by a loss to McPherson in state quarterfinals. Still, the Wildcats won a regional title, which was the seventh in team history.

Freshman Calvin Dillon led the Wildcat golf team this past year and recorded the program’s first state medal in more than decade as he took 10th overall.

All these things and more I described in detail when releasing my top 10 stories of the year and what a year it was.

Obviously, I haven’t had a chance to look through all the results, but I can’t imagine a more successful year for LHS when you are talking about athletics. There may have been years in the 70s, 80s and 90s that I don’t know about, but I find it hard to imagine one that tops 2017.

Sure, the 2010-11 school year featured two state championship teams in football and boys track and field and that was a fantastic time to be Wildcat, but as far as calendar years go, 2017 was one to remember.

Even outside the sports world, Louisburg High School put together many great accomplishments as the Wildcat Marching Band was selected to participate in the Tournament of Roses Parade and put on a great show for the nation on New Year’s Day.

Then in October, the FFA Food Science team of Hallie Hutsell, Faith Seuferling, Addie Katzer and Hattie Harris won a national championship, while Hutsell and Seuferling placed second and third in the nation, respectively.

I don’t get a lot of opportunities to cover programs or groups outside the sports world, but these are fantastic accomplishments and deserved to be recognized.

For me, 2017 was a whirlwind. It seemed around every corner, school history was being made and there aren’t many schools around the state that can boast about the successes Louisburg has experienced.

It was an honor for me to cover many of these historic runs in Wildcat history and I hope you all realize how lucky you have it. Louisburg is a school filled with great coaches who care about the student athletes.

Believe me, I know how fortunate I am to be able to be a part of something special and this place is it. If 2018 is half of what 2017 was, it will be a fun ride.

I can’t wait for what 2018 has in store and hopefully you all will follow along to see what these Wildcats can accomplish.

Photo Gallery: LHS Community Pep Rally

Louisburg drum major Chloe Philgreen directs the band during the Fall Community Pep Rally on Thursday at Louisburg High School.


Parents and students at Louisburg High School flooded the LHS gymnasium Thursday for the 20th Annual Community Pep Rally that was sponsored by First National Bank.

They were all provided with a free meal courtesy of First National and Chris Cakes, which was followed by the introduction of all the fall sports and activities. The LHS cheerleaders and Jazzy Cats performed routines, while the Wildcat band also performed musical numbers throughout the evening.

Below is a photo gallery from the event on what was a great way to kick off the school year.


Holloway excited for new role as LHS activities director

Louisburg High School activities director Jeremy Holloway is looking forward to his new position as he starts his 17th year in the USD 416 school district. 


Growing up, Jeremy Holloway wasn’t one to stay in a place for too long.

Holloway spent most of his childhood and young adult life moving from place to place. He wasn’t the type of person who envisioned himself putting down roots.

“I was a constant migrant,” Holloway said.

That was until he moved to Louisburg with his wife Megan. Now instead of a migrant, Holloway is deep-rooted in a town he loves.

It made his decision, almost two months ago, an easy one.

Back in June, Holloway was hired as the new Louisburg High School activities director and assistant principal, following the resignation of former activities director Darin Gagnebin. Holloway, who has spent the last 16 years as a teacher at Louisburg Middle School, is ready for the new challenge.

“I am really looking forward to it,” Holloway said. “I have been here in Louisburg for 17 years. I never lived anywhere for more than four years in my life until I came to Louisburg. I never knew what it was like to be a part of a community and when I got here I just fell in love with the town. I was excited to become a part of it and Louisburg became important to me. The teaching was great and getting to know all the kids and see them grow up all the way through college was fun. Now I see some of my former students teaching in the building here and it is an amazing feeling. It just felt like home to me.”

Fate seemed to step in at the right time for Holloway. He entered the summer still planning to teach history at the middle school, but the dominoes quickly started to fall into place.

Holloway was well on his way to getting his administration degree this past school year as he was planning on holding on to it until something in Louisburg came open. He didn’t have to wait long.

“I had to get recertified, so I talked with my wife and I said why get an education masters if it is just going to move me on the pay scale,” he said. “Why not get an administration degree to have options? There are other places near here that are looking for people, but that isn’t what I want. The only move I would make is to stay in Louisburg. I happened to be down in Eureka Springs on vacation and I got a text in middle of night that Gagnebin had resigned. I had just got my diploma the day before we left. I applied and it turned out well and hopefully it was a good thing.”

Louisburg USD 416 superintendent Dr. Brian Biermann had to sift through more than 20 different applicants for the job, but he believes Holloway is going to do great things in the position.

“Jeremy has been a loyal and dedicated teacher and coach in our community for 17 years,” Dr. Biermann said. “Jeremy possesses many strong leadership attributes that will allow him to be a strong, instructional leader at Louisburg High School. He is passionate about education, has a strong work ethic and is committed to our community.

“Jeremy is all about building positive relationships with students, staff and the community. For 17 years he has been building these relationships. Now, he will be able to build upon his unique skill set in a leadership position in our district. I am excited to see the great things Mr. Holloway can contribute to our district and community in this new role.”

One of the first things Holloway wanted to do was to get to know his new coaching staff. Several new coaches were hired this past school year and he wanted to see what they were all about.

“I just want them to feel comfortable with me and let them understand that I am approachable,” Holloway said. “That relationship piece is huge. I am getting to know where they are from, how many kids they have and I want them to feel comfortable coming to me. We do lose some great experience, but we have gained some capable coaches and a lot of enthusiasm. I just want to be a positive impact for them.”

Since he started officially on July 24, Holloway has been hard at work in several different areas, but one of the bigger things going on now is the shuffling of the Frontier League.

The league, which will be at seven schools this year, will move up to nine starting for the 2018-19 school year. Bonner Springs, Tonganoxie and Piper will join the league, while De Soto will depart.

Baldwin, an original league member, is concerned the school will move down to Class 3A starting in 2018-19, thanks to changes in the classification system. If it happens, it will create scheduling conflicts for football.

“The biggest conflict right now is Baldwin is right on the edge of becoming 3A and they think it will happen,” Holloway said. “If Baldwin is in our league, which is what we plan on, they are required to play five district games for football, which only leaves them three league games. If only three league teams play Baldwin, then the rest of the league teams have to find another team to play. I have schools from Lansing, Independence, Coffeyville, Chanute and other schools calling me trying to lock up games. There are so many different scenarios so we just have to wait and see. That is one thing that I am really working on right now.”

With the activity season fast approaching, Holloway is excited for everything to get underway. He is also looking forward to getting to know the fan base more.

“I have always been highly impressed of Louisburg and the support of its teams and the turnout we will get, especially for football games,” Holloway said. “I encourage Louisburg to continue the tradition of being a class act. I think that every town has its own culture and a lot of it starts with the coaches. If your coaches are harassing refs, your players are probably going to start to learn that they can do that and that will trickle down to the parents and crowd. Without pointing fingers, there are certain places where that is the climate. I think Louisburg has been great. There are always going to be situations, but I would encourage fans and parents to support our coaches and let them coach.

“I am looking forward to an exciting year. We have great coaches, that are experienced and they are very innovative. They are organized and they all seem truly excited about what is going on. The community can rest assured that the coaches that are in place right now have the best interest of the kids and the programs.”

Gagnebin steps down as LHS activities director


Louisburg High School activities director Darin Gagnebin presents the Wildcat girls soccer team with their regional championship trophy last month. Gagnebin resigned his post earlier this month to take a similar position in Paola.


Darin Gagnebin has a fondness for Louisburg High School, his coaches and students.

That made it all the more hard to say goodbye.

Gagnebin resigned his post as LHS assistant principal and activities director earlier this month to tentatively take the same position at Paola High School. His last day in Louisburg was last week.

Gagnebin spent a total of 17 years in the Louisburg school district, with the last six spent as activities director. He was also a teacher and coach for 11 years.

Family was the biggest reason he decided to make the move. Gagnebin and his family currently reside in Paola and his two children attend schools in Paola.

“People have come and gone, but it is still family here,” Gagnebin said. “I am comfortable here and Louisburg has done a lot for me. I just can’t pass up an opportunity to be where my kids are at. I know I could have brought my kids here, but my wife and I made that decision a long time ago of where we were going to live because of where she taught and I taught. I never thought back when we first moved to Paola and when we had kids, that we would be in this position.”

It was a difficult decision for Gagnebin as he leaves behind a group of coaches, several of whom he recently hired. The Louisburg district had a number of new coaches come on board for the upcoming school year.

“We have gone through some trials in the last couple of years and that is with any school,” Gagnebin said. “I told my wife, that if this was going to happen the way it did and I could pick the time, I wish the timing would have happened two years down the road. I would have loved to see what this young group of teachers and coaches are going to do coming in.

“I told my wife that I was really excited about coming back next year and I felt we made some good hires. We have a passionate coaching staff coming on and they are great people with new ideas.  It just happened out of the blue.”

The opening came when former Paola High School principal Phil Bressler took the new principal job at Pittsburg High School. Paola assistant principal and activities director Jeff Hines was elevated to the Paola principal position, which left the Panthers needing an activities director.

It can be traced back even further when the Pittsburg High School journalism class wrote an investigative piece that ousted its newly hired principal, which forced the school to reopen the position and eventually hired Bressler.

“Had Pittsburg’s journalism class not done their job, we wouldn’t be sitting here talking right now,” Gagnebin said.

The Paola position was an opportunity Gagnebin just couldn’t pass up as he will have an opportunity to watch more of his children’s events and work closer to home.

“I have missed a lot of my own kids’ stuff,” he said. “But the people here have been really great, (Principal) Tammy (Thomasson) now and Dave (Tappan) before her, to let me try to get to as much stuff as I can. I still miss things. These opportunities don’t come around very often and I just figured this would be a great fit for me and my family.

“But I couldn’t ask for a better group of coaches here in Louisburg. They are good and passionate about what they do. I really have developed some good bonds over the years. I know some have left and some have stayed on, but the coaches and staff I have had has been great.”

Frontier League shakeup could happen soon

In a few months – or even weeks – the Frontier League as it currently stands could have a different look.

Since March, meetings have gone on within member schools of the Frontier League and Kaw Valley League to discuss possible realignment of both leagues.

The Frontier League currently has seven members – Louisburg, Paola, Spring Hill, De Soto, Ottawa, Baldwin and Eudora – and a meeting between the schools took place on March 28 to discuss where each school stood as far as their happiness in the league.

Brian Biermann, superintendent of USD 416, and Louisburg High School athletic director Darin Gagnebin attended the meeting on Louisburg’s behalf and both relayed the fact that every school stated they were happy with the way the league is currently set up, but a couple schools came to the realization the Frontier League might not be able to offer what they are looking for.

De Soto and Spring Hill currently have growing enrollment numbers are interested in playing Class 5A competition. De Soto moved up to 5A this school year and Spring Hill will look to make the jump in the coming years with its larger enrollment. The rest of the schools all compete in Class 4A.

Both schools stated they would like more competition at the sub-varsity level that schools like Louisburg, Baldwin and Eudora cannot provide. Competing in a mainly 5A league would relieve some of those problems.

“De Soto said they will probably open next year with 950 kids and they would grow by 100 the year after that,” Biermann said. “They are happy in the Frontier, but they feel like they need 5A competition and they feel like it could hurt them in football with seedings and tie-breakers. They could potentially get penalized by competing in a mainly 4A league.

“Spring Hill wants to be proactive. Their growth is coming. Their classes in the middle school are pretty good size. They won’t grow a lot next year, but they will in the next few years.”

What started the meetings is due to the fact that the Kaw Valley League is looking to rework their situation or create a brand new look altogether. The Kaw Valley currently has seven schools in Lansing, Turner, Bonner Springs, Tonganoxie, Piper, Bishop Ward and Basehor-Linwood, but one member – Bishop Ward – is leaving for a new league beginning next school year.

According to report in March from the Tonganoxie Mirror, Lansing wants to create a larger league that would contain all or some combinations of Lansing, Blue Valley Southwest, De Soto, Leavenworth, Bonner Springs, Basehor-Linwood, Tonganoxie, Ottawa, Piper, Spring Hill, Turner and Topeka schools Seaman, Shawnee Heights and Topeka West.

Many of those schools are either in Class 5A already or are close based on enrollment numbers. The idea of competing against bigger competition is intriguing to De Soto, Spring Hill – and possibly Ottawa – the three largest schools in the Frontier League.

An idea was thrown around of creating a league of two divisions between the Kaw Valley and Frontier. One division would be 5A schools and the other would be 4A.

“We visited with our board of education and we are not in favor of a mega-league,” Biermann said. “That has been talked about – having a league of 5A and 4A schools. We don’t want to invite new 5A schools. We are ok with Spring Hill and De Soto staying in the league, even though they are growing, but we don’t want to invite other 5A schools or have a mega league so they can have better competition.

“Our stance is if De Soto and Spring Hill feel like they need 5A competition and leave, then they can work towards that and we can work on filling those spots with 4A schools.”

Both Biermann and Gagnebin feel like the Frontier League needs to be proactive as changes could be made sooner rather than later.

“We aren’t panicking as a league as much as the Kaw Valley schools are because they know they are headed for a break up,” Gagnebin said. “We could easily stay with the seven schools we have. Pretty soon, De Soto will have close to 1,000 kids. It is more on them if they want to be in our league, and if they are happy, by all means stay. We are not saying they have to leave, but they have to do best what is for their school, and if this league isn’t the best option for you, then you have to look elsewhere.”

Due to the fact De Soto and Spring Hill could be moving on, the Frontier is being proactive and inviting some members of the Kaw Valley League to come make presentations at a meeting Wednesday to see if they would be a fit in the Frontier.

According to Biermann, Tonganoxie, Piper, Bonner Springs and Basehor-Linwood High Schools will all make presentations at the meeting and then schools from both the Kaw Valley and the Frontier will meet to discuss options at a later date.

“I led the (March 28) meeting and I wanted to make sure everyone was as honest and open as possible,” Biermann said. “There were no hurt feelings. Collectively we don’t want a mega-league, no additional 5A schools and that is firm from us, Paola, Baldwin and Eudora. Spring Hill and De Soto left the meeting, I think, that they need to start looking for potential 5A competition.

“The easy fix would be for De Soto and Spring Hill to join the bigger league and we take someone like Tonganoxie and Piper to replace them. Every school said they loved the Frontier League and competition, but it is time there has to be some conversations. They biggest thing is we don’t have three baseball, softball or soccer teams to schedule, but De Soto and Spring Hill want that. We can’t field C teams in some cases.”

The leagues are on a sort of a time crunch. With football reclassifications and scheduling beginning this October for the next two years, it would be the best case scenario to get the reshuffling done before then so they can schedule for the 2018-19 season and beyond according to Gagnebin.

The Louisburg activities director also believes keeping the right number of teams is also imperative for a healthy league.

“We want to maintain the integrity of our league, whether that is with seven or even eight schools,” Gagnebin said. “We want to maintain that number. Nine is a scheduling nightmare, and if you only have six teams, you are opening up a can of worms where if you leave an open spot, then the state could come in and assign certain schools to us that aren’t a good fit.

“I don’t necessarily want them to leave the league, but we need to be told if they are. I am more afraid of them leaving our league than them staying in our league. I am not afraid of the competition we face with them. We can compete with them in all the sports, but I am more afraid of us dropping from a seven to a five-team league.”

However, one hiccup remains. The Frontier League bylaws state that a member school must give two years notice before leaving the league.

“If the dominoes start falling fast, the league could pass a bylaw amendment to allow for movement for De Soto or whoever, which is something I think they will have to do,” Gagnebin said. “Not much is happening now, but when it does it is going to happen quick. You better be ready to move with it and have a plan in place or you could be stuck on the outside.”

Anderson, Holtzen take third at state debate

Louisburg High School’s Isabelle Holtzen (left) and Grayson Anderson pose with their Class 4A third-place trophy following the state debate tournament on Jan. 21 at Lyons High School.


LYONS – Greyson Anderson and Isabelle Holtzen were filled with negative thoughts in one of the most important times of their season.

In most competitions, that kind of pessimism can spell doom and gloom. Not debate.

Anderson and Holtzen argued on the negative side of things during the final day of the Class 4A state debate tournament Jan. 21 in Lyons. Those arguments served them well as the Louisburg High School duo finished in third place for the second consecutive season.

When it was all over, there was nothing but positivity.

“At the beginning of the year, Grayson and I were both hoping that we would have a good year,” Holtzen said. “We were hopeful that we could make it to state again. When we got to state and made it to the semifinals, we couldn’t believe it. Grayson and I were extremely excited that we were blessed enough to take third place again.”

The road to another third place state trophy wasn’t an easy one. The LHS debate team left Louisburg around 5:45 a.m. that Friday to head to Lyons and the team didn’t return until 2 a.m. the following Sunday morning.

State didn’t get off to a great start as Holtzen and Anderson began the tournament with a 1-3 record in the preliminary rounds. On Saturday, they picked up it up by winning two preliminary rounds to even their record and advanced to the elimination out-rounds.

Holtzen and Anderson went on to win the double octofinal, octofinal and quarterfinal round that eventually helped them to that third-place trophy.

“State debate is very intense and rigorous,” Anderson said. “We suffered a pretty severe setback after the first day so that really challenged our character and tenacity. The tournament was emotionally and mentally exhausting but I was very proud of our team and coming from behind made the success that much sweeter.”

The key to the debaters’ success Saturday was arguing to their strength. Anderson and Holtzen argued the negative side in each of their rounds.

“This year being able to debate with Grayson throughout the year helped a lot because we were able to become more comfortable with each other,” Holtzen said. “On Friday we had four rounds and we argued both the affirmative and negative sides, but on Saturday we only argued the negative.

“Both Grayson and I prefer the negative side. In the state tournament we only lost one round while arguing negative. Being able to argue that all day Saturday really contributed to our success because we are better at it.”

Saturday was a long day for the entire Wildcat debate team as competition lasted from early morning until late in the evening. But the Wildcat pair got a lot of help from teammates who came up short in their competitions.

Brooke Talmage, McKenzie Vanmeerhaeghe, Calvin Cassida, Nathaniel Mason, Janae Kuhlman and Flynn Langner all did work throughout the day.

“Even though the three other teams didn’t break to out-rounds, every one of our teammates played a key role in our success,” Anderson said. “Brooke, McKenzie, Flynn, Calvin, Nathaniel, and Janae were in other rounds scouting cases and strategies for future rounds. There was a whole group of people that contributed to that trophy and I am very proud to call them my teammates.”

Holtzen couldn’t agree more.

“Throughout the day having teammates and a coach helping you stay focused is very helpful,” Holtzen said. “They were always there between rounds to keep our energy up and they were really key in our success.”

LHS Winter Royalty for 2017

The Louisburg High School 2017 winter homecoming candidates are (front row from left) Avery Aust, Julia Walker, Kaitlyn Gaza, Ava Littrell; (back row) Sam Guetterman, Mason Koechner, Ben Hupp and Noah Juarez.

Homecoming week at Louisburg High School kicked off Monday and events are in full swing. With something going on every day this week, it will be a busy time for students and faculty. All of it is of course is centered around the crowning of the 2017 winter king and queen. Eight students were selected as nominees and here are their names and profiles.

The crowning will take place on Friday inside the LHS gymnasium in between the varsity boys and girls games against De Soto. The boys game is scheduled to tip at approximately 7:30 p.m.

Ava Littrell and Noah Juarez

Ava Littrell

Ava is the daughter of Kyle Littrell. Ava has been involved with volleyball for three years, football manager for three years, forensics for two years, track for one year, basketball for one year and Spanish Club for one year. She is currently undecided on a college but is looking to major in nursing.

Noah Juarez

Noah is the son of Tony and Susan Juarez. Noah has been involved in soccer for four years, Leo’s Club for three years, musicals for three years, choir for three years, girls soccer manager for two years and chess team for one year. He is currently undecided on a college, but is looking to play soccer and major in athletic training.

Mason Koechner and Julia Walker

Julia Walker

Julia is the daughter of Pat and Jeri Walker. Julia has been involved with band for four years, choir for four years, musicals for four years, FCA for three years, volleyball for two years, National Honor Society for two years, Scholar’s Bowl for one year, forensics for one year and Leo’s Club for one year. She plans to attend Johnson County Community College for one year and then attend the University of Kansas to get a PHD in psychology.

Mason Koechner

Mason is the son of Scott and Beth Koechner. Mason has participated in football for four years, wrestling for four years, track for four years, Letterman’s Club for three years, choir for three years, FFA for two years, Leo’s Club for two years, Model UN for two years, debate for one year and chess club for one year. He is currently undecided on a college, but plans to play football.

Avery Aust and Sam Guetterman

Avery Aust

Avery is the daughter of Brian and Shannon Aust. Avery has been involved with cheerleading for four years, National Honor Society for two years, debate for two years, forensics for two years, select choir for two years, SADD for one year, women’s choir for one year, mixed choir for one year and softball for one year. She plans to attend Kansas State University and major in nutrition and health to obtain a pre-physician’s assistant degree.

Sam Guetterman

Sam is the son of Ted and Lisa Guetterman. Sam has participated in FFA for four years, basketball for four years, baseball for three years and football for two years. Following high school, he plans to attend Kansas State University.

Ben Hupp and Kaitlyn Gaza

Kaitlyn Gaza

Kaitlyn is the daughter of Kerry Melissa Gaza. Kaitlyn has participated in Leo’s Club for four years, FFA for four years, track for four years and cross country for two years. She plans to attend Kansas State University and major in animal science to become a veterinarian.

Ben Hupp

Ben is the son of Scott and Cynthia Hupp. Ben has participated in football for four years, wrestling for four years, track for three years, Letterman’s Club for two years and band for one year. Ben plans to attend Johnson County for two years and then enroll in the University of Kansas medical program.