Louisburg cheer hosts competition to get ready for state

The Louisburg High School cheer team gets ready to take the floor during the Heartland Cheer Showcase on Nov. 3, that was hosted by LHS. The Wildcat cheerleaders used that competition to get ready for the state event this Saturday in Topeka.


With one of the biggest competitions of the season just a few days away, the Louisburg High School cheer squad got a little practice in at its home gym.

The Wildcat cheerleaders were joined by about 13 other teams in an effort to tune up their routine before the Spirit Game Day showcase this Saturday in Topeka.

Louisburg hosted the Heartland Cheer Showcase on Nov. 3 at Louisburg High School and it is the first ever cheer competition hosted by the Wildcats. It was an effort that was nearly a year in the making as parents, along with the cheerleaders themselves, banded together to put on the event.

“The competition is a huge honor and time commitment,” Louisburg coach Dana Shaffer said. “We had several parents behind the scenes that worked over the last year to get this up and going. We had to have KSHSAA approval and then administration approval. Of course there are some kinks to work out, but that was to be expected.

“We hosted 13 teams and a total of 350 girls. This event could not have taken place without the help of the Cheer Cat Backers. It was a great experience for the girls to see what time and effort that goes into a big competition. It was also nice to have them see how other cheer squads prepare for competition.”

The LHS cheer team opened the competition with an exhibition performance in front of its home fans, before turning it over to the other squads.

Shawnee Mission East earned a Superior rating during the Louisburg showcase in the Gameday Routine, while Shawnee Mission North, Blue Valley West, Basehor-Linwood, Shawnee Mission East and Blue Valley Northwest had outstanding ratings in the cheer and dance competition.

Louisburg senior Shaylor Whitham (front) and junior Gabby Tappan perform during the Wildcats’ exhibition routine on Nov. 3 when the Wildcats hosted the Heartland Cheer Showcase.

Blue Valley Northwest won the choreography award, Blue Valley West won stunt sequence, Shawnee Mission East won the top tumbling honor and Basehor-Linwood was tops in jumps. Baldwin High School won the Purple Heart Award.

Since Louisburg was busy hosting the event, they couldn’t compete for awards themselves, but the Wildcats found a lot of positives from it.

One of those is the fact they get to tune up their routine prior to this weekend’s Spirit Game Day competition, which is put on by the Kansas State High School Activities Association. It gives Louisburg, and other schools around the state, a chance to earn a state championship.

Fellow Miami County school, Osawatomie, won the Class 4A title in the event’s first year.

“Having the Heartland Showcase the beginning of November gets squads ready for state,” Shaffer said. “You can get judges feedback and work out any problems before state in Topeka. Even though we didn’t compete, we showed off our skills to the judges just to get feedback. The whole team was involved along with many family members and staff.”

Now Louisburg will prepare for the state event that will be held Saturday at the Topeka Expocentre. It is that competition that the Wildcats hope to make their mark after falling short of their goal last season.

Cecilia Bindi rises up in the air with the help of teammates Addie Katzer, Lauren Vincent and Kaitlyn Lewer.

“State is just a huge honor to be able to attend,” Shaffer said. “We will compete against other 4A Kansas schools to take home the state title. Last year, the team didn’t get the result we were hoping for so we have something to prove this year. We will perform three separate times throughout the day then around 1 we find out if we are one of the top 10 teams that get to advance to the finals. If we do then we will perform one 3-minute routine.”

The Wildcats will perform a band chant at 9:32 a.m., followed by the school fight song at 11:12 and a crowd leading performance at 12:54 p.m.

Tickets to the event are $15 and parking is $5.

Members of the Wildcat team that competed are Leia Shaffer, Shaylor Whitham, Addie Katzer, Billie Casebeer, Kaitlyn Lewer, Hallie Hutsell, Lexi Pena, Brooklyn Mitchell, Lauren Vincent, Gabby Tappan, Ashlyn McManigal, Cecilia Bindi, Sammy McDaniel, Anna Morrison, Jadyn Amren, Lacie Kallevig, Andrea Gaza, Brielle White, Jayden Trester and Eleanor Willming.

Here are the 2018 LHS Fall Homecoming Candidates

The 2018 Louisburg High School fall homecoming candidates are (front row, from left) Anna Dixon, Billie Casebeer, Carson Buffington, Shaylor Whitham; (back row) Noah Hill, Blue Caplinger, Brayden Gage and Austin Moore.


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 fall king and queen. Eight students were selected as nominees and here are their names and profiles.

The crowning will take place on Friday before the Wildcats’ home football game with Atchison. Kickoff for that game is set for 7 p.m., with the crowning to take place at 6:30. Good luck to all the participants and make sure to come out on Friday to support the Wildcat football team.

Anna Dixon and Noah Hill

Anna Dixon

Anna is the daughter of Beth and Jerry Dixon. Anna has participated in volleyball for four year and FFA for three years. She plans to graduate in December and will attend Kansas State University to play volleyball and major in Kinesiology and Nutrition.

Noah Hill

Noah is the son of Megan and Andy Hill. Noah has been involved in student council for four years, basketball for three years, football and golf for two years and Leo’s, Debate and Choir for one year. Noah plans to attend Kansas State University and dual major in Marketing and Management.


Billie Casebeer and Blue Caplinger

Billie Casebeer

Billie is the daughter of Chris Casebeer and Linda Shipp. Billie has been involved with debate, cheerleading and band for for years. She has also participated in forensics, FCCLA, Model United Nations and Leos Club for two years and Spanish CLub, TedX and Scholars Bowl for one.

Billie is undecided on what college to attend, but would like to major in political science with an emphasis on international affairs, a minor in Spanish and then would like to further her education by completing law school.

Blue Caplinger

Blue is the son of Sirena and Wade Caplinger. Blue has participated in football, wrestling and track and field for four years and is currently undecided on plans for after high school.

Austin Moore and Shaylor Whitham

Shaylor Whitham

Shaylor is the daughter of Karen and Rusty Whitham. Shaylor has participated in cheerleading, band, FFA and track and field for four years, and has also participated in cross country and musicals for three years. She plans to attend Pittsburg State University and major in nursing.

Austin Moore

Austin is the son of Alison and Tom Moore. Austin has participated in football for four years, wrestling, track and field and choir for three years and student council and National Honors Society for two years. Austin would like to play football after high school, but is unsure of his destination.

Brayden Gage and Carson Buffington

Carson Buffington

Carson is the daughter of Amy and Dave Buffington. Carson has participated in choir, basketball and volleyball for four years, and soccer and musical for three years. She has also participated in FFA for two years. Carson plans to attend the University of Kansas to major in behavioral science.

Brayden Gage

Brayden is the son of Melissa and Jason Gage. Brayden has participated in football, basketball, choir and Spanish Club for four years and baseball and National Honors Society for two years. Brayden plans to attend college after high school, but is undecided on his destination and major.

KSHSAA releases 2018-19 classifications

The Kansas High School Activities Association released the classifications for the 2018-19 season Wednesday for all activities other than football, and there were some major changes that involved Frontier League programs.

Both Spring Hill and Bonner Springs made the jump from Class 4A to 5A in the latest numbers as Spring Hill featured an enrollment of 779 and Bonner Springs is the second smallest school in 5A with an enrollment of 750.

The rest of the Frontier League schools, including Louisburg, will all remain in Class 4A. Louisburg recorded an enrollment number of 530, which put them close to the middle.

Frontier League school Ottawa and Bishop Miege are both the largest 4A schools with an enrollment of 679. The lowest 5A school is Andover Central at 748.


KSHSAA voted to make changes to the classification system last year.

For football, the two 4A divisions and Class 2-1A have been eliminated. They have been replaced with 32 team classifications in 4A, 5A and 6A, while 3A and 2A will have 48-team classifications. The remaining schools will play in 1A.

The second proposal was for all other sports. Other than football, classes 4A, 5A and 6A will have 36 teams in each division. Classes 3A and 2A will have 64 schools each, while the remaining schools will be in 1A.

The football proposal passed with a vote of 215-73 and the all-sports proposal passed with a 207-145 majority. All of the classes, except 6A and 1A, were in favor.

With those new proposals comes a different playoff system for many of the sports.

Postseasons for wrestling, track, soccer, cross country and golf will remain the same. However, the classifications will not be the same for wrestling. There will be 36 teams in Class 6 and 5A and then 40 percent of the next biggest programs will be classified in Class 4A, which is approximately 60 schools.

Louisburg will see postseason changes in five sports programs – football, basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball.

In football, Louisburg will no longer have district play as the playoffs will begin in week nine. Class 4A will play an eight-game regular season and then each side of the state will be seeded in a bracket from 1 through 16, based on their record.

Given the fact the Frontier League currently has nine teams after recently adding three schools in Tonganoxie, Bonner Springs and Piper, the Wildcats will no longer have to play a non-league opponent. De Soto recently chose to leave the Frontier League following the 2017-18 season to join a new league made up of 5A schools.

Another change will be in basketball. For the postseason, there will no longer be substates, instead the 18 teams on each side of the state will be bracketed out by record beginning with two play-in games.

From there, the bracket will be sized down to four-team pods, with the higher seed hosting the game. Teams will have to win two games to reach the state tournaments. Pods will be 1-16-8-9 seeds, 4-13-5-12, 2-15-7-10 and 3-14-6-11. The eight pod winners will advance to the state tournament.

Baseball and softball will be similar as there will no longer be regionals. Like basketball, there will be two play-in games with the same pod structure. The top four overall seeds will each host all games in their pod on the same day.

In volleyball, there will be four substates across the state, broken into eight brackets. There will also be nine teams in each substate, which will require a play-in game. Teams will need to win two games to qualify for state.


Photo gallery: 2018 LHS Fall Sports Pep Rally

For the 21st consecutive year, Louisburg High School faculty, students, their families and community members invaded the LHS gymnasium in order to get the school year started off on the right foot.

Sponsored by First National Bank, the annual fall sports pep rally brought everyone together as LHS organizations and sports teams were introduced to a crowd of on-lookers after being fed hamburgers and hot dogs thanks to Chris Cakes.

The Wildcat sports programs will kick things off next week as the LHS boys soccer team opens their season Tuesday when they travel to Fort Scott. The Louisburg volleyball team, fresh off a runner-up finish at state last season, will begin their year at home Tuesday against Paola.

Louisburg cross country opens its season Thursday in Garnett, while the Wildcat football hosts Spring Hill in their opener on August 31.

Three of the teams will have scrimmages or open practices Friday. The volleyball team will hold a scrimmage at 4 p.m. and soccer is at 5. Football was scheduled to have a scrimmage at 6 p.m., but that has been cancelled due to wet weather. The Wildcats will hold an open practice at the same time at the practice field.

Here are some photos from tonight’s festivities. Best of luck to all the Wildcat programs this season.

Vohs hits the mark at national shooting competition

Louisburg High School sophomore Konnor Vohs had a successful performance at the Junior World Skeet Nationals earlier this month in San Antonio as he finished in the top five in two individual events and took fifth in the overall competition. 


When Konnor Vohs stood side by side with some of the best young marksmen in the nation, one would think he might be a little nervous.

Vohs, a sophomore at Louisburg High School, made the journey to the Junior World Skeet Nationals in San Antonio on August 3 and was a little curious on how he stacked up against his competition.

He did more than hold his own.

Vohs finished in fourth place in his age division in the 28 gauge event and also finished fifth in 410 shotgun. After it was all complete, Vohs also found out he took fifth overall in his class on the combined scores for all the events he shot that weekend. More than 150 took part in the national competition that range from ages 10 through college.

“I was hoping to improve my average scores, and of course try to place too, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to do because of all the talent that was there,” Vohs said. “I was very pleased with the results. There was a lot of great competition and I also improved all of my averages in all of the events.

“I wasn’t nervous, as I have been practicing and shooting almost year-round and I have done competitions all summer and some registered shoots. When it is time for competition, you have to embrace the process and shoot like you do in practice.”

At junior nationals, Vohs competed in the Champs of Champs, which consists of shots from a 28 gauge, 20 gauge, 12 gauge and then 410, and scored a 95 out of 100.

In separate individual events, Vohs scored a 94/100 in 28 gauge, 92/100 in 12 gauge, 91/100 in 20 gauge and 89/100 in 410. He also took part in a doubles event, which is shooting targets at each station when it comes out of the houses at the same time and you have to hit both targets.

Konnor Vohs aims at a skeet during the Junior World Skeet National competition earlier this month in San Antonio.

“Of course you want to shoot a perfect score of 100, but to score in the mid to high 90s is my goal,” Vohs said. “I was very happy and thankful for what I achieved, and the opportunity to shoot in the Junior World Skeet Nationals.”

Vohs spends many evenings or weekends honing his craft and is currently a member of the Kansas City Crushers competition team, in which he travels to events around Kansas. He recently went to an event in Sparta, Illinois, where he came home with trophies and medals.

His family has been a big reason for his involvement in the sport. He started shooting at age 7, where he would hunt deer and turkeys with his grandfather. Three years ago, Vohs started competitive shooting when aunt and uncle, Deb and Ken Selzer, who asked him to be on their team for the Shoot for the Cure for Cystic Fibrosis – an event the Selzer’s have co-chaired for several years.

He recently competed in the Shoot for the Cure event at the Power Creek Shooting Club in Lenexa on Aug. 11 and achieved a personal best in sporting clays as he shot 98 out of 100 clays and will compete in another registered shoot next month in Lincoln, Neb.

“The best thing about this sport is that anyone can do it,” Vohs said. “It doesn’t matter on your gender or athletic ability, all you have to have is gun safety knowledge. This sport is constantly growing and participation in kids has increased 35 percent in the last year.

“I just want to thank my parents, grandparents and coaches for giving me this amazing opportunity and believing in me,” Vohs said. “I just want to thank my Papa Joe for all the time he takes to help me become a better shooter. I am so blessed to have such supportive people in my life and always cheering me on.”

And if Vohs has anything to say about, there will be plenty to cheer about it in the future as well.

Hinkle ready to take on role as LHS activities director

Walking into Scott Hinkle’s office, it doesn’t appear he started a new job two weeks ago.

The moving boxes are mostly gone. His desk is organized with everything in its place, along with a calendar crammed full of upcoming events.

Hinkle is not shy to tell people about his love for the Boston Red Sox. Sitting on one wall are two older chairs from Fenway Park, along other memorabilia.

The one thing that Hinkle hasn’t caught up on is his efforts to get some purple gear. An avid Kansas Jayhawk fan, he hasn’t had need to purchase any purple flair in the past. Seems like that will change shortly as he was hired as the new activities director and assistant principal at Louisburg High School earlier this summer.

“I have been a Jayhawk fan all my life,” Hinkle said. “It will be a little weird to wear purple that is for sure, but I am sure I will get used to it. Before I left my old job, people found out where I was going so they started giving me little gifts with purple on it, like markers and stuff like that. They definitely got a kick out of that.”

Hinkle takes over for Jeremy Holloway, who was promoted to principal at LHS and becomes the third activities director in as many years to take over that spot.

“My wife has family in Kansas City and I have family in Wichita and so we were looking to come this way,” Hinkle said. “I had a couple friends that told me that the Louisburg position had opened up. I had heard of Louisburg a long time ago. I actually coached at Ottawa University in the early 90s and was familiar with the area. I came up, interviewed and here I am. It has obviously worked out well.

“Everyone has been so helpful and friendly and it is a good time to be coming to Louisburg. I am excited to be here.”

Before taking the job in Louisburg, Hinkle had spent the last 22 years in the Liberal school district in a variety of roles. He served as the boys high school basketball coach, along with nine years as an activities director, a year as the head girls basketball coach at the local community college and last year he served as assistant principal at the high school.

Hinkle graduated from Valley Center High School, and went on from there to earn his bachelor’s degree from Friends University, where he played basketball, and his master’s from the University of Kansas.

Basketball has always been a passion for Hinkle, but during his time as activities director at Liberal, he had a chance to learn the life of other sports as well.

“Liberal changed a lot from when I first got there in the mid 90s when they were a football and track powerhouse,” Hinkle said. “There were just athletes galore, but the culture kind of changed. We were really good in soccer and decent in track and volleyball. We still had good kids and good athletes, but it was a big transition as far as sports go when I first got there. My kids grew up there and being involved and being able to watch their events was something that has always appealed to me.

“Basketball has always been in my blood. Other than my nine years as athletic director, I have coached in some capacity and I am a big basketball fan. Obviously, being an athletic director I am just a big sports fan in general.”

Still new in town, Hinkle is still trying to get to know his coaching staff, but he is excited about the situation he is walking into with the Wildcats finishing as state runner-ups in volleyball and girls soccer last season. Several cross country, golf, wrestling and track athletes also earned state medals.

However, if there is one thing he wanted to relay to everyone is that he wants to give his coaches the freedom to run their programs.

“I want to let the coaches, coach,” he said. “I am not going to be the guy that says this is how we did things in Liberal and I am not that type of leader. If it comes to the point where they need some advice, I want to be a resource for them. I don’t want to be someone that is looking for something.

“I have met a few of the coaches. I have let them know that I am here if they need anything. I have stopped by the weight room to speak to a few coaches and some have stopped by to introduce themselves. I am still learning names and faces. We have a coaches meeting on the 10th and I will see and learn a lot more about them then.”

With all the success the Wildcats had last season in the sports arena, Hinkle is happy to be a part of the LHS family and is learning new things about the town every day.

“I have heard all types of things,” he said. “I have heard they take football pretty seriously here. I know they were state runner-up in volleyball and girls soccer last year and that is an exciting thing to walk into. I think expectations are obviously high in those sports, but I think everyone always has high expectations. I am not going to do anything different than normal and I am just going to sit back and observe for a while and take it all in.”

Hinkle will experience some different things along with his new position. This season, the Frontier League will welcome three new teams – Bonner Springs, Piper and Tonganoxie – and will say goodbye to De Soto.

Another big change will be the postseason formats with several sports as the Kansas State High School Activities Association reshuffled their classification system, eliminating Class 4A-Division II.

“With the changes in the league, the classification system and being a new AD, it is probably a good time to be coming on,” Hinkle said. “The learning curve is going to be the same for all of us.

“I walked into a good situation for scheduling because (Holloway) already had everything all taken care of,” he said. “I think the dynamics of the league are going to change. Liberal’s former girls basketball coach is the coach at Piper and I know a little bit about them. As far as the programs and rivalries, that is something that is going to come with time.”

Even with all the changes in his life – moving, starting a new job, getting to know new faces – Hinkle is ready for what lies ahead and the staff at Louisburg has helped with that transition.

“It has been a whirlwind and it has been information overload,” he said. “It is a lot of the same things I did in Liberal as athletic director, I just haven’t done it for the last five years. Being an assistant principal at Liberal last year, I think, helped me prepare for the principal side.

“People have just gone out of their way to be helpful. From the administration to the custodial staff to the secretaries, everyone has been super helpful. When I was out around town, people have welcomed me and it has been a friendly feel everywhere I have been.”

LHS cheer shines at NCA camp, earns bid to nationals

The Louisburg High School cheerleading team poses with their awards following the NCA camp in Overland Park in late June. Members of the team are (front row, from left) Leia Shaffer, Shaylor Whitham, Addie Katzer, Billie Casebeer, Kaitlyn Lewer, Hallie Hutsell; (middle row) coach Dana Shaffer, an NCA camp buddy, Lexi Pena, Brooklyn Mitchell, Lauren Vincent, Gabby Tappan, Ashlyn McManigal; (back row) Cecilia Bindi, Sammy McDaniel, Anna Morrison, Jadyn Amren, Lacie Kallevig, Andrea Gaza, Brielle White, Jayden Trester, Eleanor Willming. 


School isn’t even in session yet, but the Louisburg High School cheerleading team is already off to a great start to its 2018-19 season.

The Wildcat cheerleaders competed at the National Cheerleading Association (NCA) camp at the Overland Park Convention Center from June 26-28 and brought home a handful of awards. The three-day camp saw 14 teams and more than 300 cheerleaders compete for awards and a spot in the high school nationals.

Louisburg was able to get both.

The LHS cheer squad earned the Superior Blue Ribbon in Band Dance, Cheer and Chant. The Wildcats also earned the spirit stick all three days, along with All-Around Team Best Band Dance on the final day of camp.

More importantly, Louisburg earned a bid to the NCA High School National Championship competition in late January 2019 in Dallas, Texas.

“We couldn’t have done any better at camp,” Louisburg coach Dana Shaffer said. “These girls amazed me and made Louisburg proud. The girls really shined bright this year and as a coach I think this is going to be our year.”

Louisburg also earned the Herkie Award all three days, which is the highest award a team can receive for sportsmanship. The award is voted on by the campers and staff.

“All the awards we received are amazing, but the one that makes me smile the most is the Herkie Award,” Shaffer said. “There is only one of those given at camp and we earned that honor.”

Several cheerleaders also earned individual honors. Leia Shaffer, Billie Casebeer, Ashlyn McManigal and Hallie Hutsell were selected to the All-American Team.

“At an NCA camp you have to be nominated to try out and we had six girls nominated in Leia Shaffer, Billie Casebeer, Ashyln McManigal, Kaitlyn Lewer, Jayden Trester and Hallie Hutsell,” coach Shaffer said. “Leia, Billie, Ashlyn and Hallie made the All-American Team. Fifty girls at the camp were nominated and 17 made it and four of them are from Louisburg. The all-americans can choose to attend several events in the future.”

Members of the Wildcat team that competed are Leia Shaffer, Shaylor Whitham, Addie Katzer, Billie Casebeer, Kaitlyn Lewer, Hallie Hutsell, Lexi Pena, Brooklyn Mitchell, Lauren Vincent, Gabby Tappan, Ashlyn McManigal, Cecilia Bindi, Sammy McDaniel, Anna Morrison, Jadyn Amren, Lacie Kallevig, Andrea Gaza, Brielle White, Jayden Trester and Eleanor Willming.

Now, the Wildcat cheerleaders are focused on the upcoming season and the national competition in about six months. They are excited for what the future holds.

“We are really looking forward to NCA Nationals,” coach Shaffer said. “We are ready to compete and looking forward to the challenge.”

Harding breaks, matches Wildcat weightlifting records

Louisburg’s Dalton Harding recently tied the all-time bench press record at Louisburg High School with a press of 365 pounds, and also broke the one for his 185-pound weight class that was 25 years old.


Dalton Harding walked into the weight room on his final day at Louisburg High School and was going to give it one more try.

It was one more attempt at a record he had spent countless hours working toward. One more attempt at a shot of leaving his mark at the school.

Since he was a sophomore, Harding had wanted an opportunity to at least match the school’s bench press record. Just a week prior, he had come up five pounds short of the 365-pound goal.

“I was just so disappointed when I tried it the week before and it was getting in my head that maybe I won’t be able to get it,” Harding said. “I worked for almost three years to get that.”

So, he laid down on the bench, gathered himself and put his hands on the bar. Harding got one more chance at the record – a chance that was three years in the making.

With spotters on each side of him, and weightlifting coach Ty Pfannenstiel looking on, Harding lifted all 365 pounds up in the air and then back down again.

The record was his – well, sort of.

His 365-pound bench press tied the school record for all weight classes, which was set by Joe Nieman in 2004, but Nieman was in the 250-plus weight division – more than 65 pounds heavier than Harding.

A week earlier Harding broke Richie Wrigley’s old record of 350 pounds in the 185-pound weight class that was set back in 1993.

“I was so happy,” Harding said. “I got 360 the week before and I just couldn’t get the 365 and I came back and it was a lot easier that day. I’m not sure why…maybe I got more sleep or something. I’m just really glad to get my name up on that board.”

The last three years have been difficult for Harding ever since an injury basically sidelined him from playing sports from his sophomore year on.

During the junior varsity football season in October of 2015, Harding played on the offensive line and suffered a major knee injury. He tore his ACL, part of his MCL and tore his meniscus in half.

Then after completing his therapy from that surgery, he tore his meniscus again the following May.

“It was really bad because the second tear was about two months after I was done with therapy,” Harding said. “Then I had surgery and started the whole process all over again. It wasn’t a fun time. At least I could walk after the second surgery because after the first surgery I was in a wheelchair for 8-9 weeks. I couldn’t really do anything.

“It just got to the point where I couldn’t walk anymore,” Harding said of his second tear. “Part of the meniscus actually would break into pieces and flop backwards. My leg would lock up at an angle too and we would have to force it back into place. There is about 40 percent of my meniscus left, and if I ever tear it again, it is a full knee replacement.”

It was a scary thought for a high school teenager who just wanted to play sports.

The fear of another knee injury pushed him away from football and Harding had to make a difficult decision at a young age.

“It was tough because football is like a brotherhood,” Harding said. “It is just a big family and that was hard. I got through it though. My favorite sport was baseball and that didn’t really work out either. I kept thinking about playing football my senior year, but I just decided it was too big of a risk. I don’t even lift legs anymore. I can do it for a couple days, but then it just kills me.”

So, with sports out of the question, Harding hit the weights even harder. He would work out at school, but did a lot of stuff at home with his father Dennis and brother Garrett.

His knee injury prevents him from using his legs a lot to lift, which is why he stick with the bench press.

“I use the workout program that my dad used when he was in school,” Dalton said. “He still has the sheets printed out and laminated at home and me and my brother still go by that. I got the upper body part and my brother Garrett has tree trunk legs and he can leg press about 1,000 pounds. Weightlifting is just kind of in our blood.”

That 365-pound mark is also a special one as that is what his father Dennis bench pressed in college and he wanted to at least match his dad – if not break it in high school.

“I definitely want to beat him, for sure,” Dalton said. “My goal since I was young was to get over that, but to get 365 with everything I have gone through really means a lot to me. Then when I saw the records on the Louisburg boards, it gave me even more motivation to reach that. Hopefully my name will stay up there for quite a while.”

Although his days at Louisburg High School are now behind him, Harding isn’t planning on giving up weightlifting. Shortly, he will make his way to Beloit to become a diesel technician, but plans on increasing that bench press number as much as possible.

“There isn’t a whole lot to do in Beloit so I will have a lot of time to lift,” he said. “Hopefully in a year or so I can get up to 385.”

Smith signs with Hannibal-LaGrange for shotgun sports

Louisburg High School senior Will Smith signed his letter of intent with Hannibal-LaGrange University to participate in its shotgun sports program. Sitting next to Will is his stepmom Brenda Smith and father Bill Smith. Standing (from left) is his sister Mackinzee, Hannibal coach Nathan Hammock and his mother Jana Creekmore.


As his senior year was winding down, Will Smith wasn’t sure what was ahead for him after high school.

With so many different options out there to try, Smith had trouble picking out the best path for him. As it turned out, his love for hunting took him to where he needed to go.

On May 8, in front of family and friends at Louisburg High School, Smith made his decision official as he signed his letter of intent to participate in shotgun sports at Hannibal-LaGrange University, an NAIA school based in Hannibal, Mo.

“Signing with Hannibal was a blessing for me,” Smith said. “I’m going to be honest, I didn’t really know where I was going to go for college till this opportunity arose. I am looking forward to the challenge.”

The shotgun sports program is just in its third-year at Hannibal, but the Trojans have already had success as they recently finished 15th overall at the national tournament in Division 3.

Shotgun sports involves a lot of clay and trap shooting, and while Smith doesn’t have a lot of experience with that yet, he is looking forward to learning.

“I have hunted since I was a kid and I guess hunting that long has given me the skill to make the team,” Smith said. “I haven’t been working on this long, but I think I will enjoy it. I expect myself to succeed in things that I didn’t know I could.”

HGLU coach Nathan Hammock is looking forward to Smith joining the Trojan program.

“From the moment I met William I knew he would be a good fit for the HLGU Shotgun Team,” Hammock said. “One thing that impressed me immediately about William was how respectful he was in our conversations. He demonstrates responsibility both in school and in his work outside of school. He is new to the competitive side of shotgun, but brings a lot of experience from many years of waterfowl hunting. I look forward to seeing William grow as a competitive shooter this season.”

Smith plans to major in secondary education during his time at Hannibal.

LHS’ Bila reels in fishing awards, wins state championship

Louisburg junior Brock Bila holds up the 8 pound, 3 ounce bass that he caught during the BASS Nation regional tournament in which he finished 14th overall and won the Kansas adult state championship.


When Brock Bila and his family made the move to Louisburg more than a year ago, he had just one request when they decided to leave their Overland Park home.

“I told my mom I wanted water right next to the house,” Bila said. “I wanted to be close to water so I could just take the boat and go fishing as much as I could. I just love it that much.”

One might consider that a selfish request, but for the Louisburg High School junior, it is one of necessity. You could say it is job-related.

Bila, who started fishing at age 5, has become one of the top high school fisherman in the state of Kansas. Two years ago, Bila was crowned the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) state champion along with partner Thomas Heinen of Topek, at Milford Lake.

In 2017, he was runner-up in the BASS Nation state championship at Big Hill and he qualified for the National High School Fishing Championship on Kentucky Lake. Last September at Perry Lake, he was first at the BASS Nation High School team qualifier.

Most recently, Bila won his second FLW state championship last March with Heinen on Wilson Lake. Bila and Heinen have been joined by boat captain Larry Brumley during their tournaments, and has given the two high schoolers much needed advice along the way.

“Winning my first state championship on the FLW side was a big moment for me,” Bila said. “It is still a big thing for me now, but it is a lot easier on the FLW side than BASS. I was runner-up in the BASS state championship last year at that put me in the national tournament at Kentucky Lake and that was a big accomplishment for me.”

Fishing has been a passion for Bila since he was young and it has only grown over time. He’s found himself competing again some of the nation’s best fishermen, including his stint in the national tournament in Kentucky.

“There were 260 boats and it was crazy to think how much money was there is just boats and trucks alone,” he said. “It was an amazing experience and it was probably one of my favorite times.”

Bila poses with his catch last September at the BASS high school team qualifier at Perry Lake, in which he finished first overall.

Bila is currently preparing for his trip to the FLW High School National Championship with Heinen in late June on Lake Pickwick in Florence, Ala. He and Heinen have become a force to be reckoned with on the lake as they have won several tournaments over the last few years.

Tournaments are harder work than people realize, according to Bila. There are several hours spent pre-fishing the lake and figuring out where the best spot are. Many of the tournaments take eight hours to determine a winner.

“The high school deal is pretty cool because you can join the tournament series with anyone that is over 18, who is your captain or coach,” Bila said. “They run the boat with the big motor, then the trolling motor on the front the high school team has to run. You are allowed to have four timeouts throughout the day and you are allowed to ask your boat captain for advice. My partner is from Topeka and is a senior at Hayden. He is going to fish in college as well.”

Bila also earned a spot on the 2018 Kansas State Team, which is for adults (16-and-over) and is rare for someone that young to qualify. The team consists of the top 16 anglers in the state. Bila is the Kansas State Champion Co-Angler and will move on to fish in the national championships in December.

He finished 14th overall in the regional tournament at Toledo Bend Lake in Louisiana in March and led his Kansas team, which qualified him for the national tournament. Bila also picked the perfect time to catch his biggest bass to date – 8 pounds and 3 ounces.

“It is pretty unheard of for a kid coming in and doing that on his first time,” he said. “A lot of the guys have been doing this for a long time and these are the events that help you get to the Bassmaster Classic, which is like the Super Bowl of fishing. Then we went down there to pre-fish, and I didn’t catch over three pounds in practice. The first day, I was sitting 140th or something, then the second day I fished with a professional who has fished the Bassmaster Classic before and that is who I caught an 8-pounder with.

“I caught a whole bunch of big fish and had a 14-pound bag with three fish and was an awesome time. Then the third day I caught a couple more and ended up getting first in Kansas and 14th overall. That is when I made my actual first check in fishing.”

Some might consider catching fish to be fortunate at times, but for Bila, it has taken years for him to hone his craft and it has involved a lot of research.

“When you are fishing, a lot people think it is just luck, but there are so many variables when it comes to fishing,” he said. “When you put the water temperature, the moon phases, the air pressure and water color all together – it is not luck. It is a lot of thinking. To see that all come together is pretty cool.

“My generation of fisherman are completely different from those who are probably eight years older than me. I learned everything online and by just doing it. I used online resources, having connections you can call and just spending time on the water figuring it out.”

All the success has landed Bila an opportunity to fish for Drury University following graduation and he is excited to be able to have a chance to compete for the Springfield, Mo., school. He also currently has two sponsors that provide him with baits and other items.

“I got an offer from Drury University to fish for them, so my plan is to go to college there and hopefully can try and take it professionally,” he said. ‘I was really excited about that cause it has Table Rock Lake and the Lake of the Ozarks right there.”

Bila currently has a web site, www.brockbilafishing.com, where you catch up on all his successes. He is also currently raising money for his trip to the high school national tournament in Alabama in June.

He is selling Chris Cakes pancake mix, and if you would like to support Bila is his cause, email him at brockbila@gmail.com.