Soccer team takes second at Games
Bulk of Tonganoxie athletes to compete in next weekend’s events
Tonganoxie kept coming up short in the Sunflower State Games 3-on-3 soccer tournament. The team of Kyle Rodell, Bryce Cooper, Mark Gepner, Dustin Schultz and Chris Laurent couldn't quite make it out of pool play in previous seasons. Last weekend at YSI Fields in Lawrence, though, was a different story.
After losing 8-1 to Sting United, a team made primarily of graduated Lansing players, Tonganoxie came back with wins against Sting United II 5-2 and Multi-County Youth Soccer from Horton 12-1.
"We were nervous after that first game," Rodell said. "They really took it to us."
Tonganoxie advanced to the finals of the four-team tournament against Sting United. Tied at 1 at halftime, Tonganoxie looked to avenge the opening loss. The team was down 3-2 late, but in an effort to score quick goals, the team was more vulnerable on defense and Sting United won the tournament, defeating Tonganoxie 5-2. The Tonganoxie team had to settle for the silver, but Rodell said the team's goal was to be competitive, and it accomplished that.
Rodell, Cooper and Gepner graduated in May. Rodell and Cooper will be playing soccer at Manhattan Christian College next season. Schultz and Laurent are incoming seniors.
The team will get another chance at competition next weekend when they play in the men's open league. Tonganoxie High School soccer coach Harold Pittman will join the team, something Rodell is looking forward to.
Pittman played at MCC in 1989 and from1992-94, and Rodell knows what Pittman can do on the soccer field.
"I'm looking forward to it," Rodell said. "I've seen him play in real game situations. He's good."
The coach doesn't mind being a player for a change.
"It'll be pretty fun, I think," Pittman said. "We'll see if my own playing style plays into my coaching style."
Pittman said working with the soccer team has been his form of preparation and skill-building.
Tonganoxie will compete next Saturday at YSI fields. Game times are set for 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The championship is at 5 p.m.
Gordon Brest didn't have quite the success the local soccer players did. Brest played volleyball for R Gang, a team made up of athletes from DeSoto. The team couldn't produce a win and didn't advance to pool play.
Using the rally point system in which every serve involves a point, the team dropped two-game matches to four teams. The team's first game was its closest. Playing Taylor Made, the eventual bronze recipient, R Gang lost 25-16 and 25-22.
Other Tonganoxie athletes will kick off their competitions next weekend. Scott Underwood highlights the wrestlers. Underwood took home the bronze last year in folkstyle. He will also compete in the freestyle this year. Aaron Adcox will try to defend his gold-medal win from last year's games in the 14-and-younger division. Wrestling will start on Saturday at Free State High School with all divisions competing at the same venue.
Eli Jones and Hunter Samuels will compete in the non-sanctioned singles 14-and-younger division in tennis, and six Tonganoxie residents will be in the Governor's Cup Run in various divisions next weekend at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence.
Jennifer Chambers and Angel Hoffman will compete in Slow-pitch softball as well.