New faces lead winter sports with first practices
Vacation time has been all used up for some Tonganoxie High athletes.
Monday marked the beginning of winter sports practice for boys and girls basketball and wrestling.
Boys basketball coach David Walker is the only returning mentor for the winter sports.
In girls basketball, Randy Kraft begins his first season as Tonganoxie's coach after spending 23 years at 1A Colony-Crest, 40 miles south of Ottawa.
Kraft, who actually started with the school district last year as the agricultural education instructor, spent his first seven years at CCHS as its boys basketball coach. The next 16, however, were spent guiding the girls' team.
Tonganoxie lost five seniors from last year's team that finished 7-14.
Chieftain wrestling also is adjusting to a new face. Jeremy Goebel, who just finished his collegiate career at Nebraska-Kearney, takes over for Bill DeWitt, who took the same position in Eudora after five years with THS.
The Chieftains return many from a team that finished last season with an eighth-place finish at a Class 4A regional in Basehor. THS also sent four wrestlers to state.
As for Tonganoxie's only returning coach, Walker heads into his second year at the helm. Tonganoxie's 12-11 mark last year was the first winning season for the Chieftains in 10 years.
The boys and girls teams begin their seasons Dec. 5 at a tournament in Atchison, while the THS grapplers also will open the season in Atchison with a wrestling tournament Dec. 7.
The basketball tournament will involve a round-robin format in pool play. However teams finish in those pools will decide who plays whom in a single-elimination tournament that will conclude Dec. 7.
Tonganoxie's boys team will have a rematch with the host school in pool play. The Redmen defeated THS at last year's Class 4A substate tournament championship in Hiawatha, preventing the Chieftains from advancing to state.