Tonganoxie winter sports putting in hours for first day of practice
Shannon Carlin didn't need an alarm clock Monday morning to wake up for the first day of girls basketball practice. She had her conscience.
It's a pretty impressive conscience, especially considering it woke the senior guard up when it was still dark outside.
"I set my alarm for 5 o'clock," Carlin said. "But I woke up at 4:30 before my alarm went off and I couldn't go back to sleep. I was awake, just laying there thinking, 'Wow.' I was nervous for some reason."
Perhaps it was because of the conditioning instituted by Tonganoxie coach Randy Kraft. From what Carlin described, players couldn't simply roll out of bed, throw on a jersey, shorts and shoes, and get through the two-a-day practices.
"A lot of girls went out and ran on their own during buffer week," Carlin said, referring to the time between fall and winter sports in which Kansas State High School Activities Association regulations bar teams from any organized practices. "Us older girls warned the younger girls. They listen to us."
The Chieftains went through two sets of down-and-backs. Each set consisted of the players running up and down the court four times. Carlin said typically, if players don't finish a set in under a minute, they'll run again.
It's to be expected from a THS team that finished 22-3 and claimed fourth place in the Class 4A state tournament last season.
Kraft said he hoped to finalize his varsity roster by the middle of next week. Here's a hint for players on the bubble:
"We tell all of our kids if they want to play for us they, number one, have to play defense," Kraft said. "Two, they have to be a rebounder. We feel like defense and rebounding are the two keys to the game. The next part of it is just don't make mistakes. We don't ask them to be great scorers. If they can play defense, rebound and not make mistakes, they have a good chance of playing for us."
Tonganoxie boys basketball
THS coach David Walker sent his players a message in the last 15 minutes of the first day of two-a-days Monday: Dive for all loose balls and don't be afraid to get on the floor.
There was no easing into the first day of practice for Walker's squad. The coach ran a drill in which he rolled the ball 10-15 feet ahead of him. The player would start near Walker, sprint after the ball, dive on the floor and pass the rescued basketball to a teammate.
"Most nights, we're probably going to be the smaller team, which means we're going to have to learn to fight and scrap," Walker said. "We want to learn to start doing that from day one. Anytime you run drills, you're trying to instill habit. Any time there's a ball rolling across the floor, if we instill a habit of hitting the floor and going after the ball, I'm hoping we can get a majority of loose balls."
Some players, even seniors, already felt the effects of the hard-fought drill. Senior Tyson Letourneau said he hadn't done the drill since his freshman year.
"It's fun to do, but the floor is not very forgiving because I'm already starting to get a blister here," Letourneau said, pointing to his hand. "We're just hoping to get a lot more scrap balls, which amount to a lot of points. If you get every single one, it's going to amount to a lot of wins."
Tonganoxie finished 10-11 last season.
Coach Jeremy Goebel stressed constant movement to the THS wrestlers who went through two-a-day practices this week. Goebel said there was a direct correlation between constant movement in practice and in matches.
"Any time you're resting in a match, you get scored on," Goebel said. "We want to be constantly moving and pushing through the times when we get tired. Hopefully we're not the ones resting and the other team is, so we can capitalize. Our conditioning has played a huge role in most of our victories in the past."
Goebel focused the morning sessions on conditioning and the afternoon sessions on wrestling drills. He said the team would likely hold a wrestle-off Nov. 27 in each weight class to determine who will suit up for the KVL Duals at Mill Valley on Dec. 1.
"We want to put our school on the map in terms of wrestling," Goebel said. "We want to let people know Tonganoxie's going to wrestle for six minutes. We may not always come up the winner, but they're never going to want to wrestle us again. If you go as hard as you can and still lose, that person's not going to want to wrestle you again."
Tonganoxie had three wrestlers compete at state last season and all of them will return this year. Senior Cameron Adcox went 1-2. Senior Wyatt Coffin and junior Matt Brock went 0-2.