Senior athletes make mark on school history
(Wednesday, May 18, 2016)
Article by Sami Fischer
As the school year comes to a close, many seniors look back at their high school careers and what they have accomplished. This year’s class of senior girls has quite a lot to be proud of athletically.
Seniors Mariah Cook, Alexis Gifford, Rachel Heiman, Jessica Johnson, Rylie Krogman, Madison Wegner, Taylor White, Brianna Womack, and Jordan Yoder have been part of some of Silver Lake’s most decorated teams.
Their success started early as Eagles. They were league champs in all three junior high sports (volleyball, basketball, and track) both years. They were undefeated in both volleyball and basketball both years. Johnson holds a volleyball record for serving 16 jump serves in a row, and White holds nine track records at the junior high level in the 100, 200, 400, 800, the long jump and the triple jump.
Their domination continued throughout their high school lives as Eagles. During their high school career, they aided in 12 league championships. They also played major roles in 10 state tournament appearances.
The girls cleaned house in volleyball in high school. They boasted four league championships and four state appearances, taking first in 2013 and 2014, led by graduated Kansas State University volleyball player Alyssa Schultejans. They placed second in 2012 and third in 2015.
Head Coach Sarah Johnson shared her thoughts on how the girls shaped the program.
“From the beginning, this group of girls had a strong desire to be successful and to be a part of something greater than themselves. They adapted to new positions and situations to better the team. Their attributes as volleyball players complemented one another, and they knew that in order for our team to be successful, they needed to play as a team and push one another to be positive,” Johnson said.
White also had a key role in those wins as the varsity setter all four years. She holds both the school record as well as a place in the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame for the most season assists of 1,123 in 2013, as well as career assists with 4,216 in her time as an Eagle.
Basketball: different sport, same song. The girls were part of two league championships in high school. They finished third at state in 2015 and were crowned state champions this winter, boasting another undefeated basketball season with a 26-0 record.
Heiman and Gifford were key contributors to the first-place finish this year.
Heiman was awarded First Team All State by multiple news sources as well as Second Team All Class. She was also chosen to play in the Kansas Basketball Coaches All-Star game.
Heiman came into the mix of girls a little late in the game, transferring from Marysville High School her junior year. She shared what she believes makes Silver Lake so dominant.
“I think a huge key to Silver Lake’s athletic success is the unbelievable amount of support from the teachers, parents, coaches, friends, and community. This support gives the players confidence in their abilities and the motivation to work even harder,” Heiman said.
Gifford was named All State this year in basketball. She was chosen to play in the Cloud County All-Star game and also signed there to play next year.
The past three years the girls have been part of the back-to-back-to back league and state champion softball teams, led by graduated MidAmerican Nazarene University pitcher Megan Dieter. Wegner was also a big part of the championships, being named an All-State catcher all three years.
Yoder has been a key contributor to this season’s wins. She found her bat this year and has hit the most home runs on the team, hitting three in one game.
Track is a different story. Even though the girls had won league in track three years in high school, the team could never quite pull out a state victory, until last year. Cook, Heiman and White were key contributors to the first ever Silver Lake state champion team.
Just as in junior high, White was a major competitor in the meet. She was crowned champion in the triple jump as well as the 4x1 relay. She also holds the school record for the triple jump, the 300-meter hurdles, the 4x1, 4x2, and the 4x4 relays.
Heiman also racked up some points for the team, medaling in the 100, 200, 400, the 4x1, and 4x4 relays. She holds the school records for the 200, the 4x1, 4x2, 4x4, and the medley relays.
These girls have significantly impacted students and athletes around them, as well as the community. Athletic Director Warren Bledsoe shared how he has witnessed their impact.
“This group of girls invested a lot of time and sweat to achieve the success they had. I think their most impressive attribute was their aggression and competitive spirit. They never saw losing as an option,” Bledsoe said.