On March 12 it seemed like the entire sports world came to a halt. At the beginning of the day, every single division one conference basketball tournament was canceled. Multiple states had canceled high school tournaments. Schools in Kansas were lucky as they got to play at least one state game. The Rockets basketball team took advantage of that and knocked off top seeded Parsons in the opening game of the tournament. However, they wouldn’t get to play again as KSHSAA announced, due to the COVID-19 virus, they were canceling the remainder of the tournament. Following that news there seemed to be no good news that followed. Governor Kelly announced on March 17 that all K-12 school buildings in Kansas would be closed for the rest of the school year; however, schools would still provide continuous learning for their students. KSHSAA followed up shortly thereafter by announcing that all of the spring sports season would also be canceled. That meant that seniors who played softball, baseball, golf, track, girls’ soccer, and girls’ swimming wouldn’t get to play their final season as a Rocket. It was some of the worst news players could hear, finding out all they had worked for wouldn’t be able to be showcased. “It’s just devastating working for a long time and getting a season taken away from you, especially your senior season,” said softball senior Izy Cain, who is committed to Hesston College. “I am thankful to have more softball ahead of me but I wish I got another year with this group of girls.” Head golf coach Matt Browning also felt pain for his team this year. “It was really difficult having to tell the guys we weren’t having a season. We felt like we had a group that could have competed for a state tournament bid.” Noah Locke was another senior golfer who qualified for state last year and was bound to have an impressive season but will not get to see it happen. Throughout the entire school, there is sadness for the seniors who didn’t get to finish their season, and never even got start one also. Teams will be left forever wondering what could have been in that 2019-2020 spring sports season. Undoubtedly, it is a heartbreaking way to end a school and sports year. ”
The Rocket basketball boys would start their season off at 9-4 through their first 13 games. They would knock off four ranked teams throughout that start. However, from there they would lose five games straight with three of them being by only three points. They would pick up a huge win,however, when they traveled to Andale to face the Indians. They would win on a last second buzzer beater which gave them the momentum they needed going into the post season. They then went on to beat Ulysses at home in the first game of sub-state. They followed that up by knocking off a ranked Clearwater team on the road to win the sub-state championship and punch their ticket to the 4A state tournament. From there it was truly madness as they would go on to knock off the number one seed in the tournament, Parsons, by a score of 61-57. They woud not get to play again because of the cancelation of the tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic that began sweeping the country at this time. It was truly a roller coaster ride of a season for this Rockets team.
The Rocket Wrestling team was coming off a year where they won the AVCTl IV league title and were hoping to repeat that. Although it did not quite happen like that, in multiple other ways the Rockets had a successful year through multiple of their individual wrestlers. They had seven wrestlers qualify for the state tournament. Anayka Besco attended the girls wrestling state tournament and finished in third place. Charlie Black went 1-2 at state, Keegan Beavers went 3-2 and took fourth place, Peyton Besco went 2-2, Cole Daughhetee and Tommy Rogers both went 1-2. David Leck finished 4-0 on the weekend in Salina and would be crowned as a state champion. On top of an impressive seven wrestlers attending state, they would also have wrestlers break school records. Leck would break the all time wins record in school history during the season. Even though they did not repeat as league champions, you cannot deny the success they had during the season.
The Lady Rockets basketball team got off to a slow 1-4 start; however, they picked it up very quickly as they would string together wins during the season to keep themselves right around .500 for most of the season. Their work was cut out for them throughout the season as they played very solid teams all year long. They would, however, win their final home game of the season over rival Mulvane by a huge margin of 33 points. Their season would end in the first sub state game as they would fall to Andale. For a team that was mostly non-seniors, they'll also look to continue to build and improve for next year.
The Rocket Swimming team didn’t have a overall finish higher than fifth place this year, however that doesn’t tell the whole story about them for the year. In almost every single swim meet they had an individual finish of 8th place or higher. Multiple swimmers would be solid in certain races consistently throughout the entire swim season. The brightest spot for the swim team this year was the relay team that usually featured Bryce Bischler, Drew Leck, Zach Hoang, and either Timmy Hoopes, or Ethan Woodrome. They would have the highest finishes in every meet over the season and would even get the chance to compete at the state swim meet. With almost the entire roster being underclassmen, it was an impressive season and they will only look to build on this for next year.
Since head coach Josh Shirley has taken over the Rose Hill basketball program, it has seen a steady improvement almost every year. Now coming off of the program’s best year since 2009, Shirley does not expect to take a step back at all. The Rockets lose 5 seniors from last year who all played valuable minutes. However, they will bring back two starters from last year in Spencer Nolan and Koby Campbell. Also returning for the Rockets are Trent Barnhart and Asa Vrbas who both saw varsity minutes last season coming off the bench and are looking to step into starting roles. Mason Lane, Luke Witt, and Dominic Robledo are three other seniors who will look to see varsity minutes for the first time in their careers. Even with lots of newcomers to the Rocket basketball program, Coach Shirley and the players expect a successful season. After being one game away from a state tournament appearance last year, the Rockets are ready to take another step forward. Their first game this year will on the road against Circle on December 6th at 7:30 pm.
The Lady Rocket basketball team has been very successful since head coach Greg Welch got the keys to the program. Since he has taken over the girls basketball program in 2015, the team has not experienced a losing season. This season he looks to keep that streak alive. The team loses six seniors from last year, including last year’s league MVP Emily Adler. However, even with the losses from last year, the team still has multiple players who have varsity experience over the last couple of years in Lexi Rose, Jayden Chickadonz, Haley Thrush, Izy Cain, and Korryn Hackney. Coming off of a 14-7 season and also being one game away from a state tournament appearance, the girls’ basketball team also looks to continue forward in success. Their first game of the season will be December 6th against Circle on the road at 6:00 pm.
The Rocket wrestling team is coming off a very successful season in which saw them winning a league championship and having a 4-1 dual record on the year. This year they want to do the same. They lose nine seniors from last year’s team; however, they return some very successful wrestlers. David Leck is returning for the Rockets and only needs 25 wins to break the all time win record for Rose Hill. Cole Daughhetee also returns for the Rockets after posting a record of 22-8 last year. Senior Anayka Besco returns for the Rockets also and comes in as the number one ranked wrestler in her weight class for the girls division. Seniors Noah Loecke and Austin Graham will also look to be successful this year for the wrestling program. The pieces are there for head coach Darian Eshelman and his wrestling program going into Eshelman’s 8th year of leading the program. They now will look to put it all together and compete for another league title. Their first action will be on December 6th at the Valley Center Tournament where the action will begin at 3:00 pm.
The Rose Hill boys swimming team will be back in action this winter with head coach Tessa Downs coaching the boys again this season. The team will feature two seniors this year who are both new to the team in Trey Coykendall and Ethan Woodrome. The top returners for this year are Bryce Bischler, Drew Leck, Zach Hoang, and Timmy Hoopes. The team has already doubled in size from last year. “We have more new swimmers than returning but I am already seeing progress,” said Downs. She also said she feels like they will get better from meet to meet and have a goal of sending a relay to state this year. Their first meet is December 7th in Maize at the Northwest YMCA and will start at 1:00 pm.
The Rocket soccer team coming into this year was interesting in that they had experience but were also still young. They had experience coming back as the majority of the varsity has consisted of freshmen and sophomores the past two years but they still had only one senior. Back-to-back All-League Goalkeeper Trystan Spiess was the lone senior on this soccer team and he expected to lead his team to a winning season. They started off the season 3-5-1 against mostly larger schools but from that point they went on an absolute tear. They would go 7-2 from that point on in the season and would go on a 5 game win streak within that span. They would be 10-6-1 going into their playoffs, where they would beat Winfield handily by a score of 5-0. They would then go on to play Buhler in the Regional Championship. In a game played on Halloween, the Rockets took a 1-0 lead but injuries would come and haunt the Rockets. They would end up falling to Buhler 2-1 in overtime to end their season. The Rockets finished the season 10-7-1, which is their best record since the team won their second consecutive State Championship with a 20-0-1 record in 2015. Overall, it was a successful season for the Rockets but they still look to build on this for next year and improve even more.
The Rocket cross country team came into this season excited in knowing that they had a real chance to be very successful this season. For the boys and girls there were lots of runners from last year returning. For the boys, seniors Trevor Brack and Ethan Woodrome had a good year, often leading the charge for the boys cross country team. Junior Aubrie Thomison had a good year for the girls, often finishing as the high placer for the girls. About halfway through the season, freshmen Kyrsten Lucent and Elliot Herod would get moved up to varsity and would shine immediately. Lucent would be the high finisher for the Rocket girls in all of the remaining races and at regionals would finish in first place overall as well as breaking the school record for the fastest 5K time. As a team, the girls would just barely miss out on going to state. Lucent and Herod would both qualify however. Lucent would finish in 23rd place at state and Herod would finish in 55th place. The Rockets had a very solid year all around and have a very bright young future ahead of them.
Within the Rocket football team, there were high hopes that this could be the year to put Rose Hill football back on the high school football map. Head coach Lee Weber was going into his second year with the Rockets, and was coming off of a 1-8 season in 2018. However, he expected no such repeat of last season. The program had the largest number of players out for football since the 2011 State Championship season and all the pieces seemed to be fitting together just right. The Rockets would start off the season 0-3. However, feeling like they should have won two of those game it lit a fire in them. They would then go on to win two straight including a homecoming win. They would then drop two tough games to Mulvane and McPherson. They would bounce back on senior night with a dominant 45-0 win against Independence. The Rockets went into the playoffs sitting at a record of 3-5 and would have to go on the road to play Goddard in an eight seed versus nine seed matchup. The Rockets would compete with Goddard but would fall by a score of 32-14 to end their season with a 3-6 record. Even with the seniors leaving, there is lots of experience coming back for the Rockets in 2020. They look to take yet another step forward as a program and they are more than capable of doing it.
The Rocket volleyball team came into this season off of three straight state playoff appearances and two state championships in 2016 and 2017. After losing a senior class that had helped turned the volleyball program around, the weight was now on the shoulders of all the younger classes. As expected when a team loses a lot of seniors who played big minutes, the transition was a little rocky at times. They started off the season 4-0; however, the team struggled against teams in their league with more experience than them. They played hard against each team, and a lot of their losses would be extremely close games where they would go down in a hard fought three sets. In the end, head coach Cherith Mock and her Rocket volleyball team would finish 13-24 in Mock’s second season leading the charge for the volleyball program. The Rockets do only lose two seniors, so they will have a lot of experience coming back for next year. With all that experience coming back, the Rocket Volleyball program could go back to their familiar winning ways in 2020.
The Rocket volleyball team has been arguably the most successful volleyball program in the state for the past three years, winning two state championships in those three years. After losing four-year starter Gracie Van Driel to the University of Kansas along with four other senior starters, it will be interesting where the program goes from here. Even with some seniors departing, there are multiple players with varsity experience, and even state volleyball experience, in Haley Thrush and Aspen Goetz. “I believe we have what it takes to be successful in our league and the tournaments we play in,” said head coach Cherith Mock. “After losing most of our starting lineup with graduation last year, I know we will be learning and rebuilding throughout the season, but these girls have been around the highest level of volleyball around, so they know what they need to do to step up and be successful.” The Lady Rockets will open their season August 31st in the Wichita Southeast tournament.
The Rose Hill High School soccer team is coming off a 7-10 season last year and looking to improve greatly during this season. They lose only three seniors from last year; however, this year they only have one senior in All League goalkeeper Trystan Spiess. Even with only one senior on the team this year, there will be no lack of upperclassmen as they also have 17 juniors. “Last year we had too much inexperience and not a lot of size. Now we have a lot more experience and a lot more size to go along with that as well,” head coach Jerry Treat said. “We expect to be much better just based off skill level, because now also our kids are returning for their third year as starters.” With high expectations for themselves, they will be put to the test in their season opener on the road against Coffeyville on August 30th.
The Rocket cross country team is looking to have a successful season this year behind veteran coach Brandon Barger and lots of returning runners for both the boys and the girls. The boys have five returning runners who are all seniors and also seven new runners coming out. As well as performing, Coach Barger expects his seniors to help mold their culture into the young runners. The girls lost a couple runners this year due to injury; however, other than that the same squad from last year is intact and should be looking to do well throughout the season. Aubrie Thomison is the only runner coming off a state appearance last year along with a few others who attended state track. The program’s sights are set on a league championship this year as well as a team appearance in Wamego for state.
Head football coach Lee Weber is back for his second season as the Rose Hill High School football coach. After the first season not going as well as he wanted, he still has nothing but optimism for his football program. “Finishing 1-8 last year was obviously not where we wanted to be, but our players answered the bell and came to work this off season and this summer,” said Weber. There has also been lots of new players answer Weber’s call for more people to come out and play football this year. “I also am very encouraged by the number of guys flocking to our program this fall. We finished last year with 49 players and this coming year, we plan on having 67 players. That is an increase of 18 guys. Those higher numbers aren't just coming from our incoming freshmen, but we have had multiple upperclassmen answer the call to come back for football. That is really encouraging.” The Rockets will go on the road to Clearwater for the season opener on September 6th.