Panthers working toward a three-peat
Seniors... Senior members of the 2015 Oak Grove Panthers baseball team are, from left, Jacob Hendrix, Austin Nibarger, Austin Reader, Zach Hipsher, Dalton Endecott.
Oak Grove's postseason run last year came to an end much sooner than hoped when Marshall upset the Panthers in the district title game. If Oak Grove is to make it back to the district final and beyond, it will do so with a number of new faces in the lineup.
Panthers have just four returning letter winners in 2015, pitcher/first baseman Austin Nibarger, pitcher/infielder Austin Reader, shortstop/catcher Tanner Johnson and catcher/infielder/outfielder Josh Lewis. Nibarger and Reader make up two-fifths of the senior class that also includes pitcher/outfielder/catcher Jake Hendrix, outfielder/pitcher Zach Hipsher and outfielder Dalton Endecott.
"(In spite of the changes all over the field) our expectations are still the same. We want to compete to the best of our ability every time we step on the field," said head coach Kirk Sears. Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.
Eager to play for a district title
Lady Panthers are coming off a 2014 campaign that saw them go 7-13-1, and head coach Michael Brown is okay with that considering the brutal schedule they played.
"We think it was a good season," he said. "It was the most number of wins in my tenure, and we improved greatly. We won two tournaments and had great results."
That doesn't mean this team won't be trying to improve on those numbers, and they have good reason to believe they will. Oak Grove will be led by seven seniors, defenders Brooke Barker, Kaitlyn Bogacz, Alex Cochran, forward Emily Craig, and defenders/midfielders Destiny Gilmore, Kimberly Schaad and Natalie Wolverton. Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.
Panthers move up to Class 4
Seniors...for the 2015 Oak Grove Lady Panthers track and field team are, from left, Macarena Quijada, Dani O'Neill, Alyssa Groseclose, Alex Cochran.
Changes happen every year, especially in high school sports. One major change occurred during the offseason for track and field.
"The state has gone from four classes to five this year," said head coach Russ Adams. "We moved up to Class 4 from Class 3, and we are one of the smallest schools in the state in Class 4. The cutoff for Class 3 is 620, and I think we are at 650. Class 4 goes from 650 to 1200 students. That is a wide range, and it will probably affect how many kids we can get to state. We still have state power Grandview in our district and now we have Class 4 state power Raytown South, as well."
Belton, Grain Valley, Harrisonville, Kirksville, Marshall, Moberly, Odessa, Pleasant Hill and Warrensburg also will compete for the Class 4 District 7 championship, with only the top four in each event advancing to sectionals. Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.
Wrestlers place eight on All-Conference
The 2014-15 All-MRVC West Wrestling Team was announced last week.
Eight Panthers were selected. Connor Brown, 106, Shawn Kavadas, 126, Landon Cairer, 160, and Dalton Brinegar, 170, were all First Teamers. Tanner Pavlica, 120, Brock Mercer, 132, Skyler Jackson, 138, and Austin Kemp, 285, were named to the Second Team.
Brown, Cairer, Brinegar, Pavlica and Jet Tryon were named Academic All-Conference for Oak Grove, as well. Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.
Four basketball players named All-MRVC West
Late last week, the MRVC West released its All-Conference basketball teams.
Austin Blackston and Quin Schnieders were selected to the boys team. Blackston was a Second Team selection while Schnieders received Honorable Mention.
For the Lady Panthers, Sophie Heldenbrand was voted to the Second Team. Easton Harmon received Honorable Mention. Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.