Another winter sports season has come and gone. There were moments of victory and moments of defeat as Schuyler and Clarkson/Leigh athletes completed the winter season in grand style.
Along the way, Warrior and Patriot teams enjoyed great peaks of joy and maddening pits of despair. Individual student athletes had good games, great games and historic performances.
As we wait patiently for old man winter to pack up and finally head home for another year, here are seven moments and memories we’ll all look back on fondly about the season that was.
7. PATRIOT WRESTLING: By the time the season reached the district tournament, Clarkson/Leigh only had three active wrestlers on the roster. Regardless, it was a freshman who broke through and advanced on to the state tournament - 106 pounder Brock Marxsen.
Marxsen put together a 26-15 season including 18 wins by pinfall. Marxsen went 0-2 at state but gained valuable experience for the future and provided a reason for other Patriot wrestlers to believe they have what it takes to find themselves in Omaha.
6. SCHUYLER BOYS BASKETBALL struggled with growing pains but on Feb. 15, the squad showed a glimpse of what the future may hold in store as the Warriors stormed to a 54-37 win over Raymond Central.
On that night, Schuyler hit on all cylinders and was able to bury 3-pointers from long range, drive the lane inside and block Raymond Central shots inside shots before they even had a chance of making it to the rim.
Aaron Langemeier knocked down four 3s, Easton Hall had a solid game in the paint with 14 points and a single-game school record of 12 blocks. It’s too bad the young men couldn’t have experienced several more nights like that one but what a fun night that was for everyone who attended the game.
5. SCHUYLER GIRLS BASKETBALL enjoyed a four-win season for the first time in several years. One of the best games of the campaign was a 52-26 thrashing of Douglas County West in the SCHS gym on Jan. 31.
Three Lady Warriors scored in double figures as Schuyler Central led from start to finish and dominated the visitors in every area of the game. Standout Rachel Shonka led the team in scoring with 18 while Tasha Wolken poured in 15 points and Reagan Folda added 10. The team showed great improvement throughout the season but never was it more apparent than in this sparkling victory over the Lady Falcons.
4. JARRED NOVOTNY: There are few other Clarkson/Leigh basketball players, none in fact, that have ever had the kind of night freshman Jarred Novotny put together in a 78-72 win over East Butler on February 8.
Novotny scored 42 points, every one of which the Patriots needed, to defeat a Tiger squad that had 32 points from Nebraska's leading scorer, Jaden Ryhnalds.
He scored 24 of that total from 3-point range, sinking 8 of 13 from long range, and shooting a very efficient 13 of 24 overall. He was also 8 of 13 from the foul line.
The performance may turn out to be one Clarkson/Leigh fans look back on as the start of something special. Novotny still has three years more to break more records and create more Patriot history.
3. CLARKSON/LEIGH GIRLS BASKETBALL: It may take a while for Patriot players and coaches to realize it, but they accomplished something very special in the winter of 2019. It's tough to feel that way after coming up one win short of the program's first state tournament, but the year was memorable regardless of how it ended.
For one, this group won four games as freshmen. That can be a harsh slap in the face from reality and cause some to question their level of commitment.
Instead, this group doubled down, stayed in the gym longer and spent more time on the game in the offseason. The result was nine wins then 14 then 21 this year. Two of those came against Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family, a team ranked in Class D-1 all year, and a state tournament team.
Clarkson/Leigh also defeated D-2's Humphrey St. Francis, ranked No. 1 most of the year, and also a state tournament team. The Patriots won 10 in a row at one point and scored more than 200 total points over the course of the season than their opponents.
Whenever the program makes a break through and makes that first state tournament, the 2019 team will no doubt be looked back on as setting the stage, and the standard, for those who followed.
2. The SCHS wrestling team had another outstanding season under the leadership of their head coach Jeremy Hlavac as six Warriors qualified for the state wrestling meet in Omaha.
Kenny Castro, William Marxsen and Alejandra Sanabria did not medal but represented Schuyler Central well in their early matches. Miguel Roman picked up a fourth-place finish at 138 and Caden Yrkoski captured fifth place at 160 pounds. For Schuyler, the weekend belonged to Jesus Maganda who won the gold medal in the 220-pound weight class and finished the season with a perfect unbeaten mark of 38-0. As a team, the Warriors finished in 14th place with 57 points. It truly was another sparkling season and state meet for Coach Hlavac and his impressive squad.
1. Maganda’s success this year cannot be measured by one particular moment. He willed his brothers on the football team to a win in the final game of the season and will likely be another impact player in a few weeks when soccer season begins.
But what he will be remembered for at Schuyler are his heroics on the wrestling mat. To go through an entire season unbeaten and to do so in such convincing fashion was certainly something that most SCHS wrestling fans will remember for a great long while to come.
While being a team leader of gigantic proportions, Chuy was determined to win each time he took to the mat. The determination that we saw from him each match he wrestled was truly inspiring. It may be a long time before we see a complete athletic competitor like him again but we will always have the memories of this past season to look back on with a warm embrace.
Nate Tenopir and Doug Phillips are the sports editor and freelance writer for the Schuyler Sun. Reach them via email at SCHsports@lee.net