PITTSBURG -- The coaches of the Southeast Kansas League picked the defending champions -- Parsons' boys and Labette County's girls -- to win those titles again this season at the pre-season media day sponsored by KSEK-FM here Monday.
Parsons' boys (20-4 last season) received seven first-place votes and picked up 63 points. Coffeyville was picked to finish second with 52 points. Fort Scott (13-10) was selected third with 49 points while picking up the other two first-place votes. Independence and Pittsburg tied for fourth with 38 points. Labette County was picked sixth with 37 points and Chanute was selected seventh with 24. Iola and Columbus, both playing their final seasons in the league, were picked eighth and ninth with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Labette County's girls (17-5) received four first-place votes and 58 points. Fort Scott (10-12) got two first-place votes and 50 points for second place. Independence (16-8), which beat LCHS in the Sub-State final, was picked third with 46 points. Parsons got one first-place vote and 45 points as the Vikings were slotted fourth. Chanute was placed fifth with 40 points while Pittsburg, which received the other first-place vote, was tabbed sixth with 35 points. Iola was chosen seventh with 23 points, Coffeyville eighth with 15 and Columbus ninth with 13. One girls' coach did not vote.
Labette County head girls' coach Kristi Snider said she has three starters back but none of them were able to play any summer ball due to injuries. Fort Scott head coach Jeff Armstrong said that though the Tigers lost four seniors from last year's team, they have two senior post players -- Mallory Shelton and Heather Karleskint -- and seven other players who gained varsity experience last season.
"Hopefully, the freshmen we had playing for us won't look like sophomores," Armstrong said. "We hope they look like veterans."
Indy head coach Dale Reynolds has only one returning starter. His team lost seven other players and has just two seniors and three juniors. Second-year Parsons head coach Pat Schibi says he has four starters back and expected eight seniors to report.
Chanute has one of the new head coaches, Dustin Fox. He has four seniors and six juniors back. Pittsburg also has a new coach, Kim Peterson, and one of the league's leading seniors in 6' 1" post Skyler Muff.
Iola has two returning players, both of whom were picked All-League. Columbus, with new coach Jon Cook, has just two players returning who saw any varsity action last season and just 15 girls out. Coffeyville head coach Terry Downing was unable to attend the meeting.
Parsons' boys head coach Mike Krull will have four returning starters and seven returning lettermen. Coffeyville head coach Dan Wall -- who retired from teaching but not coaching -- broke up the room with a classic rant about how bad his team supposedly is while Parsons should just be crowned champion right now. But he didn't reveal anything about his team during that, which is probably the point of the whole thing.
Fort Scott head coach Jeff DeLaTorre said that he expected 39 players to report for the first day of practice, 24 of whom are in the top three classes. He has three returning starters -- seniors Matt Wright and Cameron Woodring and junior Johnathan Stark -- and seven returning varsity players.
"We had several who were key contributors," DeLaTorre said. "I thought we worked pretty hard in the off-season.
"It's going to be a tough league, another year where you're going to have to be ready every night."
Independence's second-year head coach Marcus Lanning lost two of his leading scorers from a season ago but has three starters back. Pittsburg's Kiley Roelfs has eight returning seniors and former Tiger player Jordan Woods as an assistant coach.
Brad Smith has two returning two-year lettermen at Labette County. But one, Cole Traxson, is recovering from a football injury. Chanute head coach Max Ruark didn't sweat being picked seventh, saying that his Blue Comets were voted sixth last year before going on to finish second.
Iola head coach Bill Peeper has seven players who started at one time or another for the Mustangs last season. Columbus head coach Jeff Renn has only one returning player from the team that finished eighth in the league before getting on a roll and finishing as runner-up to Parsons at Sub-State.
Fort Scott's seasons begin December 1 at the Willard Classic.
NOTES -- When SEK membership drops to seven next season, the league will go to a double round-robin schedule. This means each team will play 12 league games, leaving room for two tournaments and two non-league games or one tournament and five non-league games....