Chanute High School is once again tops in the SEK for the second straight year.
The Blue Comets this week earned the 2020-21 Martin Rohde SEK All-Sports Award for the second consecutive year thanks to the wrestling, girls and boys track and field, and baseball programs claiming SEK Championships. Compiled by Montgomery County Chronicle Sports Editor Brian Thomas, Chanute led all eligible SEK teams with 76 points, while Pittsburg (73.5), Fort Scott (62), Independence (61), and Labette County (54) rounded out the top five.
Just last season, Chanute started the two-year streak of the Martin Rohde standard after putting a halt to four consecutive awards won by Pittsburg. It’s the fifth time ever the Blue Comets have hoisted the award, having previously won the accolade in 2006-07, 2012-13, and 2014-15.
First-year track coach Matt Kmiec said he is honored to be a part of Chanute sports.
“It’s outstanding to be a part of such a big accomplishment by the entire school,” Kmiec said. “I was very intrigued when I heard about this award. It’s such a great thing to have all sports supporting each other and trying to achieve a common goal.”
Chanute’s boys and girls track teams won the SEK League meet on May 13.
The girls scored 109.5 points out of six teams. Pittsburg (107), Labette County (105), Independence (98.5), and Parsons High (58) followed. The boys put up 174.5 points, with Pittsburg (119), Fort Scott (70), Parsons (65), and Labette County (62) coming in behind Chanute.
It’s the first time the girls have won it since 2009, and the first time the boys have been the top team since 2012.
A historical 2021 year for the track program, Chanute’s girls claimed first at three meets, while the boys came out on top in four meets.
“The track team did such a great job of supporting and cheering on each other,” Kmiec said. “Sometimes it’s a sport that can be seen as more individualized. This team is not that way. They knew they were competing to help the team. It’s a different mindset.”
CHS baseball coach Kurt Sizemore said he highly regards the award.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Sizemore said. “Really across the board, I think that that speaks volumes to the amount of depth and the quality of athletes at Chanute High School in general, both girls and boys.”
Baseball also solidified itself as the top team in the SEK on May 13 after a game versus Fort Scott, the team that shared the SEK Championship with Chanute. It’s the first time since 2006 that Chanute has placed first, and it’s the fourth SEK title in school history. Chanute baseball went 12-8, but 10-2 in the League.
Winning against Pittsburg 11-8 on March 30 and then beating Fort Scott 5-2 on April 12 elevated Chanute to have a chance to win the SEK.
“The amount of resilience and the competitive nature the guys have across the entire year (stands out),” Sizemore said. “Going into the season we had one guy, which was Kam, that had any varsity experience, and just to be able to battle and play the experienced kids even though we were relatively inexperienced and had young players across the board was incredible. Our guys had a pretty positive attitude and outlook the entire season and played with a confident swagger.”
Head wrestling coach Andy Alright said all the success that Chanute has enjoyed is indicative of the student-athletes competing and training the right way.
“I think it’s a big compliment to, number one, our students, number two, for believing in the coaches, and then obviously number three for the coaches and the teachers that we have in our district,” Albright said. “I think it’s just a huge compliment to everybody. Kids are working hard in the weight room and doing the right things in the summer and buying in weight class. And it’s paying off on the field, the courts and the mats and everything, so it’s pretty exciting. It gives us bragging rights to say we’re the best athletic program in southeast Kansas in my opinion, and it’s awesome.”
Winning the Class 4A State Championship in 2020 and finishing State runner-up in 2021, Chanute wrestling finished the year at 18-4 and was the No. 2 ranked team. Two losses that the Blue Comets suffered were to the 6A State champs in Washburn, and to the 5A State champs in Goddard.
“Overall, probably just how genuine the boys are (is what stands out about this group). They’re just genuinely hard-working kids,” Albright said. “They believe in their coaches and they believe in their teammates and they’re just genuinely good kids. I think that’s big and you can see that in their parents. And so it’s really easy to coach good kids that have good families.”
Chanute High Athletic Director Zack Murry was also thrilled.
“It is an awesome accomplishment for our coaches and athletes,” Murry said. “It’s a tribute to the hard work they’ve put in througout the year. We are trending in the right direction and it’s a great time to be a Comet.