North’s Triple State Competitors: Track and Field, Baseball, and Women’s Soccer


Baseball: all photos courtesy of Cole Young


School may be out, but spring sports wrapped up their state championships.

   On May 27-28, both the men’s and women’s track teams from Liberty North traveled to the state championship. The mens team came in second place in the overalls with 58 points.

   “For preparation, we tried to avoid doing too many different things from what has brought us success throughout the season. We went through our week just trying to keep things as close to what the athletes were used to when training,” men’s and women’s track coach Chiku Bikoko said.

   Upcoming senior Kennedy Herrig was the anchor for the 4×200 and 4×400, and ran the 300 meter hurdles. Herrig highlights the performance of both teams during the State Championship and working up to it.

   “This year was overall very exciting, but it also had its ups and downs. The boys were always very dominant and the girls were always in the top 3. I feel like, on the girl’s side, there were some meets we could have done better at, but overall we were competitive,” Herrig said.

   The dominance in the boy’s events was shown in Courier-Tribune’s article about the 4×400 meter relay team of Xavier Horn, Collin Kleinhen, Eric Lewczyk, and Colin Madison. The team broke the school’s record with a time of 3:17:73. Kleinhen, an incoming senior, also took second place in the 800-meter run and ran in the winning 4×800 relay. Though successful, the two-time state champion felt the relays’ win was dependent on him.

   “I knew I was the underdog in the 800, but I knew I had a chance to win it. And because I was the last leg in the relays, I knew it was on me if we won or not,” Kleinhen said.

   In addition to Kleinhen, seniors Matt Morrison and Bailey Haselhorst had excellent performances. Morrison is the 2023, and 2022, state champion for javelin and committed to the University of Tennesse to continue his track and field career. Haselhorst secured 8th place in women’s javelin, the only All-State Athlete on the women’s team from North, and was the only lady to score points in field.


   On June 2 and 3, North’s baseball team had two exciting wins; 2-1 against Nixa in the Semifinals and 9-3 against Francis Howell for the state title. This was the second consecutive championship game for the baseball team. 

   “By the end of the game, I was really excited because I was starting to realize we were going to be back to back champions,” 2023 graduate Andrew Agnew said.

   However, the team needed to be in the right mentality to play their best. 2023 graduate Tate McGuire, who is signed to the University of Arkansas and was awarded the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year, shares how long the team prepared for the game.

   “We had been mentally preparing for this game since the Monday before. We knew that we were going to play some great defense and just needed to make sure the bats got hot,” McGuire said.

   Junior Cole Young describes the impact of the environment on his mindest and how the focus set in before arriving on the field.

   “Before the game we had a meeting and you could tell everyone was locked in. Driving to the field was unbelievable, there were thousands of cars. It was a game we’d been looking forward to our whole season,” Young said.

   The training leading up to the state championship was also necessary for a well-played game. Coach Ryan Stegall offers insight into what preparation entailed for the team.

   “We practiced like normal throughout the week. We did go up to WJC (William Jewell College) to practice just so we could get on turf and be more prepared for the surface we played on down at Ozark,” Stegall said.

   Both the physical and mental preparation paid off, as the team defeated Francis Howell 9-3. But for some, it wasn’t winning the state title that was most memorable.

   “It was being at Coach James’s celebration of life together, supporting his family and remembering him,” Young said.

   McGuire felt similarly about the impact of Coach James ,who passed away due to a cancer diagnosis on May 5 of this year.

   “We also had a little help from Coach James even though he couldn’t be here with us physically,” McGuire said.


   North’s women’s soccer team also had the privilege of competing at the state championship on June 2-3. They defeated Kickapoo 8-0 in the Semifinals and Nerinx Hall 4-3 in the title game, completing an undefeated season of 22-0. 

   “Going into the game, I was nervous as I knew we would have a greater viewing than normal. I knew going into the game they were a good team, and we would all have to work together to pull off a win,” 2023 graduate and Truman State commit Julia Behounek said.

   Behounek’s anxiety was shared with Emily Ngo, 2023 graduate and Lake Erie College commit who plans to pursue soccer. Ngo brings to light the important relationship between focus and emotion during the game.

   “My thoughts in the game were how it was a physical and competitive game that Nerinx Hall could play, and it wasn’t going to be easy without a fight. I had to keep my emotions together and focus on the player I was up against and how to shut her down,” Ngo said.

   Upcoming college freshman Emilee Person elaborates on balancing focus and feeling.

   “I was tired and battered. I unnecessarily focused on that and had to quickly change that mindset. I was also nervous. They were pressing a lot and there weren’t many options going forward. When they came back in the second half, I was pissed,” Person said.

   The team finished the game 4-3 in one overtime with tears and strong emotions. It wasn’t only because they had earned the state title, but because it was the last game they played with the seniors.

   “After that final goal in overtime, we kind of just let everything out; tears of joy and no words for what happened. All the seniors looked at each other and gave the biggest hug ever,” Ngo said.

   Freshman Emery Lauber adds to that final sensation of the season coming to an end.

   “I don’t think I’ve ever run as fast as I did onto that field after I saw the ball go into the net. I jumped onto the pile and once everyone got up, I started crying. It was just so surreal because this is stuff you dream about when you’re little, and I lived it,” Lauber said.


   For women’s soccer coach Steve Person, this was the end of the road. Person retired at the end of the season, going out on top. After the game, he talked about the trifecta of his retiring, winning a state title and being undefeated all season. 

   “This is something they write movies about. This doesn’t happen. It’s amazing to think about. I was confident the whole season long, but you don’t allow yourself to think about that until the ball goes in the net and final whistle. It’s amazing and crazy to think about,”Person said. 

Person has been the only women’s soccer coach at Liberty North, founding the program in 2010 when the school opened.

   “I’m so proud of all of them. The amount of time and effort they’ve put in. I knew it was going to be a battle, but the battle is worth the sacrifice in the end,” Person said.