Sunflower League rejects MHS bid

Kris Long, Sports Editor

Manhattan High was turned down for potential membership of the Sunflower League, along with Washburn Rural High School.

“They didn’t give any reason at this time for the decline,” Athletic Director Mike Marsh said. “Right now, our plans are to remain in the Centennial League.”

According to Marsh, they have no immediate plans to petition another league for membership or try to organize their own league. This means MHS will likely still be in the Centennial League when Topeka West and Highland Park leave in the fall of 2022.

“We’re not going to make any other movement right now,” Marsh said. “We’re going to probably remain in the Centennial League for the time being and, hopefully, the other five schools will remain as well and we can make the best of the situation as possible.”

Staying in the Centennial League makes scheduling a difficulty, with only five other schools to play against. It means Manhattan athletes may have to play schools in western Kansas like Dodge City, Garden City and Hutchinson, increasing travel times.

“With our current situation we’re facing with only five other schools… to schedule a full season… those schools to fill those schedules could be all the way over in the southwest part of Kansas in the southeast part of Kansas,” building principal Micheal Dorst said. “Mr. Marsh does a great job balancing and always having a full schedule. And I think that’s been proved this year, [because] we’ve had teams back out because of health issues due to COVID…. [But] It’s difficult to do what Manhattan High school does and Mr. Marsh has done a great job always having a competitive game schedule.”

Some student-athletes were excited at the proposal of better competition in the Kansas City area. This is especially true for club sports, as athletes from the generally more affluent suburbs often have more experience in those Centennial League schools. Others weren’t thrilled with the different competition. 

“I personally like the Centennial League, because Kansas City has a different style of ball,” sophomore Varsity soccer player Cade Cameron said. “And that’s something that in Manhattan we’ll never get to, it’s just not the way that we’re raised and the club we play.”

Some athletes would have liked the competition but were worried about travel times.

“I think there are pros and cons to both leagues,” sophomore Varsity tennis player Jillian Harkin siad. “Sunflower League would have been great for competition but the distance everyone would have to travel would be exhausting. I like the Centennial League but everyone seems to be leaving. It would be great to form a new league with schools from Lawrence, Topeka and Junction City.”