10 teams, 10 stories: Fall Sports


Kelley Cochran

A leader from each of KHS’ 10 fall varsity sports teams; photos by Kelley Cochran, visual by Hayden Davidson


KHS sponsors 10 fall sports affiliated with MSHSAA (Missouri State High School Activities Association). Each team has goals and expectations as well as areas to improve from last season. TKC spoke with a leader from each of the 10 varsity teams about their upcoming seasons.



Kelley Cochran

A.J. Wallach • Senior • Boys’ Cross Country

TKC: What do you think your team can improve on from last season?

AW: “Especially with losing Christian [Baker] going into this year, instead of just having one frontrunner [in] every race, we could have a pack of people leading it. [Hopefully], the faster people in the group will be able to pull the [whole group] to a faster time and better placement.”

TKC: As a leader of your team, what message do you want to send to teammates?

AW: “Anything is possible. It really doesn’t matter how fast you are as long as you’re willing to put in the work over four years, in the winters, track season or whatever other sport you do in the spring and in the summers. It’s just really important to train individually, and I just want to send the message that anything is possible with this sport. You don’t know what could happen in any given race so just give your all, every time.”



Kelley Cochran

Meg Murphy • Senior • Girls’ Cross Country

TKC: Is there a place you want to be by the end of the year as a team?

MM: “We always want to try our best as a team to go to state, so doing well in districts and doing well in sectionals is really important. Being a team and working together to reach our goals is really important. [There are] two girls who went to state [last year], my sister, Grace Murphy, and Sarah Hickenbotham, [so they will] probably have the most standout years. There will also be a lot of newer runners trying to get to that place as well.”

TKC: What do you think makes cross country interesting to watch?

MM: “I would say that [cross country] is different from a lot of sports. It’s cool because you can see different people at different levels running for their school, and you can see the runners’ parents and the crowd running from place to place to follow the runners. The energy and excitement that goes on, especially at the start and the finish, is probably the biggest thing.” 



Kelley Cochran

Lauren Fischer • Senior • Girls’ Field Hockey

TKC: Where do you want the team to be by the end of the season?

LF: “There are definitely high expectations. It’s going to be [a] goal for us to get as far as we can and to return to the final four because I know that everyone would love for us to have another appearance [there].”

TKC: What would you tell underclassmen who are interested in playing field hockey about the KHS field hockey program?

LF: “Looking back to when I was an eighth grader and a freshman, I used to go to all the field hockey camps. Those camps made me realize how fun the sport is and how you could reach so many goals through the friendships you make and the skills you learn. I would tell freshmen, sophomores and incoming players how fun the sport is. Kirkwood is always viewed as the underdog so you never know what to expect, which is one reason why I love playing for Kirkwood because we have so much unknown potential.”



Kelley Cochran

Matthew Connelly • Senior • Boys’ Football

TKC: As a leader of your team, what message do you want to send to teammates?

MC: “I’m big on accountability because [some] things are [bound] to go wrong. Mistakes happen, we’re all human, but to take accountability of that mistake is the next level. And that’s so necessary for our team because football is a game of mistakes. It also [helps] eliminate that selfish attitude. Our big motto this year is ‘We, not me.’ That just sums up what we’re striving for, a team that is focused on the whole rather than the individuals.”

TKC: What are your goals for the upcoming season?

MC: “Your goal is always going to be to win a state championship. And with this group of guys, that’s always possible. You look at the prior years, you look at 2016, you look at 2012, and just the runs they made [winning the state championship] and how special those years were, even watching it from the sideline or watching it from the bleachers. For any team, that’s going to be your end goal, to continue playing in November for a state championship.” 



Kelley Cochran

Iris Gillam • Junior • Girls’ Golf

TKC: How do you prepare for a tough match?

IG: “I don’t know if I’d call it preparing. It’s just talking to [teammates], making sure you’re not nervous because the thing is, all of us have the ability to shoot [a low score] and do really well. It’s just sometimes when we’re nervous, we don’t always shoot our best, and that kind of gets us. So the best way for all of us is to be laughing or talking and trying not to think about it too much and trying to enjoy the game more.”

TKC: Is there anything specific you think people should know about Kirkwood girls’ golf?

IG: “[Golf is] not as easy as everyone makes it out to be. It’s really not, especially when you get on the course. You’ve got to make sure [your ball doesn’t] go into the water, the woods, the rough. There’s a lot more [to it] than just hitting a ball into a hole.”



Kelley Cochran

Aidan McGee • Senior • Boys’ Soccer

TKC: What are you hoping to improve on from last season?

AM: “One thing we can improve on is the overall team chemistry and understanding how each person plays. I think we’ll do a good job of that with this group because we’ve been playing a lot together. We have a lot of players who play together on the same club teams and have played together for multiple years at the high school, so that chemistry should be there. One thing I’m hoping we can achieve is a district championship; we have a lot of talent on our team so I think we can accomplish that.”

TKC: Is there anything that last year’s seniors taught you that you will try to teach the younger players this year?

AM: “Yeah, and Coach Fisch says this all the time, but that the younger players look up to us as seniors and that a good team is only as good as its senior class. We have to be good leaders because any success the team will have would start from there.”



Kelley Cochran

Lindsay McCarthy • Senior • Girls’ Softball

TKC: What are you hoping to improve on from last season?

LM: “Last season, our team did well being a really close team [because] a lot of us are in the same grade and [a lot of] of our team [consists of] upcoming seniors. I think we struggled a lot more with batting throughout the order every game because we had a lot of slumps. However, this upcoming season I know we have a lot of good players coming up, including some freshmen who I think will keep the good team dynamic we had last year.”

TKC: Are there any specific opponents you’re hoping to beat this year? 

LM: “This year we will really be trying to beat Marquette and Rockwood Summit. Marquette has always been one of the best softball teams. [However], I think their team will be a lot different this year so they’ll be really good competition for us to play against again. Rockwood Summit has always been ‘50-50.’ They win some and we win some. They’ve always been our underlying rival for softball.”



Kelley Cochran

Nick Hepburn • Senior • Boys’ Swim and Dive

TKC: What are your expectations for the upcoming season?

NH: “I hope we go undefeated this year in dual meets. We had a long tradition of doing so in dual meets until last year when we broke [our] streak because we lost to Parkway South. But I think this year, we’ll be able to beat Parkway South and a couple other tough teams. I also hope we win conference and do well at state.”

TKC: What do you think is the best part about swimming for Kirkwood specifically?

NH: “I would say the best part about swimming for Kirkwood is [that] our team’s so diverse. We have a great collection of smart, intelligent, active, different types of people on the team, and it’s great that we can all have fun and be friends on the team.”



Kelley Cochran

Grace Runge • Senior • Girls’ Tennis

TKC: Do you have expectations as to where you want to be by the end of the season?

GR: “We have a really hard district. So it’s hard to get out of our district as a team, but our goal would be to make it to the finals of districts if we have a good draw. Personally, I’d like to make it out of sectionals this year in individual districts.”

TKC: Are there any players you think could go far in the postseason this year?

GR: “Yes, definitely. I think anyone on our team has the potential to be successful this season. No matter how the lineup ends up, the best player from one school plays the best player from another school, so everyone should be playing players that they can compete against. I hope that, as long as everyone stays positive and tries to do their best, they can be successful and as a team [we can be successful] as well.” 



Kelley Cochran

Katie Paul • Senior • Girls’ Volleyball

TKC: What opponent do you want to beat the most this year and why? 

KP: “Obviously, you always want to beat Webster if you’re from Kirkwood. And starting my freshman year until last year, [Webster] had a really strong class that was right above me. And so I haven’t gotten that win over Webster yet, so that would be really great for me personally. For the team, I would love to beat Parkway West because they knocked us out of districts last year.”

TKC: What do you think is the best part about playing for Kirkwood specifically?

KP: “What’s really special about us as opposed to sports such as field hockey or soccer is [freshman, JV and varsity are] all practicing at the same time in the same gym. We’re all on our own courts and doing our own thing, but we still see each other, and [all sports] say it, [but] we really are a family.”