Here are six athletes to watch during the 913 area high school fall sports season.
Molly Born, SM Northwest, sophomore: Born has had all summer to harness her success from last spring’s track season. Now, her task is to transition back to cross country.
She placed fifth in the Kansas Class 6A cross country state meet last fall, but really found her stride last May at the track and field state meet. There, she won 3,200-meter run and 1,600-meter run state titles.
The Cougars will start their cross country season on Sept. 5 at the Greg Wilson Classic at Johnson County Community College.
Jessica Parker, SM East, junior: Parker enters her junior year more motivated than ever, after finishing just three strokes shy of the Kansas Class 6A state title last year.
She placed in the top three in seven of her eight tournaments last season, including a runner-up finish at her regional. Parker, a Kansas City Star All-Metro first-team selection, won the Sunflower League title across three tournaments and finished with an 81.68 average.
The Lancers start their girls golf season on Sept. 8 against Pembroke Hill at the Kansas City Country Club.
Darby Gertsema, Olathe East, senior: Gertsema spent her sophomore season away from high school gymnastics, but came back in impressive fashion during her junior year.
She won the vault and all-around titles at the Kansas state meet and — at the Sunflower League meet — placed in the top five in every event. She was The Star’s 2014 All-Metro gymnast of the year.
The Hawks start their gymnastics season on Sept. 8, when they play host to Olathe North, Olathe South and Olathe Northwest.
Alexa Tiefel, Blue Valley, senior: Tiefel could not have a much better setup for her senior year with the Tigers.
Her former doubles partner and singles competitor Morgan Steffes has graduated, which leaves Tiefel as the top singles player at Blue Valley with plenty of experience to get back to the state tournament.
Tiefel’s biggest competition will likely come from SM East’s Sarah Wilcox, who ended Tiefel’s season in a third-place match last year at the Kansas Class 6A state tournament.
Tiefel won her first match of the season, 9-0, and paired up with Mallory Novicoff for a 9-1 doubles victory. The Tigers’ next tennis match will be Tuesday against Blue Valley Southwest.
Jacob Weaver, Blue Valley Southwest, senior: Weaver, who is the reigning Kansas Class 5A All-State Offensive Player of the Year, has proven to be one of the most versatile players in the Kansas City area. He lines up as a midfielder and forward for the Timberwolves.
Weaver’s midseason switch to forward helped him triple his goal total from the previous year. He finished with 15 goals and added two assists for the Kansas Class 5A regional champion Timberwolves.
BV Southwest started their season Friday night against Bishop Miege.
Audriana Fitzmorris, St. James Academy, senior: One would be hard-pressed to find a more highly regarded volleyball player in the Kansas City area than Fitzmorris.
Her name constantly graces All-American national lists such as CBS MaxPreps’ preseason team, which was released on Wednesday. She also was a member of the American Family Insurance All-USA second team, where she was one of only two juniors to make the cut.
Fitzmorris, a 6-foot-5 middle hitter, and her teammate Jenna Gray are both committed to Stanford.
The Thunder will begin their volleyball season against Olathe Northwest at the Metro Volleyball Slam at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at St. James Academy.