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No. 6: Sublette's Lehning elected to KSHSAA Hall of Fame

Published 12/23/2012

No. 6: Sublette's Lehning elected to KSHSAA Hall of Fame

Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a series of 10 stories counting down the top 10 sports stories of 2012 as chosen by The Telegram staff.

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

Shalee Lehning's high school athletic career had ended in 2005 when she capped off a stellar four-year list of accomplishments by leading her Sublette Lady Larks to a second straight Class 2A state basketball championship and winning two gold medals and one silver at the state track and field championships in late May of that year.

In her four years, she had become one of the most decorated high school athletes, male or female, in Kansas history.

She had moved on to make a name for herself as one of the top guards in Kansas State University women's basketball history as well. And, to top it off, she had been drafted and played three seasons with the Atlanta Dream of the Women's National Basketball Association.

She had returned to her alma mater and become a full-time assistant coach for the Lady Wildcats after announcing her WNBA retirement earlier in 2012 due to complications in recovering from ACL surgery.

So when the former Sublette prep star opened a letter in late November addressed to her from the office of the Kansas State High School Activities Association in Topeka, she had little knowledge of what she was about to read.

"I opened it and read it, and I was just shocked," Lehning said in a telephone interview two days after the letter arrived in Manhattan. "There was just a rush of excitement. I immediately called Mom (Jane) and Dad (Steve). They were so excited, I can't even describe it. They've been my biggest fans, my biggest supporters."

In it, she was informed that she had been elected into the KSHSAA Hall of Fame for the Class of 2013. She will be officially inducted on Feb. 2, 2013, in Manhattan at Bramlage Coliseum when the Lady Wildcats host the University of Kansas Lady Jayhawks.

Lehning was nominated by current Sublette High School athletic director Monty Marlin, who formerly coached the Larks' boys team and now coaches the girls team.

"When you look at how she excelled in three sports, for all four years, just everything that she accomplished, individually and with the teams, it's an amazing list," Marlin said.

A four-year starter for the Lady Larks basketball team, Lehning finished her career as the fourth leading scorer in girls prep history while holding down the top spot for career rebounds, steals and assists.

She was a 7-time gold medalist in track and field, earning state titles in the 100- and 300-yard hurdles as well as the javelin, where she still holds the Class 2A state track meet record of 147-5. In her senior season, the Larks' volleyball team played in the 2A state championship game, finishing second with a season record of 37-5.

Academically, she was an "A" honor student throughout her four years in high school, and she was class president in each of her four years.

"You just have a person who's highly qualified to be in the Hall of Fame," Marlin said. "There's not an ounce of selfishness in her. She was always about the team, and never worried about what she did. She just had that sixth sense about how to play, and how to get everybody else to be their best."

Lehning said she had never considered that her accomplishments would be worthy of something like the Hall of Fame.

"This has happened because of so many other people," she said. "People who supported me through my years at Sublette, the people who supported me when I was at K-State, and the people who supported me when I played in Atlanta. Everybody shares in this moment. People have gone above and beyond for me so much, I have such pride in all of those people. This is humbling and I'm so grateful."

During her four-year basketball career at Sublette, the Lady Larks posted an amazing 94-6 won-loss record including going 52-0 her junior and senior seasons in winning the 2A state titles.

In her senior season, she averaged 30.6 points, 15 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 5.3 steals and was named Gatorade Kansas Player of the Year. She claimed a spot on The Telegram's All-Area team for the fourth consecutive year, the only player to date to be so honored.

She was a three-time selection to The Telegram's All-Area volleyball team and was honorable mention her freshman season.

As a former player at Kansas State whose jersey No. 5 hangs in the rafters at Bramlage, Lehning said this honor is particularly special.

"This is the whole state of Kansas and I've always been proud to be a Kansan," she said. "This makes me even more proud. To have this prestigious honor, it's pretty cool to go along with all the others. This one stands out."

Earlier this summer, Lehning and her high school teammates gathered for a reunion and harkened back to the days when they were playing just for the fun of it.

"We had a great time remembering so many wonderful things about growing up in Sublette," Lehning recalled. "You just never think when you're going on the floor as a freshman in high school that something like this is going to happen. My life has been so full of blessings and full of dreams that I've been able to live."

Honorees for the Hall of Fame were chosen from nominations reviewed by a selection committee appointed by KSHSAA. An individual must have made an unusually outstanding contribution in interschool activities, either as a student with exceptional talent, or as an adult working with youth (such as an activity coach, sponsor or director, administrator, an official or a contributor.

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