Hugoton, KS (westernkansasnews.com) After turning around a program that three seasons ago had only three wins to 14-7 mark this spring, Hugoton boys basketball coach Craig Szymczak is leaving to take over as the head boys basketball coach at St. Mary’s in Ohio.
St. Mary’s has had a tradition as being a perennial power in both football and baseball. Their basketball team finished 15-9 last season. St. Mary’s is almost 30 miles Southwest of Lima, Ohio in the northwest part of the state. The population of the town is a little more than 8,000.
The move brings Szymczak and his wife closer to family. Szymczak’s wife is originally from Ohio and he is from New Jersey. Szymczak was also an assistant coach on Todd Fulton’s staff with the Hugoton football team.
In his three seasons, Szymczak teams went from 3 wins to 11 and 14 this past season. His record was 28-35, but over the last two seasons he was 25-17. It was ten years since the Eagles had a winning season in basketball and Szymczak led his team to winning seasons in back to back years. All seven of his team’s losses this past season were to ranked teams, a combined five to state champions Holcomb in 4A-II and Scott City in 3-A.
For whoever takes over there is a solid nucleus in place for next season. Senior Kellen Watkins just signed a letter of intent to play at McPherson, but Zack Leininger will return for two more seasons (14ppg, 8rpg). The Eagles will also have Junior low post player 6-6 Tony Kinser (7ppg, 4rpg, 2 bpg) and senior Parker Titus (11 ppg, 4rpg).
Hugoton Athletics Director C.J. Korf says a search is already underway to find Szymczak’s replacement and that several candidates have already been in contact with him about the opening.