Lehning humbled by KSHSAA honor

By Joshua Kinder

Shalee Lehning racked up 800 assists and more than 900 rebounds as a point guard for Kansas State, playing at Bramlage Coliseum.

But Lehning’s story actually began at small Sublette High School, long before she ever wore the purple and white and helped lead the Wildcats to a 2008 Big 12 championship.

It was at Sublette where Lehning became the star everyone would come to recognize with her dazzling drive and spin into the lane for easy layups, no-look passes or celebratory fist pumps as a Wildcat.

Lehning, who is in her fourth year as an assistant coach at K-State, was honored at halftime of the Wildcats’ 89-80 double-overtime loss to Kansas as an inductee into the KSHSAA Hall of Fame.

“It was so surreal,” said Lehning, who played at K-State from 2005-09. “My perspective has changed some. I look at things differently now that I’m a little bit older, been through a little bit more and been through a career-ending injury. Basketball — that chapter is closed for me — so those are just memories.

“I’m just grateful walking out on that court, thinking of everything that started back in high school. Often times, we look at what you finished with, what you did last. But really some of my favorite memories come from Sublette High School and packing 1,000 people into that gym. Those were the fun times, and doing it with my best friends who are still my best friends today.”

But while Lehning is known around here for her basketball prowess, the hall of fame induction is really for what she did across the board in high school, as she is easily one of the most decorated high school athletes in Kansas history.

Lehning was a three-sport star for the Larks — leading Sublette to back-to-back basketball Class 2A state titles, 52 straight wins over two seasons, seven gold-medal finishes in track and field and four all-league first-team honors in volleyball.

“I’m so grateful that I did volleyball and I did track and wasn’t just basketball,” said Lehning, who retired from the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream last year. “You learn so many different skill sets doing different sports. And today, parents are forcing their kids to specialize so early that they’re more prone to injuries or the kids just burnout quicker. I’m just glad I did other things.

“I learned mental toughness in track by running for miles and miles and then with volleyball, I learned hand-eye-coordination. I’m grateful that I was able to do so many things.”

Lehning is the state’s all-time leader in rebounds (1,336), assists (804) and steals (543) and stands at fourth in points scored (2,510). She averaged 30.6 points, 15 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 5.3 steals a game her senior season alone at Sublette.

A 2009 honorable mention All-American at K-State, Lehning finished her collegiate career as the school’s all-time leader and second in Big 12 history with 800 assists. Her 914 rebounds ranks fourth in K-State history and her 1,189 points are 19th all-time.

Lehning was the first player in Big 12 history to record 1,000 points, 900 rebounds and 800 assists. She’s one of five players in school history to have her jersey raised to the Bramlage rafters.

Despite all of her accomplishments, going back to those days at Sublette High, Lehning was surprised when she learned of the hall of fame honor a few months ago.

“I was shocked because I didn’t think it would come this early,” she said. “I look at the other names on that list, like Kendra Wecker, and I don’t see myself in their company yet. I just don’t look at myself like that. I think of the fun memories, but as far as accomplishments and a hall of fame, this is just so humbling, such an honor.”

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