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Earleywine speaks candidly about past, new challenges ahead as JC AD

Ehren Earleywine will start his duties as JCPS athletic director on July 1. (Rod Smith/KRCG13)

JEFFERSON CITY --- Ehren Earleywine wasn't part of the glory years at Jefferson City High School, he was part of the glory decades.

It's when Jefferson City became known as the City of Champions, for what both JCHS and Helias were doing. Winning. A lot.

The Jays and Lady Jays won so many district championships in the 1980s and 90s, the rewards became like Christmas decorations --- they started storing them in the back of closets. Then, they decided to put the plaques on the ceiling of the lobby of Fleming Fieldhouse.

Winning a district championship --- and it really didn't matter the sport --- was a given. The goal was a state championship, or at least a trip to the Final Four.

My, how things have changed. Maybe not the goals, but certainly the results, because district titles these days are reason for great celebration.

Look at the numbers during that glorious, generation of dominance --- a span that stretched into the 1990s --- compared to what's happened since:

1980-98 --- 86 top-four state finishes (three or more Final Fours in 14 different sports) and 19 state championships

1999-2018 --- 38 top-four state finishes (only four sports with three or more) and nine state championships. The bulk of that damage was done before the last head coach from the glory years, Dennis Licklider, retired after accounting for 15 of those top-four finishes and seven of the state championships in track and field in the early 2000s.

Enter Earleywine, who transformed the University of Missouri softball program into a national power the last 11 years. But after being fired from MU in late January, Earleywine, a 1989 graduate of JCHS, is now returning home to be the athletic director of his alma mater.

In other words, he's a product of that greatest generation.

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