When Mychal Lanik took over as head baseball coach at Lincoln East in late 2018, the program was in rough shape.
The Spartans won just five games in 2018, hadn’t had a state tournament appearance let alone a winning season since 2012, and had just two state tournament appearances in the past 23 years.
Fast forward four years later, the Spartans are in the midst of a dominant season and are reckoned among the best teams in the state.
For some coaches, a dramatic turnaround can take years. But for Lanik, it was months. He led the Spartans to a 19-10 mark in his first year at the helm in 2019 after being named head coach three months before the season started. The Spartans fell short of the state tournament after a loss in the district championship game, but he took the program leaps and bounds ahead of where it was a year earlier.
After COVID canceled the 2020 spring season, the Spartans showed no fatigue when returning to the field in the spring of 2021. A talented senior class led the Spartans to a 23-10 record and a deep run in the state tournament, breaking a nine year state tournament drought. Nonetheless, players weren’t satisfied with just the state tournament appearance.
“It felt good to get there and break the streak but we also aren’t complacent with just getting there, we want to win,” senior Ryan Clementi said.
The Spartans success from 2021 has seemingly carried over into 2022. The Spartans are ranked among the best teams in the state and have won many of their games in blowout fashion. Players are confident about their chances as the postseason nears.
“We just gotta keep grinding and playing hard and we’ll figure it out when we get there,” senior pitcher Aidan Johnson said.
With Lanik at the helm, the Spartans are seemingly getting better every year. He’s been a driving factor in the turnaround of East’s baseball program and has formed bonds with players.
“He knows a lot about baseball and knows how to coach kids in a way they want to be coached,” Johnson said of Lanik. “He also cares a lot about his players and builds personal relationships with them.”