I got to Norton right at 11 p.m. No deer on US 283 between WaKeeney and my destination. This is my fifth time staying at the Sleep Inn this winter.
There was a slight problem when I pulled into the Sleep Inn: the elevator was not working. However, it was easily taken care of. First, two very nice people offered to help bring my bags up to my room on the third floor. Second, I 50 percent off my rate for tonight. At least the elevator broke tonight, and not tomorrow, when the hotel is fully booked. I can see some of those grandparents who have third floor rooms bitching and griping if the elevator doesn’t work.
Norton’s girls won at Ellis for the first time since 2006. The date was February 17, 2006, when the Bluejays defeated the Lady Railers 46-31. It was a big win for Norton, which improved to 18-1 at that time. The Bluejays’ only loss to that point was a 50-37 setback to Ellis in the Mid-Continent League tournament championship game Jan. 21 of that year.
Caitlyn Cox’s oldest sister, and the eldest child of Peggy and Clark Cox, Chelsea, was a senior on the 2005-06 Lady Bluejays. Chelsea was an All-State volleyball player who had signed a letter of intent with the University of Tulsa, but after one season with the Golden Hurricane, she would transfer to Kansas State, where she’d play the rest of her career.
Norton had five senior starters that year, in fact. In addition to Chelsea, there was Whitney Newell, Karlie Jones, Rebecca Ebert and Klaire Mann, the daughter of Norton superintendent Greg Mann. The key reserves off the bench were two freshmen, Laura Lee Baird and Hayli Bozarth.
I can recall four of Ellis’ five starters. One was a sensational freshman, Whitney Taylor, who would go on to lead Ellis to back-to-back state tournament appearances in 2008 and 2009, and she went on to perform for the Fort Hays State track and field team. Whitney is completing her studies at the University of Kansas medical school. i knew she was going to hit it big. Really big.
The other starters I recall for Ellis were Courtney Waldschmidt, a superb point guard; and two underrated post players, Jennifer Jacques and Jaymi Riedel. I’m sure if I looked at a roster, that fifth starter would come back to me, but for the life of me, I can’t remember off hand.
Why can I recall that game so well? Many things.
First, it was bitterly cold outside. It was a whopping 9 degrees when I left Russell that afternoon, driving Jack’s Buick LeSabre instead of my own Pontiac Grand Prix. I had four layers on going into the Ellis gym, and I was still freezing my butt off for a few minutes both coming and going.
Second, I drove immediately after the game to Colby. I had to cover a regional wrestling tournament at Oberlin the next day. At that time, Colby, 60 miles southeast of Oberlin, was the closest locale with a decent hotel (Norton’s Sleep Inn was still six-plus years off).
By time I pulled in to the hotel in Colby, it was 5 below. It was 8 below the next morning when I started the Buick. I foolishly left a case of pop in the trunk, and sure enough, it was frozen solid in the morning. I drove north on Kansas Highway 25 to Atwood, then east on US 36 to Oberlin.
At this time, the semifinals of the regional wrestling tournament were wrestled on Saturday morning, not Friday night as it is now. Wrestling started at 10 a.m. that day and lasted until a little after 6. The championship finals (1st and 2nd) and consolation finals (3rd and 4th) were wrestled at the same time.
Third, Greg Mann was in attendance at a basketball game. Since Klaire was playing, he went to Ellis, and then-athletic diretor Larry Mills went with the wrestling team to Norton. Larry’s oldest daughter, Hannah, was a cheerleader for the Bluejays, and she wasn’t too happy she had to go to basketball, because it meant she couldn’t see her boyfriend, Nathan Broeckelman, wrestle. Hannah and Nathan are now married and living in Tribune, where he coaches four sports at Greeley County High School, including wrestling, of course.
Okay, time for me to stop blogging. For now. Have a good night. And a pleasant tomorrow.