Monthly Archives: May 2015

Finally, a break 

I have something today I didn’t yesterday–a short break. Gave me enough time to return to the press box, use the restroom and blog. 

I’m going back to the field shortly. Got three boys 4×800 meter relay teams to take care of–Natoma in 1A, Smith Center in 2A and Russell in 3A. Then I’ll have a few minutes of down time before the 100-meter dash finals start. 

Smith Center’s L.T. Meitler won the Class 2A boys pole vault at 14 feet, 6 inches. He isn’t done yet; he’ll run the 4×800 relay and the 4×400 relay for the Redmen. Brother Kaden, who will run those events as well, was tied for third at 13-0. 

It is chilly. That wind is biting. I never would have dreamed a day like this could ever occur during the state track and field meet. However, this is Kansas, and fronts actually do make it through here in late spring, unlike Louisiana, where they stall out somewhere between Little Rock and Shreveport. 

There’s still a good ways to go today, but the end draws closer with each race, each field event completed. By 8 p.m. this evening, it’s all over but the writing. 

Weathering the last day

Is today really May 30? Mother Nature sure fooled me. If I didn’t look at a calendar and had just emerged from a Rip Van Winkle-type sleep, I could have sworn today is September 30. 

That’s right, it’s a little chilly this morning in Wichita, with a biting wind out of the north. It’s so strong officials at Wichita State have opted to run the long jump and triple jump in the reverse direction from yesterday. Usually, it goes from south to north (right to left as viewed from the press box and west stands), but today, it’s going the other way. The last time I can recall these events at state being run from north to south was 2011. That year was also cooler than usual. 

Not that I’m going to complain. I prerfer cooler weather. Some say it’s easier to go out in hot weather, but I say no way. You are going to sweat buckshot in hot weather, no matter how few clothes you wear. In the cold–as long as it is not below zero degrees Celsius and the wind is not too strong–you can bundle up. You just have to be careful to protect your extremities. 

I really must have been wiped out last night. I didn’t get into the shower until 1:40 a.m. I probably should have done it when I got back to the room, but I was hungry. And then after watching the Shark Tank rerun on ABC, I probably fell asleep only 30-40 minutes later. By time I woke up again, the TV had shut off automatically, an unusual quirk of the TVs in the Wichita Marriott. It’s the only hotel I know where the TVs are automatically programmed to shut off after a certain period–90 minutes I believe–of no activity (changing channels or volume counts). 

I was worried to death I had left the memory card reader for my pictures back in Russell. I tried connecting my camera to the computer via USB, but each time, it malfunctioned. I was in a bind. I figured either I would have to go back to Russell on Sunday, or I would have to buy a card reader somewhere in Wichita. 

Just before 8, I dug into my computer backpack, and there was the card reader. It had fallen into a small compartment. Problem solved.  

First event for me is at 8 a.m. Assignment: Mindy Gower of Phillipsburg in the 3A girls javelin. Mallory McQueen of Plalinville in the triple jump and the Meitler brothers, L.T. and Kaden, of Smith Center in the pole vault are also on the agenda. 

My tenth season of covering high school sports in Kansas ends when the meet ends this evening. Has it really been that long? 

The end draws closer (but it’s not near)

Whew. One day of the Kansas State High School Activities Association state track and field championship meet is in the books–at least as far as my duties with Main Street Media are concerned.

The meet progressed well. I got most of the athletes I needed to get pictures of, and those I didn’t, I can’t cry over it. I am one person trying to cover over a dozen schools. Those who complain should try doing it once. They would say never again.

It was starting to warm up by time the session involving the 1A, 2A and 3A schools ended and the one for 4A, 5A and 6A began. The humidity is really high due to the constant rain, so that made it a bit uncomfortable, even though the temperatures were in the mid-70s (Fahrenheit, of course; 24-25 Celsius), about 10 degrees lower than they should be for the last three days of May.

I feel a bit guilty about not staying for the upper classifications, but I will have to put up with that next year, since the upper classes have the early session on Friday.

Tomorrow’s action begins at 8 a.m. Mallory McQueen of Plainville is going in the triple jump, and the Meitler brothers, L.T. and Kaden, compete for Smith Center in the pole vault. L.T. cleared 14 feet, 7 inches to win the regional title at Smith Center last Thursday. It won’t be until after 8 p.m. before I leave the WSU campus, thus concluding the 2014-15 high school sports season–at least for me.

Okay. Time to eat. Haven’t all day. I’ll post later this evening.

LSU baseball is in a rain delay at Baton Rouge. The Bayou Bengals are taking on Lehigh in the first game of the regional they are hosting. Action will not resume before 4 p.m.

Final hour of waiting

It’s 6:45 a.m., and I have already been at Cessna Stadium for 43 minutes. 

I left the Wichita Marriott at 5:35 a.m. and made a pit stop at QuikTrip on K-96 and Oliver to get ice for my cooler and a cold Gatorade. Discovered I locked my hotel room key in the room. Not a big deal; I have to pass by the front desk anyway when I get back to the hotel. At least I know well in advance. 

Pulled into the stadium parking lot near Koch Arena at 6:02. I want to make sure I do not have relatively far to walk to the stadium, because I am carrying things up to the press box, plus my camera and the gear I will need to be on the field. 

I am wearing about the most garish outfit I have ever donned–at least when covering an event. Lord, I don’t want to describe it, because people might go blind if I do. However, if you are at Cessna Stadium and can’t spot me, well, get your eyes checked. Just kidding. But I will be easy to spot. 

The first race is in one hour. Then the fun really starts. Hopefully the rain holds off. 

The good news: not too hot. I’ll sweat a little, but I don’t think it will be too much of a problem. Tomorrow looks gorgeous.  

Rise before sunrise

It’s now less than three hours until the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s 2015 edition of mass hysteria, otherwise known as the state track and field championships, commences at Wichita State.

The 3,200 meter races in Classes 1A, 2A and 3A get the program started on the track, while several field events get underway at 8 a.m. The first preliminary heats start at 9.

I like the idea of running the 3,200 races at the beginning and end of the day Friday. It saves a lot of time Saturday, and it is much better for the runners, since many are running the 1,600, and possibly the 800 and/or the 4×800 relay as well. Prior to 2007, the 3,200 followed the 200-meter dash on Saturday, and not only did it lead to very long days for athletes (especially those who had to run in the 4×400 relay), coaches, fans and meet officials, it also meant the runners were to the point of exhaustion, especially on days where it was brutally hot. And the last day of the 2006 meet, the last time the 3,200 was run on Saturday, was brutally hot.

I didn’t do my due diligence when packing for the trip to Wichita. I forgot one of my camera batteries, which I left in the pocket of my parka. I wore the parka for the second half of the regional meet at Beloit because it got chilly and the coat is water repellent. Second, I didn’t bring my portable keyboard for my computer, so I’m using the regular keyboard, which I’m not too used to. That can be resolved with my Bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone. That keyboard has three device settings, so I just turn the dial and I’m in business. The only problem is it doesn’t have a numeric keypad. That really won’t be too much of a problem until Sunday when i’m doing the bulk of my typing.

It rained pretty hard in Wichita at 2 a.m. There is no rain on the radar as of now, but it could come back later today. It’s not going to be too hot, with highs in the mid-70s, or 24 Celsius.

My usual routine on state track days is to stop at a QuikTrip and pick up some ice for my cooler, plus a cold drink to consume on the way to Cessna Stadium. If the mercury isn’t going to rise to 80, hydration may not be such an issue, but I won’t take any chances. I also do not eat until after everything is done. I won’t eat a large meal tonight. That won’t be the case tomorrow night.

Gotta shave and get organized. Goal is to be out of the hotel parking lot by 6 a.m. I’m going to make it.

Almost Wichita bound

Today is the calm before the storm. The last day before the last event of the 2014-15 Kansas high school sports season.

In just over 24 hours, the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s state track and field championships will be underway at Wichita State University. The meet has been held continuously at WSU and Cessna Stadium since 1979, and the meet has been in Wichita every year except one since 1970.

I’m alomst packed. I just have to load up my car. All of the stuff will make the 160-mile ride east and south, and then be put on a cart for the elevator ride up to my room the Wichita Marriott, where I have stayed for state track every year except my first year covering the event, 2006. That year, I stayed at hte Courtyard on Webb Road at K-96. That hotel was too dated and too loud, so I opted for the Marriott at Webb and Kellogg. Good move. It’s been my Wichita headquarters more or less since. Also, I feel more secure in a high-rise hotel.

There is a 60 percent chance of rain tomorrow. The Natioanl Weather Service predicts the brest time is after 1 p.m. The good new is the probabllity of rain has fallen to 20 percent for Satruday with a high of 70 (21 Celsius). Wow. 70 degrees on May 30 (the real Memorial Day)? Never would have dreamed. Yes, I am well aware the year is coming where it will be above 100 for both days of the meet, but after Satruday night, I don’t have to worry about it until May 27 and 28, 2016.

This will be my 10th state track and field meet. In 2006, I missed most of the first day because I had to travel to Pratt to watch Plainville in a baseball state tournament game. But I have been there pretty much from beginning to end every year since, and that won’t change this year. Since the small schools are going early tomorrow, I will probably be back at the room by 4 p.m. However, I do not plan to eat a big meal tomorrow night. I’m going to save that for after Saturday night as a way to celebrate the end of the high school sports season.

Both conference finals in the NHL are going to a seventh game. The Lightning-Rangers game int eh East at New York is tomorrow night, and I will watch wahen I get back to the Marriott. Saturday night is the Blackhawks and Ducks at Anaheim. I’ll watch that game, plus be keeping an eye on whomever LSU is playing in its baseball regional at Baton Rouge, Tulane or UNC Wilmington.

Playing catchup, take 10

Another Howard Hughes phase by your inconsistent, lazy, turbid blogger. I am sorry. Starting in June, I resolve to blog at least once a day, hopefully more often. Let’s see if I can keep that promise starting Monday.

Anyhow, in 19 hours, give or take a few minutes, I will be in Wichita, getting ready for the Kansas State High School Activities Association state track and field championship meet. The meet, which is the largest high school meet in the United States, gets underway at 7:45 a.m. Friday morning at Wichita State Univesity’s Cessna Stadium.

Weather permitting.

That usually isn’t a problem, but this year, it very well could be. The good people at the National Weather Service are predicting a 60 percent chance of rain Friday and Saturday. The rain will not be a huge problem, especially for runners, but lightning is a differnet story.

Once lightning is detected within a six-mile radius, there has to be a minimum delay of 30 minutes with no lightning. If there is another flash, the clock starts all over again, even if there’s only 10 seconds left on the clock.

Last Friday’s regional meet at Beloit was not the best as far as the weather goes. It was cloudy and there was an intermittent mist, not hard enough to call anything off, but just enough to be aggravating. It rained that morning and most of the week leading up to the meet, so the disucs and shot put rings were slick since those are concrete. The track was fine. Those al-weather tracks are something else.

Beloit wanted to move its regoinal to last Thursday, when the weather was much better, but one school said no, so guess what? Can’t move the meet.

Thursady was a glorious day for a meet, and Smith Center had a good one. Unfortunately, something got the better of my emotions and I left before the running events began. I was upset over a text message, and I kciked some gravel. Steve Schmdit, who used tob e athletic director at Philllipsburg–thank God he isn’t anymore–got on me, so I told him to go to hell. At least I didn’t curse or threaten physically. I soon left the meet and drove back to Russell.

Since I returned from Beloit Friday night, it has been dead, save for the work I have had to get done for the various newspapers. I didn’t leave my house until this evening, when I made a run to the office to see Jack. However, tomorrow will be my first excursion outside Russell since last Friday, and it will be my longest trip since going to Kansas City at the beginning of the month.

Speaking of Kansas City, I don’t know when I’ll get back. The plan right now is to return to Russell Tuesday or Wednesday from Wichita, and then I have an appointemnt with Crista Thursday morning. The 8-man All-Star football games are Saturday at Beloit, and then comes three medical visits in four days: Dr. Jones for my eyes Tuesday, June 9; Crista two days later; and then Dr. Patricarca at High Plains Mental Health the next day.

Right now, the earliest I could depart would be the 13th. The Brewers play the Royals in Kansas City the 17th and 18th, so I want to be there for that for sure.

Right now, I can’t worry about KC. It’s all about the track. Rain, hold off until Saturday at 9 pm. Then the heavens can open.

Enjoy the sunshine now

I should be sleeping right now, or at least watching TV. instead, I’m at a track and field meet. 

Actually, it’s better that I’m at a track and field meet today. It’s too beautiful of a day to stay inside and waste it. We haven’t had many days like this in May in this part of Kansas. Too many times it’s been overcast, or worse, we’ve been under the gun for possible severe weather.

Today’s track meet is a big one. It’s a Class 2A regional at Smith Center. This is the meet where state championship dreams will live or die. For most, they will die. The top four in each of 36 total events (18 boys, 18 girls) will go on to the state meet next Friday and Saturday at Wichita. 

There are 16 schools in the meet. Six are from the Mid-Continent League, which held its meet a week ago today at Plainville. Sacred Heart had to come all the way from Salina, but considering some schools are traveling twice that far (Salina is 130 miles from Smith Center via US 81 and US 36), the Knights won’t complain. Republic County traveled 61 miles from Belleville, even though tthere’s a regional only 31 miles away in Washington. 

The meet was originally scheduled for Friday, but the forecast tomorrow calls for a good probability of rain. Therefore, Smith Center had the foresight to get in touch with the coaches and ask them if they had a problem moving the meet up one day. Nobody had a problem, and with the weather today, why would anyone have a problem? 

We’re 12 minutes from starting the seven field events. Time to get moving. 

Weekend of nothing

The weekend is over. Thank God. I have been bored out of my gourd since getting back from Plainville Thursday night and the Mid-Continent League track and field meet.

The MCL meet was a good day. Even though it was a little warm and a little too humid for my taste, it was all in all a fine day. I stayed the whole meet, which began at 3 and didn’t get done until 8:40. My longest day at a meet other than the state meet all year. Again, I stayed until the very end for Peggy Cox, since Caitlyn ran in the 4×400 relay. She set a personal record in the 100-meter dash in finishing second and won the 200 before helping Norton win the 4×400. The Bluejays won the girls team championship and Smith Center won the boys.

Originally, I was going to travel to Beloit for the North Central Activities Association meet Friday, but I was wiped out from Thursday. I stayed in the whole day. I also stayed in all of Saturday, when once again severe weather was forecast, but never came to pass.

I did get out of the house Sunday. Made a run to Walmart in Hays to stock up on things my parents will need when they get home later today–milk, bread, orange juice. Also got things for myself.

I’ve got to take out some more trash and finish tidying things up before they get home at 1. They left May 6, arrived in New Orleans the afternoon of May 7, and stayed through Saturday night.

I’ve got a lot of writing to do before Tuesday evening, when I go to Smith Center for the annual athletic banquet. I missed last year because it conflicted with the NCAA track meet at Russell, but I usually go.

Staying put

I’ve gone through another Howard Hughes phase by not posting, and to those who read this blog, I feel bad. I need to get back on it, but fortunately, I will be having a lot more time to blog coming up very soon.

Then again, there really hasn’t been much to report since the Russell Relays last Friday. In fact, after I ran to Hays following the track meet last Friday evening, I have left my home at 1224 North Brooks Street a grand total of ONCE, and that was late Tuesday night to drop off some paperwork at the office and then go to McDonald’s. The latter was a huge mistake. I felt it the next morning.

The Russell Relays went well, save for a pushy old lady from Hoisington who bitched about me standing in front of her, even though her granddaughter was not throwing the shot put. I told her ‘I have a job to do’ a little too loudly. I felt bad about that, but I have to sometimes assert myself.

I almost left Russell too late to get to Hays. I had to get to the Verizon store before it closed at 7 p.m. I needed to get a new glass protection screen for my iPhone, since I dropped the phone at the track meet earlier in the day and the screen shattered. It wasn’t urgent, but better safe than sorry.

I also felt like I had to go Friday evening, because Saturday’s weather was shaping up to be very nasty. It didn’t turn out that way, but you never know.

Mother’s Day was just another Sunday for me, except my mother wasn’t home to cook lunch. I had enough food in the freezer to easily get by.

Stayed home all day Monday. Didn’t do as much work as I should have, leaving too much to Tuesday. Fortunately, I was able to get done Tuesday before 4.

I stayed up through the night Wednesday. Elaine told me she would like my work for the Russell paper as early as possible, so I got it done before 9. I then slept and slept and slept.

Today I will finally leave Russell, heading to Plainville for the Mid-Continent League track and field met.