Category Archives: KSHSAA

I AIN’T MISSING YOU, state track and field

As I have mentioned in my previous two posts, today is the first of two days of the Kansas State High School Activities Association track and field state championship meet. 

The KSHSAA bills the meet as the largest track and field meet in the nation. As far as size goes, it probably is, with between 3,300 and 3,400 athletes competing on any given weekend. 

The KSHSAA home page calls it “The greatest track meet in the nation. Period.”

I call bullshit on the KSHSAA. 

It is a confusing clusterfuck. There is way too much going on at the same time, and trying to figure out who is competing where and at what time requires a degree in advanced calculus. 

The KSHSAA has too many classes. There should not be six. However, the administrators who run KSHSAA schools are gutless cowards who want to maximize the championship opportunities for their school. 

There are 355 schools. Five classes is PLENTY. I’m sorry if the schools in Olathe, Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley and Wichita don’t win championships nearly as often. Six classes makes winning a champiosnhip in Kansas not as special as in a state which has its schools spread equally among the classes. 

Five classes would relieve some of the confusion that accompanies the state meet, but not that much. 

I do not understand for the life of me why the KSHSAA INSISTS that all six classifications compete at the same time on Saturday? Friday’s session is split between the small schools (1A, 2A, 3A) and large schools (4A, 5A, 6A), with one going in the morning and one in the afternoon. That is bad enough. The field events are an unholy mess with one class. With three? Horrendous. With SIX? INSANITY–that’s putting it mildly. 

I HATE THE FORMAT. I hate it! 

Why can’t one class at a time compete? It would not be that hard to complete in two days. 

Instead, the KSHSAA put all six classes on display at once, driving those in the media who have to cover the meet absolutely batty.

I had so many complaints when I covered the meet about how I didn’t get so-and-so. I wanted to scream at them “YOU TRY COVERING THIS MEET YOURSELF!” I cannot be in more than one place at one time. I cannot cover four different people if all of them are in different events at once. I would like to see some of the complainers try it. 

It’s bad enough the meet is mass chaos. 

It’s even worse that the media there to cover the event are treated so poorly. 

The officials at Wichita State get a power trip by telling photographers and reporters to move out of the way. I understand there needs to be room for the athletes, but what, we can’t do our job just because some person wants to flex his or her muscle and make our lives miserable? 

No reserved parking. That means arriving at Cessna Stadium before sunrise unless you want to park in Derby (okay, not that far, but at least one mile from the stadium) and walk in very hot weather. Try doing it with camera equipment and a computer. Try doing it with camera equipment and a computer after running around for five, six, up to 11 hours chasing everything and anything just so some grandmother doesn’t use every four-letter word in the book to describe your effort–or lack thereof, at least as they see it. 

As bad as I felt about no reserved parking, I felt even worse for Tad Felts, who covered the meet for over 50 years for various radio stations before retiring a few years ago, and for Dick Boyd, the Norton Telegram wrier who has been with that paper since 1970, and before that, worked for other papers along the US 36 corridor. By not having reserved parking, KSHSAA made these two senior citizens trudge with equipment quite a long way. That stinks. 

When I covered high school championship events, there was almost always resrved parking. I didn’t always have it at the Superdome for the football championships, but I could park right next to the press entrance and be in my seat in a much shorter time than it takes to walk from the parking lot at Koch Arena to the front gate of Cessna Stadium.

The parking issue has angered me so much through the years I feel like speaking my mind to the KSHSAA Executive Board. I’m contemplating it. 

The Wichita State folks aren’t the friendliest. They aren’t fond of the media, whom they think are conspiring with Kansas and Kansas State to deny their basketball team coverage in the first place.

Cessna Stadium itself is a joke. The track was replaced 15 years ago, but the stadium itself is a dump. Not a damn thing has been done to the stadium itself since the Shockers dropped football in early 1987. The stadium was built in 1969, and not much has changed. Why the hell does Kapaun Mount Carmel continue to play homes games there? The grass field is dangerous. 

I don’t miss that place. Not one bit. I’m sorry. 

Friday on another track, part 2

I’ve been at Buffalo Wild Wings too long. I just forgot to change a trivia answer and got zero points. Oh well. It happens. It would have angered me so much when I was playing trivia in past years, but now, it’s a reminder I have to stay on my toes. It is easy to get distracted with all the electronic gadgets. 

I’m leaving the restaurant in Liberty just before 3. Time to drive west on Missouri Highway 152 to the Zona Rosa area. Whether I go to Buffalo Wild Wings there or to Minsky’s is up in the air. 

I don’t care where I am today. I’m glad I am not at Wichita State University covering the Kansas State High School Activities Association state track and field championships. I have nothing against the athletes. Nothing against the coaches. Nothing against the spectators. 

I’m especially glad I’m not covering this year. It is hot and humid, much more so than it has been in recent years on this date. It isn’t as hot as it was the first time I covered the meet in 2006, but it’s bad enough. 

My beef lies with the KSHSAA itself, Wichita State’s athletic department, and the officials who run the meet. I’ll get into that in another post. 

The only sad thing is I’m missing Caitlyn’s final high school event. She and her teamamtes on Norton’s 4×100-meter relay qualified for the final, but the 4×400 relay was eliminated in the prelims. Caitlyn’s final race is tomorrow afternoon, and I’ll be in Kansas City. I feel bad for her. I’ve abandoned her this track seaosn, and I wouldn’t blame her, or anyone else in her family, if they told me to get bent. 

It’s about time to leave. I’m ready to go because some asshole at the bar keeps going out to smoke his cancer sticks and he smells worse than my feces. I HATE CIGARETTES. PERIOD. HATE THEM. HATE THEM MORE THAN ANYTHING ON EARTH. 

Can the consolation games!

To anyone who disagrees, I’m sorry. You won’t like this post. But a civil debate would be good for all. 

Today is the final day of the 2016-17 Kansas high school basketball season. Eight girls teams and eight boys teams–way, way too many for a state with fewer than 375 schools–will take home championship trophies. Sixteen more teams will take home state runner-up trophies.

The girls championship games are underway. Most boys championship games will start at 6:15 or shortly thereafter. 

Before we could get to the championship games, the eight sites (again, way too man) had to get through a pair of third place games. 

Painful.

Why the hell does the Kansas State High School Activities Association insist on third place games? 

I believe it’s all about $$$$$$$$$$$. Or as Pink Floyd crooned in 1973, “MONEY”. 

The fans of the schools involved in the third place game must not only pay admission to get into the facility for the game, but they’re going to have to spend more money on gas, and if the fans are a long way from the site, pay for another night in a hotel, which can be expensive. 

The KSHSAA does not pay schools for travel expenses. It demands exorbitant radio and television rights fees, which makes live broadcasts of the state tournaments cost prohibitive. It does not pay any schools a cut of the gate, which is the case in Louisiana and several other states. It keeps everything after facility rental and offcials’ fees. And the KSHSAA has gotten cheap in the case of officials, forcing the officials assigned to the Wednesday and Thursday games at each state tournament to work two games instead of one. 

I haven’t begun to discuss the games themselves. Here I go. 

The teams which must face the third place game are less than 24 hours removed from seeing their dreams of winning a state championship completely shattered. If a team suffered a particularly heartbreaking loss–like the one which Bishop Seabury suffered last night in the Class 2A boys semifinals–it is particiulary cruel. 

Bishop Seabury lost the longest game in the history of the KSHSAA state basketball tournament–a history that dates to 1911, when William Taft was president–a six-overtime thriller vs. St. John-Hudson, a perennial powerhouse which happens to be the alma mater of Dean Wade, who is now in Kansas State’s starting lineup. St. John won 52-51 on a 35-foot shot at the buzzer in the sixth overtime. 

SIX OVERTIMES. That’s 56 minutes of basketball, or the equivalent of a full game and there quarters of another. 

If I were the losing coach in that game, I would never be able to get my players up for a game less than 24 hours later. 

Yet the KSHSAA, in its undying quest to make money, forced Seabury to come back today at 2 and play again against a Hoxie team which was handily defeated by Sacred Hebert late Friday night. Even though Hoxie was blown out, the Indians had a clear advantage, seeing as they would want to end their season on a high note, even if the game meant absolutely nothing. 

Somehow, Seabury defeated Hoxie 68-56. My theory was wrong in that instance, but in many others, it has been proven deadly accurate. 

I would not award third place trophies. Many states, Louisiana among them, awards trophies only to the top two teams. 

If the KSHSAA insists on giving third place teams trophies, then just give the losers of the semifinals trophies. The KSHSAA doesn’t have any problem spending money on superfluous awards, so what’s a few more trophies? 

If the KSHSAA is worried that much about the lost revenue from the third place games, it would be easy to make it up–and more. 

Make the championship games separate admissions. 

Play the first game at 1. Clear the arena 30 minutes after the completion of that game. Then re-open the gates and tip the second game at 5 or 5:30. The KSHSAA could also charge a higher price for admission; I’d say $2 or $3 more than the earlier rounds. 

The NCAA held third place games during the men’s Final Four from its inception in 1939 through 1981. The last third place game was Virginia vs. LSU in Philadelphia. It happened to be the same day President Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr. Reagan’s condition at George Washington University hospital was unknown early that afternoon, and it was debated whether or not the third place game–and the championship for that matter–should proceed. 

The games proceeded, but later in 1981, the NCAA said no more third place games. This wasn’t a problem for the women, whose first NCAA tournament was in 1982. 

The KSHAA severely limits the number of games basketball teams can play in the regular season, yet they want to make teams stick around for another game after losing the most important game for eh season for a meaningless contest? 

The KSHSAA has third place games in every team sport except football. The only one I can remotely tolerate is volleyball, since it’s at the same time as the championship match on another court. Fine. I’d say nix it, but it’s not taking up extra time. 

But as bad as a third place game is in basketball, it’s much, much worse in association football, or soccer for those less enlightened. 

Players in association football run at least 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) per game, save for the goalkeepers, obviously. Can you imagine running 10 to 15 kilometers on back to back days, while at the same time facing physical contact? Let’s not forget association football is not exactly gridiron football as far as contact goes, but it’s not volleyball, either. You’re going to take a beating. 

It’s horrible the KSHSAA plays its state semifinals and championship games on back-to-back days. There should be at least three days of rest, probably more. 

Enough already. I think I’ve made my point. 

A hard to stomach Saturday morning

I woke up this morning with a terrible case of indigestion. That’s what I get for eating a New York strip, coconut shrimp and a salad from Outback between 9:15 and 10 p.m. That was on top of a big order of wings, fries and mushrooms at Buffalo Wild Wings.

That brings the total to almost 15 hours at Buffalo Wild Wings since Thursday evening. I’m addicted. Fortunately my brain hasn’t exploded yet from all the inane trivia I’ve played.

I saw Larry at lunch, then Robb and Dawn at happy hour. Always a fun time when I get to match wits with them, or more accurately, match and share wits.

A surprise visitor showed up at 8:15: Lisa. She came in to get takeout, and she spotted me all the way from the register at the front of the restaurant. I guess I’m kind of hard to miss.

She had an announcement about another former employee. I’ll go into that in another post. It brought me to my knees (not literally). It also was a horrible reminder of my sordid past.

I should have just gone to the hotel and hit the sack. Instead, I ate and watched the rest of game 3 of the World Series. Cleveland won 1-0 to go up 2 games to 1. Then I stayed up some more, fooling around on the Internet looking for scores from the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s state volleyball tournaments and football games.

It wasn’t until 11:45 that I finally got in bed and put the CPAP mask on. I knew not to set an alarm. I finally woke up a little after 8.

I need to get to Buffalo Wild Wings when it opens today at 11. Kansas State AND Missouri both have 11 a.m. kickoffs. I’m sure it will be packed from the get-go. There should be a lull in the afternoon, but pick up tonight for the Kansas-Oklahoma glorified scrimmage and then Game 4 between the INDINAS and Cubs.

I am so proud of Cleveland for wearing the Chief Wahoo hats for every game in the series so far. Serves those politically correct whiners right. Too freaking bad.

I said I would get in the shower no later than 9:30. It’s already 9:45. Enough farting around!

What’s wrong with a draw? NOTHING!

Following the Seattle-Arizona tie, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson suggested if overtime ends still tied, that a field goal be attempted. If the kicker for his team makes it, they win. If he misses, the other team wins.

STUPID. REALLY STUPID.

That would be the equivalent of a free throw contest in basketball or a home run derby in baseball to break a tie. It’s already stupid enough in hockey and association football (soccer in America) with the penalty shootout.

Personally, I do not see the problem with a draw. I believe the American obsession with winning and having to have a winner and loser in every single facet of society, whether it be sports or something else, is the reason why people disdain ties so much.

The most popular sports league on earth, the English Premier League, has witnessed 24 of 90 league matches to date end in draws. That’s almost two out of every seven matches. Nobody in Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Southampton, Bournemouth, London or any other Premier League outpost is griping about it. Neither are German fans of the Bundesliga. Or La Liga in Spain. Or Serie A in Italy.

Even though Major League Soccer is seriously flawed, thanks to having conferences instead of a single table and playoffs to determine its champion instead of using only the regular season, at least it ditched the shootout in 2000.

The shootout in MLS used from 1996-99 was beyond asinine. A player had to start 35 yards from the goal, dribble ahead, and shoot from the penalty area. He had to do it all within five seconds. Matches which ended level did not even feature extra time; it was straight to the stupid shootout.

My God. That’s not association football. That’s stupidity. That’s a video game.

If a draw was so toxic, the Premier League and other association football leagues would not award a point for a draw. It would disregard a draw, as the NFL did through 1971.

What is the outcome of many chess matches? A DRAW. STALEMATE. INSUFFICIENT MATERIAL. Has the good possibility of a draw stopped boys and girls from across the globe from learning the game? HECK NO.

Wars have been stalemates, so why are Americans so obsessed with determining the winner of a sporting event? If America would have accepted a stalemate in Vietnam, it would have looked a heck of a lot better than fighting on and accepting disadvantageous peace terms as Nixon and Kissinger did.

Before 1982, there was no provision whatsoever for a penalty shootout in the FIFA World Cup, the most watched sporting event on the planet. If a knockout round game ended drawn prior to ’82, it was replayed in its entirety. Many competitions continue to use the replay rather than a shootout if a match remains level after 120 minutes (90 regulation, 30 extra time).

The NHL got rid of overtime in the regular season in 1943. It didn’t return until 1983. In 1982-83, the last season before overtime returned to the regular season, 127 of 840 games (15.1 percent) ended drawn. That’s slightly more than one in six. What’s the big deal? So what if one of every six ends in a draw?

Hockey is a brutal enough game for 60 minutes of regulation. If a game is even after 60 minutes, that’s enough, at least for the regular season. I understand the need for having a winner in a playoff game. But playoff overtime is real hockey: 5-on-5, 20-minute periods, not this crazy 3-on-3, 5-minute crap for overtime, then the stupid shootout.

The NHL should award a team three points for a regulation win. NO OVERTIME. Draws earn each team one point. That’s it.

The same applies to American football.

Players expend far, far, far too much energy over 60 minutes, more than the average human can only dream of expending. Why make them go any farther during the regular season? If it’s even, the game should end right then and there. In the playoffs, yes, there needs to be overtime. And none of this crap about both teams need to possess the ball. Straight sudden death. If your defense is not good enough to prevent the other team from driving to score a field goal, you don’t deserve to advance.

Don’t get me started on how ridiculous college and high school overtime is. College is bad enough starting from the 25-yard line. High school is much, much worse, going from the 10. If an offense can’t gain 2 1/2 yards per play for four plays, then that team needs to give up the game.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association has done some really dumb things. The tiebreaker its former Executive Director, Brice Durbin, came up with in 1971 is totally ludicrous. It’s not real football. You’re asking a defense to hold a finger in the dike having to keep the offense out of the end zone from 10 yards out, and that team is already within range of a field goal.

The college and high school football format is not football. It takes the kickoff and the punt out of the game. Special teams have made the difference in thousands of football games over time. Why take part of it out of the game? Also, where is the strategy for a high school defensive coordinator, when you’re defending 10 yards every time?

High school and college football games in the regular season should end drawn if the score is level after 60 minutes (48 in high school). Overtime should be sudden death in the playoffs. If high school associations want to return to the old method of using first downs and penetrations inside the 20-yard line to break a deadlock, then go right ahead.

Baseball isn’t nearly as physically taxing as American football or hockey, but there are limits, too.

In Japan, regular season games are declared a draw if the score is still even after 12 innings (three extra). That’s not a bad idea for the United States. Once a game gets to 15, 16, 17 innings, teams are out of pitching, and it affects them for days after.

Major League Baseball would balk at any idea to declare a game drawn, but many managers would breathe a sigh of relief when they didn’t have to throw four relievers three innings each. The vast majority of games are resolved in nine innings, or those which do go extra can be resolved in 10, 11 or 12, so why worry about a draw? Not going to happen very much.

Basketball? Everyone has overtime, so I don’t see too much of a problem. Non-varsity high school games should be considered draws after regulation, simply to keep things moving. .

Some states use the “international tiebreaker” for softball. In that situation, the last batter of the previous inning starts the new frame on second base, and then the batting order proceeds as normal.

Hate it. HATE IT. Play real softball.

There are many, many more pressing issues than if a sporting events ends in a draw. America, as it is on many issues (using red for Republicans and blue for Democrats, not using the metric system, using paper money instead of coins or plastic), is DEAD WRONG.

Top seeds steamroll into semis

Thomas More Prep and Lakin easily won their quarterfinal matches of the volleyball sub-state at Lakin.

The Monarchs improved to 36-2 by spiking Southwestern Heights 25-10, 25-7; and the host Broncs (32-7) rolled over Hi-Plains League rival Syracuse 25-8, 25-10.

Next up is #4 Hugoton (16-20) vs. #5 Cimarron (15-19) on the West court, and #3 Norton (22-13) vs. #6 Hoisington (8-25) on the East court.

TMP gets the Hugoton-Cimarron winner in the semis, and Lakin plays the Norton-Hoisington winner.

Norton has won just one sub-state match since making it to the 2007 state tournament. That was two years ago at Scott City, when the Bluejays won in the first round over Southwestern Heights before losing to Lakin in the semis.

This is the first match Norton is the higher seeded team in sub-state since 2005, when Chelsea Cox was a senior. How time flies.

Short drive, long wait

The first match of the volleyball sub-state at Lakin is still an hour and 15 minutes away. (Now less than an hour. I’ve been a little slow in getting my blog updated).

I’ve been here for 45 minutes. Once again, I left too early and got here way too early. I should have waited another hour. It isn’t as far from Garden City to Lakin as I thought it was, so I ended up here right at noon, even after three stops on K-156 in Garden before heading west on US 50. I probably should have stopped at the new Love’s travel center in Holcomb to kill a few minutes. The good news is it will be easy for me to get out of the gym to my car this evening. I was able to park along the side of the football stadium, and there is an exit door in the gym only 20 feet from my car.

The nice people at Lakin have set me up with a table, so I can use my laptop to blog and update Twitter without draining my cell phone battery. I have my phone and Bluetooth keyboard to update Instagram should I so desire. I’m going to take pictures from the walking track above the gym floor. I can set my lens at a long length, like I did at TMP, and go without having to worry about getting too close to lose focus.

The way I see it, is if I’m driving east on US 50 and the sun is still out, it will be a bad day. It will mean Norton got bounced by Hoisington in the first match.

TMP is here for their first match vs. Southwestern Heights of Kismet. God Natuasha Dreher hates me. Really hates me. It’s not like I said something to her. I haven’t. I’m too scared. I’m afraid she will bite my head off. I want to cry about it, but I can’t right now. And I’m not bringing it up with Peggy. Not today. Not the time or place.

Buffalo Wild Wings isn’t looking likely this evening. Not with the Cubs playing in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. I’m hoping to be in Lakin late enough so where all I have time to do is drive back and hit the hay. I’ve got to leave Garden before 9 tomorrow morning so I’m back home by noon to eat lunch with my parents. My mother is cooking for the first time in three weeks.

It is absolutely ludicrous I’m wearing one of my silk floral shirts and my pale yellow shorts today. It is not supposed to be this hot in Kansas, even though I’m farther south than normal, on October 22. Ten years ago, I went to a sub-state in Scott City, and I remember sleet flying around as I drove on I-70 from Russell to Oakley, most of the exact same route I drove yesterday. For it to be this hot this late in October is making me nauseous.

I am sick and tired of the bugs swarming around the basement at home. They are particularly bad in the bathroom. I’ve had it. I told my dad to look into it pronto. I’m about ready to buy an indoor bug zapper. I don’t care if it’s loud. I want the bugs dead.

The bugs can wait until tomorrow. Volleyball beckons.

 

KSHSAA’s Sunset Saturday

Today is the end of the season for most high school volleyball players and cross country runners across Kansas.

For a select few, the season continues for one more week.

It’s regional cross country/sub-state volleyball Saturday.

The cross country format is fine, although I believe too many teams get to qualify for state. There should be a formula where the teams with the lowest average times, no matter what regional that team is in, should advance to state, not just the best three (Classes 2A-6A) or four (1A) from each regional.The meet timing software in use should be able to do that very easily, or what would be the harm until waiting until Sunday afternoon to find out which teams are going?

Twelve teams, especially in 6A and 5A, which have only 32 schools each, are too many. It ought to be reduced to eight. Twelve out of 64 in 2A, 3A and 4A probably is okay, but there are too many schools in 1A which can’t field complete teams, and some teams which finish third or fourth in their regoinals get to go simply because they were one of the only three or four schools with enough runners to post a team score. Class 1A teams need four runners to post a team score; five are required in 2A through 6A.

The volleyball sub-state format sucks. IT SUCKS. It should have been changed ages ago, but it has been the same since 1992, save for Classes 1A (2010) and 4A (2013) splitting into two divisions.

First, I have never understood why the hell the Kansas State High School Activities Associatoin insists on volleyball sub-states being played on the same day as the ACT test nationwide. Why? Why in the hell should some girls have the added pressure of a high-stakes test, which could very well determine whether or not a young lady gets accepted to her first choice university/college, or some be forced to miss the test because their team has to travel a long way for sub-state?

By insisting sub-states be played on the same day as an ACT test, they can’t start until the afternoon, putting some teams on the road very, very late at night. The good news about Lakin is there are two courts, meaning the play will go faster. If there was only one court, TMP would be getting back to Hays no earlier than 10:30, probably later. I remember not getting home from Norton until 12:05 a.m. when it hosted sub-state in 2007. The trip between Russell and Norton is bad enough in the daylight. At night, following a very long day, and at an ungodly hour, makes it harrowing.

Why can’t the KSHSAA extend the volleyball season an extra week and hold sub-state on the weekend after the ACT test? Or better yet, hold the sub-states on Wednesday and/or Thursday.

Second, why are sub-states single elimination? The state tournament, and most in-season tournaments, have pool play before cutting down to four teams, meaning schools usually get at least three matches, sometimes four, as in the case of the Mid-Continent League tournament. Why is the KSHSAA changing the format at the most important time of the season? One bad match should not ruin a fine season. TMP had it happen last year when it lost to Beloit in the sub-state final. If the Monarchs lose to Lakin or Norton in the final (or earlier), then Natausha Dreher and her players might consider the season a failure, even though they might have finished 36-3.

Missouri is the same way as Kansas, although there is a second single-elimination layer which is being played today. Only four schools from each class advance to the state tournament in Cape Girardeau next weekend.

I’m not a fan of Louisiana’s playoff format, but at least it’s all single elimination. None of this hybrid crap.

KSHSAA could easily do pool play in sub-state. Hold the pools Wednesday and/or Thursday at the top two seeds in the sub-state. Then hold the semifinals and final at a neutral site, or in the gym of the highest seed.If KSHSAA would move the sub-states off the ACT test date, it could be done in one day beginning at 9 a.m. It might limit the number of schools which could host, but so what?

One of KSHSAA’s biggest problems is it tries to have too many sites host tournaments. If a given regional or sub-state is at the same school every stinking year, I don’t see a problem. If the site is centrally located, it’s much better than spreading the wealth and picking some faraway place. Lakin is pretty far out there, but it could be worse, like Syracuse or Hugoton. Cimarron would have been a better choice in this case. Lakin has a very nice gym and does well hosting, it’s just a drive for schools like Norton and TMP, not to mention your intrepid blogger. The good news is I’m alone and can do what I please, so I could stay in Garden City.

The state volleyball tournaments–eight in all–are at four sites. Too many classes (five would be better) and too many sites (ONE). Topeka for 5A and 6A, Salina for both 4A divisions, Emporia (EW!) for 2A and 3A, and Hays for both 1A divisions.

Cross country will be six state meets split between three sites. Classes 3A, 5A and 6A have the honor of running on the beautiful course at Rim Rock Farm north of Lawrence. The kiddies in 1A, 2A and 4A are relegated to the B-grade site, Wamego Country Club. It smells worse than the meat packing plants of Garden City. Why can’t KSHSAA hold the meets over two days? If one site is good enough for track and field, why can’t it work for cross country? Move EVERYTHING to Rim Rock. Please.

I’m getting ready to leave the hotel. I have a couple of stops to make in GC before heading west on US 50. First matches start at 2, although Norton doesn’t play until 3, or a few minutes thereafter. I like to be early. That’s a problem sometimes.

In the Garden (City)

I spent much of yesterday feeling very guilty.

The first thing Crista told me when we started our session was that she saw Norton play Smith Center in the third place match of the Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament last Saturday. If you recall, I did not go to the MCL tournament the second day, although I did go the first, which coincided with my birthday.

I wish I had been there Saturday. I would have loved to introduce Crista to Peggy and Caitlyn. Now I feel terrible about not going.

I was pretty certain I was going to Norton’s sub-state in Lakin tomorrow, but when Crista told me that, it cemented it.

To that end, I’m now in Garden City, 30 miles east of Lakin on US 50. It was a three-hour drive from Russell, I-70 to Oakley and US 83 down. The TownePlace Suites, where I’ve stayed before, is on K-156, the road which heads towards Jetmore, Larned and Great Bend. I could have saved a few miles if I had taken US 281 from Russell to Great Bend, then K-156 all the way down, but I figured the way I went saved some time.

I passed a tanker about a mile south of Oakley on 83. He was throwing rocks. IDIOT. Every time I then dropped to 65, he would tailgate me. I was ready to call the Kansas Highway Patrol and report him, but after crossing into Scott County, he disappeared from my rear view mirror.

Lucky I passed through Scott City. I had something I forgot to mail in Russell. Better I drop it off than keep carrying it in my car, although it wasn’t super important.

Norton plays Hoisington tomorrow following the completion of the match between Lakin and Syracuse, which begins at 2 p.m. on the east court.

TMP, which is 34-2 and the top seed, plays on the West court at 2 vs. Southwestern Heights. The second match on the West court is Hugoton vs. Cimarron.

The TMP-Southwestern Heights and Hugoton-Cimarron winners play on the West court in one semifinal, while the Norton-Hoisington and Lakin-Syracuse winners play on the East court in the semis. The championship is on the West court.

The winner advances to the Class 3A state tournament next Friday and Saturday at Emporia.

Norton hasn’t been to a state tournament since 2007, when Caitlyn’s sister, Courtney (Otto), was a senior. The Bluejays were 10-20 heading into sub-state, but beat Lakin, Cimarron and Phillipsburg to advance. The state tournament wasn’t so good, with Norton going 0-3, but it was remarkable to make it.

The 22-13 record Norton carries into sub-state is the best for the school since 2005, when Caitlyn’s OTHER sister, Chelsea (Funk), was a senior. Norton has generally had great success in all other sports, winning state championships in both boys and girls track in the years I’ve been here, in addition to seven wrestling championships in 11 seasons, but volleyball somehow has been left behind.

It could be much worse. Some schools have very little athletic success. Like one I’m very familiar with.

The next time Norton has an event in Hays isn’t until Feb. 3, when the Bluejays play basketball at TMP. I will remind Crista many times. .

I’m going to find a place to play Buzztime this evening. Either I’m going to Buffalo Wild Wings, which recently opened, or Old Chicago. Those are the only locales in Garden City, but hey, it’s better than Hays, where the only place you can play now is the Fort Hays Student Union, and I’m sure they hate non-students going in there. Therefore, the closest place to Russell to play is Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina.

Maybe it’s a good thing there isn’t a Buzztime location in Hays. I might spend too much time there and stay too late, which would disrupt my sleep patterns. It’s just too bad the best games are at night, which force me to drive I-70 between Salina and Russell at night. It’s a boring stretch any time, but it’s dangerous at night.

I’ve learned to cut myself off in Kansas City. Never later than 10, usually earlier. And staying very close to Zona Rosa helps.

I have a stop to make at Dillon’s to buy Caitlyn’s teammates some Gatorade for tomorrow. High is supposed to be around 27 Celsius (81 Fahrenheit), which is absolutely absurd for October 22. They’ll need hydration, even though Lakin’s gym is air conditioned. I already bought Caitlyn’s grape Gatorade in Oakley when I stopped for gas and to use the restroom.

I’m hoping I’m not back in Garden City too early tomorrow evening. Bad news if I am.

No statements for me

Kansas’ 2016 high school basketball state tournaments began yesterday.The Sunflower State likes to think of itself as a hoops hotbed, given James Naismith, the inventor of the sport, coached the Kansas Jayhawks, and later Phog Allen, Larry Brown and Bill Self all brought national championships to Lawrence, but the high school tournaments leave a lot to be desired.

First, it is utterly ridiculous a state with less than three million people needs EIGHT divisions for basketball. Six base classifications is beyond stupid, but then classes 1A and 4A decided that it was too hard to win championships with just one division, so they split into two. The 1A split took effect in 2011, and the 4A split in 2014.

Second, why do Kansas’ state tournaments need EIGHT teams each? This is an antiquated holdover to the very, very, very old days, when college basketball was mostly an afterthought in places not named Lawrence, Lexington and Chapel Hill, plus a few other selected places. The term “Final Four” was not used at all by the NCAA nor fans of the teams advancing. It was termed the “national semifinals” for the four teams which won their respective regional tournaments.

Also, until the late 1950s, the NIT was considered to be the more prestigious tournament. And until 1977, the NIT invited all of its teams to play at Madison Square Garden in New York. That’s the model Kansas followed.

When the Final Four mushroomed in popularity in the 1970s, that would have been the perfect time for Kansas to reform its state tournaments and go down to four teams per tournament instead of eight. It would save a lot of money, since the KSHSAA would not need nearly as many sites, it would not need to rent the facilities for as long, and it would not need to pay officials for nearly as many games.

The problem is, glaciers move faster than the KSHSAA. It is not the fault of Executive Director Gary Musselman or anyone on his staff, but rather the intransigence of school administrators, who refuse to change anything.

That’s why it has the mess of having to conduct eight state tournaments. Too many superintendents, principals, athletic directors, coaches, parents and student-athletes have adopted the lame attitude that we all must get something.

It’s high school sports. And if someone cannot learn that you aren’t going to get your way most of the time in something as insignificant as a game, then what does that say for the person’s prospects when he or she is out in the real world, trying to provide for his or her family?

I’m sorry, but I am not missing state tournament week. There are way, way, way too many. And many teams who have no business playing for a state championship. I understand those who like the Cinderella factor, but is it right to reward a team which gets hot for three games instead of those who are consistent throughout a long season? NO.

Five classes for basketball are plenty. Four teams per state tournament. All semifinals and finals played at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence or Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan. Not that hard. Then again, “KSHSAA” and “not that hard” are often mutually exclusive terms.