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. 

Friday on another track

I was up at 4:45 this morning. By 6 am., I was in my car and driving.

Unlike past years, I was not driving from the Wichita Marriott on North Webb Road to Wichita State University’s Cessna Stadium. I was simply driving from Russell to Kansas City for a long weekend. I need to see those I know in town, play some trivia and eat some good food. And I need to do it before it gets unbearably hot and humid.

I don’t have much desire to come to Kansas City this summer, especially when it gets to be as miserable as I remember Louisiana. Nothing can be as oppressive as a Louisiana summer (okay, it can be), but I don’t want to feel like that again. Hot and less humid in western Kansas is terrible enough.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association track and field championships are today and tomorrow at WSU. I covered the meet 10 consecutive years from 2006-15, but I have not set foot on campus since. I am so glad I am  not covering that meet anymore, but that’s another blog post.

I checked in to the Fairfield Inn Liberty just before 10 a.m. I couldn’t believe I got the message that my room was ready before I left Russell. Usually, it isn’t until the afternoon when the room is ready, which means I go to Buffalo Wild Wings to kill time, then check in. This time, the check in is first, meaning all my crap is out of the car, and I can relax.

I’m staying in Clay County this time instead of the Fairfield near the airport in Platte County. Figured a change of scenery would be good, at least for a  few days. The good news is Price Chopper and Zaxby’s are very close just off Interstate 35. Outback is a still a ways, but the way they’ve been burning my steaks as of late, maybe I’ll skip.

I’m going to Buffalo Wild Wings Liberty in a little bit. Hopefully Larry is there so we can play trivia and go over the news and sports of the world. I have to make my way the Zona Rosa area sooner or later. Minsky’s with Lindsay and Tara?  Definitely. Buffalo Wild Wings? Don’t know. Tori is still on vacation (in New Orleans, no less). I know I’ll be there tomorrow with Molly.

I stayed up a little later last night than I would have liked, because I wanted to see the end of the Ottawa-Pittsburgh NHL game. The Penguins won 3-2 in the second overtime to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, where they play the Nashville Predators starting Monday. Guess who I will be rooting for? HINT: Not the team Carrie Underwood likes.

The Cavaliers won last night to advance to the NBA Finals vs. the Warriors. I still won’t watch.

Hibernation needs to end

I apologize for going Howard Hughes AGAIN. I swear I am alive. It’s just been some very rough patches as of late. 

I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. But that isn’t an excuse for not posting. 

More to come…

Bad start to May

This has not been the best week for me. I’ve had worse, but this one has been downright dreadful at times. 

It wasn’t so bad until 3:30 Monday.

That’s when Interstate 70 westbound in Topeka came to a dead stop. DEAD STOP. As in an elevated parking lot. 

About a mile west of the Kansas state capitol, everything screeched to a halt. And from what I could gather, the traffic was stopped all the way to the junction with I-470 a mile west of Wannamker Road, and then the backup continued into Wabaunsee County. 

I wasn’t about to sit in a parking lot for a very long time. I had to find a way to get off the damn interstate and turn around. However, the nearest exit was over a mile away. Then a trooper threatened to ticket me for ‘not staying in the lane’. What the FUCK? There were only two fucking lanes of traffic, and neither was moving. As tempting as it was to get on the shoulder to find the exit, I wasn’t going to risk it. The trooper was looking to arreast someone. 

I finally found my way out of the parking lot. I had to double back seven miles to return to the Kansas Turnpike, then divert southwest all the way to WICHITA. I could have gotten off at Emporia and taken US 50 to Newton, but I had no desire to go on the two-laners. None. 

It took four and a half hours to divert from Topeka to Wichtia and finally arrive in Russell. Somehow I made it wihtout stopping. I was beat. Really beat.

I should not have been surprised I-70 came to a standstill in Topeka. First, the interstate through downtown Topeka is ridiculoulsy narrow, and there is no room whatsoever for expansion. Whomever designed it that way was truly stupid. Second, traffic in almost every capital city I’ve been through in the US is horrible. The roll call: Baton Rouge, Topeka, Oklahoma City, Austin, Jackson, Montgomery, Columbia, Tallahassee, Lincoln, Nashville, and of course, Atlanta. 

The exception: Frankfort. Breezed right by on I-64 leaving Lexington. Going in wasn’t bad, either, save for the normal rush hour of state employees leaving work on the day I arrived in Kntucky.  

Tuesday was a torture day of work. Wednesday was more of the same, but I was also groggy as hell because I took seroquel to sleep better. 

Then I find out Wednesday Norton is coming to Russell’s track meet tomorrow. I really had no desire to go to a track meet. None. Now Peggy is trying to guilt me into going. UGH. 

I took seroquel again last night. Couldn’t get going until after 1. Finally I made it out. Drove to Salina for trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings. But now I’ll be thinking about that track meet tomorrow on the drive back to Russell and then when I get home. Sleep will be tough tonight. 

Russell has had more rain in the first four months of 2017 than it normally has in a full year. This summer will be the worst for mosquitoes I have witnessed in Kansas. Nothing, though, will ever be as miserable as Louisiana summers. I don’t miss my native state most of the year for that reason. 

All by myself in a packed place

I’m almost to the point of total boredom with Kansas City. There, I said it.

The trip to Kentucky came at a perfect time. It not only got me out of Russell and the trouble I have at home, it also got me away from Kansas City and some of the thigns that go on there. Believe me, if I didn’t have work to get done or an appointment with Crista today, I might have stayed in Kentucky a little longer. I’m going to have to find time to go back there. Probably not during the summer because Kentucky can be quite humid, even in the higher elevations of the Appalachian valley. 

I woke up at 4:30 yesterday and left Kansas City at 5;20. I had a 10 am appointment in Hays with Crista. I was groggy the whole way. I took seroquel before going to bed Wednesday night, and while it helped me sleep, it left me lagging a bit as I drove west on Interstate 70. Crista could tell I was worn out during our appointment, which ended after 45 minutes. It wasn’t anything with her. I was just beat. 

I had to stay at home for a little while to get some aggravating work done. I left Russell at 4:45 and drove to Topeka, where I stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings to play some trivia. My favorite game, SIX, is at 7:30 Wednesday and Thursday evenings. I could have stopped in Salina and played a little longer, but if I did, I wouldn’t get out of Salina until 8:30, which meant I’d be back in Kansas City no earlier than 11. By stopping in Topeka instead, I was able to get back to Kansas City before 10, which meant I could get Outback to go. 

Today has been a lonely sojourn. Stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings near Liberty to see if Larry was playing trivia and/or Tina was bartending. They weren’t. I stayed for about 40 minutes then headed to Zona Rosa. The music playing on the jukebox at that B-Dubs was beyond awful. I wanted to scream. I didn’t stay that long, didn’t order food. 

Finally made it to Minsky’s just before 4. Somehow, I feel lonely even though the place is packed. There’s a lady sitting to my left who probably thinks I’m totally perverted. 

Return to routine

I’m driving my car again, and I’m sitting on my familiar barstool at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa. Slowly but surely, I’m back to the routine life. 

I returned the rental today, even though it wasn’t due back until tomorrow. It saved $23 in parking fees at KCI. I already ran up enough as it was, parking there for six days. But what else was I do? It would have been cheaper to park at Wichita and drive up the Kansas Turnpike, but that would have taken extra time. The rental fees out of Wichita would not have been that much different than KCI. I probably could have rented out of Wichita had I not had the appointment with Crista last Wednesday. Would  have been able to drive to Wichita Tuesday night, wake up early, rent the car, then go. 

I know I made the right decision to drive all the way to Kansas City yesterday. It would not have been fun driving three and a half hours across Missouri after going six yesterday. I figured I might as well get it all done yesterday. 

I would not have been able to leave early because of all the work I had to get done, and what about traffic? Maybe I would have got to enjoy more White Castle, but now I have an excuse to drive to Columbia every so often. That and the rye Triscuits. A dozen boxes should last me until June, but they might be too hard to resist. 

This trip really opened my eyes to what is lacking in Kansas and the Kansas City area. No White Castle. No rye Triscuit. No Marathon gas stations. Very little Shell stations. No Mobil stations. At least there’s Zaxby’s in Lawrence, becuase Chick-Fil-A does not have variety, and Raising Cane’s is highly overrated. I am still praying Buzztime will come to Hays–other than the Fort Hays State studnet union–soon. 

I also don’t like staying in a hotel for only one night. Usually, I try to make it three nights, uusally more. When I stopped in St. Louis last week, it was the rare times in recent years I was in and out of a hotel. I did it last year going from Russell to Wichita and then to Lawrence in the morning. Kansas City is usually three nights or more. 

I have to go back to Kentucky. Sooner not later. 

Return to Missouri

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois are all in my rear view mirror. So is the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County. 

I’m in St. Charles at another White Castle, the last White Castle in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana…you get the picture. Better enjoy it now. I may have another reason to come back to the St. Louis area soon, but I don’t come this way very often, sadly. I wish I did. 

I figure I’ll be in Kansas City by 6:30. The drive across the state should be fine until I get to Blue Springs (exit 21 on I-70). It will then get congested all the way to I-435 near the Truman Sports Complex, then open up on 435 as I go north. 

I doubt I’m making an appearnace at Buffalo Wild Wings. I love The Pulse, the Monday night sports trivia game, but I’m really not in the mood to waste time tonight. I’ve got work to do. Besides, tomorrow night is when I want to be at B-Dubs, because Dana is tending bar starting at 5. 

I need to go back to Kentucky when I have more time. I had a great time, even if LSU lost two of three. It was fun. 

Thank you, Kentucky

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — Last post from Kentucky. I am at a gas station/White Castle off Interstate 64, about 35 miles from the Ohio River and the Kentucky/Indiana state line. 

LSU lost to Kentucky yesterday 10-2, giving the Wildcats the series two games to one. Not much of a game. Kentucky scored four in the first, three in the third and three more in the fourth, and that was that. The Wildcats still lead the SEC East and are just one game behind Mississippi State for the overall SEC lead. LSU is now 10-8 in the league, which means it is more than likely headed for the one-and-done round of the SEC tournament. The top four teams–as of now, State, Kentucky, Auburn and Arkansas–will have a bye to the double elimination portion of the bracket. 

I’m going to miss Kentucky. Had a very good time. I enjoyed visitng with Bill Franques, who honestly put up with my crap much longer than any human being should put up with me. I really put him through the wringer more than a few times. He probably has taken more from me than anyone except my parents, and this includes Peggy, Caitlyn, Robb, Dawn, Liz, Lisa and even Crista. He’s a great man for doing so, and I’m very glad we still keep in touch. 

I picked up some White Castle in Shelbyville. Can’t get that in Kansas or Kansas City for that matter. St. Louis is the closest location to where I am. I can get Zaxby’s in KC, which I might do tonight when I get to my usual spot, the Fairfield at KCI. 

Okay, time to hit the road. Next stop, Indiana. 

Last go at the Cliff

We are less than an hour from the final game of the LSU-Kentucky baseball series. It’s a rubber game, as the teams split their doubleheader Friday, with the Wildcats winning the opener 12-5 and the Bayou Bengals the nightcap 4-3.

This is LSU’s final game at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The field has been here since 1969, but the stadium itself opened in 2002 as part of a renovation. The 2018 season will be the Wildcats’ last at Cliff Hagan, as they are moving into a new stadium off campus the next season. LSU and Kentucky probably will not play next year, but if they do, it will be in Baton Rouge. The next time LSU will come to Lexington will be either in 2020 or 2021.

Bill told me the likely SEC East road trips next year are Tennessee and Vanderbilt. The Tigers go to Auburn, Ole Miss and Texas A&M in the West. That leaves Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi State at home. plus Missouri and either Florida or Kentucky.

With no game yesterday, it was more like a typical Saturday I would spend in Kansas City. I treated Bill to lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, then went about the rest of my day on the other side of town. I went to the other B-Dubs in Lexington and played three hours of trivia. I left at 7:30 and decided to call it a night.

It’s chilly in Lexington. The sun is not out, and the mercury is struggling to climb above 55 (13 Celsius). There’s a good wind blowing from left to right, which means the ball will carry very well to right field, which is already very short (310 down the line, 350 to the power alley).

Tonight is a working and packing night. Tomorrow I’m on Interstate 64 and Interstate 70 to Kansas City. If I’m there by 7 pm CT, I’ll be happy.  Other than returning the rental car to KCI, it’s pretty much normal in KC (read: trivia at B-Dubs and maybe Minsky’s) until I have to go to Hays Thursday.