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Stupid escape

I haven’t posted since I was in Lakin last Saturday. It went downhill pretty fast since my last post.

Sadly, Norton’s season ended with a loss to Lakin in the sub-state semifinals. However, the biggest loser wasn’t the team. It was me.

I quickly packed up and left Lakin after the Bluejays’ loss. I did not stick around for the final, where TMP defeated Lakin to advance to the state tournament this weekend in Emporia.

I should have stayed at Lakin to say goodbye to everyone. It was rude to Cailtyn, her teammates, and especially her mom. I was scared I would be an intruder, since Clark, Chelsea and her husband Sam were there. I felt it were best if Peggy talked to them and not worry about me. I also wanted the girls to be able to weep in peace. Ending a season is very hard, especially for the seniors. Peggy told me I read too much into it. I’ve heard that a lot from Crista. Yet I keep doing it.

Instead of doing the right thing, I sped back to Garden City as fast as I could. I had the idea I would get to Buffalo Wild Wings before Game 6 of the National League Championship Series began.

Horrible move.

I saw an open barstool and was about to sit down when a rude Nebraska fan told me he was saving the seat for an invisible friend who was supposedly going to show up at some point.

That set me off.

I was pissed. Why didn’t he tip the barstool over or otherwise put something of his on the seat so he could reserve it? That’s what I like to do when I know Robb and Dawn are coming. Even better, I’ll write their names on a Post-It and affix it to the stool. Now if it’s busy, I won’t reserve a seat; I don’t like denying other patrons the chance to sit down.

This guy, though, didn’t understand common courtesy. I was beyond pissed I was STEAMING at this guy. I screamed a couple of expletives at him on my way out. Then I completely melted down in the car.

I was happy to get out of Garden City Sunday morning. The hotel was fine. But if I don’t have to see that Buffalo Wild Wings again, fine by me. I don’t have a reason to visit Garden City in the near future to begin with. It may be closer than Wichita, but it certainly isn’t easier to get there. Kansas City isn’t that much farther.

I didn’t use the CPAP machine Saturday night for the first time in nearly two months. I went back on it when I got back to Russell. I was afraid it would negatively affect me on the drive home, but it didn’t. I won’t take that chance again.

My contacts were irritating the hell out of me Sunday morning. Thank God I had my prescription sunglasses with me to drive home. I went straight downstairs when I got back to Russell at 12:40.

The first three days of the work week have been pretty  much standard operating procedure. The workload will drop starting next week as many high school football teams conclude their seasons, and the cross country season ends with state meets. No local teams are playing in state volleyball tournaments, so that’s a relief.

Thinking about a trip to Kansas City. Got the rest of the day to think about it.

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.

Spiketacular underway

I have arrived at Scott City, a little later than I would have liked, but early enough nonetheless. The first match of the Class 3A volleyball sub-state tournament, top seed Lakin vs. host Scott City, should get underway a couple of minutes after 1 p.m., following team introductions.

I took the time to stop in Hays to get my car washed. The damn water seeped into the trunk, however, and left some things damp, including a notepad. I don’t think that will be much of an issue, because I’ve got plenty left from the one I was using last night at Smith Center. The car needed to get vacuumed out. And cleaned of the bugs.

I got gas at my favorite station on US 283 in WaKeeney, then made the decision to drive south on 283 towards Ness City rather than what I’ve done in the past, which is take I-70 to Oakley and turn south on US 83 directly to Scott City.

I’ve been south on 283 from WaKeeney to Ness City many times, but this was my first time going west on K-96. I almost regretted immediately, because there was a construction worker standing in front of the Ness County courthourse. Oh great, I thought. I’m going to be waiting for the pilot car to lead the convoy, and this will make me late, or cutting it close.

The wait for the pilot car was not long, and the construction was not the full route today. Once the pilot car pulled away, the drive got insanely boring. Really boring. Fields of nothing. The monotony was only broken up by passing through Dighton, where the track at the stadium was being torn up and replaced. This was my first ever drive through Lane County, probably not my last.

The drive from Dighton to Scott City was pretty much more of the same. I couldn’t find the high school at first simply because I came in from a different direction but once I got my bearings, it was no problem.

Lakin and Scott City have begun. A long day of volleyball is ahead of me.