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Handing out congratulations and finalizing graduation

At the Mike: May 17

POSTED May 16, 2018 4:52 p.m.

Pretty good stuff from the Barton baseball team over the past week. The school’s first ever trip to the NJCAA World Series is secure to cap off what has been a record-breaking season.
What makes the accomplishment a little extra special is the fact a Great Bend kid – I call him a kid – is coaching the team. Brent Biggs gets to go to work every day at a field with his grandfather’s name it.
Two more Great Bend High products have played a big role in it as well. Brady Michel has been an absolute stud at times for the Cougars and Jared Maneth has seen considerable playing time, including scoring three times in the final three games at Region VI.
Up and down the lineup, the roster is filled with Kansas kids. Only six players are not from Kansas and five of those come from neighboring states. Of course the one that doesn’t, the big Aussie, Josh Hendrickson, is a rather large reason why the Cougars are going to Grand Junction.
There are not too many sports at Barton in which you can achieve national success with a roster full of Kansas athletes. In fact, it is getting harder and harder to do so with the relaxing of international rules in the sports over the years.
And that’s okay. Many of the international kids that come through Barton are tremendous people. Some of my favorite students have been international kids.
But there is something a little extra special about a homegrown coach with some homegrown talent achieving success at the national level with a bunch of Kansas kids.
Congratulations guys.

Prep Thoughts
How about Coach Randy Beck and the Great Bend Panther baseball team? State tournament bound. Gotta love it. It was in this very column one month ago I wrote I felt like the Great Bend baseball was capable of making some noise in the post season.
To go through 14 innings of Regional baseball without giving up a run is pretty special stuff. The Panthers allowed just five hits in two games. It’s especially nice to see Dalton Bieker toss the shutout as a senior in the Regional Championship-clinching game. Dalton is another one of the kids that I’ve known since the early days of grade school as a classmate to Katelyn. That is a story he can tell forever.
Too bad his mom Nicole never posts anything on Facebook about it (Insert smiley face). Congratulations fellas, keep at it for three more games.

Former Barton
Athlete/Coach update
Speaking of international athletes to come through Barton, one of my favorite athletes of all time is Leevan Sands. You just won’t find a much better person than Leevan. Forget about all the accomplishments in athletics during his career. Leevan is just a good person first and foremost.
He is known as Superman in the track and field world. In fact, I suggested to him before the last Olympics to warm up with a cape on, but, obviously, he didn’t take my advice. That’s probably a good thing.
Leevan is still triple jumping. He will turn 37 this August and in the track and field world, that’s getting up there. He has been a part of the last four Olympics, winning a medal in the 2008. If he would make it to the 2020 event for his native Bahamas, he would be the first athlete ever to make five Olympics in the triple jump.
Anyway, Leevan, who now lives in Alabama after graduation from Auburn, recently started his own clothing line – Sands Pro Athletics. It’s a great looking logo with wings and his signature image in flight in the triple jump in the middle. Check it out at Pretty cool stuff.

And Finally
Well, it’s here. The final week of school for the seniors at Great Bend High. Among them, as you might well know, is my daughter Katelyn. If fact, today is the final day of school for them. For the record, if there is a senior prank in the works, I know nothing about it.
I think everything is in order for the weekend. A party on Saturday and a graduation on Sunday. Well, the gown might have some wrinkles in it. I think it’s still in the bag. We should probably take it out and hang it up.
The party is set for Saturday. Katelyn, Donovan and Madison will gather with family and friends from 3-8 pm. The rumor going around is true – there will be a bounce house. It’s the Bounce Combo with a slide as well. Yes, I will take my turn in the bounce house and on the slide.
There will also be some yard games and a BBQ. If you want to stop by and wish the graduating trio good luck, we will be at the Don Paden residence. Pretend you’re driving to the Great Bend Sports Complex on McKinley, but instead turn east on 2nd street and follow the signs for parking.
Then comes Sunday and the actual graduation. We had a test run last Sunday as Katelyn’s cousin graduated from Pratt. That graduation consisted of about 60 kids and was about a 50-minute affair.
Even at that, Crystal was starting to get a bit emotional. Would it be inconsiderate to, I don’t know, say sit by myself somewhere at graduation? Probably so, huh.
Anyway, here’s hoping the rain stays away this weekend and I make it to Sunday night with my sanity – what little I have left – intact.

Mike Marzolf is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune and his views don’t necessarily reflect those of the paper. He can be reached at


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