By Jim Misunas
The Fiesta Bowl trip that departed from Great Bend Wednesday morning started with a mishap.
Mike Dolechek’s trip to the Fiesta Bowl was delayed when his Ford Expedition struck a deer Wednesday morning in Barton County. He felt a little better when everyone gave their family a rousing cheer when they boarded a Village Tours bus headed to the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.
Dolechek was happy everyone, including his wife, Leann, and son, Dane, were okay following the 7:15 a.m. accident at K-156 and NE 100th Ave, north of Great Bend. The Barton County trip departed shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday for the 20-hour, 1,023-mile trip to Glendale, Ariz. An overnight stay is scheduled at America’s Best Value Inn at Winslow, Ariz.
“Fortunately, nothing but my pride was hurt,” Dolechek said.
The roadway was slick and it was still dark when the accident occurred. Dolechek said he didn’t have time to avoid the collision on the icy roadway.
“The road was icy and snow-packed when I saw some deer on the left side of the road,” Dolechek said. “It was still dark and a deer came a running from my left side. There’s not a lot you can do when that happens.”
The Dolecheks come from a family strongly affiliated with Kansas State University.
Mike and his wife and son all attended Kansas State University. They are season ticket-holders for football and basketball.
“We come from a long time of Kansas State fans, including three brothers and a sister who attended Kansas State University,” he said. “We like both football and basketball and support both sports.”
The Dolecheks attended the 1997 Cotton Bowl against Brigham Young and the 1997 Fiesta Bowl against Syracuse. Kansas State is 6-9 in bowl games, but has not won a bowl game since the 2002 Holiday Bowl.
“I believe Oregon is the strongest opponent, Kansas State has ever played in a bowl game,” Dolechek said.
Like most K-State fans, he’s pleased the way the 2012 season turned out for a team picked sixth in the Big 12. Big 12 champion Kansas State finished with an 11-1 record, one loss away from playing Notre Dame for the national championship. Baylor beat K-State 52-24.
“At the start of the season, you would’ve been very happy to see Kansas State playing in the Fiesta Bowl. It’s been an amazing run,” he said. “They just played one uncharacteristic game against Baylor when they got away from their running game.”
The Dolechek family, which resides near Odin, operates Dolechek Trucking and Dolechek Harvesting from Claflin.
The wheat harvesting crew travels from Texas to North Dakota starting in May each spring with three combines and three semis.
Two fulltime bus drivers change shifts every four hours for the Village Tour bus from Wichita. Cities represented were Great Bend, Hoisington, Claflin, Atchison, Leavenworth, Clyde, Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Salina, Topeka, Wichita, and several Kansas State students from Manhattan.
Trip coordinator N.R. Weber has been a football season-ticket holder for more than 20 years at Kansas State and has attended many of the Wildcats’ bowl games.
The journey back home begins shortly after the Fiesta Bowl. Weather permitting, the bus is scheduled to arrive in Great Bend about 6 p.m. Friday.