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Charlie's Inside Corner: Sports and rain

The rains came. Those long awaited rains finally came this week but they’ve played havoc with high school sports in the Golden Belt area. Baseball, golf, softball, track and field and tennis schedules are in shambles. Some of these games/meets/matches simply won’t be made up as the school year races towards league, regional and state competition.  Still, there are championships being won.

The Great Bend gals clinched a WAC League championship last week in softball with a sweep of the Garden City Buffaloes, improving to a perfect 8-0 in conference competition.

Larned’s boys baseball team, though they have not yet clinched a Central Kansas League championship, continue to dominate as they improved to 9-1 with a double header sweep of Hillsboro last week.

Coming into this week’s action, Larned pitcher Evan Skelton, with a 4-0 record has a spotless .000 earned run average as he has yet to give up an earned run on the season.

In track and field Great Bend’s Antonio Carrasco is a 5A top-five leader in the 400 meter while Jayce Brack ranks in the top two in the discus and shot put. Camryn Dunekack is a top-ten performer in several events.

Hoisington’s Brandon Ball is one of the state’s top pole vaulters in all classes, having cleared 14-6.

All of this brings to mind the varied sporting activities that are offered by our schools. For the most part that is a plus but it can dilute the effectiveness of some programs. Track and field has suffered at area schools over the past decade or two. It used to be the premium spring athletic activity. Today, however, many schools’ best athletes choose to play baseball or softball or even golf and tennis. That is not a problem at larger schools but at  2A, 3A, 4A and some 5A schools, there simply are not enough good athletes to go around and though some programs allow an athlete to compete in more than one sport, coaches are not really supportive of “loaning” their guy or gal to another sport.

A net result of this is that you don’t find records being broken very often in track and field. Most schools’ records are two or three or more decades old. Some even longer ago than that.  In Larned, the school record for the shot put was set way back in 1954 by Jim Blackwell with a toss of 56’ 5 ½”.

Hoisington, coached by Elton Brown, was a track and field powerhouse in the 1950’s through several decades later. They won numerous state championships but like many 3A schools that also play baseball, there simply aren’t enough athletes to go around.  Even at 5A Great Bend, it is difficult to field  baseball, softball , tennis, golf and track and field teams that exhibit the best athletes.

The bright side to all of this is that it gets more kids to participate. At the high school level one of the goals should be to let every athlete participate, to perform in the sport they choose.  

Sometimes we don’t get all of the X’s and O’s done just right but if we get more boys and girls into more sports and encourage them to “compete against themselves” and get better, to be better students and citizens as well as athletes, and to feel good about themselves,  well then, we’ve done a good thing.