It is notable that certain schools seem to excel in certain sports. Kansas in basketball and at least in this era, Kansas State in football. I am thinking more on the high school level, however. For years, in the 1950s through the 1970s, the Russell Broncos dominated high school basketball, winning numerous state championships. The McPherson Bullpups have done the same in boys basketball and you can include St. John and Scott City in that mix.
Of course, some schools, like Scott City, Central Plains, Topeka Hayden, Silver Lake and Wichita Collegiate have been strong in multiple sports but, all in all, a lot of towns seem to have an affinity for being very strong in one particular sport.
The Great Bend Black Panthers and the Larned Indians have a knack for putting together solid baseball programs, year after year. Is it in the water? Is it tradition? Is it coaching? Just what brings one community to success in a particular sport? Probably a combination of all of the above.
Again this year, Great Bend won the Western Athletic Conference in baseball. The Black Panthers (14-4) swept the Nickerson Panthers of the Central Kansas League on Tuesday in two games. The Larned Indians captured the championship of the Central Kansas League by trashing the Pratt Greenbacks 11-6 and 11-1 on Tuesday evening at Moffet Stadium, pushing their record to 15-1. Pratt and Larned had entered the games in a deadlock for the league title.
Great Bend and Larned, these two Titans of the high school baseball world, met on Thursday evening in Larned for a one-game, season finale. As we went to press, the results of that game were not available. Great Bend vs. Larned. Two league champs slugging it out. Maybe. Both teams have more on their mind than their long-standing rivalry. Great Bend has a date in their 5A Regional next week and Larned will host a 3A Regional at Moffet Stadium. It changes the complexion, the competitiveness of this game.
Both coaching staffs would like to win this game between league champions but the more important consideration is having their pitching staffs ready for regional play. This is a fun, competitive game that might be better served for both teams if it were played earlier in the season instead of as an end-of-season tuneup before Regional playoffs. The fans for both teams, I am betting, would agree. Even though the top pitchers for both ball clubs may not have worked, it’s a big-time event.
Congratulations to both of these teams, Titans of High School baseball!
Expansion. That is the key word concerning the Big 12 Conference. Will they expand? Should they expand and who should be added? The truth of the matter is the Big 12 goofed when all of the league re-alignment stuff was going on a few years ago and they lost Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M.
At that time the Big 12 could have had their pick of several replacements that would have been a good fit including Louisville and Utah but too much “thinking” and not enough “action” let those schools slip away. Now the Big 12 is left to consider UConn, BYU, Cincinnati and a few others, none of which bring excitement to the minds of most Big 12 fans.
Nobody wants another Texas school and West Virginia would like someone that was even remotely in their part of the world, geographically speaking. That probably means Cincinnati to keep the Mountaineers happy. As for me, my other pick would be either Colorado State or Air Force. AIR FORCE? Nobody’s talking about them but hey, they bring a national name to the table and instant press credibility. Using government money (and isn’t that always plentiful?) the Fly Boys could massively upgrade facilities and make Saturdays exciting in the mountains. Plus they could steal the television market away from Colorado in the Rocky Mountains.
Think of it this way; who would you rather see your favorite team from Kansas play on a Saturday afternoon, West Virginia or Air Force? Besides, they could provide a stadium flyover for every game!
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned. Contact him at email@example.com.