Thursday, July 29, 2010

Let's get ready to rumble

Just take a second—inhale deeply and slowly exhale—and enjoy the moment. This is the glorious, tranquil time before kids all over this state strap up and smash the crap out of each other until only one bruised and battered clan in each classification is left standing.

Football season is almost here.

It’s beautiful really. Take a group of kids and fire them in a kiln of August heat, cooking the soft clay into a solid piece of unyielding ferocity. Then take what has become a singular unit, living and breathing in sync, and line it up against all comers to see who will let go of the will to fight first.

There are few experiences that can match sitting in a locker room in the moments before a football game. It has to be similar to the moments before a gigantic brawl. Two gangs standing in each others' way. The only options are to bash your way through, or lie down and be bashed. You are accountable for every person in the room, and they are accountable for you.

Let’s go get us some boys.

Football coaches, especially at the highest levels of the game, pride themselves on complex schemes requiring an MIT education to crack. But break the game down and it will come down to one factor—the team that out-hits the other will be the winner.

That’s it. The group that hits the other hardest is your winner in almost all cases. The team that hands out the biggest beating is the team that was able to, “execute.”


The premise of football is simple and pure. My crew has given an awful lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get into that end zone, so that’s where we are going. If you think you are man enough to stop us, go ahead and try.

You’ve been warned.

In football, the line in the sand is not proverbial. It is marked in the field by the referee over and over again throughout the course of the game. Opponents line up on either side of it, snarl at each other and give the evil eye, psyching themselves up for the immanent collision.

Cross this line and see what happens.

The constant redrawing of the line provides an unbelievable opportunity for redemption. Find yourself staring up at the stadium lights after a play? Don’t worry. Everyone will regroup, the line will be redrawn, and the opportunity for payback is there if you want it.

This opportunity makes the cheap shot unexplainable, and inexcusable. If you have been wronged, you are perfectly within the rules of the game to line up and put a hurting on the offending party. Revenge is only one play away.

Using your body as a weapon, apply enough blunt-force trauma to take the opponent’s will to fight back, and the game is yours.

Almost as beautiful as the brutality of the game, is the way entire communities stop everything to support it, further adding to the gang mentality of the sport. Towns go dark except for the stadium lights as everyone shows up in full throat to watch the mêlée. And it’s personal.

In a society that seems to be shifting more and more to the, “let’s outlaw recess because little Jimmy might get singled out,” state of mind, football endures. For four 12-minute quarters every Friday night, people are able to put down the bubble wrap and duct tape to take a break from childproofing the world and cheer on some good old competitive violence.

And they do it for a love of football, a game in which the weak link on a team will be singled out. Count on it. There is no place to hide. There is no right field to stick a player and hope for the best.

The game is an opportunistic carnivore. The lion does not pick out the biggest, strongest, fastest gazelle in the herd. It finds the slowest, weakest gazelle so that feasting on its succulent flesh can be done easily. If the opponent has success pounding the ball your way, you had better toughen up quick. The onslaught will not stop unless you find a way to stop it.

Within this cauldron of carnage is an unexpected surprise—the deep respect that only comes from being locked in a violent competition with someone. There are very few things that measure up to the guts and dedication required of contact sports. No one except your opponent will ever know how much you gave to the competition.

Of course, with people slamming into each other comes some intense rivalries. But when the game is over—win or lose—you find yourself staring at a person who matched you blow-for-blow until neither of you had anything left. There is a brotherhood of those brave enough to jump into the fray.

So get those mouthpieces molded and helmets fitted. The first two locomotives to collide are Kapaun and Wichita Northwest at 7:00 p.m. on Sept. 2 at Northwest.

Gardner Edgerton has to find a new logo

You always hear the cliché “don’t mess with Texas.”

Gardner Edgerton found out that applies to the University of Texas’ logo as well.

Since Marvin Deiner arrived as the head coach of the Trailblazers football program the team’s helmets have been emblazoned with a logo looking similar to that of the Texas Longhorns.

The logo was blue instead of the burnt orange the university uses, but the similarities were too close for Texas to continue letting the high school use the logo without paying a hefty rights fee.

Gardner Edgerton brought up the issue with the university as they were planning to affix the “ox horn bovine” logo to the gymnasium floor. Before spending the money to put the new logo in the gym the school decided to check with university officials.

Texas felt the resemblance was too significant and asked the high school to consider using a new logo.

New logos are not uncommon at the school. According to, each head football coach since the mid-1970s has designed a new logo for the team’s helmet.

Upon Texas’ decision, Gardner Edgerton has decided to stop production of the current school logo and will phase it out when new uniforms, equipment and spirit wear are purchased.

The school currently holds a primary logo, an “ox-horned bovine pulling a trailblazing wagon” that is used on stationary and signs outside the school, according to the site.

The new logo for this year’s football helmets however will be unveiled at the Blazers first game against Blue Valley West on Sept. 3.

Gardner Edgerton was the state runner-up last year after falling to Hutchinson in the Class 5A championship game. The school also joins a new league this season after moving from the Frontier League to the Eastern Kansas League.

Gardner Edgerton's Old Helmet Logo

The University of Texas' Logo

Visit the newly redesigned

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bowen at Nike Nationals; all-star basketball coming up

Jhasmin Bowen, a Wichita Heights basketball player, is competing for Dallas-Fort Worth this week at Nike Nationals. The event lasts through Saturday in Augusta, S.C.

Jhasmin will be a senior this year at Heights. She was the only player outside the Topeka-Kansas City area who earned all-state honors on the first team in Class 6A last year.

In other basketball news, the coaches’ association all-star games will take place Aug. 5 at Washburn University in Topeka. The girls’ game will start at 6 p.m. and the boys’ contest will follow at 8 p.m.

The South girls won their all-star matchup last year. For the boys, the North team won in 2008 while the South team prevailed in 2009.

The annual event features recently graduated seniors.

Curious KSHSAA Rules

The end of July and August can be a stressful time in the office. We have football previews, a site redesign, schedules and many other tasks to accomplish to get ready for the new school year. Fortunately the Kansas High School Activities Association always supplies a bit of comic relief in the form of rule books.

About this time every year KSHSAA sends out its fall sports rule books. Most of the rules make complete sense, but some of them are a bit….curious. Here, in no particular order of curiousness, are some we found and proceeded to scratch our collective head at:

1. No Hair Pins or Jewelry in Cross County

As a former cross country runner I have heard my fair share of complaints about this rule. It bans all forms of jewelry which includes the rope/string bracelets that seemed so popular a couple years ago. Girls are also not allowed to wear metal pins in their hair or ribbons that could be considered “flowing”.

Now let’s fast forward to page nine of the tennis manual where it says “There is no restriction on jewelry worn by competitors.” Why the double standard KSHSAA? Cross Country runners want to be pretty when they compete too!

I understand that a three to five inch thin piece of string that was made as a friendship bracelet earlier that summer at camp could be used for more nefarious purposes down in the dark woods of a cross country race, but I think KSHSAA should take a leap of faith and make them legal. There can be no other reason for disallowing the string bracelets than for worry over using them as a weapon. Watches are allowed and they are much bulkier and dangerous than any string bracelet would be.

I have always hoped that some coach with a sense of humor would throw away a meet and have his varsity guys team carry a grandfather clock with them and call it their collective “watch.” I guess I’ll just keep dreaming though.

2. “Bong-Bong-Bong-Whoo!”

I am just going to throw this out there right now, I do not, and will not, claim to understand soccer and its traditions. This also spans to the chants that KSHSAA has deemed unacceptable. There are eight specific chants that KSHSAA points out as unacceptable.

Bong-Bong-Bong-Whoo is one of the eight chants that have drawn the ire of KSHSAA. According to the book it is only offending when the opposing team has the ball. This makes me wonder, what exactly does Bong-Bong-Bong-Whoo mean? What emotion does it aim to solicit? Anger? Sadness? Embarrassment? Bewilderment?

Whatever it may mean, Bong-Bong-Bong-Whoo just doesn’t strike me as an offensive, soul crushing chant. It is not nearly as bad as one of the other banned chants in the KSHSAA book as “you, you, you” is also not allowed. Makes me wonder, is it illegal to string any three pronouns together or just the second person singular you? What about if I were to chant it in a different language?

Good luck translating Bong-Bong-Bong-Whoo into a foreign dialect.

3. Conduct rules for Tennis players

In the KSHSAA rulebook it says:

“Players who use abusive or profane language, throw rackets or slam tennis balls in anger, use obscene hand or body gestures, yell or are otherwise distracting to other players, or in any way show disrespect for the dignity of their team, opponents, coaches, spectators, or meet officials shall be penalized as follows:”

It then lists a four strike system with the fourth penalty being kicked out of the tournament. This is one rule I think is too lenient. My four-year-old nephew doesn’t get that many warnings before being sat in timeout, so why should 14-18-year-olds be allowed to act out four times before getting kicked out of a match.

Coaches and spectators get kicked out on the third violation. That number should be one warning and kicked out on the second. That is, unless, we like the John McEnroe style of play. In that case let’s require everyone put on an 80’s afro wig with sweat band, tube socks, short shorts and grab some wooden rackets. Johnny Mac would be proud.

4. Football teams “draw lots” for a playoff spot

If there is a tie at the end of district play in week nine of the football season, then there is a long process to figure out who goes to the playoffs and who goes home. Number 14 on that list is to “draw lots”, which means literally to draw from a hat.

It is almost as if the tie-break rules were being made up and they got to the 13th break and just looked around and said, “I’m tired. There is a new episode of The Office on tonight, let’s just say that after the 13th break we draw names out of a hat. Sound good?”

There are many other tie-breaks to go to such as average margin of victory, record against teams with a .500 record or better, or even a punt, pass and kick competition between team mascots. Seriously, tell me you would not be interested in seeing a Roadrunner vs. Greenback (Frog) in Punt, Pass and Kick. I’d be there in a heartbeat.

The bottom line is, a team’s season should not come down to something as arbitrary as drawing from a hat. Since this rule exists, I hope this also means there is a sweet gold-plated top hat that exists solely for the purpose of bringing an unceremonious and arbitrary end to somebody’s season while elevating another to the playoffs.

5. Shoes must be worn at all times in cross country

The rule on this is simple in the KSHSAA book. It has a header labeled “Shoes” and one bullet point that says “Must be worn at all times!!” This rule is so important that it requires not one, but two exclamation points.

There are many studies coming out now that running barefoot is actually the most natural way to run. Shoes can often cause injuries more than preventing them. Is it not a kid’s prerogative to run barefoot if they, their parents and their coach deem it as ok?

Then what if a shoe falls off of a kid during the race? Nobody wants to stop and put a spike back on. Does that kid get disqualified for an unfortunate circumstance? I think not.

In high school I ran in a race where this happened about a quarter-mile in. The kid kept going. He ran a 5k with one shoe. Did I call cheater? No. Instead I accepted that this boy was just flat out more of a man than I was because this race went over about a half-mile of asphalt. Where many high school boys would cry, he gritted teeth and finished in the middle of the pack.

We should embrace ridiculous feats of strength and stupidity, not discourage them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Benoit reaches finals; state bowling to change

One Kansan finished among the top 16 at the U.S. Bowling Congress (USBC) Junior Gold Championships this month at Indianapolis.

Kenny Benoit, who will be a senior at Topeka Seaman, advanced from semifinal action to compete in match play. He finished 15th among the boys, who started the week with 982 contenders.

Kenny completed his junior season in 16th place at the Class 5-1A state tournament. His Topeka Seaman team finished second to Kansas City Washington.

The state bowling tournament in March 2011 will feature a few changes. Last year, boys battled Thursday, March 4, for state titles in two classifications: 6A and 5-1A. State girls bowling for both classes took place the following day, Friday, March 5.

In 2011, Class 5-1A girls will compete on a Thursday morning, followed by 5-1A boys in the afternoon. The 6A bowlers will take to the lanes the following Friday. Schools favor that setup due to travel costs.

In addition, team scores will be tallied differently for the postseason. In the past, an athlete bowled three games to emerge with a series score. Each school’s top four series scores were added to determine the team score.

Now, team scores will be figured after each of the three games, which will give more bowlers a chance to contribute to overall team scores.

For instance, the Wichita Heights girls won the 6A championship last year with a team score of 2,403. The Falcons’ top four series scores – Emerald Weaver’s 628, Katelyn Carlson’s 625, Juliahna Stockham’s 594 and Kasey Anderson’s 556 – generated the team total. Autumn Weaver’s series score of 539 did not count as part of the team score.

However, Autumn’s first-game score of 179 was higher than Kasey’s first-game total of 120. In addition, Autumn’s 214 in the second game was better than Emerald’s 203 and Juliahna’s 197. Autumn trailed the other four girls in the third game, but her scores in Game 1 and Game 2 would be relevant under the new rules.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Really? Just one month?

I can't believe it either but we are just one month away from the start of high school football practices. Where in the world is the summer going?

We'll start this year's football season with some changes in the office. A lot of new faces are going to be on the Catch it Kansas show most notably Grant Meech joining us in Wichita instead of working in Hays. We'll have two newbies to break-in in Dodge City and Hays which is exciting, new blood always is.

Hearing that we're just one month away from the start of practices I had to start thinking about my favorites this year to either win state or make a deep run into the playoffs.

Obviously I have to give Hutch the benefit of the doubt when it comes to anything playoff-related. I think Heights is returning a ton of talent and has a solid chance to make it to the state finals again. That is if Coaches Auer and Marshall allow Evan Wessel to play this year after what happened last season!

In the 3A ranks I think it's Collegiate's turn to go through the down cycle. They lose a ton of talen off of last year's state championship team and it may be their year to rebuild. I'll always say Garden Plain and Conway Springs will have a shot at anything in the playoffs and I really hope I get to cover that game for a third year in a row.

I'm wondering if Wichita Trinity can finally put something together this year? Morgan Burns is such a tremendous athlete and I've love to see him show off his talents in the playoffs.

Other than Heights I'm not too sure about the city league this year. Bishop Carroll will be a strong team but losing Blake Bell is a huge blow. Alan Schuckman will figure something out though, I have no doubt.

An interesting change in coaching this year as Tom Beason will be an assistant to Weston Schartz at Northwest. Beason plays rugby with the Wichita Rugby Club and has been having his kids get out and play with the rugby team to make them tougher. I am a big fan of that idea, gives them an extra edge. Also Wichita Wild receiver Clinton Solomon will be the receivers coach at East this coming season. I am really intrested to see how that affects the team and how much better they'll be with a former D-1 wide receiver giving them pointers.

I think I'm really only writing this blog because I am jonesing for football to start!! I do love baseball a ton but I grew up in the South. Football is my religion!

No guts, no glory

The Open Championship at St. Andrews in Scotland, the birthplace of golf. There are howling 17-mile an hour winds, enormous greens with putt-putt type breaks and bunkers so deep, the vertical wall you are trying to hit out of is taller than you.

There are few tests of a person’s mental stamina like a round of golf at your local public course, let alone a Major Championship at St. Andrews.

Going to play 18 holes always sounds like a great idea—a nice long walk through a gigantic, pristine lawn. But for those who do not possess the strength of a silverback gorilla within the recesses of their minds, things unravel quickly.

As the sanity begins to fall to pieces and a calm outdoor outing turns into pure red in the face, vein-throbbing anger, it becomes clear why grandma wasn’t invited. The steady stream of language used would probably cause her to drop dead.

Glancing at the TV during the first round of The Open, the Catch It staff began to laugh at a golfer stuck in a bunker. His first shot hit the massive wall and fell right back to his feet. So did his second, and third shots. Realizing the straight toward the pin method wasn’t going to happen, he played his fourth shot safely out of the side of the bunker.

This, “Tin Cup,” display sparked a discussion about how stupid this golfer was for not just playing backward from the beginning.

But whatever happened to no guts, no glory?

One sterling piece of golf advice is to love the challenge of the day. This is of course much easier said than done. When you have just sent your tee shot into the woods for the ninth time, it requires less restraint to helicopter a club into the tree than to sit back and say, “Oh boy, another challenge!”

But these are your opportunities for greatness.

Don’t just play a 90 degree shot to get back into the fairway. This is the expected play out of every dreary robot on the course. The 90-degree rule is for golf carts, not humans who have the courage to dance with the gods.

You know what you have to do.

Find that small window through the trees that you can use to shoot at the pin. Go ahead and line it up. Can’t see the pin at all? Then there is nothing left to do but attempt a massive hook or draw around the trees. Think big here.

Are you good enough to hit that window? Are you good enough to purposely shape a shot around trouble?

No you are not.

But go for it, and one of two things will happen:

1. The stars will align and you will make the shot. It isn’t slop either. You simply strutted up to the situation, assessed it, and went for it all with unflinching, perfect execution. Although the shot was a miracle, remember that it was a miracle you planned. Do not run around flailing and squealing like a pig rolling in the mud. Do not do a back flip. This will ruin your shot by staining the story that will be told forever. Your playing partners will be stunned when you come out of the woods as though you had planned it all along. After all, you did plan it all along. Congratulations, and welcome to the land of the immortal.

2. You will fail miserably. This is the inevitable outcome. If you are lucky, the cartoonish hook you attempted will not come back around and sail out of bounds. If you are unlucky, your shot will hit a tree flush and ricochet straight back, smacking you square in the most sensitive of areas. The pain will drop you to your knees, your voice will go up five octaves, and those jerk playing partners will laugh hysterically at your agony.

But hey, when you fail, and the pain goes away after a couple of weeks, at least you will know you went for it. You did not get the glory, but you have got more guts in your pinky than the cowards laughing at you have in their entire bodies.

At least you did not play it safe.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kansas team, individual prevail in shooting sports at 4-H nationals

Several Kansans recently participated in the National 4-H Invitational for shooting sports in Kerrville, Texas.

Robert Schifferdecker, who will be a junior at Wichita Collegiate, competed in shotgun and took part in three events: trap, skeet and sporting clays. His highest finish was in skeet; he placed 24th of 92 shooters.

One Kansan, Grant Adams of Manhattan, took first place at nationals. Adams won in slow-fire bullseye, one of three air pistol events. He placed fourth overall in air pistol.

The Kansas team prevailed in smallbore pistol. Boys and girls from the Sunflower State earned 93 points overall, ahead of second-place Mississippi with 88. A nearby state, Missouri, rounded out the top three with a score of 82.

Three Kansans finished among the top 20 in smallbore pistol. Luke Hull, a member of the Riley/Pottawatomie 4-H Straight Shooters, earned second place individually. Olivia Taylor-Puckett of Jefferson County was fourth. Jacob Stroda of Manhattan finished 10th.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Class 6A and 5A Wrestling move to Hartman

Hartman Arena just outside of Wichita will host the Class 6A and 5A State wrestling meets next February.

The big classes were the only to change venue as this will be the third location in as many years after one-year at the Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita became to pricey for KSHSAA.

Class 4A returns to the Bicentennial Center in Salina and Class 3-2-1A will again be at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.

What do you think? Does Hartman fit? Would you like to see Class 4A brought back together with 5A and 6A as it used to be?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Oliver Bradwell: Historically Fast

Historically fast.

That is the only way to describe Oliver Bradwell, formerly of Wichita East. Bradwell has been tearing up both the high school and college track circuits since last winter, but it was not always this way.

Just a little over a year ago Oliver Bradwell was an unknown, junior varsity sprinter for the East Aces. Then came the Goddard Junior Varisty Invitational and Maize Junior Varsity Invitational where Bradwell busted times of 11.09 and 11.16 respectively in the 100-meter dashes.

One week later he was a varsity sprinter, and by May 15 of 2009 he was the Greater Wichita Athletic League 100 and 200-meter dash champion. He won the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.60. That time put him as one of the favorites going into the regional and state meets.

Bradwell took the top preliminary time into the 100, but ended up finishing third with a time of 11.00. The East star also settled for third in the 200.

In the Fall, Bradwell tried his hand at soccer for the Aces and garnered First-Team All-State honors. Soccer was never going to be Bradwell’s sole focus as he hit the indoor track circuit and showed just a glimpse of what was about to come.

At the University of Kansas Jayhawk Classic on January 29, Bradwell ran the 14th best indoor 200-meter dash time in the nation for a high school athlete with a time of 21.84. A month later he ran the 12th fastest 60-meter dash time at 6.85 at the Missouri All Comers meet.

Then it was time for outdoor. Bradwell was not allowed to compete for a KSHSAA school, but that did not deter him as he continued to train.

The former East High sprinter ran Open/College meets winning the Friends University 100 and 200-meter dashes. He also placed 4th in the college division of both the 100 and 200 of the Kansas Relays.

All of this was insignificant compared to what Bradwell was about to do.

His local team went down to the Great Southwest Classic and Bradwell left his mark on the Kansas record books in the process.

Bradwell ripped a wind legal 100-meter dash time of 10.34 to win the big regional meet featuring kids from all over the Southwest. That 10.34 was the fastest time ever run by a Kansas High School athlete. The time still counts in the record books because it was done immediately after his last year of high school.

That time was also the fastest 100-meter dash time recorded in the entire nation this year. Kansas had the fastest athlete in the nation, and many did not even know about it.

Kansas has been home to many world record holders including Maurice Green. Bradwell’s 10.34 Fully Automatic Time is faster than Green’s converted 10.43. The star sprinter also ran the third fastest 200-meter time in Kansas history at the Great Southwest meet with a time of 20.99 and ran on the champion 400-meter relay team.

Bradwell earned the Male Track Athlete of the Meet honor for his efforts, but he was not done yet.

At the Junior National Meet in Des Moines, Iowa on June 24 he finished fourth place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.54 into a slight headwind. The next day on June 25th he ran a time of 21.18 to win the 200-meter dash and qualify for the Junior World Track Meet later this month in Canada.

Bradwell’s plan is to attend Barton County Community College this next school year and run track there. and KWCH Eyewitness Sports attempted to contact Oliver Bradwell for this story. Bradwell agreed to an interview, but further requests to do the actual interview were refused and blocked by Bradwell’s Coach of Team Wichita Track Club John Thompson.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bigger and Better

This past weekend I traveled down to Texas for the Fourth of July holiday and was once again amazed at the facilities these high schools possess. The actual schools themselves are not too shabby either.

A while back I wrote about a new football stadium being built in Allen. I didn’t make it over to their megaplex but I did get a glimpse of life in Denton and Prosper, both north of Dallas.

Denton’s C.H. Collins Complex was built in 2004 and has a capacity of 12,000 and cost $23 million to build. The stadium has a video scoreboard and multi-level press box to boot. The facility serves as the home for three schools.

Prosper, a few miles east of Denton, just finished building a new school with a football-ready field and indoor facility.

The head coach at Prosper, Kent Scott, has his own website keeping fans up-to-date on what’s happening with the program.

For now, they will continue playing at the “old” school where the capacity is just 2,000, but there’s an indoor practice facility there too (now a middle school).

It’s a common trend in the state and one that hasn’t made its way to Kansas yet. This of course would take a good chunk of money…and that’s an understatement.

Just another few differences between football in Kansas and football in the Texas, where as you know, everything is bigger.

For the record, the largest high school stadium in the state, Alamo Stadium, is located in San Antonio and has a seating capacity of 23,000. For a complete list of high school stadium's in the state of Texas, click here.

Kansas 2nd, Lowell 3rd at four-state golf event

Missouri girls golfers won the Junior 4-State Championship and Kansas placed second at Otter Creek Golf Course in Ankeny, Iowa.

Missouri won the two-day junior golf event in late June with a team score of 601. Kansas followed with 614, while Nebraska and Iowa tied with totals of 621.

The Kansas team included Cassie Lowell of Concordia High, Brooke Thilges of Manhattan High, Taylor Fagan of Rossville High, Chelsea Nemeth of Halstead High and Alexa Osbourn of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Danielle Nemek of Nebraska picked up individual honors with a score of 141. Others in the top five were Caroline Rouse of Missouri, 142; Lowell, 147; Jessie Sindlinger of Iowa, 148; and Susan Kirshenman of Iowa, 150.

Lowell, who placed third at the Class 4A state tournament in 2009, graduated from Concordia this year. She will play golf for Northwest Missouri State.