A magazine focusing on all things sports in northwest Kansas
Dreher family spends summer on the diamond
The Hays Daily News
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What’s Haul up? it in
A look inside this issue
A trip down memory lane with family of former Quinter
pole vaulter Scott
Baseball in the blood for Dustin Dreher and family.
Moving on up
Ness City’s Dalton Gantz is looking to have an impact on the
Shrine Bowl game.
Hays Eagles third baseman Layne Downing catches a pop fly during a game against Dodge City earlier this season at Hays High School Field. CHAD PILSTER, Sports ink.
Sports Ink. contributors: Nick McQueen email@example.com Conor Nicholl firstname.lastname@example.org Everett Royer email@example.com Jolie Green firstname.lastname@example.org Chad Pilster email@example.com Diane Gasper-O’Brien firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 3, Issue 6 Sports Ink. is published and distributed by The Hays Daily News. Copyright © 2013 Harris Enterprises. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Sports Ink. is a registered trademark of The Hays Daily News, 507 Main, Hays, KS 67601 (785) 628-1081.
Golf gods smiling down F
or all you avid golfers, or even people who pretend to on No. 3, a 322-yard Par 4. golf, think about this for a second. And, here I thought that was something that only hapWhat are the actual odds of hitting a hole-in-one? pened on “Happy Gilmore.” Many have tried to calculate those odds — a quick Google According to club professional Matt Jacobs, it was the only search would indicate that. ace on a Par 4 in club history. Let’s face it. Each hole in the world would have to be calcuWell, until six days later, when someone did it again. Club lated differently. It’s not like the 1 in 4 chance of scratching member Ron Roholt, of Hays, accomplished the same feat, off a break-even ticket in the lottery. This time on a different hole. Roholt used a driver on Hole 7 But, in order to summarize what various from 310 yards to split the sand. For starters theorists have come up with, let’s use the So, two aces on Par 4s within a week of average, and say the odds of an average golfer each other. nailing an ace are about 12,500 to 1 — pretty Now, I’m hindered by the fact I only slim. swing the clubs once or twice a year, but The closest I have ever come to carding an even if I played every morning, I would be ace was nailing the pin on a short Par 3. Plus, willing to bet I couldn’t roll to the green I cheated, because it was a $5 mulligan shot from that distance, let alone find the cup. I during a charity scramble. My first attempt was 30 yards just don’t have that kind of luck. short. Just to give an idea of the inconsistency of my game. But, the golf gods were smiling on Smoky Hill Country So, every time a hole-in-one comes across my desk, I am Club for about two weeks in June — and even on the Roskeptical. When someone reports an ace, we ask for witnessholts. According to Jacobs, three days later, Ron’s brother es, as does course management. Even they have a hard time Tom was in town for the club’s member-guest tournament. believing it sometimes. During a practice round, Tom aced No. 18, one of the most But, what happened in June at Smoky Hill Country Club scenic holes on the course and a Par 3 that carries water. He takes the cake for being the most unbelievable — and it hap- used a pitching wedge to put one in the jar. pened twice. Nine days, three holes covering approximately 800 yards, In early June, former Hays High School golfer and current and three total strokes by three different golfers. Fort Hays State University Tiger Trey Herman carded an ace Who wants to calculate those odds?
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Who’s That? Notable performances in northwest Kansas Alex Hendee
Hendee, who just wrapped up his senior season this spring at Fort Hays state University, had a successful run in the Wild West Festival 5K. Hendee, from Roeland Park, had the top overall time among 120 male runners. He finished in 15 minutes, 34.4 seconds, averaging 5:01 per mile. He finished nearly two minutes ahead of the field. This spring and last fall, Hendee earned allMIAA and all-region honors for the Tiger cross country and track and field teams.
Delton, a junior-to-be for the Hays High School football team, turned heads at the Rivals.com Underclassmen Challenge in DeSoto, Texas on July 7. After the weekend, Delton was ranked No. 2 among quarterback prospects by Rivals analysts. This only includes players who will be juniors. Delton is reported on the recruiting site to have already received an offer from Kansas State University. As a sophomore in 2012, Delton passed for 1,194 yards and 14 touchdowns for the 7-3 Western Athletic Conference champion Indians. He also rushed for 637 yards and 10 TDs.
Jaeger, an 8-year-old swimmer for the Hays Hurricanes has earned a handful of medals this summer. Heading into the July 13 home meet, Jaeger had earned seven first-place medals, two seconds and one third, and had seven Division 2 times, something swimmers usually only accomplish until age 10. She holds club records in the 25 free, 25 back, 25 breast, 25 fly, 50 free, 50 fly, 50 back, 50 breast, 100 IM and 100 free. She was also the second-highest point scorer for the club with 71 points.
Goza, a right-handed pitcher for the Hays Larks from Eastern Oklahoma State College, threw a complete game for the Larks in early July, helping Hays to a 5-2 Jayhawk League win against Dodge City. Goza gave up just two runs (none earned) on three hits and had five strikeouts as he went the distance. In his next outing, he went eight innings, throwing five strikeouts with no walks in an 18-3 road win against El Dorado. He moved to 4-0 for the season. Got an idea of someone who you think should be included in Who’s That? Send it to email@example.com with Who’s that? in the subject line, or call (800) 657-6017.
Rememberwhen Scott Huffman vaults during international competition in the mid-90s.
Photos courtesy of Kansas Athletics, Inc.
A trip down memory lane with family of former Quinter pole vaulter Scott Huffman
alen and Karen Huffman’s house sits in the country, just a few miles south of Interstate 70 and the Quinter exit. Each day, the couple is reminded of their son, Scott, and his pole vaulting career. Scott won a state championship for Quinter High School and competed for the University of Kansas, where he collected a national runnerup finish. However, Huffman’s legacy lies in two areas. After college, he set the national record with a mark of 19 feet, 7 inches in 1994, the third-longest vault in history at the time. Huffman, just 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds and the best Page 6
shortest vaulter ever, also qualified for the U.S. Olympic team for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games and took 13th. Karen Huffman has a desk at the family home. Above the desk is an enlarged picture from a track and field magazine that has a picture of her son bending the pole and setting the national record. The Huffmans have a nephew who is an artist and went with the family to Atlanta. At the top of the stairs is a big collage with various picture and happenings from the Olympics. Karen also has two more boxes full of memorabilia. Often, Galen will go online to YouAugust 2013
Tube and watch videos of his son. Several vaults are easily accessible, including the American record attempt. “He just sits there in amazement and thinks, ‘That’s my boy,’” Karen said. Virtually every day, the Huffmans will pass a green sign to the right of the ramp off Exit 107, and adjacent to the CX gas station. The sign, put up by the city with the family’s permission, says Quinter is the home of Scott Huffman, the former American record holder in the pole vault. A couple of weeks ago, the Huffmans were pulling by on the highway when they saw two kids filling up their car at the gas station. Each kid walked down SPORTS INK.
to the sign and took a photo. “We thought that was pretty cool,” Galen said. Currently, Huffman resides in Lawrence, the city where he has lived since he was a college freshman. Huffman continued vaulting after the ’96 Summer Games and entered money meets in Europe. However, performance enhancing drugs became so prevalent among opposition that Huffman started to take fifth and sixth at meets instead of first and second. Huffman eventually retired and is involved with pharmacy sales. His first wife passed away several years ago from breast cancer, but Huffman recently remarried. The blended family has five kids. Currently, pole vaulting, especially at the elite level, is rare among Kansas small schools, but Huffman had an advantage because of his father. Galen grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri and knew and competed against Bill Snyder, the legendary Kansas State University football coach who is from the same town. One day in seventh grade, Galen was in study hall, looked outside and saw athletes jumping with a pole. He didn’t know the sport, but became interested. He used a Boy Scout hatchet, cut some ash wood, set up a place in the backyard and tried to jump like the high schoolers.
314 Main St. • P.O. Box 10 Quinter, KS 67752 785-754-2500 www.kansaslandbank.com
The coach eventually found out and gave Huffman and his friends an old, broken high school pole to practice with. In eighth grade, Huffman recalled that he cleared 8.5 feet, a solid jump for the age and time. Huffman’s interest continued to grow in high school, and he often lifted weights. Huffman eventually collected the school, city and broke the state record in 1958. Huffman vaulted some in college and coached and taught for four years at Quinter. Scott Huffman became interested in vaulting and the family set up pits at home. Huffman started in Junior Olympics and eventually set a state record at 14-5. Hundreds of athletes have Huffman’s skill coming out of high school, but few reach the Olympics. “Believed what drove him nuts more than anything was somebody telling him that he couldn’t do something,” Galen said. “He had a coach in high school that told him no, he should not go to KU, he would just be a number there, and he should go to a junior college that was recruiting him pretty heavy.” Huffman redshirted his first season with the Jayhawks and saw more than a two-foot improvement. The next season, he improved by two feet again and set a new national freshman record under Ray Attig, who remained Huffman’s coach the rest of his career. Huffman took 10th at the 1988 and ’92 Olympic trials, but never stopped working. Huffman had tremendous speed on the runway and was clocked to cover 10 meters per second on the runway, a time equaled by Sergi Bubka, the world record holder. Huffman ran 4.36 seconds in the 40yard dash, on par with the fastest NFL players. Huffman could often go no
further than around 16 feet in the air because of his shorter height. However, Huffman could push himself several more feet in the air to clear the bar. Galen said a college profess in Oregon tracks the distance a vaulter goes in the air once he lets go of the pole and until he clears the bar. No vaulter has cleared more distance than Huffman. On one YouTube clip where he clears 19-7, Huffman uses a one-legged clearance that many high jumpers use, a maneuver eventually known as the Huffman roll. He pushed 49 inches above his grip. “Watch the form of Scott Huffman, the announcer said. “He combines acrobatics with pole vaulting. Only 5-feet-9inches tall, and look at this form, it’s a little bit western roll, it’s a little bit pole vaulting.” After the national record, one of the stories on Huffman’s mark came from Earl Bell, a former world record holder and Olympic bronze medalist. Bell’s commentary on Huffman’s humble personality still resonates years later for Galen. “Bell said, it isn’t true that nice guys finish last. He said this is one time when the nice guy finishes first,” Galen said. “There were other commentators who talked about his demeanor in track. … He was pretty humble about things and we really appreciated that. That’s what really stands out in my mind the most in our career.” In the 1996 Olympic trials, Huffman cleared 18-8.25, a mark he didn’t think would hold up and earn a top-three spot for the Atlanta Games. Competitors started to fall off until Pat Manson, a good friend, missed, which allowed Huffman to head to the Olympics. Huffman didn’t vault his best at the Games. According to U.S. Track and Field archives, Huffman had bad cramps in both legs. He cleared just 18-4.25 for 13th, but the memories have lived on for nearly 20 years. “It just affected an awful lot of people,” Karen Huffman said. “That’s what was just amazing to us. I am from the east coast, so all of my family and all of my friends on the east coast were very excited about it. Of course, all of our family and friends here were, and we are still hearing from people that we haven’t seen for years and years who said, ‘Oh yes, we watched the Olympics. We watched Scott pole vault in the Olympics. It was so exciting.’” Conor Nicholl, Sports Ink.
Busy Summer is all about playing ball for the Drehers
t’s a good thing Dustin Dreher is a math at Frank Stramel Softball Complex while her twin teacher. He has to keep track of a lot of brother, Brett, was just finishing up his game in numbers, even in the summer months. the coach-pitch division on an adjacent field. Dreher, father of four children ages 3 to So Jamie — holding youngest son, 3-year-old 8, was head coach this summer for his Jace, on her hip — took over first base three oldest children’s baseball teams in coaching duties until Dustin could Diane the Hays Recreation Commission. change shirts, from the light blue of Gasper- Brett’s Royals to the aqua of Riley’s He also helped coach a traveling O’Brien Angels, and make his way over to Riley’s machine-pitch squad for his oldest son, 8-year-old Bradyn. game. Dustin’s wife, Jamie, was a constant in While most of his time was spent folthe bleachers, keeping an eye on whichlowing Dad around, Jace got into a few of ever children aren’t on the field that Brett’s games, in the outfield. particular game or who weren’t in the In one of the Royals’ final games of the dugout with their sibling’s team. season, Jace stopped a ball in the field on defense, But sometimes Jamie got called on to help out and offensively, got a hit and eventually made it all on the field, too. Such was the case one night the way home, where Brett picked earlier this month. up his younger brother and gave PAGE 10 Six-year-old Riley’s T-Ball game started on a field him a big bear hug.
photos by Jolie Green
FAR LEFT: Dustin Dreher calls a three-ring notebook with information about his three HRC baseball teams his â€œbible.â€? ABOVE: This was a common sight this summer, the Dreher family leaving a Hays ballpark together.
Dustin Dreher gives batting tips to one of his players on the HRC Indians’ machine pitch team — his own 8-year-old son, Bradyn.
“I can tell you right now, that made his night,” Jamie said of the 3-foot, 3-inch, 40-pound dynamo. “... probably (made) his summer.” “He kept asking me all night, ‘Can I hit? Can I hit?’ ” Dustin said. “So I asked the other team’s coaches if they cared.” Jace, who will turn 4 in September, liked the Royals games the best, and not just because he sometimes got to play. His favorite professional player is a Kansas City Royal. “Alex Gordon,” Jace said when asked why he has the number 4 on his back. His outfit was Royals all the way, complete with a multi-colored blue camouflage-type KC cap and a royal blue belt cinched to the last hole to keep up his baseball pants. “We have every size baseball pants known to mankind, at least youth extra small to medium,” she said. “That kid refuses to go to the baseball field without that uniform on, cleats and all,” she added. “People probably think that’s the only outfit he has.” Jamie is a certified public accountant, so Dustin — math teacher and baseball coach at Hays High School during the school year — is Mr. Mom during the day in the summer months and coach in the evenings. If his duties on the home front resemble the organization of his baseball teams, things must run pretty smoothly at the Dreher household. “I have this notebook with everything in it, and they made fun of me the first time I brought it out last year,” Dustin
Camaro Enough said.
said of some of his fellow coaches. He smiled at the thought of the practice and game schedules and parent/ player information sheets that fill the notebook, all covered by protective plastic sleeves, complete with three dividers. On the back outside sleeve is a calendar with all the games listed, color coded for each child. No one makes fun of his notebook anymore. The notebook, bent but not broken and dirty from many nights at ball fields, is “like my bible,” Dustin says. “If he lost that thing,” Jamie added, “we’d be in big trouble.” Most of Riley’s T-Ball games were on Wednesdays, and both Bradyn’s and Brett’s games were mostly Tuesdays and Thursdays. But in all three leagues, there were games postponed because of rain or heat, and therefore got switched to different days in the rescheduling process. Still, no games involving the Dreher children were at the same time. “The rec worked well with us on our game schedules,” Dustin said. “We really appreciate all he does,” said Keith Smith, HRC youth sports director. “If you’re going to coach three teams, we will work with you to make sure you can be at all your games.” While attending as many as five Little League games a week, plus practices — let alone coaching three teams — might seem a bit much for some, it’s old hat PAGE 12 for the Drehers.
Riley Dreher, 6, smacks the ball during a T-Ball game for her Angels team earlier this summer.
2917 Vine, Hays (785) 625-4830
dad always coached us when we were growing up . I just figured I’ d do the same when my kids got old enough .” - Dustin Dreher
Brett Dreher, right, mimics the throwing motion of his dad and coach, Dustin Dreher, while his younger brother Jace, left, holds his familiar position as Dad’s sidekick. In the background is Brett’s twin sister, Riley.
Dustin, about a year and a half younger than his older brother, Doug, started playing baseball at a young age. “I would always play on my older brother’s teams,” Dustin said of Doug, who went on to play professional baseball. Dustin was a solid baseball player in his own right, starring for Hays High in the late 1990s, then at Fort Hays State University, where he was an Academic All-American. He also played and coached for the Hays Larks Page 12
summer collegiate team and even got a shot at the pros, too. “My dad always coached us when we were growing up,” Doug said of Darrell Dreher, longtime supporter of the Hays baseball programs. “I just figured I’d do the same when my kids got old enough.” Dustin met his future wife while he was a senior at Fort Hays, and Jamie was in her junior year of a standout basketball career for the Tigers. After a stint of trying out for the Independent League in Wisconsin, August 2013
Dustin came home to teach and coach at his alma mater. “I realized then that we were going to be living in Hays,” Jamie said. They were married in July of 2004, and started raising their family of future ballplayers when Bradyn was born the next May. Now, all four kids bat left and throw right. “Something about being two steps closer to first base,” Jamie says of batting left-handed. “My dad and brother both batted SPORTS INK.
ABOVE: Dustin Dreher high-fives his son, Bradyn, during a game at Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex in July. RIGHT: Jamie Dreher holds 3-year-old Jace as she takes over first-base coaching duties for one of Riley’s T-Ball games while waiting for head coach Dustin to get to the field from another game.
left-handed,” said Dustin, who followed suit. “I joke that if they have my speed, they need a head start.” Anyone who knows the Drehers likely will tell you that Bradyn, Brett, Riley and Jace already are getting a head start. “Dustin and Jamie are very generous with their time,” said Michelle Schlyer, a friend of the Drehers. “They are very family oriented; you could not find a more dedicated family.” Dustin has coached his three oldest children during other sports seasons as well, such as soccer in the fall and spring, although that’s only two teams because the twins play on the same team. The starting division for the winter HRC Biddy Basketball League is fourth grade, and Bradyn will be a third-grader this fall. Coaching the kids in that sport might also fall on Dad, because “that’s right during tax season,” said Jamie, who works for the Brungardt, Hower, Ward, Elliott and Pfeifer accounting firm. “But,” she added, “I can hardly wait for them to be introduced to basketball.” Sports Ink.
Making the jump Ness City’s Dalton Gantz looks to impact Shrine Bowl
rom a talent standpoint, Ness City’s Dalton Gantz knows he has what it takes to compete at an all-star level. It’s just some of the other things involved when it comes to competing in the Kansas Shrine Bowl charity football event — like being one of the rare eight-man players — that he’ll need to overcome to make an impact. Gantz, a member of the 2013 Eight-Man Division I undefeated state champion Eagles, knows he has what it takes there too. Gantz is one of two eight-man players, along with Claflin-Central Plains’ Bryce Steiner, on the West squad in this weekend’s Shrine Bowl at Washburn University’s Yager Stadium in Topeka. “It’s a special honor to be invited, especially from eight-man,” said Gantz, who will play at Garden City Community College this fall. “Only a few guys get selected every year, so it’s a great honor. “Get to go up there and compete with some guys I have known for a long time — should be a great time.” After being part of arguably one of the most dominant state title runs in recent history, Gantz received his nomination packet for the event in November. Then, after the media panel voted, Gantz said it was around Christmas Day he received his invitation and game information. “I thought I had a pretty good chance,” he said. “That’s a tough thing to accomplish, so I was really surprised when I got that in the mail — pretty excited.” Page 14
Thirty-four of the best graduated players from around the state are on the West roster, a squad that will look to defend its run of seven straight wins in the series versus the East. Like many of the past seasons in this area, some of the focus shifts to players like Gantz. He is the seventh straight player from this area to be selected as one of two eight-man players on the West squad. “It’s an honor to be picked by the media and to be able to go out there and represent eight-man schools,” said Ness City coach Chris Bamberger, who graduated from Jetmore (now Hodgeman County) in 2004, and was one of the eight-man members of the Shrine Bowl team before heading to Kansas State University. “It’s a little bit challenging at first,” he added, “seeing the athletes you get to compete against. But, it’s also a lot of
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Everett Royer, Sports Ink Ness City coach Chris Bamberger, shown here coaching the Eight-Man Division I All-Star game in Beloit in June, was a member of the Kansas Shrine Bowl West team in 2004.
fun.” While the Eagles were a force to be reckoned with the last two seasons in eight-man, Gantz is no stranger to the 11-man game. It’s a shift he and former Eagles teammates Blake McVicker and Garrett Flax have already started to make in preparation for competing for the Broncbusters. They were in Garden City in early July. Plus, when
the trio were freshmen, Ness City and Dighton were still combined for football and went 5-4 in Class 3A. “It will be a little different, maybe a little tougher,” Gantz said. “There’s probably an adjustment period, but I don’t think it will be much of a problem — really not too worried about PAGE 16 it.”
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FILE PHOTO Dalton Gantz looks to get past Mankato-Rock Hills’ Aaron Broeckelman during the first half of the Eight-Man Division I state championship game last fall in Newton.
In the past, most of the eight-man players (2011), Quinter’s Zach Nemechek (2010), selected have been used on defense. That Victoria’s Jordan Ottley (2009), Sharon trend will continue with Gantz, an all-state Springs’ Taylor Elder (2008) and Kensdefender from an Eagle team that surrenington-West Smith County’s Grant Levin dered an average of six points per game. (2007). Since 2000, nine eight-man players The Eagles won every game by at least 30 have donned the West uniform. points. “It’s a little bit of a culture shock going “He understands in with all the big 5A, football,” Bamberger 6A schools,” said Otou have to go in said of Gantz, the tley, who played safety there thinking third player from in the West’s 14-7 vicNess City to be setory in ’09 at Wichita you ll have an impact State Unviersity’s Cesslected for the Shrine Bowl. “And, he gets na Stadium. “For me, I on the game how things are supdidn’t really know the - Dalton Gantz cover-2, cover-3, so it posed to work. If he doesn’t, he’s going was a learning experito work until he does.” ence.” Gantz joins Rich Holecek (1992) and Ottley gained that experience before Brad Horchem (1975) as players from making the transition to compete at Fort Ness City to earn the nod, according to the Hays State University the following fall. Shrine Bowl website. “It was just a great experience with all He is the seventh straight player from the other guys,” Ottley said. “I knew a lot the area to be one of the eight-man player. of them, but was a lot of fun to be able to That list includes Thunder Ridge’s Joel go and get to play with them.” Struckhoff (2012), Hill City’s Reggie Jordan Gantz said he was excited to finally get
to play with not only some of the guys he’s known for some time, but the names he’s seen through the years. Plus, he hopes to have his own name called a few times. “You have to have that mindset going in or you might get lost in the crowd,” he said. “You don’t want to get lost. You have to go in there thinking you’ll have an impact on the game.” He’s also had the advice of Bamberger. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Gantz said he was told. “You go there, and kind of come back with a whole new perspective. Visiting the Shrine Hospital sounds unbelievable, and how you can play for them on the field.” And, he gets to do it while representing eight-man and Ness City, another factor he won’t take for granted. “It could be pretty intimidating, but just can’t let it get in your head,” Gantz zaid. “I just have to go out there and represent the community and go out there and hope for the best.” Nick McQueen, Sports Ink. SPORTS INK.
A spattering from NW Kansas
While summer is more about baseball around here, Kansas always produces some good football action. The most notable is the upcoming Kansas Shrine Bowl, the yearly event dedicated to raising funds for the Shriners’ Hospital for Children. Each year, the stars come out — the best graduated seniors from around the state square off. This always is a starstudded event and a great way, to me, to kick off the upcoming football season. This year’s game, at Washburn University’s Yager Stadium, features five area athletes and a coach, all of whom were key parts to their teams’ success last fall. Just for the fun of it, I’ll make a prediction. La Crosse’s Kip Keeley, a future Kansas State Wildcat, will have a big impact in this year’s game, yet another win in the series for the West, which will be the eighth straight. - N.M. Each year, it seems as though those of us in the HDN newsroom pick our favorites among the Hays Larks. Taylor Petersen gets my nod this year and it’s hard to argue against him. There have been some talks back and forth about Jake Placzek as well. But, not only is Petersen a great baseball player to watch, the energy he brings to the team is a big factor as well. Anytime he’s in the lineup, which has been just about every game this year, you know something exciting can happen. The biggest surprise for the Larks this summer has to be the play of Clayton Garland, the team’s leading hitter through July 8. The Fort Hays State University senior-tobe has turned a few heads. - N.M. High school golf coaches preach all the time about how good golfers are created in the summer time. That will probably ring true again in the coming years. As I have kept tabs on the Northwest Kansas Jr. Golf and Kansas Golf Association amateur ranks, I have a feeling the names I have seen over and over again will be among the big names this fall and spring. Among those are some names we have already followed, such as Payton Ruder from Hays High School, Dion Reetz from Trego Community High Sports Ink.
Eight-Man Division II West All-Star running back Dylan Wissman, Otis-Bison, breaks free for a long kickoff return in the second quarter of the all-star game in late June. Wissman was part of a West squad that fell 40-14 to the East in Beloit.
School and pretty much any name from Goodland. There are a few more names that could become more recognized in the coming years — Colten Bobek and Parker Krob from Plainville, and Jason Krannawitter from Colby, just to name a few. - N.M. One of the biggest questions always brought up about Fort Hays State University football is the ineffectiveness of recruiting area players to put on the Tiger uniform. That’s much easier said than done, although new steps (including facilities) the Tigers have taken should be a bonus for those in the future. The fact is, players from western Kansas who are good enough to play at the NCAA Division II level, more importantly the MIAA level, really don’t want to stick around August 2013
Everett Royer, Sports Ink.
western Kansas. And, it has to be really hard to get players from talent-laden areas to want to come to western Kansas. A remedy for that is to start winning. Until then, recruiting is an uphill battle. - N.M. While on vacation in early July, some friends and I spent a few days in Kansas City. The Cleveland Indians were in town for a three-game set, and we were contemplating heading to Kaufmann for a game. The weather was nice, so we went online to look at ticket prices. We saw we could sit in the outfield for only $16. Then, it hit us. Do we really want to spend a whopping $16 to go see the Royals? We talked ourselves out of it. I’m not sure if that looks worse for me — or the Royals. - N.M. Page 17
Larks duo fun to watch H
ays Larks infielder Jake Placzek late summer and were among the received plenty of compliments contenders for conference Player of the from opposing coaches, manager Frank Year honors. Leo and his teammates throughout the “They are very big,” Leo said. “They summer. Wellington Heat manager Rick are leaders. They are leaders in their Twyman simply called Placzek “a playown way. Petersen is a very vocal guy. er.” Leo labeled Placzek a “dirt bag.” We wore him down mentally and Catcher Taylor Petersen likened Placphysically. He caught six ball games in zek to Pete Rose. Through the first 31 seven days and we had no options. You games, Placzek carcould see the look ried a .368 average on his face after the THE CLOSER with team-highs in Liberal series (in early on-base percentage July), but you know (.534) and steals what, he kept going (23). out there and he kept The only time fighting. Placzek, a Univer“Placzek is another sity of Nebraska battler,” he added. “It product, was caught stealing came was good to be able to give him a night when he clearly stole second base at off (on July 8). He took another pitch Larks Park, but the turf was slick. He off his arm in his last at-bat in Liberal, slid past the bag and was tagged out. and it swelled up a little bit. He is an“Jake Placzek is a ball player and he other one of those, I called them those is great to play with,” dirt bags, those guys who are going to Petersen said. “He plays get out there and get dirty and get after the game right. He is it.” very hard nosed. Similar Placzek has kept a low profile on the to Pete Rose with the way he plays the game. He is always hustling. He is always doing Placzek things right and he is a great teammate. Can’t say enough good things about Jake Placzek. Putting enough good swings on it. He has ever since he has got here.” Petersen has played in 29 games and was Hays’ Petersen lone catcher for part of the summer. A University of North Dakota product, Petersen hit .340 through July 9 with a team-high six homers and 30 RBI. Placzek, Peterson and outfielder Clayton Garland (team-high .387 average) have been the steady forces for a team that seen constant roster changes. “Those guys have been great,” outfielder Mackenzie Handel said. “They are pretty much the sparkplug to us. They are, I would like to say the igniters, they get on base. They make it easier for us, the position guys like us to drive them in. It’s nice having them always on base.” Placzek and Petersen helped Hays maintain a Jayhawk League lead into
field and let his actions take over. He saw little time for Nebraska. However, he has experienced the same jump that several other Larks have made, including Austin Darby, last year’s Jayhawk League Player of the Year from the Cornhusker program. “Just coming out here everyday you might get a chance to play,” Placzek said. “Just play loose and good things will happen. Just swing the bat and make some plays. It’s a confidence booster.” Petersen has led the team in postgame huddles and keeps up a constant chatter. Petersen is very intelligent, speaks well and is comfortable being a leader. He doesn’t look at statistics, but, simply by observing, was well aware Placzek hadn’t been caught stealing until he slid past the bag. “I have told him a couple of times, ‘Hey dude, I can’t wait until the day that you come to the field and you are sick or don’t even just talk or something,’ ” Handel said with a smile. “He never stops talking.”
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Garland, who will be a senior at Fort Hays State University this fall, has been key for the Hays Larks this summer. Batting .388, Garland led the Larks in their 21-8 start, playing in 24 games. Garland drove in 23 runs, second best on the team, and had ﬁve doubles and a pair of home runs. His .465 onbase percentage in the top half of the Larks’ lineup was also third best on the team. Garland is native of Cheyenne, Wyo., and came to Hays via Barton Community College.
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