This time of year is perhaps one of our busiest in the newspaper business.
As a sports editor, it’s perhaps one of my most stressful, but then again, it’s one of the most rewarding.
Over the past weekend, I had the chance to talk to numerous athletes from our area schools at this past week’s state track meet in Des Moines. All eight schools had some sort of representation, and they all performed very well.
While there were definitely some disappointments, there were far more highlights.
I mean, nine top-three finishes from five different schools. The Riverside girls had two championships – the 4x200 and 4x400 – while ACGC senior Austin Kunkle ended his outstanding career with golds in the boys’ 100- and 200-meter dashes.
And I’ve covered plenty of great athletes over the years, but one of the most favorite ones has been Ava Rush. The Atlantic senior came oh-so-close to winning a state championship in the girls’ 800-meter run, as Solon’s Gracie Federspiel had an outstanding finish and got the win.
But man, there was no disappointment for Ava. She had a big smile as always, and so did her bestie, Claire Pellett, the Trojan junior who has really come on this school year as an athlete and would finish eighth in that same race. The way they push each other and support one another us becoming legendary in southwest Iowa.
Ava had a great weekend, and brought home two fifths – part of the 4x800-meter relay and individually in the 1500-meter run – and a seventh-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay. Yes, the University of Iowa is getting a great one.
I’m really going to miss Ava, but I know big things are ahead for her at Iowa. And I know Claire is going to have an outstanding senior season, in both cross country and track. She’s celebrating with her family this week as her big brother, Connor, is getting commissioned in the Navy this week, so what a big week for the Pellett family.
We also had a second-place finish from Audubon’s Madison Steckler in the girl’ 100-meter hurdles and third in the 200-meter dash.
And CAM’s Sam Foreman brought home a third in the boys’ 110-meter hurdles. The Cougar senior rebounded well after a near-disastrous ending in the shuttle hurdle relay. They were leading and this close to winning a state championship – and in doing so, clipping Lisbon, the team that would win – until bad luck struck. He hit the final hurdle too hard, took a tumble, but got right back up and still got an outstanding fourth-place finish. Not too many athletes would have recovered that quickly, but it shows the determination and grit Foreman and his shuttle hurdle relay mates have, and they are winners in my book.
As far as overall medalists from the News-Telegraph area, those who placed in the top eight, I’ve lost track.
Again, thanks for the memories.
We hope to have a special section recapping the outstanding accomplishments of our area athletes, along with our fourth News-Telegraph all-area track team, coming in the next few weeks.
I hope something changes with the state qualification format used by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union for girls’ golf.
It’s a strict cutoff the IGHSAU uses for qualifying teams and individuals for state: Just the top two teams from the regional final (the meet that gets you to state) and the top six individuals, plus any player who ties for sixth place.
Such a situation happened at Atlantic’s regional meet, where two whole teams – Gilbert and Nevada – swept the individual honors.
Not so concerned about team qualification, but it was that both the team qualifiers had every one of the top-six individual spots filled.
This isn’t discounting any of outstanding play by Gilbert or Nevada. Their state spots were well deserved.
But had the qualification process been the same as the boys, Atlantic would have been represented at state by Belle Berg, who came in seventh. She had a great day on the links and deserved to have a spot at state.
To wit: the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s handbook states, insofar as district finishers who qualify for state: “(T)he top two overall individual players (plus ties) at each site from among the non-qualifying teams will advance from each District to the State Tournament. This will create opportunities for at least two individuals from among the non-qualifying teams to advance from each site in the postseason. This also creates a uniform qualifying process in the postseason.”
I think the IGHSAU should consider the same qualification process for girls golf – ergo, two individual qualifiers, from schools whose teams did not qualify for state, get to qualify for state.
I can recall thinking something similar years ago with cross country, back in the day when just 10 individuals and two teams automatically qualified and it was possible just the two qualifying teams – especially if they were regionally/nationally elite – could sweep the top 10 and some otherwise state-worthy athletes were left to stay home. (They now have 15 individuals make it, although it’s still possible the three qualifying teams could have all 15 individual qualifiers.)
I hope the IGHSAU considers changes to girls’ golf in the near future.
Thinking about graduation ceremonies and speeches, one of the outstanding keynote speeches came from CAM principal Barry Bower.
Addressing his seniors, Bower talked about how “It’s the Little Things That Make Life Achievable.”
The main points: Think before you speak. Do random acts of kindness. Be the bigger person. How much love are you going to give people.
I’d add to that, don’t sweat the small stuff. For instance, forgive that $75 or $100 debt. If constantly needling someone over a small debt is all that you have on your mind, then I wonder about that relationship, because in the end, that amount isn’t going to make a hill of beans difference or make-or-break someone ... but a lifelong friendship or sibling bond – things that matter much more than a few dollars – might be sacrificed in the end, and nobody wants that.
I remember a column I wrote several years ago, when I was in Marengo, also about how “little things matter.” Again, the example of producing the radio program “American Top 40” and the work legendary host Casey Kasem put into his product comes to mind. (By the way, You can hear reruns of 1980s AT40s on KGOR (99.9 FM) from 7-11 a.m. Sunday mornings.)
The most famous example was a 1985 episode of AT40, where he got upset over how one of the show’s “Long Distance Dedications” was being presented – the ballad “Shannon” (a 1976 song by Henry Gross) – being positioned after the Pointer Sister’s uptempo dance song “Dare Me.” He believed the songs were improperly positioned next to each other, and that the sudden shift in song moods, an uptempo song to a sad song, was in bad taste. He went on a famous profanity-laced tirade, which if you do a web search you’ll be able to find it; just google “Dead Dog Dedication.”
Kasem wanted the Long Distance Dedication to mean something to the person who wrote in and dedicated the song to his recently deceased dog. Instead, it was inattention to detail – positioning the song incorrectly, instead of maybe putting the LDD segment after another ballad or at least similarly tempoed song – that made him upset.
Indeed, it may have seemed trivial, but for someone who took pride in his work, Kasem considered that “little thing” a big deal.
I agree – little things matter.