Where do I start?

To say the last few weeks have been a whirlwind would be an understatement.

As everyone knows, Craig Vonder Haar has left us after 17 1/2 years and gone to work for the Washington School District.

I want to thank Craig for his service to The Missourian and area schools since he joined our staff in September of 1996. I haven’t had the chance to publicly thank him for his work with us until now. I believe we had a very strong sports staff with Craig here. He’s going to be tough to replace.

We have been actively searching for our next sports writer. With over 145 applicants, the field has been diverse and making decisions has been very difficult.

We believe the position will be filled by the end of the month. We have made a job offer and more details will become available when the new writer officially joins the staff.

Without Craig, I’ve had a pretty fun adventure getting to see a lot more of the area teams than I thought was possible. So far, this has meant going out to games almost every day. It’s why I’m sitting at the office writing my column on a Sunday night.

I would have to say the most exciting game I’ve seen in recent days was the championship contest of the Windsor Tournament Thursday night.

Even though the Washington-Union game had an 8 p.m. start, and it was a late evening to get through everything, it was worth the wait and the trip.

Both teams are strong and a joy to watch. Washington dominated most of the first half and showed good control of the ball, but Union found ways to come back each time.

Down 3-1 in the second half, Union not only came back to tie it, but then tied it again late in regulation.

The winning goal was anticlimactic, but it showed what happens if you put your shot on net. Washington had tried a few of those opportunities during the game and got lucky on that one.

I know both teams are in the CYC Tournament at the end of the month, but it’s unknown if they’ll match up. They definitely will play again May 7 at Washington. That should be a pretty good one as well.

While it didn’t have the thrill factor of the Washington-Union girls soccer game, the Washington Pentathlon was a fun event to cover. I only was able to stay for about an hour due to interviews for our sports writer position, but in that hour, I saw the epitome of sportsmanship.

Athletes from different schools helped each other out in trying to figure out how to participate in events which were extremely foreign to some of them. While everyone was competing in the event, it was a very friendly competition. You don’t see that often. Anyone at the pentathlon would have noticed that. If you’ve got the time, put it on your calendar for next year and go watch. It’s a refreshing change to the normal win-at-all-costs mentality.

I’ve got to compliment Washington track Head Coach Mike Olszowka for nominating St. Clair’s Terrance Stahlman for athlete of the week last week. It’s the first time in the new program’s history that we’ve had a coach nominate an athlete from a team he or she doesn’t coach. Mike, thank you for your act of sportsmanship.

Now that I’ve seen both of the new turf baseball fields in action, I believe the area has two new splendid facilities. Borgia and Union will benefit from being able to use those fields when other area facilities have been declared unusable for the day.

Both turf fields still need some work before they can be made complete. Work continues at the Union field. The Borgia field has issues with the outfield grass right now. Once the growing season starts, it should work out though.

I would suspect lights would be in the long-term plans, too.

If you get a chance, run by and take a look at them. It’s too soon to say whether these fields are the future in the area, but it’s going to be an interesting case study to see how they work in regards to traditional grass and dirt fields around the area.

That should be enough for right now. I want to devote as much of the rest of the section to getting the game stories printed. With 22 teams active right now, that makes for a lot of copy.