The two main themes in today’s paper are Washington senior distance runner Mikayla Reed and the Union girls soccer Lady ’Cats.
Both made history over the weekend.
Reed pulled off an unprecedented four state titles for the Lady Jays in a show of force as she prepares to join the Mizzou Tigers in the fall. Reed started with two state titles Friday and added two more Saturday. She won the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter run titles and was on the winning 3,200-meter relay team.
That shatters the old mark set by Erica Bell (Turilli) in the 1992 Class 3A state meet when she won the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter run titles and ran a leg on the eighth-place 1,600-meter relay.
With Reed leading the way, Washington’s team placed second in the Class 3 team standings, another major accomplishment.
Reed capped her Washington career with six total track state championships, a cross country state title and a number of other state medals. Not bad for someone who was a pole vaulter in middle school track. Reed has a tremendous work ethic which has carried her to this success and I’m certain she’ll find future accolades as well.
A story on her signing with Mizzou will appear in a later edition.
Union’s girls soccer theme this year might have to be “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson.
Union is preparing for its third lengthy road trip in a row and leaves Thursday for the MSHSAA Class 3 State Tournament in Kansas City.
The team has captured the hearts of Union High School sports supporters, who have made the trips to see their team play. And, the team has brought excitement which hasn’t been seen in Union in quite some time. The last Union team to qualify for a state tournament was Union’s volleyball squad in 1986. Oddly, Union placed second in that year’s tournament, losing in the championship to Incarnate Word Academy. Union’s semifinal game this year is against Incarnate Word Academy.
Just in the sectional and quarterfinal rounds, the Union soccer Lady ’Cats have traveled over 700 miles.
Union had to go to Springfield Tuesday to face Glendale. The Lady ’Cats went to Bolivar Saturday for the quarterfinals.
Part of the issue was just how the playoffs shook out. When Washington made its run to the Class 3 State Tournament last year, it was able to play the same two opponents without leaving Scanlan Stadium.
Was the travel worth it this year for Union?
The distance didn’t make it impossible for Union’s fans to go to the games. Despite an early start time Tuesday, Union still had more fans in the stands than Glendale.
The southwest trips did give Union an easier road to the state tournament. Had Union gone in a different direction, it likely would have run into either Rockwood Summit, Webster Groves, St. Dominic, Incarnate Word or other big St. Louis schools which would have made the route much tougher. I believe this year’s Union squad could have been competitive with any of them, but the road might have ended before the state event.
For example, Union had been in a district with Rockwood Summit for two seasons and wasn’t able to exit the district.
So far, it’s been worth the bus time for the Lady ’Cats who have comfortably won in the southwest part of the state. Bigger challenges await in Kansas City. It’s going to take everything this team has to compete in a very competitive state tournament.
If it’s storming in Jefferson City, it must be state track time.
For some reason, it seems the heavy weather waits until MSHSAA has its state track meets scheduled. It seems like the weather always modifies the well-thought, meticulous schedule. To make up, meet officials have to speed up anything which might take place after the delay.
You can’t do anything about the weather. It’s going to rain and storm no matter what’s happening at the Jefferson City High School track. There are things which can be done however.
MSHSAA got into trouble when its membership decided to go from four to five track classes. It was very inconvenient for the organizers. To keep things in two weekends, three classes would have to run together.
Unfortunately, MSHSAA has decided to keep the three largest classes together. The reasoning when the split was made was that it interfered with mid-sized and larger conference meets.
While that makes sense, it meant that the three biggest classes would have to jam into the stadium on the same weekend. It makes for extremely long preliminary qualifying days and extremely crowded conditions.
I thought MSHSAA would have learned its lesson when the storms blew in on the second day last year. There were logistical problems in evacuating the stadium and not everyone made it out. One of our reporters was stuck in a restroom inside the stadium as it became a makeshift shelter.
Had the weather been a little rougher than just blowing tent city away (except for a few, including Union’s tent), there could have been a major catastrophe.
MSHSAA selected the same site to host the state meets for the new cycle. Next year, it needs to be Classes 1, 2 and 3 together rather than Classes 3, 4 and 5. Without that change and with the May weather, it’s only a matter of time until something happens.
Now that the school year has come to a close, we’re back in the American Legion baseball season.
This area has been a massive supporter of American Legion baseball. Washington, Union and New Haven each have three teams. Sullivan, Rosebud and Rhineland have two teams apiece and there are single teams in St. Clair and with two Pacific posts.
The Ninth District has 37 teams at the Senior, Junior and Freshman levels this summer. There have been more teams in the Ninth District historically than in some entire states.
One thing which hasn’t been stated enough is that there is a lot of work done by very dedicated individuals to make these teams possible.
It starts with the folks who handle the paperwork and there’s a lot of in American Legion baseball. The Legion program is pretty strict on making sure the right forms are filed and players are registered.
The bulk of the work comes with the managers and coaches. They’re the ones who pick the rosters, schedule the games, hold the practices, coordinate travel to road games and work on the fields. In some cases, they’re also fighting to make sure their fields are properly maintained while fighting for any help from the local parks departments.
If something goes wrong, it’s the managers and coaches who hear about it. It’s a thankless job and the individuals who choose to take on the responsibilities deserve every thanks and praise we can give them. Unlike some club programs, nobody gets into coaching Legion ball to get rich.
Many of the managers and coaches don’t even have sons playing in the organization as they’ve graduated. They’ve stayed involved with the program for the kids and for the programs. Thank them the next time you see them.
There are others who make sure the programs run effectively, make sure the concession stands are stocked and take care of details most fans take for granted.
And then there are the support staff folks. Most are parents. They do everything from keep the book (usually on a tablet now), run the scoreboard, announce and work shifts in the concession stands. It wouldn’t be the same experience without their extra effort.
My late father loved amateur baseball, especially American Legion ball. When he was in a wheelchair late in his life, I could have told him I was going to a Legion or a high school baseball game and he would have beaten me out to the car. He was ready to go at all times.
Now, if you would have offered the same thing for a Cardinals game, he would have declined and watched it on TV. For some reason, it just didn’t have the same appeal.
If you get a chance, get out to support your local Legion team this summer. Do me a favor and thank the folks who are making sure the young men have a chance to play locally. They don’t hear “thank you” often enough.
I believe you’ll like what you see.