Smith: Memorial musings
Ah, yes, a year makes a lot of difference! On Memorial Day weekend, 2010, I was warehoused at Providence Medical Center waiting to go to St. Luke’s South to start therapy. I guess you could call it the start of an adventure, one that still occupies much of my time. Last year, I was forced to cancel a trip to Dallas to see our granddaughter graduate from high school, which was a disappointment.
Now, one year later, I was on another, more enjoyable adventure. On Saturday I was on my way to Wichita to see my grandson, Stan Skwarlo, compete for Free State High School in the state track meet.
We left Bonner Springs at shortly after 6 a.m. and picked up our daughter Angie and her husband “Big” Stan. I left the driving to Stan and was in the unusual role of passenger for this day trip. I always enjoy going through the Flint Hills at this time of year with its lush, green rolling hills. It is really a very pretty drive. We made such good time that we were able to visit Mulvane, where we owned our first newspaper. Mulvane is a small community near Wichita and, in some ways, is similar to Bonner Springs, although we have had more growth.
Back to the main reason for the trip: the Kansas State Track Meet, which is a huge event. I was told that it was one of the largest in the United States. It brings together athletes from all six Kansas high school classifications. This means there are competitors from schools with 100 students through schools with 2,000 or more students. Of course, they compete in their own size ranges, from 1A through 6A. The admission is reasonable at $8, and we were lucky that it didn’t rain, although there were periods of light mist.
When we arrived I was a bit shocked at the huge crowd at the event. Even the handicapped parking was full and a lot of luck was needed to find a parking place.
The event was held at Cessna Stadium, which was the home for the Wichita State Shocker football team until the sport was dropped in the 1980s. When I lived in Mulvane, I attended a lot of football games there and, for its time, Cessna was a great facility.
The stadium was a panorama of color, with fans wearing shirts of every color imaginable. The infield was filled with runners warming up and, again, there were many bright colors. Many of the field events were held outside the stadium, so it was a busy venue. I have always thought that track meets move slowly. Well, this wasn’t the case on Saturday when everything was on a tight time schedule and one event started almost immediately after the previous one was completed. There was non-stop action.
I cheered when I heard the names of two Bonner Springs girls — Brittany Bailey and Bridgette Brady — announced for placing in field events. I was standing and cheering when Dakkota Edmonds, of Basehor-Linwood, won the 200 meters.
However, for me the big events were the 6A-4x800 meter relays and the open 6A 800 meters. It was a thrill to see Stan run the first leg and being ahead when he passed the baton. His team placed second in the event less than a second behind first place. In the open event he was fifth in a close race. Watching the track meet, I thought that track participants probably don’t get enough credit for their hard work and effort. These young people work extremely hard to improve themselves and deserve more fan support.
Since Stan is just a freshman, I will probably be making more trips to Wichita to see the state competition. Then, too, his younger brother, Sam, is also an outstanding runner, so I may spend a lot of Saturdays before Memorial Day in Cessna Stadium.