Behind the lines: Three Days in May

    Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

    The All-Class track meet held each May at Harry Geldien Stadium at Kelly Walsh High School in Casper represents the best thing we can do for young adults of Wyoming. It is the premier sporting event of the year and a fitting end.

    The competition is fierce, and, at least for this year, the weather was fantastic. You pick up a few tidbits from around the state when almost every team arrives on the green oval at Kelly Walsh. Some of those tidbits are from the youngsters, and others from the adults either coaching or working at the event.


    There was a change in the cadence at the starting line this season. Instead of the familiar, “On your marks, set, and bang,” starters were required to keep the kids in the blocks for a full two seconds before firing the starting pistol.

    The results were that many younger athletes weren’t able to hold their position and fell forward before the gun sounded. If you start properly, it is uncomfortable. You put your weight on your hands, your rear end is high in the air, and you struggle to keep from falling forward out of the blocks. It is intentional. That falling forward motion gets you moving much quicker than sitting in the blocks or moving your feet further back and your rear end a little lower.

    The problem is that younger athletes, particularly girls, don’t have the upper body strength to hold the position. I watched kids all season as their arms trembled and saw a few of them fall out of the blocks and were disqualified for a false start.

    As I spotted two of the starters, my friends Gary Glenn and Tom Nirider I shared my negative opinion of the new rule.


    With straight faces both of them disagreed, “We love it, it’s great for us. It’s just set, count backward 5-4-3-2-1 and fire the pistol. It’s simple,” they said.

    I took the bait. I know Tom and Gary are all about kids and this rule wasn’t helping youngsters, but rather than agreeing with me, they both supported the new rule. Supported for about 10 seconds that is, before they both broke out laughing at me.

    I took the bait deep. They didn’t like the rule much either, but as professionals, they supported the decision of the national federation and enforced it.


    I said a few choice words to both of them for setting me up and we all had a good laugh.

    Another good laugh came just after the finish of the Class 3-A girls’ 400-meter finals. The favorite in the event was senior Eva Nitschke of Rawlins. Nitschke is a talented hurdler who is a great 400-meter sprinter as well.

    She didn’t count on freshman Cherise Douzenis of Worland. Freshmen girls are often much more competitive than freshmen boys and Douzenis was a great example.


    Douzenis posted an impressive time of 57.50 in winning the event with Nitshcke just a stride behind in 58.02.

    As the girls spoke with the timers and spotters, they walked off the track for the next event to start.

    Nitschke  put her hand on Douzenis’ shoulder and said, “You broke one of my big rules.”

    As Douzenis looked at her with a confused expression, Nitschke  continued, “Pretty girls can’t be fast.”

    It was a compliment on many levels for the senior to deliver to the youngster in her first state meet.

    Some soccer fans, mostly the loosely termed “adults” ridicule track as just “running for fun.” The reverse is also true with the term “Commie Kickball” bounced around by track fans.

    That doesn’t mean the coaches and kids from schools with soccer teams in the state finals weren’t paying attention. These kids were obviously friends with the soccer team, and I heard many comments and questions about the soccer tournament.

    A big topic of discussion among the coaches involved the behavior of the parents of one of the soccer teams.

    These collective snowplow adults took it upon themselves to “correct” the mistakes the coach was making despite having won most of their games. But that wasn’t good enough. These meddlers took it upon themselves to hold secret, invitation-only practices after the official school practices were over.

    This is Wyoming, even our biggest cities are just small towns. Their entire community learned about the insult to the coach and the favoritism to these players. Suffice it to say, the team plummeted after the “experts” took over.

    Parents and school boards were popular topics among coaches from all corners of the state.

    As a writer, it was enjoyable to hear how far County10 reaches across the vastness of the Cowboy State. I had dozens of coaches and officials encouraging me to keep up the good work, especially in the Wednesday, sports-related columns.

    One coach went a little further.

    As I sat down with my friend David Peck, publisher of the Lovell Chronicle, Basin Republican Rustler, and Greybull Standard, we joined a group of coaches from Big Horn County for lunch.

    One coach told me he enjoyed reading my stories over the last year.

    “You write good stuff,” he said. “But lately your focus on parents and school board interference has been awesome.”

    With perfect timing, he went on to say in a raised voice, “You’re doing the lord’s work.”

    It brought a roar of laughter from the other coaches at the table, but it was a laugh laced with cynicism and sprinkled with the malice that coaches now take from parents and those in charge who always support the parents, no matter how insane their actions might be.

    It’s the end of another year. Hopefully, many of the same faces will be there next May, with the addition of a few new arrivals. But it is getting harder for teachers and coaches to succeed in the fetid environment that is now education.

    After the weeks of subzero weather that welcomed the season, those three days in May were a highlight.


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