Behind the lines: You can’t mail it in

    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.

    There is an annoying trend among the advocates of the “everyone gets a prize” crowd. Thankfully, I’ve only encountered a few of these people over the years but is an example.

    A mother called me asking for a detailed story on her daughter, who had just won the Wyoming Hula Hoop Contest. That’s a specific athletic skill, one that I’m horrible at. It requires balance, coordination, and stamina. Those are all three viable aspects of an athletic endeavor.


    As I interviewed the girl and her mom, it quickly became apparent that something wasn’t being said. Finally, the mother admitted that there had been no contest, her daughter registered, but no one else did.

    They didn’t bother to hold the contest. They just sent her the first-place trophy.

    There was no story here, I delicately, (ok, maybe not so delicately) told them this wasn’t a story-worthy event since there was no competition.

    The mother grew steadily angrier, claiming her daughter winning the state championship was equal to any other youngster winning a state championship. An unbeaten football team, a wrestling title, or being honored as the fastest 800-meter runner at the state track meet was equal to this I thought.


    It wasn’t. I refused to write the story and I’ve never gotten a Christmas card from either gal.

    Yes, in the “me first” mind of the modern world, winning a championship with no competition by mail was equivalent to having the fastest time among 300 or more kids running the 800.

    No, it’s not the same as winning the 138-pound division at the Ron Thon Wrestling Tournament.


    No matter what the parents think.

    It is tiring.

    This weekend marks the end of wrestling season for all three boys’ divisions and the all-class girl’s state championships. I’ve watched the local wrestlers all season and hope for the best for them this weekend. I’m predicting a few state champions, and a lot more bringing home hardware.


    Only 16 boys’ and girls’ basketball teams and another 16 the following week in 3-A and 4-A will get another weekend of play.

    The 32 boys’ and girls’ teams in Class 3-A and 4-A have another week of the regular season before their regional tournaments.

    For the rest, the 37 Class 1-A and 2-A boys’ teams and the 38 girls’ squads enter regional play. The 2-A West teams are at Wolverine Gym and the 1-A squads at the Bob Carey Memorial Fieldhouse in Lander.

    The 1-A and 2-A Regional Tournaments bring huge amounts of money into the economies of Riverton and Lander. It would be nice to see the local chamber of commerce acknowledge this boost to the economy, but so far, they’ve done nothing for a quarter-century since the regional format replaced the conference tournaments.

    The work, expense, and time go to the staff of Fremont County School Districts 1 and 25. The custodial staff is largely forgotten, but their efforts are appreciated by those of us who know the amount of work involved in keeping a gym in shape, with thousands of fans crowding into it each day.

    Lander has a bit of an advantage with all the 1-A games played on either the main floor of the fieldhouse or in the auxiliary gym.

    In Riverton, there is a little more distance involved with teams playing at Wolverine Gym, the Middle School, and, on occasion, Rustler Gym at Central Wyoming College. They’re all within easy walking distance but the late February weather isn’t always cooperative in moving from gym to gym on foot.

    This year, the Wyoming Indian and Wind River girls are favorites to advance to the state tournament. The Rocky Mountain girls are a competitive team as well. That means another team will also qualify.

    The magic of a tournament is that no team has a guaranteed path to Casper College and the Ford Wyoming Center. It’s not that easy. You can’t just mail it in. You have to compete.

    On the boys’ side, many are predicting that the Southwest 2-A will sweep the Northwest conference. Wyoming Indian head coach Craig Ferris has a great team that is unbeaten against the West and has only two close losses against 2-A teams in Tongue River and Wright played on the road.

    Big Piney, Kemmerer, and St. Stephen’s, all Southwest Conference opponents have given them close games.  

    The Northwest has been a battle this season, with no single team dominating. The Greybull Buffaloes under head coach Logan Burningham are unbeaten in conference play. Burningham always has a solid team by late February, and they may be the surprise of the 2-A West. It’s something that has to be played out on the hardwood.

    Wind River and Rocky Mountain have struggled this season with the Grizz and Cougars winning just one game on their home courts in conference play.

    Wind River gets the third-place seed thanks to a forfeit win over Shoshoni. The Wranglers played a junior varsity player seven quarters by mistake in their win at Pavillion and had it negated by forfeit.

    In Wyoming prep basketball, a player can appear in six varsity and junior varsity quarters in a single night outside tournament play. Shoshoni forfeited the game as a result.

    They beat the Cougars all three times they played in close contests, but the forfeit win gave Wind River the edge over Rocky Mountain so they’re third and the Grizzlies fourth.

    The biggest question is the St. Stephen’s Eagles. The Eagles won only one conference game over Kemmerer and earned the third spot from the Southwest via a favorable point differential with the Rangers.

    St. Stephen’s is talented, quick, has good size, and is well-balanced. Their only problem is consistency. The Eagles have the ability to win the tournament and could almost as easily be eliminated.

    The best games in any tournament are the semi-final matchups on Friday. The most intense are the Saturday morning qualifying contests where a team that was defeated the night before in the semi-finals, sometimes very late the night before, meets a squad determined to battle back through the consolation bracket to make it to the state tournament.

    All that drama unfolds just a few minutes from your home this weekend. Take a moment and watch the kids compete.

    You can’t just mail this one in, you have to compete for three days to reach the next level.


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