Archive for Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Chinstraps and Mouthpieces

Cross country runners known by another name

October 10, 2001

The American Heritage Dictionary has once again helped in the explanation of a sports term.

Cross country runners also are referred to as harriers, as a headline indicated a few weeks ago. I hadn't heard of this before, but Tonganoxie cross country coach Phil Williams said it's been used in the past to describe cross country runners, much like cagers for basketball, or netters for tennis. Williams, though, didn't know the cross country term's origin.

The dictionary did.

Along with being one who harries, a breed of small hounds that hunt rabbits or a slender hawk, a harrier is a cross country runner. The term comes from the Middle English hairer.

This term was influenced by hair, or more accurately hare, the opposite of my species the tortoise. Now the term makes sense. Cross country runners are named after swift rabbits.

The Tonganoxie harriers continue to move swiftly through the season. The boys have won all but one invitational this year and look for another Kaw Valley League championship.

The last time the Chieftains didn't win the KVL was during the Clinton Administration. OK, so this usual measuring stick doesn't indicate much, but this year's seniors were sixth-graders the last time THS didn't clinch the league title. The Chieftains have won five straight KVL crowns and should get No. 6 on Thursday at St. Mary's College in Leavenworth.

The girls are posting a strong season as well, finishing in the top three in most races, including top places at the Gardner Invitational and Tonganoxie Quadrangular.

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The football season continues to be no sure thing for any team in the Kaw Valley League. Tonganoxie has been tied or had sole possession every week this year, but are tied with Lansing at 3-1 in the conference. The Chieftains are 4-2 overall, while the Lions stand at 3-3. LHS also lost its season opener to De Soto, which is 1-5.

Then there's Mill Valley, which has played all of its games in the KVL and is 4-2. The Jaguars started 1-2, but have won three straight, including wins against league favorites Santa Fe Trail and Basehor-Linwood. Mill Valley, though, has also lost to Perry-Lecompton and Lansing.

The top six teams in the league have lost to another top-six team except for Lansing with its loss to eighth-place De Soto.

The league race is more difficult with the start of district play Friday. Tonganoxie, Lansing, Piper and Basehor-Linwood are in the same district, but the other five teams have completed their conference schedules. Those four schools will finish with seven KVL games, while Mill Valley and Immaculata have six because they're districts are outside the league.

De Soto, Perry-Lecompton and Santa Fe Trail fall in the same category and concluded their league schedules with five games.

Tonganoxie or Lansing would win the league with three district wins. Either team would finish 6-1. If Basehor-Linwood won the district, it would win the league with a 5-1 record.

With the parity in the league, that could get confusing. The race will be much clearer in three weeks.

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The regular season is finished in Major League Baseball and so are the Chicago Cubs. The North Siders led the division for most of the season, but Houston and St. Louis made a charge in the last weeks. The Astros won the division, while the Cardinals notched the wild-card spot.

I must have thought it was election time because I made the Cubs the projected winner two months ago. Oh well, I'm disappointed, but for Cubs fans there's always next year. Shirts last year in Chicago read "Cubs 2000: It's our millennium." It's nice to know there are still optimists running around.

As sad as not seeing Sammy Sosa in the playoffs is, college football has suddenly become rewarding. Kansas came back from an 11-point fourth quarter deficit Saturday and beat Texas Tech 34-31 in double overtime in Lubbock, Texas. Terry Allen had won just two road games before Saturday, but this one brings some life to the Jayhawks, who are 1-1 in the Big 12 Conference and 2-2 overall.

Kansas State, meanwhile, is 0-2 in the Big 12 and 2-2 overall after an upset loss to Colorado in Manhattan. Kansas is ahead of K-State in the standings for the first time since 1995. It will probably be for just a week Oklahoma comes to Lawrence on Saturday. Still, one should enjoy the moment while one can.

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