Chinstraps and mouthpieces: Tempers need to cool at meets
Nothing says heated rivalry like track and field.
In reality, it's a sport that ordinarily doesn't have a lot of tempers flaring.
On occasion, the track venue can become tense, but that's usually because someone doesn't agree with a judge's ruling. As was the case at regionals last year in Louisburg, an athlete and his family didn't agree with a disqualification. They ranted because he was disqualified for wearing some form of jewelry around his ankle that he wasn't supposed to be wearing during the competition.
On April 9 at the Bobcat Relays, friction again found its way with rare form to Basehor-Linwood.
During the 4x400 relay, with batons being handed off between the third and fourth runners, there was a collision. The Bonner Springs No. 3 runner handed off to the No. 4 runner. The race's official starter tried to move the finishing Bonner Springs runner out of the way to the right instead of having him head left onto the infield and away from the runners.
Unfortunately, a brief traffic jam ensued. Levi Huseman, Tonganoxie's No. 4 runner, ran into Bonner Springs No. 3 runner.
Huseman, though, rebounded from the incident and barely beat out the Bonner Springs No. 4 runner at the finish line for first place.
Because the No. 3 runner got in Huseman's way, meet officials ruled that Bonner Springs was disqualified. This didn't sit well with Bonner Springs coaches.
Some Braves' fans near the track noted that they know who really won the race, that Bonner Springs truly should have had the gold medal.
Actually, had the Bonner Springs runner not gotten in Huseman's way, Tonganoxie's narrow victory would have been slightly larger.
Moments later, Tonganoxie High students got into a heated verbal discussion with BSHS athletes and fans.
Luckily, THS coaches directed their athletes to their buses.
Friday at the Eudora Invitational, it was Tonganoxie vs. Bonner Springs, Part II.
This time, words were exchanged before the 4x400 -- the last race of every meet.
A Tonganoxie athlete mentioned something to Bonner Springs' athletes and the jawing resumed.
On the infield of the track, Bonner athletes spoke some smack to a few Tonganoxie athletes. The THS boys, of course, had a rebuttal.
The most interesting thing about both incidents is that the people running their mouths weren't the guys competing against each other in the 4x400. Coaches again broke up the feud before it could escalate any larger and that was that.
This time, Tonganoxie didn't win the race, but the Chieftains finished ahead of the Braves by a much more decisive margin. And Friday's meet won't be the last time the two teams will compete this season at the same meet.
But it needs to be the last time THS coaches have to intervene and then discuss a plan for where to herd all their athletes so they don't get into a brawl with some Bonner Springs boys. And they shouldn't have to discuss moving school buses because they're next to Bonner Springs' yellow modes of transportation.
Tonganoxie had enough problems at the tail end of its football game last fall with Piper -- district administrators don't need to meet once again with fellow administrators from another school to discuss how to handle the situation.
Administrators decided that next fall's Tonganoxie-Piper football game will begin with players from both side shaking hands.
Let's hope that isn't necessary during the track season.
If heated words again are exchanged, it won't be a 4x400 runner who should be disqualified.