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Sports teams will complete their seasons

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, May 8, 2007, at 1:36 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008, at 5:15 p.m.

Alex Reinecke usually knows the condition of his golf clubs this time of year.

Not Monday. Not standing before the tornado-ravaged remains of his home on Greensburg's South Sycamore Street.

Excusing himself to investigate the equipment's fate, the high school senior soon returned to his cell phone.

"Yeah, they're pretty mangled," Reinecke said in a matter-of-fact tone.

It was a harsh reality that Reinecke, a fifth-place finisher in last year's Class 1A state golf tournament, and many of his fellow student-athletes at Greensburg High School experienced while going through rubble left by Friday night's storm.

Reinecke and his family salvaged some of their clothes, food and personal mementos after being allowed into the town on Monday. Reinecke's golf coach, Ron Roe, did the same at his home.

With their school building destroyed, classes have been canceled for the remainder of the semester. But displaced administrators, coaches and athletes are trying to hold together what remains of the spring sports season for high school golf, softball and track teams and a junior high track team.

"I think there's wisdom for kids in knowing that if you can try to provide as much continuity and sameness in their routines, it may help alleviate some of the shock," said Gary Musselman, executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association. "That isn't to suggest activities are the most important thing. But we all know they help stabilize kids' lives, and they might give the community a chance to get over some of the tragedy in their lives."

So the Rangers plan to compete.

A golf tournament is scheduled for Thursday in Kinsley. The junior high's league track meet will be held the same day in Jetmore. The high school league meet is Friday in Meade.

"And we'll be there," Greensburg track coach Joe Hoover said. "The kids are scattered hither and yon. But they figured this is the best way to put a little pride back in their community."

Hoover, who lives 35 miles north of Greensburg in Lewis, found two javelins, two discuses and a shot put on the school grounds Monday. Several basketball, volleyball and old track uniforms that were packed away weathered the storm.

Others are stepping forward to help the Rangers fill in the gaps.

Manhattan-based GTM Sportswear plans to donate blue and red track uniforms and golf shirts to the school today. Mike Temaat, GTM's regional sales manager for Kansas and a native of nearby Spearville, said the company will deliver between 90 and 100 cases of clothing to the community, including at least 300 sweatshirts, T-shirts and other items with "Greensburg" printed on them.

"I talked with (Greensburg principal) Randy Fulton, and we decided rather than just sending gobs of clothing, we're going to print Greensburg on a lot of that stuff."

Tim Hacker, who runs a golf academy based in Alpharetta, Ga., has led an effort to assist GHS golfers. Hacker graduated from Greensburg in 1983 and has followed media reports about the tornado and its aftermath.

Working with his friend and fellow teaching pro Stan Utley, he secured the donation of golf equipment to the school from Titleist chairman and chief executive Wally Uihlein.

Hacker, who is affiliated with Callaway Golf, was also working with that company on a possible donation.

Greensburg was scheduled to play host to a Class 1A regional track meet for 26 high schools on May 18. Members from Greensburg's league, the Southern Plains-Iroquois Activities Association, will now assist in running the meet, which has been relocated to Dodge City's Memorial Stadium.

Pawnee Heights superintendent Ray Patterson, who had relatives ride out Friday's storm in the basement of their Chevrolet dealership, has volunteered to serve as meet director.

"We have a special, neat, close-knit group in our league within the administrators and coaches," Patterson said."... We feel as though it happened to us."

If they qualify for the state tournament, Greensburg's golfers will play four tournaments the remainder of their season. League officials rescheduled Monday's SPAA-Iroquois tournament for May 17 at Dodge City's Mariah Hills.

The chance to play one of southwest Kansas' nicest courses -- or any course, period -- put a little excitement in Reinecke's voice.

"It has a lot to do with pride," Reinecke said. "After something like this happens, you can't let it stop what you do. You just push through it."

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