For Eagle high school sports beat writers Joanna Chadwick and Chris Elliott, the past couple months have been one long 3200-meter race.
They've been working on a special section coming in Friday's paper that commemorates 100 years of state track and field. From the 1911 meet in Emporia to next weekend's 100th in Cessna Stadium, they're taking a special look at the meet's history, top names, performances and memories.
Some of it's been easy, some not so much.
Chadwick, in her 14th year of covering high school sports at The Eagle, tried almost every avenue to reach Sandra Myers, the Little River star of the 1970s who moved to Spain and became an international track standout.
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Finally one day, Myers answered a phone call (at 7 a.m. Sunday Wichita time) and was able to relive memories of 30 years ago, when she won four events — Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13 for her career — and set three records that stand today.
For Elliott, a Texan spending his first spring on our staff, he's writing about the state meet sight unseen. He's been watching area athletes the past two weeks, but I wonder if he really knows what he's in for with this week's organized mayhem.
There are a few words of wisdom we'll impart on Chris this week before the meet:
1. Keep the meet schedule in your pocket.
2. Listen to the public-address announcer.
3. Don't get stuck in the stadium elevator.
No. 3 was much more relevant when I covered the meet in the late '80s, but it's never bad advice.
Our special section in Friday's paper will include Kansas' ultimate track team, where track experts from across the state offered their thoughts on an all-time team. We compiled their thoughts into a team that we'd take to any national meet.
We also asked every Kansas high school track coach or athletic director to name their school's best athlete. Some were easy — there was once this distance runner from Wichita East named Jim Ryun — and some gave schools fits. More than one coach or athletic director let us know that they couldn't make a decision and asked us to do it.
Runners, check your marks — Pages 10D and 11D of today's section has our staff's yearly track labor of love — 3,456 state qualifying entries, in order of their performances at Friday's regionals across Kansas.
We began typing in results at 8:40 p.m. Friday and finished at . Our fingers are numb.
But we think it's the best way to get ready for the state meet. Compare your entrants' times or marks to the other 15 in the class, and see how far it is from the season's best mark and the state meet record.