River Festival

Eagle Medallion Hunt disk found along the Ark River. Winners explain how they found it

2019 Wichita Eagle Medallion winners tell how they cracked the code

Justin Selby and Bryan Edwards explain how they used the five published clues to find the 2019 Wichita Eagle Medallion.
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Justin Selby and Bryan Edwards explain how they used the five published clues to find the 2019 Wichita Eagle Medallion.

On Monday morning came the big break for puzzle lovers Justin Selby and Bryan Edwards.

The two buddies, who had been participating in the Wichita Eagle Medallion Hunt since Thursday, finally had enough information to go out and search on foot.

With Edwards’ two kids, Carter and Henry, in tow, the medallion-hunting duo found 2019’s disk around 11 a.m. on Monday

It was wrapped in a brown QuikTrip napkin and tucked inside a crack in a knee-high limestone retaining wall just north of the Lincoln Street Dam, on the east bank of the Arkansas River.

The two, who in 2015 opened Wichita Room Escape in Clifton Square together with Selby’s wife, Kerry, love to solve puzzles — and have written their fair share of clues to puzzles over the years.

For this year, they organized all of their hunt-related information on Google Sheets.

“We manage our hunt with a spreadsheet, as any good nerd does,” Selby said with a laugh.

Selby works as an operations specialist with Commerce Bank, and Edwards is an electrical engineer at Textron Aviation. Both of them took time off from work specifically to do the hunt, they said.

Selby had hunted for the Medallion with his parents for about 25 years, he said.

“I can remember when I was in elementary school, my mom would check me out of school (to look for the Medallion),” he said. “I vividly remember going to Sedgwick County Park the year it was hidden there under a tree.”

This was the first year Edwards went looking for the Medallion, “and I absolutely loved it,” he said.

Selby said it was rewarding to find the Medallion this year, after so many years of looking unsuccessfully.

“You do this for so long, it was really like a demon has been exorcised,” he said with a laugh. “You always have these close calls, and I haven’t given any thought to actually finding it.”

There’s a $1,000 prize for winning the Medallion Hunt, though the two haven’t decided what to do with the money yet.

Here were the clues for the 2019 Wichita Eagle Medallion Hunt, along with explanations from Selby and Edwards about how they solved each one.

There were eight clues total, but all Selby and Edwards needed were five.

Clue 1

We’re only on Kansas.com this year.

But as usual this will be unclear.

Each day’s clues will tell you where to move.

Follow along, get into the groove.

Selby: “We’re only on Kansas.com, that’s just a statement of fact. But ‘unclear’ in the past has referred to the river. In 2011, it talked about things being hazy and that was a reference to the river.”

Edwards: “The last two lines are really leaning toward a dance or something — moving and grooving and following along. It took me a little bit to get off of that.”

Selby: “Get into the groove — we thought it might be somewhere in a crack or a crevice, maybe along a path somewhere showing you where to move.”

Clue 2

In a park or not — the annual riddle.

The answer this year is not near the middle.

You clever hunters don’t want to be fools.

So make sure you have read all of the rules.

Edwards: “That was a tough one. That one actually referred us back to the rules — I thought, well, maybe they really want us to read the rules again. Sure enough, I read the rules and not near the middle, there’s a sentence buried in the rules that says, ‘Good job solving the clue: The medallion is not hidden in a park in the 2019 hunt.’ That was fun. That was a good one.”

Selby: “Even with my history of the hunt, that’s something I don’t ever recall having been done before. That’s leaning into the technology. I really thought that was a very cool clue.”

Clue 3

A royal John, known for this category.

Or a Pearl that’s Gray, that type of story.

Needing direction? Please understand:

Wichitans love a singing ranch hand.

Edwards: “Every line was all about ‘Western.’”

Selby: “Royal John being ‘The Duke,’ John Wayne. Pearl that’s Gray being the author Pearl Zane Grey, who’s associated with Western stories. The last line, ‘singing ranch hand,’ came last to us, but Johnny Western was the KFDI ranch hand. Then the third line telling us ‘needing direction,’ it was ‘OK, western, we get it.’ We kind of assumed that meant the western part of the city.”

Edwards: “I was stretching it. We even had on our list the Sedgwick County Fairgrounds in Cheney and Mount Hope.”

Clue 4

There was a sea change in our fair state;

The direct result was lots of weight.

A table or lap are the normal places.

But the one that you seek has not touched faces.

Edwards: “’Sea change,’ we went straight to the prehistory there, looking for something when this was all underwater. So we have a sedimentary rock of some sort, whether it’s salt, limestone or gypsum.”

Selby: “The second half was solved pretty quickly. ‘Table or lap,’ that’s a napkin. That’s all we wrote on that one. We had some real trouble reconciling those two pieces.”

Edwards: “It’s in a napkin under a rock, but why put it in a napkin? You don’t need to put it in a napkin to put it under a rock. We only knew that it was in a napkin and not in a park, and that it probably had something to do with limestone or gypsum or salt, but probably limestone.”

Clue 5

A Rocky start; farther on the conclusion.

Say it out loud: Wichita has a fusion.

Where should you look to stay at the front?

You want the east side in this year’s hunt.

Selby: “A ‘rocky start,’ that was a good description of today, a very rocky start. The capitalization there was what threw us — we thought Rocky Balboa.”

Edwards: “After I got done reading the whole plotline of ‘Rocky,’ I thought no, this probably doesn’t have anything to do with it.”

Selby: “We didn’t have any ideas where to go. We thought Rock Road, but that’s too on-the-nose. We also said it’s west, and this clue said east, so we thought, whatever this clue is talking about, it’s hidden on the east side of that thing, and that thing is on the west side of Wichita.”

Selby: “’Wichita has a fusion,’ we said to say it out loud.”

Edwards: “The first place we went with that was affusion, which had a slightly different meaning from effusion. They’re similar, both having to do with letting out water, the flowing of liquid.”

Selby: “The Rocky Mountains were on the list — Rocky Balboa, Rocky Marciano, a lot of other Rockies.”

Edwards: “Once we realized effusion and liquid, we realized we’re talking about the river, which starts in the Rocky Mountains and just continues a long ways. It was nice when that set in.”

Selby: “So it’s on the east side of the river somewhere west of Broadway, because Broadway’s the divider. That really narrowed it down to a strip of land we could go walk. We parked at Herman Hill Park but didn’t do any searching there, because it’s not in a park. We started making our way as far as we could on the east side of the river, looking for some sort of sedimentary rock or crack in the ground.”

Edwards: “When we were walking up to (the Lincoln Street Dam), we thought that’s the perfect place to put it with those limestone rocks. There’s a marker there, some sort of placard.”

Selby: “It’s something you can clue to. We didn’t know the future clues, but there’s so many things there that I can see how this would make a good location to build the clues around. So we gave it a real good examination. Just north of Lincoln on the east side of the river, there’s a retaining wall, kind of a half-circle or parabola shape right there by the fish ladder, probably three or four big blocks of limestone high.”

Edwards: “It’s not a very high wall, about three feet or so. It had lots of cracks, lots of grooves and lots of limestone. And there it was. It was actually in a brown napkin, a QuikTrip napkin, and it actually blended in very nicely. We wouldn’t have found it passing by. It was very tucked-in, but we were looking specifically for a napkin tucked into those cracks. We were searching very thoroughly. It was about knee-high to us.”

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.
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