Already twice postponed, the opening of the area baseball season will try again this afternoon in Peetz. The Bulldogs will host the Prairie Mustangs in a doubleheader – unless cancelled again.
On Friday, the golf season opens. Sidney will travel to North Platte to take on a host of schools at 9 a.m. MDT.
The day after tomorrow, the real track and field season begins. You know – the one outdoors. The Sidney Invite, with guests Creek Valley, Leyton and others, is scheduled for Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The weather man is calling for a sunny day and 79 degrees. As George said in “Seinfeld,” “That’s almost 80.” Sounds like Tevas, shorts and a short sleeve shirt with plenty of sun block.
But all that information is in today’s special publication. Tucked between the pages of today’s edition of the Sun-Telegraph is the 2015 Spring Sports Preview. We try to cover as much ground as possible among the five schools in our coverage area: Creek Valley, Leyton, Peetz, Potter-Dix and Sidney. No predictions are made, just a general view of the comings and goings of personnel mostly. An early chance to familiarize yourself with what you will see on the fields of battle.
I have no idea how the Bulldogs will fare on the diamond this year. There have been enough changes that we can say this is a different team than last year. But I’m pretty sure Bradey Holtz on the mound will start the opener and that alone gives the ‘Dogs a solid chance for victory. How deep the Peetz rotation goes beyond Holtz? Time will tell. Cody Wilson and Garrett Roelle and a few others will see mound time. Don’t know who starts game two though.
Same goes for the Sidney golf team – they could be very good or mediocre. Two of their top players (Brady Radcliffe and Ryan Birner) and a promising newcomer (Jake Burke), had an extended basketball season and have had relatively little practice time. Golf is usually not a game kind to those with a lack of practice.
The Raiders lost only one of their top five, but it was their No. 1 player. Sidney will host districts this year, so at least they’ll be taking their shot at a state berth on their home ground.
While on the golf subject, Creek Valley also lost its top player. That makes the Storm a big question mark too. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Lane Godfrey carried that team last year with scores generally in the 70s. The Storm made it to state as a team, albeit shorthanded. Godfrey qualified as an individual for state his final two years and medaled in 2014. Considering he struggled to break 125 as a freshman, anything is possible so long as the desire is there.
Who knows about the area track team’s either. It’s hard to gauge the Class D teams when they go into these multi-class meets. The Sidney Invite is one such Class B-C-D type gathering. Track is very much a numbers game and the Class D schools simply can’t compete with the numbers Sidney can throw on the track. Just like Sidney is challenged to compete against Class B schools that sometimes have enrollments several times larger.
Nevertheless, the Sidney boys were runner-ups at state last season. And just like the way Scottsbluff and Sidney showed the eastern schools a little something about the quality of panhandle basketball, so too did District B-6 do itself proud at Burke Stadium last year. Three of the top four teams (Sidney, Alliance and Scottsbluff) at state last year came from B-6. Cozad, the winner, was the exception.
As for Sidney in 2015, the reflex reaction is that the boys’ team will have a tough time repeating the success of last year, while the girls should certainly improve. The boys lost consistent point gainers Logan Lewis, Lucas Rosenbaum, Nick Conger and Brendan Holly. The one-two punch Sidney had in the high jump (Conger and Holly) and the shot put (Lewis and Jake Heeren) has been diluted significantly. But adding stock to the stew is what freshmen are for.
The Sidney girls, on the other hand, didn’t lose anyone to graduation – though a couple of productive runners chose not to lace up the spikes this year. But there was a lot of speed flashed by some freshmen girls indoors at Chadron last Saturday. Kelly Von Seggern, Charlie Brockhaus and Kara Birner come to mind. The Lady Raiders could be very much improved with that mix of experience and youth.
Depending on their numbers, the Class D schools have to pick their spots at meets like Sidney or Bayard B-C-D. They’re not going to win as a team but they will gain valuable experience competing against the panhandle’s best – and many of the Class D athletes happen to be among the panhandle’s best.
But at the big multi-class events, the Class D coaches use their personnel in the places where they do the most good or where they have the most talent. Nevertheless, the season always comes down to districts, where the playing field is as level as it can get.
And in track and field, districts are really the biggest meets of the year – even bigger than state. For most of the athletes, districts will be their last competition of the year. It’s also a last chance to improve on their personal best.
For the seniors, it’s a last chance to compete on a high school track. For many others, the district meet is the chance to earn that ticket to Burke Stadium in Omaha.
And, districts will be here before you know it.