The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper USA, LLC

By Stephen McKay
Sports Writer 

Talking Sports: Violence leads to odd empty house


Earlier this week the Baltimore Orioles played in front of an empty stadium. Somehow word leaked out that the O’s beat the Chicago White Sox, 8-2.

Because of the unrest in the city after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and the violence that followed, the decision was made to play a major league baseball game in front of an empty house for the first time in history.

The powers that be have also decided to move this weekend’s Orioles home series with the Tampa Bay Rays to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. – home of the Rays. I can’t say I’ve been following this story very closely. But, I agree with a Facebook video post made by former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

“No way, no way. No way, this can’t happen in our city,” Lewis said. “Young kids you got to understand something. Get off the streets. Violence is not the answer. Violence has never been the answer. Freddie Gray ... We don’t do nothing for him doing this.”

Right on, Ray!

Whatever ligitimate grievences the urban communities – and Baltimore in particular – might have against the police, I don’t see how violence will help. The more likely outcome from violence is to drive from their cause those, who through reason, might feel compelled to support them. But those who seek truth through reason will have yet to make up their minds since no investigation has been completed.

• • •

On a more pleasant note, this is the time of year when local high school track and field athletes begin to reach their peak performances. The “Best of the West” meet in Scottsbluff on Tuesday is always a great meet for many likely state qualifiers to show how far they’ve come since the days of practicing indoors on a snowy day in March.

Perhaps the highlight of the meet for our local squads was the battle between the boys 4x800 realy teams from Potter-Dix and Sidney. Imagine having two legitimate contenders for state gold in their respective classes doing battle against each other. Both were clearly the class of the Best of the West field.

The Potter-Dix team is made up of Jake Johnson, Cameron Purcell, Sam Bogert and Cooper Hicks. Sidney has used combinations including Hayden Lienemann, Jachob Wiedeburg, Logan Uhlir, Brenner Keane and Brody McKnight.

Both squads have broken their respective school records in the past week. Lienemann, who regularly runs Sidney’s fastest splits, was on board when Sidney’s record fell. He didn’t run at Best of the West.

At the Twilight Invite at Scottsbluff last Friday, Sidney ran 8:08.65 to establish the new school mark. According to, that’s the fastest 4x800 time run this season in Class B by a substantial margin. At Best of the West, the Coyotes finished in 8:27.96. According to the same source, the next closest Class D foursome is about 16 seconds slower.

But it’s not just the long-distance relay teams that are in the hunt for a high placing at state.

Another Coyotes athlete, Kelsey Rozelle has established the best mark this season in Class D in the long jump. His mark of 6-2 in the high jump places him in a tie for third. Coby Hicks is tied for sixth in the pole vault and Cooper Hicks is fifth in the 300-meter hurdles. Cooper is top-10 ranked in the open 800 as well. Johnson’s best 800 puts him second while his mile time has him third.

Despite the school record, you can’t overlook the Coyotes’ 4x400 team either. Actually, it’s the same group that broke the school record in the 3,200 relay. They are ranked with the second-fastest time this season.

On the girls’ side, it’s no surprise to see Coyotes freshman Alexus Rozelle on the top-10 lists in both throwing events. She is top ranked in the discus and ninth in the shot put. In the high jump, Regyn Hicks is tied for the second best leap this season at 5-02. District rival Jessie Straber is close behind. Her leap of 5 feet is tied for fifth.

Of course, it’s also no surprise to see Leyton senior Kaitlyn Berner as a prominent figure in the triple jump. The three-time state qualfier is fourth in Class D.

In Class B, the Raiders 4x400 team, with Michael Banaszak, Lienemann, Hunter Secrest and Alex Linneman, are top ranked – a shade ahead of district foe Alliance. Sounds like that watching that duel should be a great way to end the district championships in a few weeks time.

As a solo act, Linneman is second ranked in the 200 meters and fourth in the long jump. Banaszak’s best in the 400 is seventh in the state and third in the district. Lienemann, meanwhile, is listed as the only Class B runner to have broken the two-minute barrier in the 800.

Wiedeburg is seventh on the 800 list and fifth in the mile. Lienemann sits seventh on the roseter of best 1,600-meter times in Nebraska. The battle for supremacy in the shot put should be interesting as well. Jake Heeren is second, but the top nine have all thrown beyond 50 feet.

In girls’ Class B, the Sidney 400-meter relay, with Sara Von Seggern, Kelly Von Seggern, Gabbie Addleman and Abby Heller, sit third. District rival Mitchell, listed first, could be what stands between Sidney and district gold. The 4x400 team, including Heller, Genessa Schilz, Preslie Allen and Natalie Radcliffe are sixth. Two district teams rank above them (Mitchell and Gothenburg).

When Allen goes solo, she is third at 400 and fifth in the 800. When not running the sprint relay, Addleman runs the 100-meter hurdles. She is currently fifth in Class B, but is the only one from District 6 in the Top 10.


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