FINAL POINT—Terry Gaston: Tourney parent: 'You don't realize what you have out here'
     2013-08-01      By The Gering Citizen   
Finally, after years of trying by the Gering Baseballl Association — and having a state championship team in the Gering Platte Valley Companies Senior Legion last season in its third consecutive Class B State Tournament appearance — the Nebraska American Legion Baseball board awarded its western-based, perennial participants’ home association with a state tourney in this extended part of the state.

For once, teams like the host team of Gering PVC and Area 7 champion Sidney didn’t have to make trips of 300 miles or more to play in the state tournament.

This year, the eastern teams got to make that long trip.
And once they got here, many of the teams’ players and their parents have found western Nebraska a pleasant surprise and definitely to their liking.

Glenn Hain of Seward had a 50-50 night Monday at Oregon Trail Park during his son’s game.
First, he was intently watching his son Jake’s team in an intense defensive battle, a game scoreless until the Bluejays broke through against Hickman-Norris with a run in the top of the fifth.

Then, during the game’s 50-50 drawing, conducted during each contest as a fundraiser to help with the Gering Baseball Association’s expenses for hosting the state tournament, Hain’s number was drawn for the $50 pot.

He immediately passed his fortunate winnings onto his wife, and then he went back to his seat. It was soon realized why Glenn sits by himself. He doesn’t stay in his seat long if a dramatic play is unfolding.

Between exciting plays and innings when he returned to his Seward Bluejays chair back, Glenn offered his thoughts on his team’s experience in western Nebraska. After all, the teams may be at Oregon Trail Park to prepare and play their one game each day for three hours at the most.

And that leaves a lot of time for the players and parents — and any other fans who made the trek westward to Gering for the Class B State Tournament, which Gering fought for years to get the state to leave the population and travel comfort for the eastern programs.
“This stuff around here is neat!” Hain excitedly said. “You don’t realize what you have out here when you see it all the time. We’ve got nothing but corn.”

Nothing wrong with corn, of course; it’s a staple in Nebraska’s agriculturally based economy. And, of course, the contributing factor in the name of the statewide support of University of Nebraska athletics: Cornhusker Nation.

But corn is not exactly high on your list of touristy things to visit.
The teams came in Friday, before starting tournament play Saturday, and were treated to a barbecue catered by Caddies at Five Rocks Ampitheater. After all, what a better site to introduce eastern Nebraksans to the area with than Scotts Bluff National Monument?

“When we were up at Five Rocks for the dinner Friday night, just seeing all the teams was great, and a lot of them had never seen how it is out here,” said Danny O’Boyle, the Gering PVC assistant coach and who was a three-time state qualifier as a player and part of the Senior 36ers’ state championship team last year in Wahoo.

“They were all fascinated with the monument; they were calling it mountains.”

OK, mountains may be a stretch. The Wildcat Hills are nice, though, especially for anyone traveling up Highway 71 through miles of open range country.

I shared with Glenn Hain that, because we live 12 miles from the center of the Twin Cities business district, I get to see the monument every time I drive toward Scottsbluff or Gering, and how — depending on the sunlight and cloud cover, or if we have had some rain to green things up on the eastern side of Saddle Rock — it can be a different looking monument from day to day.

And, indeed, that never gets old, and it keeps my spirit alive about living and working in Scotts Bluff County.
Patty Hair, mother of Hickman-Norris player Trey Hair, said they all had taken in Scotts Bluff National Monument. Some of her fellow moms had taken to some shopping in the area and offered compliments for Twin Cities, and many of their husbands had also taken to Monument Shadows Golf Course.

“It was pretty cool up there, but I was kind of nervous with all the loose rocks,” Hair said of the monument, shortly before seeing Hickman-Norris score the winning run of Monday’s 2-1 comeback win over Seward.

“I guess we have to find some other things to do tomorrow since we don’t play until 7,” Hair added after calming her game-winning excitement.

We live not too far from another area landmark, the Chimney Rock National Historical Site, and several parents said they either passed the natural spire on their way into the Twin Cities or have stopped to visit.

Jim Kucera, whose son Zach played for Waverly in the tournament, said he has been through the Panhandle before but had never stopped for an extended period before now.
He said he wanted to see Chimney Rock, which has suffered substantial erosion since it was discovered by trail riders in the mid 19th century, before it loses its spiraling aura.

“There seems to be a lot of isolation, but there’s a lot to do,” Kucera said. “Some of the players went up Scotts Bluff National Monument, some went to Lake Minatare because some of them are good fishermen. Some of our guys played golf at Monument Shadows and there are some beautiful views.

As for accommodations, “Scotty’s seems like a happening place, very reasonable and some of the best food we’ve had,” Kucera added.
Jeff Jorgensen, whose son Adam also plays for Waverly, was one of many who complimented the Oregon Trail Park baseball field, which received a facelift that included the building of an awning that extends from the press box to the backstop fence and the addition of sponsorship banners.

“We think it’s a great facility. It has a professional feel to it,” Jorgensen said. “You can tell the whole community is involved.”
With some other activities going on in the county over the weekend, some teams ran into some roadblocks in finding lodging for enough time to last the tournament if their teams remained in play until Wednesday’s championship game.

The team from Mt. Michael in Elkhorn, which is back at state after the 2011 team won the Class B title in 2011 in Central City, was the last area champion to qualify and finally found enough accommodations in Torrington.

However, Kent and Tricia Speer, whose son Randy was pitching Monday against Aurora in an elimination game, said having to stay across the state line in Wyoming was not a necessarily bad thing for the Knights.

“The players just hang out together. It’s been time for team bonding, both in Torrington and here,” Tricia Speer said, nervously keeping a scorebook while Randy completed his five innings of work for the win against Aurora.

“We’re a big baseball family. We all travel together and do different things together. This is a neat group of people.”
Kent‘s parents, Bob and Lois Speer, both were raised in Hay Springs, and they lived in Newcastle, Wyo., where Kent grew up. The Panhandle natives now live in the hamlet of Linwood, which is east of Schuyler and just south of the Platte River.

Bob said the trip to watch his grandson play brought climate relief — and not just because of the unseasonably cooler temperatures that made the state tournament more comfortable for its first three days. “I like this climate a whole lot better,” Bob Speers said. “It’s hot and humid where we live.”

Lois Speer added, “This is beautiful country.”
Speaking of people coming together, Kent Speer said he and some others also took a golf trek to Monument Shadows, and he happened to be playing behind a group that included Kaitlyn Krzyzanowski, the recent Gering graduate who was a three-time, top-four state finishes after placing 15th as a freshman.

The chance meeting excited Speer, who is the girls’ golf coach at Millard West.”She’s a heck of a golfer,” he said of Krzyzanowski, who will take her golfing talents to the University of South Dakota in late August.

The Speers’ youngest daughter, 10-year-old Katie, is a spirited vocal supporter for her brother and the Mt. Michael team. However, she also found another means of entertainment at Monday’s game, thanks to the Knights’ hitting the first three home runs of the state tournament.

She raced from the freshly painted bleachers to beyond the outfield fence to snag two of the souvenirs for their son’s parents. “I found one under a tree,” she said of the second home run ball, the third of the game, a two-run shot hit by Mark Loeffelholz that gave the Knights insurance for their victory.

The Gering Post 36 American Legion also planned activities for the players, including a pancake feed Sunday morning and a bowling night Sunday. The Legion also sponsored reasonably priced grilled hamburger feeds that followed every tournament game.

“The bowling for the boys was great,” Seward’s Hain said. “Everything’s been very good.”
“Tell everybody thanks for everything,” Kucera added.
You did just fine in doing that yourself, Jim, and thanks to everybody for coming.

Share this story on Facebook
LOGIN or REGISTER for exclusive access to premium content

Good Afternoon friend!
Recently Read Sports
638FINAL POINT—Terry Gaston: Tourney parent: 'You don't realize what you have out here'
611Seacats improve against tough foes
1252All Points West: What’s your sports fantasy?
1392Bulldog boys grab 2 wins, while girls suffer losses
898Bearcats' Worden wins double Class B, All-Class state titles
657Twin City volleyball hosts finish back in the pack: Losses leave Gering in 8th while Scottsbluff wins consolation pool; Mitchell wins Morrill tourney
1252Scottsbluff MMA fighter gets bout Friday in Cheyenne: RFA card that includes Acevedo’s 2nd pro match to be televised on AXS Network
632Gering takes third at B7 Tournament: Winners in B and C advance to state tourney in Cozad
848Versatility leads Bearcat boys to Western Conference title Young Bulldogs put aside first two losses to claim seventh place with win over Mitchell
1254Bearcat girls take 2nd at state Gering’s Rebekah Rawlings takes fourth overall; Bearcat boys finish 6th
874Lady Bulldogs make quick work of Alliance
914Bearcats hang on to turn back Vikings
1254Three events, one week – local golfers get in their strokes
835Cougars volleyball runners up at National jr. college tourney
1254Scottsbluff wins first playoff round
939G-Town basketball racks up wins
1255Funds raised at the Jason Vesper Memorial Golf Tournament
1525Holscher dominates home invite
1255Red-White Game: Punter Foltz to play big; Huskers sort through QBs
742Gering turns back Scottsbluff in Twin City battle
Most Read Sports 2012
4057Mitchell track off to a strong start
3944Morrill baseball back in business
3351Rivals make good friends, better training partners
3346Gering wrestling builds on experience
3236Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
3173Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2985All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
2963Gering resident lives his dream
2848All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
2784Raising the bar high
2781Basketball girls hungry for more wins
2758Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2746Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2700Cougars clench 18th straight Region IX title
2644Sterkel Colorado bound, inks with Rangers
2636Beam to golf at Midland
2539Doing the heavy lifting
2464Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
2289Scottsbluff hopes to repeat as state champs
2257Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
Most Read Sports 2011
4057Mitchell track off to a strong start
3944Morrill baseball back in business
3351Rivals make good friends, better training partners
3346Gering wrestling builds on experience
3236Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
3173Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2985All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
2963Gering resident lives his dream
2848All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
2784Raising the bar high
2781Basketball girls hungry for more wins
2758Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2746Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2700Cougars clench 18th straight Region IX title
2644Sterkel Colorado bound, inks with Rangers
2636Beam to golf at Midland
2539Doing the heavy lifting
2464Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
2289Scottsbluff hopes to repeat as state champs
2257Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
Platte Valley Companies
Fresh Foods
Hale Multimedia LLC
Spectrum Photo
Kendell Henderson
= = = Platte Valley Companies' = = =
Sports Page

Check out the
Gering Bulldogs on