Tales of state track, Annika Sorenstam, Ken Harvey, Alabama football, etc.

Monday, May 19, 2003
John Mesh

Welcome to a totally unrelated mess of stuff that's floating around my head.

If you are looking for a theme, forget it. So here it goes:

- This is the end -- We're getting down to it. District track is this week and weekend in the state of Nebraska. Next week (May 22-24) is the Nebraska State Track and Field Championships at Omaha Burke High School.

Southwest Nebraska will be well-represented at state and several area teams and individuals could bring home the gold.

The Kansas State Track and Field Championships take place May 30-31 at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium.

Anyone headed to WSU for the Kansas State meet almost won't recognize the place because of all the construction.

The renovation of the basketball arena has to be close to being finished there.

Look for Atwood High School's Jeff Horinek to bring home medals in the Kansas Class 2A boys shot put, discus and 100-meter dash -- an unusual combination for an athlete, but from what I hear Horinek can more than pull this off.

- Annika Sorenstam -- There is a big stink being raised this week because Annika Sorenstam, a big-time winner on the LPGA Tour, received an exemption to play in the Colonial tournament.

As most knowlegable sports fans are aware, the prize money for a PGA men's event is about 10 times what the LPGA pays out.

However, that hasn't stopped top PGA players such as Vijah Singh from shooting off their mouths.

Singh said if Sorenstam is in his group, he will walk off the course.

Most PGA players say that Sorenstam's playing in a men's tournament is a joke and a publicity stunt.

Sorenstam would have to hit off the men's tees. She averages about 255 yards on her drives, compared the average men's player driving the ball 285 yards.

Tiger Woods routinely crushes the ball at 290-310 yards.

I had not put much thought into this Sorenstam thing, but Singh touched a nerve, and although the odds are against her I would like to see her make the cut.

Las Vegas odds say she will miss the cut and will shoot between 159-162. That's a bit high for her. She holds the LPGA record for lowest round with a 59.

Woods, hardly a boat-rocker during his PGA career, came to Sorenstam's defense and said she could win the Colonial "if the stars line up."

Woods did not have much to say during the Masters controversy last month.

He's not exactly going out on a limb here. Woods and Sorenstam share the same agent.

Sorenstam may be knocking on the door, but 13-year-old Michelle Wie might be a better bet in the near future. She already is gassing the ball at 275 yards a clip. When she's 18-19, she'll be hitting with the big boys. She might just be blowing it by 'em.

- Ken Harvey -- One of the main reasons the Kansas City Royals are leading American League Central right now is the emergence of Nebraska alumnus Ken Harvey.

Harvey hit .478 his senior year with the Cornhuskers, .had 20 homers and 76 RBI with Triple-A Omaha last year and led the Arizona Fall League with a .479 average over the winter. He is now getting a chance with the Royals and has four home runs, 21 RBI and is hitting .254.

Harvey has had several game-winning hits for the Royals, who just split a four-game series with last year's AL Central champion Minnesota Twins.

- Alabama football -- Two weeks ago, I wrote a little bit about beleaguered Iowa State University basketball coach Larry Eustachy, who resigned last week.

I did not write much about former University of Alabama football coach Mike Price.

Price was caught in a scandal and was forced to resign before even coaching one game for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama made a safe choice by hiring Mike Shula, son of Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, as its next head coach. Shula played quarterback for the Tide back in the mid-80s.

The Tide missed a golden opportunity by passing on Bama alum Sylvester Croom.

Let's get this out of the way -- Shula is white and Croom is black.

Some feel Croom, an assistant for 20 years at Alabama, Georgia and the Green Bay Packers, was more qualified than Shula.

Alabama is still trying to find the next Paul "Bear" Bryant, so it doesn't really matter who gets the job. But the Tide have had eight coaches in the past 20 years and each one has had more than their share of problems -- particularly when it comes to dealing with rich white alums who are waiting for the Bear to make a comeback.

In Alabama, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

With apologies to Lynyrd Skynyrd, maybe ol' Neil Young got it right in terms of the Alabama football program. However, the appropriate sentiment is found in his song "Alabama," and not in "Southern Man."

Oh, Alabama, the devil fools with the best-laid plan.

Swing low Alabama ...

-- Neil Young "Alabama" from Harvest.

John J. Mesh is the sports editor of the McCook (Neb.) Daily Gazette. He finds it hard to believe that George Brett, Kansas City Royals' Hall of Famer, turned 50 Wednesday. Boy, that makes you feel old. Happy belated birthday George. John can be e-mailed at sports@mccookgazette.com.

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