Did it snow in Hastings today? That probably would have been a plus for the McCook Bison girls softball team.
Not rain nor snow or sleet slowed down McCook during the Class B-6 District Tournament at Chadron last weekend. The Bison dropped a one-run decision to Lexington in opening-round action last Thursday dropping the locals into the loser's bracket. All McCook had to to then in order to secure a berth in the Class B State Tournament in Hastings this week, was to win five straight games, battling cold temperatures, rain and snow that blanketed Chadron and much of western Nebraska last weekend.
I wish I could have been there to watch the Bison girls battle. Coach Jason Cochran's squad avenged the first-round loss to Lexington during the march to the district title. Then McCook beat Scottsbluff twice to claim the district title and regain its rightful spot in the state tourney field. The Bison return to the state meet after missing out last year. Before that, McCook qualified for state nine consecutive years.
I also wish I could have been in Chadron to watch the Bison faithful cheer on the team. The Chadron State softball coach wrote a letter talking about the support of the McCook fans that was publisher earlier this week in these Sports pages. Sounds like some of the parents of McCook players grabbed shovels and helped scoop snow off the CSC field and grabbed rakes and helped get the field ready so their daughters could continue to compete in districts.
I have only been in McCook with my new job here a few weeks, but I am amazed at the community support for the local teams. I was invited over to the Carfield residence Sunday to retrieve photos of the Bison girls at districts. There in the garage out back was, I believe, almost all the parents of the Bison players, working diligently painting the special signs you can see displayed on the center island on Norris Avenue just north of downtown.
As you read this sometime Thursday afternoon or evening, the Bison girls were beaten by Blair in the first round of the Class B State Tournament. McCook and Blair played Thursday, after the state meet was pushed back a day due to inclement weather in the Hastings area Wednesday. Heck, I'm betting Coach Cochran's crew would have happily played Wednesday, no matter what the weather conditions were.
Regardless of the McCook results at state, the Bison have enjoyed a great season. McCook has just two seniors on the roster, and Cochran should have a tough team returning in 2010. The Bison went 8-2 in the final two weeks of the regular season, including wins over Class A North Platte and Kearney in the first two rounds of the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference tournament, plus the five-game win streak at districts.
Cochran puts his team against the state's best competition during the regular season. The Bison faced 10 Class A teams, including two of the state's top-ranked squads in Papillion-LaVista and Lincoln Southwest during tournament action at Lincoln last month.
While McCook won just three of those games, the stiff competition will do nothing but make the Bison a better team.
I'm looking forward to watching these young ladies play next season. I think the Bison have a goal for 2010 to compete for the Class B state title. If they continue to play as tough as they did in the terrible conditions at Chadron last week, that goal will be realistically within reach.
Keeping busy ... It's been a busy week for yours truly, as the fall sports seasons are winding down, and the local teams are competing in district and state events. Good luck to the McCook cross-country teams at the B-4 District meet this afternoon in Ogallala. And good luck to the Bison boys competing today and Friday at the Class B State Tennis Championships in Omaha.
Also, congratulations to Shelby Allen, Alex Trew and Kaylee Samway for their efforts at the Class B Girls State Golf Championships earlier this week in Grand Island.
With volleyball and football action this weekend, it's another busy weekend. See you tonight at the Senior High gym, and tomorrow night at Weiland Field. Go Bison!