• NICE PROBLEM TO HAVE — Monday’s AVCTL Division III-IV Tennis Championships at Buhler have to give McPherson High coach Tyler Brown cause to pause.
Ever the chemist, Brown mixed a concoction that he had not tried this year and the result was the No. 2 Bullpups outlasting No. 1 Wichita Collegiate by 2 points for the title.
Now Collegiate coach Dave Hawley also did some experimenting. He didn’t use the lineup that figures to compete in the regional tournament later this week.
Brown and Hawley have been having a chess match all year. Their teams have been at numerous tournaments together and really only once did both coaches go with the lineups they are expected to send out on Thursday when it really counts. That came in the Wichita Collegiate Invitational Tournament of Champions, where the Spartans were first and the Bullpups took second.
Brown really can’t go too wrong. He has six talented players, as does Hawley. Putting the right peg in the right hole, though, is going to be the key.
What had to catch Brown’s attention is how his newly formed doubles team of Nolan Schrader and Jarrod Nowak stormed to the championship, thrashing Collegiate’s Lakelin Conrad and Austin Gartner 6-3, 6-1 in the finals. But Conrad is almost assured of playing singles at the regional, along with Easton Ewy, as they’re two of the top six singles players in Class 4A.
But Nowak and MHS’ Andrew Snell are right there with them. If Brown plays them at singles, then it’s Schrader and Kaden Stewart at one of the doubles, and Hadley Hageman and Patrick Munsey the other doubles entry, the lineup that Brown went with most of the season.
I bet a lot of coaches would like to have the problems Brown has.
• BUHLER BASEBALL MAKES A STATEMENT — With the graduation of superstars Jace Williams and Dillon Engelland, among others, off last year’s Class 4A Division I state championship baseball team, Buhler was expected to slip somewhat in 2016.
You might want to re-think that.
The Crusaders, ranked No. 3 in 4A D-I, went into No. 1 Andale on Monday and handed the Indians their first two losses of the year after opening the season with 14 straight wins. They were terrific pitchers duels as Buhler won the opener 5-4 and completed the sweep with a 2-0 shutout in the nightcap.
McPherson High, ranked No. 6, is 9-3 on the season and has a huge showdown with Buhler here May 11. MHS lost both of its games to Andale earlier in the season.
MHS and Buhler are in the same regional, just as last year when the Crusaders rallied for an 11-7 victory in the championship game after the Bullpups had led much of the way. Buhler went on to breeze through the state tournament.
• CHARLES TO BRONCOS? — Jamaal, say it ain’t so.
Reports out of Kansas City are circulating that Jamaal Charles, arguably the greatest Chief running back in history, could be joining the dreaded rival Denver Broncos.
The only thing worse for Chiefs fans would be if he signed with the Raiders.
The Chiefs didn’t bring back Charles after his second knee surgery, instead going with younger backs Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West. While they are younger, they don’t possess the home-run potential Charles provided, even after two torn ACLs. The Chiefs drafted Kareem Hunt and signed C.J. Spiller for depth.
My greatest fear is that Charles is going to come back 100 percent and better than ever, then haunt the Chiefs with an electrifying game, no matter who he plays for.
• HOLLAND FLOURISHING – Speaking of former Kansas City players, longtime star Royals reliever Greg Holland, who missed all of last year with Tommy John surgery, has been lights-out for the Colorado Rockies and on pace for a record number of saves.
Holland finished the first month of the season converting all 11 chances, which is on pace for 66.
The Royals apparently thought Holland was finished as their interest in him was lukewarm at best. But judging by the performance of the Royals’ bullpen so far, they’d give a king’s ransom to have him back.
Joakim Soria is still shaky at the set-up man to Kelvin Herrera. And The Kansas City Star is reporting the Washington Nationals are interested in Herrera as they’re just a closer away from perhaps being the best team in baseball.
Behind Holland, the Rockies have the best record in the NL West at 16-10 after being a non-factor in recent years.