• GOOD SPRING FOR MAC COLLEGE — Tennis and track and field have turned a good spring into a great spring at McPherson College.
Buoyed by those sports, McPherson College has captured three KCAC championship events and taken second in another.
The women’s tennis team was virtually unchallenged in winning its KCAC championship and is poised for nationals. The men’s team was second, only because Bethany has one of the premier programs in the country. At the KCAC Championships, the Bulldogs at least closed the gap after they had been blanked in their head-to-head meeting.
Mac coach Jeff Benito has recruited to his strengths and that’s his familiarity with California. There’s a strong West Coast connection for the women’s team (the top four players in the order hail from there) and he’s also added men’s players from California. Benito has done a great job of building both programs to a national level.
There was a time when the Mac track and field programs were basically glorified intramurals. It was a way for football players to keep in shape since the KCAC didn’t have spring football until recent years. And it also kept the cross country teams in shape.
But Mac has committed the resources to building a powerhouse track and field program, putting together a quality coaching staff led by head coach Cameron Magnall. The numbers have improved dramatically, not to mention the quality of the athletes. The hard work was culminated this past weekend with the Bulldog men winning their first-ever KCAC title and the women their first since 1977.
Now the programs must prove they have sustaining power and not be a one-year wonder. As long as Benito and Magnall continue leading their respective programs, success should continue.
• GREAT LADY PASSES — I always considered Pauline Frazier “the first lady of McPherson High School basketball.”
It was with deep sadness that the McPherson community learned of Pauline’s passing on Saturday. She was the widow of legendary basketball coach Jay Frazier, who died in 2007.
In my years in the newspaper business, I had few supporters more staunch than Pauline. Even after Jay had retired as MHS coach in 1983, she followed the Bullpups closely and often would call to let me know how much she enjoyed the coverage I gave the MHS teams.
In the day, Pauline would always be in the stands after games waiting for Jay to finish his duties. She was a woman who lived quietly and never enjoyed a lot of attention.
When the Bullpups declined in terms of wins and losses (by Jay’s standards) toward the end of his tenure, I know how much the criticism bothered her since McPherson fans made no bones about it despite everything he had done for the community. We talked about it on numerous occasions, and she pointed out Jay was the same coach and person late in his career as he was when he was leading the Bullpups to three straight championships and yearly had MHS in the state title hunt. Jay was one of the great influences in my life and I always considered him a close friend.
Pauline would often stop in to see me at The Sentinel just to say hello. She was simply a wonderful person and I will miss her. My prayers go out to her children Mike, Jan and Jeff as well as her extended family.
• ROYALS BLOW ANOTHER — I didn’t stay up until the wee hours this morning to see the end to the Royals’ game, but from all reports it was obvious this was the biggest punch-in-the-gut loss of the year.
The Royals led San Diego 3-0, saw the game tied at 3, then KC went ahead 4-3 on Eric Hosmer’s first (finally) homer of the year.
Greg Holland, normally automatic, gave up a game-tying homer in the ninth. KC, though, had another chance to win when it went up 5-4, but it took beleaguered left-hander Tim Collins little time to give the game away as he was smoked for two runs in a matter of a heartbeat.
The Royals have now lost five in a row to begin May and it’s looking like a do-over of previous years. The players keep talking about how “it’s early,” and maybe it’s that lack of urgency that has this team playing malaise-like baseball. The Royals are screaming their way toward the AL Central basement and I believe if they’re there by June 1, manager Ned Yost will be given a one-way ticket to Nowheresville.