By Andy Amey
TERRE HAUTE — I’m almost ready to congratulate Sam Karr right now.
As soon as I heard earlier this week that Fort Wayne was going to be the site for the 2009-2010 girls basketball state championship games, I figured it would be inevitable that the Tribune-Star would have a team to cover up there.
I haven’t made that round trip in more than 25 years, since trying to juggle a couple of part-time jobs and still be an assistant coach of a Connie Mack baseball team playing for a state championship (the year Bryan Higgins’ glove work at second base was so spectacular he was named tournament MVP even though our team didn’t win). I don’t remember the many drives that week with any fondness, though, and that was before the Lawrence-Fishers-Noblesville bottleneck made I-69 such a pain in the neck.
So as soon as I saw the announcement by the Indiana High School Athletic Association, I was pretty much resigned to getting up that way again. The only question was with whom.
Then I thought of Turkey Run.
Even though Meghan Doss will have taken her spunk and her 3-point shot to Vincennes University, the Warriors still have loads of talent. They’ll be a pretty good bet to go far in the tournament anyway. But the fact that all their postseason tournament sites are so far from Terre Haute only enhances their chances, in the Murphy’s Law theory of sports coverage. And the fact that their game at Fort Wayne would be the Saturday morning opener (I figure I can set my alarm for 4 a.m., after working until past midnight on Friday, and get there in plenty of time) would appear to be the clincher.
I’ve already been to Sharpsville twice with the Warriors. So what’s wrong with another weekend in South Bend or Plymouth or Warsaw or someplace like that, followed by the Fort Wayne excursion? My northeast Indiana geography needs a little work, and they really are a great bunch of girls to cover.
And who knows? By that time, maybe the economy will have turned around so that the Tribune-Star can buy that company plane.
• • •
• Good news from IHSAA — In the same press release announcing the one-year (I hope) girls state finals at Fort Wayne came a new format for softball tournaments.
Next spring there will be a midweek one-game regional and a four-team semistate. No longer will there be four Friday night doubleheaders in the Indianapolis area to set up the Saturday state championship games.
No longer, therefore, will we have to go to Hamilton Southeastern to see Riverton Parke or North Central or North Vermillion or Clay City or Rockville or Union or Shakamak or any of our other teams compete in the Class A semifinals.
Now if they move all four championship games to Hamilton Southeastern, there is no good news at all.
• Of course, that could mean … that I wouldn’t run into a former Terre Haute South cheerleader at the Friday semifinals, which I did this year when Janet (Cristee) Clark was one of the hostesses at North Central for the Class 2A games. Her youngest daughter was a senior softball player for the Panthers.
• More Turkey Run news — Warrior golfer Nathan Smith was an honorable-mention selection to the Academic All-State team. He’ll be playing golf in the HCAC for Franklin next year.
Haven’t heard if any other Wabash Valley players are on the list, and can’t access the coaches’ Web site.
• More famous kids of former Sycamores — Courtney Kupets, a former U.S. Olympic gymnast who is currently at Georgia, was named winner of the Honda-Broderick Cup on Monday, presented to the NCAA’s top female athlete. Her father Mark was a defensive end/outside linebacker for Tom Harp’s ISU teams back in the 1970s.
And former basketball player Steve Ruckman has two sons and a daughter who are getting noticed. His 11-year-old son was mentioned recently in Sports Illustrated for Kids.
• Vote for Steph — The Indiana Fever is choosing its all-decade team, with voting continuing through the end of July.
Fans can vote as often as they’d like to at Conseco Fieldhouse or by visiting FeverBasketball.com. Voters are eligible for sweepstakes prizes, including a 50-inch HDTV.
• Gatorade Awards — Ellie McCardwell of Pendleton Heights and Corey Shank of Fort Wayne Northrop, both state pole vault champions, are the Gatorade Athletes of the Year for girls and boys track.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.