Morning Sun
  • Revelations and renovations

  • We started the Top 50 for sports in 2012 with a look at some individual award winners on Wednesday and today, it’s time for 10 more stories.

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  • We started the Top 50 for sports in 2012 with a look at some individual award winners on Wednesday and today, it’s time for 10 more stories.
    Dickey scores TD in All-Star Game
    Early in January, former Pittsburg State quarterback Zac Dickey received an invitation to play in the Casino del Sol College All-Star Game in Tucson, Ariz.
    Dickey impressed his peers and coaches out west and was one of a handful of Division II players selected for a game featuring players from LSU, Penn State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Arkansas, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Ohio State.
    “I was kind of anticipating a lot of egos and I was one of the only kids down there without an agent,” Dickey said. “But, really, there were a lot of good-natured guys, so I got to know a lot of good guys and that was fun. The transition from practicing with Pitt to practicing there was very subtle because we have a lot of good players at Pitt. There’s a lot of (Pitt State) guys who could have played in that game.”
    Dickey played on the Stripes team, coached by former Fresno State head coach Pat Hill. The Pitt State standout played quarterback, wide receiver and special teams, rushing for 22 yards and one touchdown on five carries and throwing for 36 yards on 2-2 passing. He scored a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Stripes a 17-14 lead with 6:53 remaining in the game, a play that undoubtedly looked familiar to Pitt State fans.
    “That zone read was a natural thing,” Dickey said. “I’ve been running it for three years now and the blocking scheme was a little different than the way we do ours (at Pitt State). But it was still the same action and you have to make the same read and then make something happen.”
    Dickey gave a little extra celebration in the end zone.
    “Jason Spradling, our running back (at Pitt State), he called me and told me I had to do the ‘discount double check’ if I scored or did something big,” Dickey said. “That was my way of saying hello to them on T.V. That’s what I did. I didn’t forget about ‘em when I scored. I was thinking about it, so I had to do it. It was fun.”
    The Stripes won the game 24-21 on a late touchdown pass.
    Smith twins play in Blue-Grey Game
    Former St. Mary’s Colgan running backs Christian and Zach Smith passed two rounds of combines between their junior and senior years in order to be selected for the inaugural Blue-Grey National All-Star Classic on Jan. 14 at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
    The first combine was the Blue-Grey Heartland Football Combine at Missouri Western and the second was the Blue-Grey National Super Football Combine in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
    Page 2 of 6 - Christian and Zach played on the South in the game. The South won 31-7 — Christian ran for 14 yards on four carries, six yards his longest gain, and Zach gained seven yards on a single carry.
    Cotton wins Shrine Bowl MVP
    Pittsburg State recruit and Hutchinson standout running back Ja’Mon Cotton showed a bit of his potential in the 2012 Shrine Bowl in Emporia. He rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries, averaging five yards a pop, and scored on a 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to help the West to a 14-7 win.
    Not bad for a late replacement in the game.
    “I wasn’t even supposed to be here a week ago and now I’m the MVP,” Cotton told Rick Peterson of the Topeka Capital-Journal. “It’s a great feeling.”
    Cotton was part of a large freshman recruiting class for the Gorillas. Pitt State announced the signing of 40 players on National Signing Day in February.
    “Overall, we had a short amount of time to work with after playing as long as we did,” Pitt State head coach Tim Beck said, “but I thought our coaches did a tremendous job of getting out into their areas and getting on top of locating the kids in their areas. That sticks out first and we were fortunate to get some commitments throughout the season, which helped us get a jumpstart on everything.
    “Athletically, we’ve got a great mixture of size, strength and speed. We’ve definitely got some guys we’ll need to develop but we’ve also got some guys with potential to come in and compete right now. It’s a little bigger number than we’re used to but again, the publicity of winning the national championship brought the interest level to an all-time high. We’ve had a lot of people contacting us about being potential Gorillas.”
    Earlier this year, Pittsburg won the rights to host the 2014 game.
    Tyler Jeck benefit game
    The Nevada Griffons and the Joplin Outlaws, rivals in the MINK Collegiate Baseball League, played a nine-inning benefit game in July at JayCee Ballpark, all proceeds from the gate benefiting the Tyler Jeck Memorial Foundation.
    Jeck died in July 2011 in a drowning accident on Beaver Lake near Rogers, Ark. He attended St. Mary’s Colgan High School and one year at Baker University. His older brother, Stuart Jeck, played for the Griffons and their friend, classmate and teammate Aaron Snow played for the Outlaws; Stuart Jeck and Snow also played at FSCC together for one season.
    The three friends played many games together at JayCee Ballpark.
    The Griffons won 8-7 in 10 innings and Stuart Jeck blasted a home run in the sixth inning. As he touched home plate, Jeck pointed to the skies.
    Page 3 of 6 - “That was for my brother,” he said. “I could feel him rounding the bases with me. I wanted to show him I knew he was there.”
    Snow talked about the genesis of the benefit.
    “It was kind of my dad’s (Brad Snow) idea,” Snow said. “It was his thought that Stuart was on the other team. Stuart and Tyler were my brothers. We thought this game would be good for the community, good for the foundation and give a little awareness to what we are trying to do.”
    The benefit raised $4,500 for the Tyler Jeck Memorial Foundation.
    Logue, Moore, 1991 PSU FB team inducted into MIAA HOF
    When the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association named its MIAA Hall of Fame Class of 2012 back in March, Pittsburg State was represented by Ronald Moore, Christie (Allen) Logue and the 1991 National Championship football team.
    Moore, a running back for Pitt State from 1989-1992, captured the 1992 Harlon Hill Award as the NCAA Division II National Player of the Year during his senior season. He finished his collegiate career as the school’s all-time rushing leader with 4,299 yards and 52 touchdowns; his career numbers (adjusted with playoff statistics beginning in 2002) were 5,776 yards and 74 TDs. Both numbers were later eclipsed by Germaine Race.
    Logue, a women’s track & field-cross country student-athlete at PSU from 1989-1993, finished her career as an eight-time NCAA-II All-American. She was named the NCAA Division II Woman Athlete of the Year in 1993.
    The other inductees were Jim Crane, Bill Fennelly, Rosie Jones and Tad Reid of Central Missouri, Emily (Bloss) Carpenter and Deandra (Doubrava) McBride of Emporia State, Walter Ryle and Ed Schneider of Truman State, Chris Greisen of Northwest Missouri, MIAA football and basketball official Bill Lowe, 1992 Missouri Southern softball, 1994 Central Missouri baseball, 1998 Northwest Missouri football and 1999 Northwest Missouri football.
    The enshrinement was June 7 at the Downtown Marriott in Kansas City, Mo., headquarters of the MIAA.
    Garman, McDonald, Cole inducted into PSU HOF
    Pittsburg State Athletics recognized three area legends — former Pittsburg High School football coach Larry Garman, former Arma High School football, basketball and track & field coach Harry McDonald and former Pitt State men’s basketball player Homer Cole — by selecting them for the Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.
    Garman was head coach at PHS from 1965-1998, where the Purple Dragons won 255 games, won Class 5A state titles in 1983, 1988 and 1990, made a state record 21 playoff appearances and recorded 31 winning seasons. Coach Garman received a Distinguished Alumni Award from PSU in 1972 and was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
    McDonald, who lettered in football at Pitt State four years (1937-1940), guided Arma to 271 victories in football and basketball. Arma won 40 consecutive football games from 1953-1958, the basketball team won 175 games and the 1952 track team won the Class B state championship. His coaching career at Arma lasted from 1947-1967.
    Page 4 of 6 - Cole played five years on the PSU basketball team (1946-1950) after serving in the United States Air Force during World War II. Cole received the Purple Heart, the WWII Victory Medal and the Air Combat Medal during his service and during his playing days for head coach John Lance, Cole played in 110 career games for the Gorillas. Those 110 games were a standard lasting 50 years. Cole, also the former mayor of Pittsburg, can still be heard loud and clear at John Lance Arena, usually voicing his disapproval of calls going against Pitt State.
    Other 2012 inductees are Wes Baker, B.J. McGivern, Ryan Keith and Maria (Guerrero) Murrison. The enshrinement was Sept. 8 on the day of the Pitt State football home opener against Central Oklahoma.
    New field turf at Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium
    Seemingly everything involving the defending national champions made waves in 2012, including a new playing surface at Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium, home of Pitt State football since 1924.
    Pitt State upgraded from FieldTurf to MondoTurf over the summer.
    “When it was put in, that type of turf was pretty new,” PSU athletics director Jim Johnson said. “We were replacing the old AstroTurf. It was a new concept, with longer grass. In ‘02, it would have been one of the early generations of that type of surface. Ours has lasted really well. There are a lot of schools that haven’t even gotten 10 years out of theirs. In fact, we probably could have gotten another year out of it.”
    Senior defensive end Gus Toca was one of the current PSU players who helped with the removal of the old turf over the summer.
    “It was hard work,” Toca said. “It was hot. It makes you appreciate it for sure. We put a lot of work into it and it looks great now.”
    Toca may have been the only All-American football player involved with such a project during his offseason.
    The new surface made its debut against Central Oklahoma.
    Renovations at John Lance Arena
    Back in April, Pitt State fans Alan and Roberta Whetzel donated $1.2 million to the renovation of John Lance Arena. It just seemed to add to all the excitement around Pitt State late in 2011 and early on in 2012.
    “We are garnering national attention,” PSU president Steve Scott said. “It’s been pretty clear from the last year. What a year we’ve had. I kind of have to pinch myself every once in a while and say ‘Did we really just have that year?’ And, we did. It’s a pretty amazing situation. But our students, our faculty, our coaches, community, all of us really share in the successes of this year.”
    Renovation of the Arena constitutes the first phase of a three-phase plan to construct a new Weede Athletic Complex and Indoor Event Facility.
    Page 5 of 6 - Pitt State coaches and players were on hand that day in April and superlatives were flowing left and right.
    The Whetzels met on a basketball trip in 1958 — Alan played for and later coached basketball at Pitt State with legendary coach John Lance and Roberta was a cheerleader, heavily active on campus and a zealous Pitt State athletics supporter.
    PSU VB plays first match in renovated arena
    The refurbished John Lance Arena was not ready for primetime when the Pitt State volleyball team opened its season Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 with its home invitational. PSU played its games instead at Pittsburg High School, including a Friday when classes were in regular session.
    It was unique, for example, to see high school students in attendance during the match against Illinois-Springfield.
    Pitt State opened at its regular home Sept. 11 against Central Oklahoma, not long after the football team debuted at home against the same conference opponent. The Gorillas were defeated in straight sets by the Bronchos, including a pair of 25-23 scores.
    “My heart is heavy for all of our fans that came to support us,” Pitt State head coach Ibraheem Suberu said, “heavy for our benefactor (Alan and Roberta Whetzel), heavy for our Athletic Director (Jim Johnson), heavy for everyone who has worked so hard.
    “We knew that we were going to have the turnout. Every home opener for our volleyball team has been that way all these years. This is the first time in many years that I can remember that we did not perform. I don’t remember any opening loss. This one stings heavy.”
    The formal dedication of the new floor will not take place until Jan. 5 of a new year, a Saturday when Pitt State hosts Northwest Missouri on the CBS Sports Network, an event called the “Gold Rush.”
    Four new schools begin MIAA play
    The tough got a whole lot tougher with the addition of Northeastern State (Okla.), Central Oklahoma, Nebraska-Kearney and Lindenwood to the MIAA. Southwest Baptist, formerly an independent, rejoined the fold in football after being active in the MIAA in other sports.
    The new members were a hot subject at the MIAA Media Day in August.
    “We’ve got some good football schools coming in,” Pitt State head football coach Tim Beck said. “That will be exciting for fans to see new teams coming in. It’s unfortunate we don’t get to play Emporia, Hays and Washburn but we can only play the teams in front of us and see what happens.”
    “It’s always exciting to play a new team,” Pitt State defensive end Gus Toca said. “Northeastern, I think they’re a great team and I can’t wait to play them. You never know what you’re going to get with a new team. We played Central a couple years ago at their place and they have a real nice stadium.”
    Page 6 of 6 - “It’s always fun to face some new challenges and some new teams,” Pitt State linebacker Nate Dreiling said. “It definitely raises the excitement level coming into the season and it just makes the conference even more difficult.”
    Pitt State finished 3-1 against Northeastern State, Central Oklahoma, Southwest Baptist and Lindenwood this past season. The Gorillas lost 44-33 to Lindenwood at home, a loss that no doubt caused Pitt State a postseason berth since Lindenwood received an invitation to the Mineral Water Bowl.

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