The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 15, 2001 · Page 15
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 15

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 15, 2001
Page 15
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SUNDAY APRIL 15, 2001 THE SAUNA JOURNAL Sports ROYALS LOSE / C2 AREA TRACK HONOR ROLL / C3 NFLTEAM 2001 SCHEDULES / C4 TTHE BOTTOM LINE • COLLEGE BASEBALL Bethany shuts out Wesleyan Flax tackles yet another challenge Francis Flax shovild have been a mountain climber. Sir Edmund Hillary, the first to conquer Mt. Everest, has nothing on Flax, the boundlessly energetic and eternally optimistic head coach and general manager of the Kansas Cagerz. Flax seemingly lives for challenges, the more the better. He scaled his first summit in Salina 11 years ago when he was named athletics director at Brown Mackie and charged with starting an athletic program. Nine years later, as men's basketball coach, he was back on top after leading the Lions to the NJCAA Division II national championship. He initially coached volleyball and is softball coach at Brown Mackie in addition to his duties as AD. A year ago, he became a volunteer assistant coach with the Cagerz. It became the slope to the next mountain. Seeing the Cagerz were about to become extinct last month. Flax donned his climbing boots and tackled the task of keeping the United States Basketball League franchise on the lofty perch it ascended to during its first two seasons in Salina. Sleeping and eating have become secondary, replaced by a myriad of tasks — talking with agents, contacting potential players, faxing contracts, soliciting corporate sponsorships, assembling and directing a volunteer staff, conducting the USBL draft, contacting draftees, talking with more agents, arranging plane flights for players, securing practice facilities, finding room and board for players, talking with agents again, monitoring and promoting season- and single- game ticket sales and speaking engagements. After that, there's basketball and Softball recruiting at Brown Mackie, setting up schedules, checking on academic progress of athletes and conducting Softball practices and coaching games. Any leftover moments are spent with his family, which OK'd his latest venture before he embarked on it. Those who think Flax has extended himself too far, stretched his lifeline rope too thin, should think again. He is as busy as the proverbial one- armed paper hanger, but is by no means overwhelmed. The secret to his success is two-fold— organization and motivation. Without them, this latest venture would plummet back to earth. Flax is a stickler for detail without micromanaging. He is goal oriented and has a knack for accomplishing what he sets out to do, the size and number of obstacles notwithstanding. A stint in the military, coupled with extensive experience as a school and athletic administrator, have served him well as he attempts to reconstruct a Cagerz organization that effectively ceased to exist last July following the resignations of the entire front office. He will rely on 30 years of coaching, 19 in the junior college ranks, when he embarks on his first professional season in two weeks. Still, Flax faces an uphill climb. Businesses have been reluctant to come on board, citing the disaster that was the Salina Rattlers. Early season ticket sales are encouraging, but without sufficient corporate backing his efforts will go splat. Given a chance Flax wiU resurrect the Cagerz and provide the stability and credibility the dishevelled franchise so desperately needs. These aren't the Rattlers or Cagerz of old. His exhausting efforts are worthy of support considering the team's immense popularity the past two years. But time is of the essence. Some summits won't wait. Coyotes dealt their first conference loss at hands of Swedes By LARRY MORITZ The Salina Journal The second game of Saturday's schedioled doubleheader between Kansas Con- 10 ference ri- -7 V a 1 s Bethany and Kansas Wesleyan was Bethany Wesleyan rained out, but the first contest could be considered a complete washout for the Coyotes as well. Wesleyan saw its unbeaten run through KCAC play come to an end, as Bethany's Daniel Regan tossed a three-hitter and Jason Nelson had two extra-base hits and four RBI in the Swedes' 10-0 victory at James Matson Field. The first game included two rain delays totaling nearly one hour, so when the rain began falling again between games, the second contest was postponed. A makeup date should be announced later this week. It was an important win for Bethany, after it was swept by Wesleyan in a doubleheader last month. The Swedes, now 15-15 overall, have won eight of 10 conference games since an 0-5 start. "Kansas Wesleyan had rim the table so far so they deserve all the respect and credit they've been given," said Bethany junior Jason Gordon, a Salina South graduate. "We've been up and down all year, but this will give us a confidence boost after we came out and put 10 runs on them." "Bethany came out ready to play," Wesleyan coach Tim Bellew said. "I'm not saying that we weren't ready to play, but the things they were able to accomplish in the first few innings set the tone. "We're 14-1 in the conference and still in the driver's seat, but we realize that anybody can come out and beat See REGAN, Page C3 JUSTIN HAYWORTH / The Salina Journal Bethany pitcher Daniel Regan tossed a three-hit shutout Saturday. 1 -1 t T JUCO BASEBALL Cloud edges BMC T-Bird's get save from rain as Lions' tying run is left at second Courtesy photo When first-year Kansas Cagerz coach Francis Flax assembled his coaching staff, he turned to current Cloud County women's assistant coach Lorin Miller (above). Miller has coached at several levels, including abroad and in the NBA. Helping Hand Miller brings 40 years experience to Cagerz By HAROLD BECHARD The Salina Journal L orin Miller was looking to take a break from basketball fol- ^lowing a hectic and emotional 2000-01 season. He was ready to lean back in an easy chair at his country home near Concordia, put his feet up, take a deep breath and relax. But long-time friend Francis Flax wouldn't let him. So, just days after helping Cloud County win the women's junior college national championship as an assistant under Brett Erkenbrack, the 65-year-old Miller came aboard as an assistant coach for Flax's Kansas Cagerz. "Francis Flax is a persuasive guy, and a guy I really like," Miller said last week during the United States Basketball League draft. "I didn't resist it. It's just something I needed to think about." Miller and Flax have been friends ever since Flax coached one of Miller's sons, Mike, at Ellinwood High School several years ago. Miller brings nearly 40 years of coaching experience to the table. He has coached in Kansas, Washington, Oregon and West Germany at the high school, junior college, four-year college and professional levels. He has experienced everything from long bus rides at the juco level to cross-country trips on private jets in the NBA. There's not much left in the game of basketball that Miller hasn't seen, experienced or accomplished. "The thing I try to stress is it's a privilege to play the sport. That's a big thing with me. I talk a lot about that," Miller said. "I have strong feelings about people who tend to complain about things, people who don't like the system. "I've always been appreciative of the game and respected it," Miller said. "I think that's the big thing in the NBA right now. We've lost a little bit of that." Sports have always been a big part of Miller's life, but as a youngster, his parents tried to lead him in a different direction. Miller moved to Miltonvale from Denver with his parents before his sophomore year in high school. His father. Rev Lorin P. Miller, was a minister in the area and sent his son to Miltonvale Wesleyan, a private school that offered intramural sports, but no outside competition against other high schools. "My father felt like it was necessary for his only kid to be in that environment," See MILLER, Page C5 By ARNE GREEN The Salina Journal Brown Mackie's Matt Renkopf started out stranded on second jj ^^BlxU^^H base with the Cloud County 2 tying run when Brown Mackie 1 ram forced a third interruption of the Lions' doubleheader with Cloud County He ended up shipwrecked. Despite a 45-minute delay to remove standing water at Dean Evans Stadium, the umpires ruled the field was still unplayable Saturday allowing Cloud County to escape with an official 2-1 victory over Brown Mackie. Shortly after the game was called, also forcing cancellation of the second game, rain resumed. Brown Mackie, which scored its only run in the fifth inning, got a two-out single and stolen base from Renkopf in the sixth and Lee Rodriguez had "a 2-1 count when a torrential downpour hit, sending both teams scurrying to their dugouts. ' "That's the most disappointing thing," said Brown Mackie coach Steve Bartow, whose Lions fell to 5-26. "You get to that point in the ballgame where you've got the tying run on. "But you can't do anything about the weather It's not our first time in this situation, but it's the first time the weather got us. No telling if we could have gotten it done. I understand the decision and the safety of the kids comes first." The victory which goes down as a five-inning game, reverting to the last complete inning, pushed Cloud County's record to 21-14 "I think it's fortunate we got five innings in," said Cloud coach Rick Sabath. "I think it always leaves a bad taste in your mouth to win like this, when they had the tying run on second. See CLOUD, Page C3 T COLLEGE FOOTBALL Pierce makes presence known Leader on field, KSU sophomore also a force at linebacker By ARNE GREEN The Salina Journal Journal file photo Terry Pierce's tackle of Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch was one of his 38 stops, six for losses, last season. Pierce was named Big 12 freshman defensive player of the year. MANHATTAN — It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time early in his Kansas State career that Terry Pierce was content to be seen and not heard. It didn't last long. Once Pierce found his way into the Wildcat lineup at mid- ^•wi^^ die linebacker •||HB|b last year as a ^••5^^ redshirt fresh^ man, he did not do so quietly "Terry is a freshman, but when he plays on the field he is more like a junior or senior," said Wildcat cor- nerback Terence Newman. "He really surprised me because he was a vocal leader on the field last year. "When things were getting K-STATE gPBIWe GAME When: Saturday, 1:10 p.m. Where: KSU Stadium, Manhattan. tough, he'd be the one who stood up and yelled, trying to get everybody's head into it. You've got a freshman out there getting in your face, telling you you've got to step up and make the play then he'll step up and make the play People take notice of that." Enough people on the outside took notice that Pierce was named Big 12 freshman defensive player of the year. Inside the Wildcat program, he was voted one of the team player See PIERCE, Page C8 SUGGESTIONS? CALL BpB DAVIDSON, SPORTS EDITOR, AT 823-6363 OR 1-^00-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT

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