Gold, golf, and great music

Even though delayed a year and performed in front of mostly COVID-related limited crowds, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were able to entertain citizens of the world in a satisfactory manner. The usual top medal winning countries prevailed as expected with the United States and China leading the way, although many smaller nations such as San Marino, Mongolia, and Burkina Faso somewhat surprisingly took home numerous awards. Bonus points to anyone who knows where Burkina Faso is located!

Let’s concentrate on Track and Field (or Athletics as it was officially named, don’t ask me why!) in this week’s award-winning column. Allyson Felix won her 11th career medal at age 35, making her the most decorated track athlete in Olympics history. The U.S. women performed admirably with individual golds won by Valarie Allman in the disc, Athing Mu in the 800, Katie Nageotte (former UD athlete) in the pole vault, and Sydney McLaughlin the 400 hurdles in world record time. On the men’s side, only two golds came back to America’s sunny shores thanks to Ryan Crouser’s win in the shot put and the 4×400 relay team setting an Olympic record.

Unfortunately the rest of the men’s team didn’t live up to expectations; local favorite Clayton Murphy was done in by a slow pace and boxed in, effectively negating his famous closing “kick” in the 800 meter. Nonetheless, a tremendous achievement by the T-V Patriot alum in making his second Olympic journey.

Three moments worthy of mention — Norway’s Karsten Warholm with a world record in the men’s 400 hurdles; the gentlemen’s tie for gold in the high jump between competitors from Qatar and Italy; and Italy winning 5 gold medals including the men’s 4×100 relay (Italy!).

Buffalo Bills’ QB Josh Allen broke the bank in signing a 6-year, $258 million contract extension last week. I doubt if financial insecurity is in the future for the University of Wyoming product!

High school golf got underway last week, starting a packed schedule of dual matches and invitationals through the end of September. Veteran Coach Brian Stickel’s GHS boys finished third in their own invitational at Turtle Creek. The Wave should be paced by a strong group of returning lettermen including Sam Bankson, Warren Hartzell, Alex Kolb, and Jack Marchal. On the Lady Wave side of the ledger, long-time mentor Tracy Haines welcomes back returning MVL medalist Kenna Jenkinson along with Trinity Reis, Leah Fry, and Alexis Slade. Expect good things from both squads this fall! As an aside, Kenna’s elementary school sister Piper shot a 45 at White Springs recently in winning her age group.

Head Football Coach Bart Schmitz starts his third year at the helm of the Green Wave looking to duplicate the success of the 2019 season when the team went 7-3. Senior QB Hayden Bush returns behind center along with receivers Million Bryant, Alex Baumgardner, and DJ Zimmer; however the running back positions are wide open this fall and filling them will be a key to reviving an offense that finished last in the MVL last year. Defensively, Zimmer should once again be a dominating force along with veterans Truman Nicholas, Nolan Curtis, and Ty Bush among others. The Wave start play on Thursday the 19th at home against Eaton. We’ll look at other county teams throughout the season.

Oh, by the way, Burkina Faso is a West African country of 20 million people — congrats if you knew that!

Finally, great music in public parks last week. Kathy and I were in Oxford with good friends Mike and LuAnn Boyer Thursday evening, entertained by The Fries, a cover band singing a wide variety of ’60s and ’70s classics (the Golden Age of Music!). The next evening Greenville’s YOLO Park was the site of some downtown funk played by Deron Bell and Friends, accompanied on a few songs by local artiste Don Lockhart, Jr. (the Soul Man of Darke County!). Great weather, great site, great crowd, and a First Friday all rolled into one! Until next time, stay healthy and active — get down!

Shots in the Darke

Dr. Alex Warner is a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate.