By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
Steve and Marilyn Wood won't have to change shirts at this week's Class 5A state basketball championships in Topeka.
The Hays couple will be in Topeka tonight to watch one of their granddaughters play at state on the Salina Central team.
The Woods, like the rest of Mustang fans, hope to be staying the entire weekend.
If the Mustangs win, they will play in Friday's 6:30 p.m. semifinals, the game prior to the boys' semifinal between Hays High School and Topeka-Highland Park.
And the Woods won't be leaving the arena at the Expocentre following Central's game because Hays High also is near and dear to their hearts.
Both the Woods' sons graduated from HHS, and their oldest son Brian -- father of Central senior Emily Wood -- was the starting point guard in current HHS coach Rick Keltner's first season there in 1985-86.
"A lot of connections," Steve Wood said.
Coincidentally, the colors for both Salina Central and Hays High are maroon and gold.
"Well, our shirts say Salina Central on them, though," Marilyn said at the suggestion of sporting their maroon and gold T-shirts for both of Friday's games.
"Guess we should turn them inside out," she said.
HHS fans probably wouldn't care if the Woods wore their Mustang shirts; after all, the Indians beat Salina Central's boys' team in Wednesday's first round to advance to the semis.
Brian said it's been a good experience for everyone that his parents have been able to watch Emily all the way through her high school career.
"It's been fun for them, for all of us," he said.
His dad agreed.
"It's been a lot of fun," Steve said. "We're going to miss it."
"We've still got dance recitals to go to," Marilyn said with a smile, referring to Brian's middle daughter, Lindsey, a sophomore who doesn't play basketball but participates in dance.
Emily is headed to the University of Nebraska to play basketball next year. Grandpa and Grandma Wood said they aren't sure how many Cornhusker games they will make, so they're soaking it all in this week and are making plans to be in Topeka through the weekend.
"We're hoping to be there three days," Steve said.
* The Woods aren't the only grandparents from the area following the Salina Central girls' squad.
Jon and Maxine Nuttle from Ransom attend most of the Mustang games, too; their granddaughter is Shaelyn Martin, the Mustangs' standout forward who has signed to play with Kansas State University next year.
The Nuttles live on a farm near Ransom and are in the midst of calving season right now, so they don't have the luxury of staying overnight after the games. Instead, they will make the 250-plus-mile trip to Topeka and back each day.
"We'll get home a little after midnight; that's not bad," Jon said. "If they're playing, we're going to be there."