Russell riding high heading to state
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
There are posters hanging throughout the school, and windows of businesses in town have been chalked with notes of good luck and congratulations.
It's easy to see why Russell students and residents are excited about the Bronco high school girls' basketball team making it to state.
When Russell tips off in today's 4:45 p.m. first-round game of the Class 3A state tourney in the Hutchinson Sports Arena, it will be the first RHS girls' team to do so in a state tournament since 1974.
That was just the second year of state tournament action for girls in the Kansas State High School Activities Association.
"It's pretty wild around here," said Frank Schulte, a Russell High graduate in his fourth year of coaching the girls' high school team.
What makes it even more exciting for Schulte is his oldest of four daughters, Janna, is a junior starter for this year's squad, and his second daughter, Jill, a freshman, is the team's manager.
Support has been widespread. Schulte said some of the grade school art classes made congratulations and good luck cards for the basketball team.
"There's a pep rally (today) before we leave," he said. "Everyone's pretty excited."
An area school to qualify both its boys' and girls' teams for state was Hoxie, which will play for sure at least two days at the Class 1A, Division I season finale in Emporia.
Hoxie teams and their fans have a good chance of staying in Emporia through the weekend as both teams received top-three seeds in their respective brackets. The Indian girls are undefeated in 23 games this season, and they will be trying to defend their state championship performance of a year ago.
And the Hoxie boys have lost just three games this season after placing third at state in 2012.
Two sibling pairs will have lots of family on hand at the tournament. Sophomore Carly Heim is a starter for the Indian girls' squad, and her twin brother, Josh, is one of the players off the bench for the boys' team. Their younger brother, Jake, also is a freshman who played basketball this year.
And sisters Kristina Farber, a junior, and Sarah Farber, a senior, are top players for the girls' team.
"We had quite a few people come down (to state) last year, and we had a really good turnout (last week) at sub-state at WaKeeney," said Marlin Beougher, assistant coach for the girls and athletic director at Hoxie. "So I think we will have a good following again."