It’s beyond me how a period of time can feel so long and so short in the same moment.

Looking back, the nearly 26 months I’ve spent at The Hays Daily News feels like it’s gone by like a Hayden Friend 100-meter dash. The fact that my hair has extended from my jaw to the middle of my back tells a different story, however.

Short or long, I picked a great time to be in Hays, not that there’s a bad time.

I got to cover so many great stories, and I thank those of you who allowed me to tag along. I did my best to be fair, accurate and have a little fun at the same time.

Highlights include the Fort Hays State University football program’s first Division II postseason win and the Hays Larks knocking off a team full of former major leaguers to advance to another National Baseball Congress World Series championship game.

I also need to mention the FHSU women’s basketball team’s run to the No. 1 national ranking in the 2015-16 season and the consistent success across different sports displayed by the Thomas More Prep-Marian girls over the past two years.

The athletes I’ve encountered have provided a decade worth of inspiration. Michael Burns and Alex Weiss, a pair of Larks, returned to the diamond months after cancer diagnoses in consecutive seasons. Wheatland-Grinnell’s Evan Tustin picked up golf, the only sport he could play after finding out he had a heart condition that took football, basketball and track off the table.

I’m sure the future holds even more greatness.

Appreciate the final year of Jace Ruder’s prep career before he goes on to the Division I ranks. The NFL might come next. The FHSU women’s basketball program has a lot of young talent. Hays High School has an exciting young core of girls in volleyball, girls’ basketball and soccer, too.

Heck, Frank Leo might even capture that elusive NBC World Series title in the next couple days.

Before I go, I have a couple of requests. I’m leaving the HDN at a tough time with the circus that is fall sports right around the corner. Please be patient. I can guarantee Nick McQueen and Nick Schwien will work their tails off to fill the void. When a replacement does start, I hope that you will be as welcoming to them as you were to me.

Also, if someone is driving through Colorado Springs and wants to bring some Gella’s or Defiance brewing products or a Golden Q cheeseburger, tweet me: @VBenedetto.

Writing this has provided little clarity on if it has been a short ride or a long one. What I can say with certainty is I’m thankful for those who joined me on the journey.

Be good, Northwest Kansas. I’ll do my best to do the same.