OLATHE, Kan. — There’s frustration for many Kansas high school athletes and especially one Olathe student-athlete who had to sit on the sideline at the state track meet.
She qualified for state in two sports and said a scheduling conflict kept her from competing in one of those competitions.
“It was really hard to watch it because I was supposed to be down there, but I wanted my teammates to know I was there to support them either way,” rising senior Kendall Yarnell said.
Yarnell and another dual-sport athletes are hoping the Kansas State High Schools Activities Association will make a change so that doesn’t happen to other future athletes. KSHSAA said it’s possible.
“Obviously, with what happened, we can’t change it, but we can change the dates and that’s what we’re looking to do,” Yarnell said.
Two Kansas City-area athletes play for different high schools, but they agree on one thing.
“I would like to see where there’s no overlap,” former Piper senior Kylie Brockman said.
“The overall that needs to be changed is the dates overlapping,” Yarnell said.
Yarnell is on the varsity softball and track and field teams for Olathe Northwest. Brockman played softball and threw javelin for Piper High School.
Olathe Northwest’s softball team made it to state in Lawrence; Yarnell also qualified to throw shot put and discus at state in Wichita.
But the championship events were on the same day.
“The conflict, just the way the schedule worked out, was not good,” Olathe Northwest softball coach Shawn Lopez said.
He said his team fought hard for 12 innings but fell short in the semifinals.
Yarnell decided to drive to the track and field meet. She already missed shotput, but there was still time to throw discus for a third year in a row.
As she was warming up, Yarnell was told she didn’t properly scratch and could not compete.
“It was heartbreaking,” Yarnell said. “It almost felt like something that was supposed to be — and how I could help it — was taken from me and it’s like, I can’t do anything about it.”
Lopez said being a dual-sport athlete is difficult, but there are five on his team and three made it to state in both sports.
He’d like to see changes to KSHSAA’s schedule, so athletes don’t have to make a heart-wrenching choice.
“Nothing changes without sacrifice,” Lopez said, “and hopefully this is the sacrifice that will bring about change.”
KSHSAA Executive Director Bill Faflick said the state schedules are based on the masses.
“If our governing board says that we would like to go to opposite weekends for these events, that’s certainly something that would be considered,” Faflick said.
Faflick said he could not speculate on if the board will lean one way or another, but the ultimate decision is up to board members.
“They don’t want to go too far into the summer because we know we lose kids when they start working and they start scheduling family vacations,” Faflick said.
Yarnell’s family said Baldwin High School also had two athletes that had to pick between soccer and track and field.
“You want to be great at two things, but if you’re gonna not be allowed in something then what’s even the point,” Brockman said.
“You work so hard all year for something, and then it’s taken away from you at the end. So I think it’s just going to push kids away, and we’re going to lose great athletes.”
She and Yarnell want to make sure there’s no overlap for future student-athletes.
“I would hate to see them be so good at both and then miss an opportunity,” Yarnell said. “You can change so many stories by just letting the dates be different and not overlapping them.”