SIOUX CITY – In the merry month of May:
The sun is warm, but the winds are chill.
Oh, well, it went something like that from the rhyming pen of Robert Frost, who, mind you, did pay attention to the sports of kings and queens.
A tale of poetic justice in motion, you might say, describes how Our Town’s North High senior Merga Gemeda concluded his prep running career.
The Ethopian-born Gemeda took 14 minutes to run his first two-mile (3,200 meters) race two years ago.
He hated it and asked coaches to make him a quartermiler.
Thursday, in the Class 4A state track and field championships at 3,200 meters, Gemeda finished fifth in a school-record 9 minutes, 28.83 seconds.
The previous school mark by Andy Dunlap had held up for decades, apparently, since 1978 when Dunlap finished sixth in the Drake Relays 3,200 in 9:36.66.
“Merga had a great cross country season last fall with a fifth-place finish and all this recent running success came after what I’d call a ‘ridiculous' summer of intense training,’’ said North Coach Abdier Marrero.
#The Phelps clan of Kingsley now owns 18 either state meet or Drake Relays championships in track and field throwing events.
Nick, a senior competing for Kingsley-Pierson/Woodbury Central, Friday added Class 2A discus gold, his third straight, to the shot put title he won Thursday, bringing his overall total to six.
His older sister, Kiana, now at Oregon won seven state-Drake titles and dad, Scott, won five times in the combination.
The 67 foot, 2 inch heave by Nick Phelps in the 2A state meet Thursday erased the overall state meet record of 65-11.5 by Doug Lane of Cedar Rapids Jefferson way back in 1968.
Lane’s put was the oldest record on the state’s books.
The Phelps performance was also a mere quarter-inch shy of Lane’s Drake Relays record also in 1968.
C.R. Jefferson throwers won five Drake golds from 1963-68. Lane won three and eventual all-Big Ten offensive guard at Iowa John Meskimen (59-11.25, 1965) and Tom Knutson (56-4.5, 1963), also a three-year football letterman at Iowa, one each.
Lane also won three Drake titles and Meskimen and Knutson one each.
In the spring of 1966, Jefferson had four 60-foot throwers – Lane, Meskimen, Layne McDowell and Ted Knutson, Tom’s brother.
Lane began his career at Kansas State, but later transferred to Southern Cal, where he surpassed 66 feet to win an NCAA indoor title and had an outdoor best of almost 68 feet with the 16-pound ball.
#Nebraska appears to have chosen the football coach, Scott Frost, with the acumen to lead the program back to the promised land – national championships.
Alrighty then, lace up the gloves of Frost, who left sunny Central Florida for Lincoln, and Alabama Coach Nick Saban and tee it up.
Saban has spouted that Central Florida’s self-proclaimed “national championship’’ is “not the same as actually earning it.’’
Frost is a football wunderkind of sorts who has led the Huskers to a national title as a quarterback, restored Oregon to national prominence as a offensive guru and guided Central Florida from a rags-to-riches woebegone to an unbeaten glitzy 12-0 last season.
He doesn’t disagree with Central Florida’s unofficial proclamation, citing the record that some of the 17 national championships Alabama claims to have won came before the modern polling systems started.
Nebraska has won five national championships, albeit one of them “co.’’
Nebraska and Alabama? Now that’s what I call college football.
Alabama’s 2017 cannon fodder included Chattanooga and Mercer; Central Florida feasted on Austin Peay.
Arkansas State proved to be a sour cupcake for Nebraska last season, but the Huskers get Akron and Troy next fall.
#When Kirk Hinrich retired just over a year ago, the National Basketball Association was left with four active or semi-active native-born Iowans.
But, just a few days ago the number dwindled to three when Oklahoma City’s Nick Collison announced his retirement from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Sioux Cityan Hinrich and Collison, who was born in Orange City when his father, Dave, was coaching at Granville Spalding Catholic, shared Iowa’s Mr. Basketball Award in 1998 when they led their schools, Sioux City West and Iowa Falls, to state prep titles.
Hinrich and Collison both starred at Kansas and their jerseys have been retired, not their numerals.
This past season, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk wore Collison’s No. 4 and Hinrich’s No. 10 was sported by Devonte Graham.
One other former Iowa Mr. Basketball honoree, Harrison Barnes, is still operating.
Barnes, who was born in Ames, led the Dallas Mavericks in scoring the past two seasons, averaging 19.2 and 18.9 points.
The former North Carolina star won an NBA title with Golden State in 2015.
You might throw in Marcus Paige, another Mr. Basketball who was born in Cedar Rapids and played at Linn-Mar High School and North Carolina, but he only appeared in five games for the Charlotte Hornets the past season.
Another Mr. Basketball, Kyle Korver, is currently a teammate of LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He played at Pella High School and then Creighton, but he was born in Paramount, Calif.
#You always know when a University of Nebraska coach is under the microscope.
That’s when the state’s media outlets decide a particular sport lacks national championship worthiness.
The latest Husker expected to be scrutinized is Darin Erstad, the baseball coach.
After sharing the Big Ten title a year ago, his team won’t make the NCAA tournament or the Big Ten tourney this spring.
Coach Erstad, what have you done for me lately? That’s the state collectively asking the question.
Last week, new Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said “ I believe I have the right guy; I feel bad for him.’’ He was referring to Erstad.
The Huskers were 23-28 overall and 7-14 going into a weekend Big Ten finale with Illinois.