Six athletes and three coaches left from the back of the gym at 6:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, driving through the horrid rush hour traffic to get to LAX. We had our usual troubles trying to check in 15-foot long pole vault poles, and had our bags checked and checked again once they found out about the 16 pounds of solid metal shotput in one.
Once we got on our three-and-a-half-hour flight, most of us fell asleep or watched movies until we landed.
Kansas City, MO, was slightly underwhelming. I’m accustomed to seeing snow when I fly somewhere in winter, so it was a shock to see how dry plants and no animals except for grazing cows. But I shouldn’t have been fooled, the worst was yet to come. Stepping out from the airport doors, the first thing we felt was our faces go numb.
Unable to feel our faces, we made our way to the rental car place. The drive from Kansas City to the venue of the National Championships in Pittsburg City, KS, took about two and a half hours. It was cool for the first five minutes, but after a while, the flat farmland and grazing pastures started to blend together.
After about two hours being cooped up in the van, we were in the middle of counting the cows, grazing on the side of the freeway, waiting to pass, when there it was. Suddenly, Pittsburg City popped up out of nowhere, surprising everyone.
One of the best parts of the trip was all the amazing food we got to eat. Our budget for dinner was $15 a night, which ended up being a major highlight of the trip. As it turns out, $15 goes a lot further in Kansas than in Orange County. We were eating food that was not from the Caf, and surprisingly different from anything I’ve tried in California. One of the most interesting things we tried was sweet potato fries in a marshmallow sauce at Colton’s Steakhouse and Grill. The sweet of the marshmallow and the salty of the fries really worked well together and that became a favorite dish for us for the rest of our trip.
The highlight of the whole trip was Winston Lawson winning Vanguards first National Championship in 4 years, breaking school and NAIA Championship records in the process. After a great first day of competition, we had a feeling that he could not only win but win by a huge margin. When everything was said and done he was ahead of the rest of the field by a whopping 198pts cruising to victory in style.
Other than Winston, who competed in the Heptathlon, 60m Hurdles and the High Jump, the other athletes that competed were; Amanda Chan in the Women’s High Jump, Gabriel Warner in the 400m dash, Alec Duran in the 200m and 60m Dashes, Noah Rogers (me) in the 60m Hurdles, in the 4×400 we had Jeremiah Lewis, Noah Ely and Gabriel Warner and Noah Rogers (still me).
The drive back to Kansas City, MO from Pittsburg City, KS was a very sleepy and uneventful drive. Leaving at 5:30 on Sunday morning no one had the energy do to anything but curl up and rest.
Arriving to the airport at about 8 a.m., we promptly proceeded to lose the coaches but after finding them and boarding the plane it was a straight shot back home to Vanguard.
All in all, it was a very fun experience going to a new state, meeting new athletes from all over America and competing at a high level and all the athletes would like to thank the coaches and athletic staff for making it happen.