The Wichita Eagle sports writer started the article about Wichita Collegiate’s league-title-clinching 35-13 football victory over Halstead on Friday this way: “In Collegiate’s final MCAA game, the Spartans wanted to show the rest of the league what it will miss.”
That’s one way to spin it. Another, equally truthful, take would be: “In Collegiate’s final MCAA game, the Spartans reminded the rest of the league of a key reason why it will be disbanding.”
The eight schools from the Mid-Central Activities Association that agreed several months ago to form the core of the new Central Kansas League would insist the primary reason was to reduce travel—a noble cause. But by adding Pratt and Kingman to the league—likely at the behest of the Kansas State High School Activities Association—the only substantive change in the end is the loss of Wichita Collegiate. In truth, Collegiate would have been a much more desirable travel option for almost every school.
Less talked about in public was the underlying frustration many schools felt about competing year after year against the Spartans, given the inherent enrollment advantage a private school in an urban setting has over public schools in small-population districts.
We don’t have a count of how many MCAA titles Collegiate has collected through the years, but consider the current reality this fall. Not only have the undefeated Spartans clinched the football title, but Collegiate again dominated girls’ tennis and has an undefeated volleyball team ranked No. 1 in Class 3A. Come basketball season, the boys will be out to capture a third straight state title and the girls were last season’s state runner-up.
Collegiate’s success has been its own worst enemy. Hillsboro, according to reports, has been one of the few schools in the new CKL that lobbied to keep Collegiate in the mix. Certainly, the Trojans have absorbed their share of defeats through the years, but also have relished significant victories against a quality rival. Beyond that, coaches will tell you their Spartan counterparts have been some of the classiest and most supportive colleagues around.
What’s done is done, but we are left with ambivalent feelings about Collegiate’s impending exit. We understand, and sometimes share, the frustration of the other schools. But we also regret the departure of a quality school and wonder if the new CKL has actually lost more than it has gained. —DR