By MIKE COURSON
Great Bend Post
Changes are coming to the winter sports programs in USD 431. Hoisington High School Activities Director Faron Kraft spoke of the changes at Monday's board of education meeting. The biggest changes will affect the Hoisington High School and Middle School wrestling teams, but basketball teams will also be affected.
The Hoisington High wrestling teams will officially split for the 2022-23 season. While many competitions were already split, including the state tournaments, the teams have practiced together in recent years. Long-time coach Dan Schmidt will now head up the HHS girls' program, and Jace Morgenstern will take over head coaching duties on the boys' side. Ross Coomes will coach both middle school teams.
Kraft spoke with the coaches after the July board meeting and worked through five possible solutions for the programs. Middle school basketball ends before Christmas, and wrestling begins after Christmas. The high school boys' and girls' wrestling teams will split practice time before Christmas in the wrestling room at the Hoisington Activity Center and the high school gym. They will be joined by the middle schoolers after Christmas.
"That's not ideal for the boys because that's going to be a lot of boys," Kraft said. "We're going to have a lot of middle school boys out, plus our high school boys. That's one of the things we tried to alleviate. That was one area we couldn't find a way around that obstacle for wrestling."
Changes in wrestling schedules will also mean changes for the high school basketball teams, which will practice at the Activity Center, the city building, and Lincoln Elementary. That keeps after-school options available for each team. Some middle school games will now be played at the Activity Center.
"With this, that means middle school basketball is going to play all their games in the Activity Center and the middle school, as opposed to the high school and middle school," Kraft said. "Split opinions on that. I know I have a lot of middle school parents who are happy about that."
Basketball coaches did voice concern about practicing at the city building, including a slick playing surface, locker room issues, and heating and air concerns. Kraft said he and Superintendent Patrick Crowdis had already worked out those issues with the city.
"We had already met down at the city building with the city manager and went over all that stuff," said Kraft. "I feel like we've got a really good plan put together that pretty much covers all of those concerns to help us move forward with that."
For letting the district use the city building, the district agreed to refinish the city court as part of the refinish project at the Activity Center between volleyball and basketball seasons. Kraft said locker room and heating and cooling issues had also been addressed, and said a portable goal may help address the lack of practice goals in the city building.
"I feel like it's a win-win," Kraft said, "especially if the city's going to let us use it when we need to use it."