Riding the ragged edge
Xs and Arrows
November 25, 2023
The headline of this column is certainly appropriate for what has been happening both personally and within the local sports world the last few weeks. Lots to catch up on so here we go.
A special thank you to all of those who supported my marathon efforts once again in 2023 through Team World Vision. Last year I completed the Los Angeles and New York Marathons, the latter of which I received a coveted invite for thanks to your charitable efforts supporting World Vision. New York was an awesome experience but last year's heat, humidity and my own injuries left me with something to be desired in regards to my finishing time.
With that said, I sought out to get better in 2023, which meant repeating the process for Los Angeles with the hopes of being invited to New York. I manage once again to finish Los Angeles and thanks to many of you, received the invite back to New York since I was able to raise over $3,000 for Team World Vision.
Both the conditions and the training for New York were much better this year. Race day was perfect and it felt like I breezed through the first 16 miles or so. Things started to hurt as they tend to and I slowed down during much of my trek through the Bronx and Harlem. I paid little attention to time throughout the day but with two miles left I looked at my watch and realized I had a chance to beat last year's time, but I had to make a decision. Through a brief conversation in my exhausted brain, I made this statement to myself, "I don't care if I leave my soul on this course, I didn't train for two marathons and come all of this way to not beat last year's time."
I pushed it to the max, and beat last year's time by 12 minutes. Probably pushed a tad too hard as after the race I struggled to exit Central Park and was intercepted by two EMTs as everything around me started to spin. They wheeled me into the medical tent and went to work, my blood pressure dropped considerably and after about an hour of treatment including electrolytes, some rubbing of my sore leg muscles and a few other concoctions I was on my way. That was a legitimate statement and I made it after witnessing a runner receiving chest compressions just a mile into the run on the Verrazano Bridge. It was a stark reminder that running these things is dangerous business, luckily the gentleman survived thanks to the action of his fellow runners. Thankfully I did not suffer a similar fate, but in that moment in Central Park with a few miles to go I was willing to make that sacrifice – crazy I know, but running on that ragged edge opened up a whole new perspective. I have more to give and am willing to take the risks to enjoy the pay off.
Next year's marathon schedule will be the Bakersfield Marathon in April and the Chicago Marathon in October, the second Abbot World Major that I will have the pleasure of running in after a pair of NYC Marathon finishes. I guess once you are on the ragged edge, it's tough to not seek out that feeling again. It's strangely addicting.
Less than a week later not only had I recovered, but had the pleasure of playing in the Tehachapi Warriors Baseball alumni game. Us "old" guys over 30 were pitted against the junior varsity team and yours truly put on the catcher's gear for the first time in 8 years (the last time I played in one of these) and caught the entire game. Legs felt great, I still have a little mobility behind the plate and I managed to not strike out while hitting. It was fun to put on the "tools of the trade" once again and catch a few former teammates as we managed to beat those JV kids 12-9.
The varsity squad held off the younger alumni and thanks to the generosity of P-Dubs who provided the food via donation, it was a profitable fundraiser for the baseball program. I figured I only have to pull that off once a year, but if I had the chance and the time, I wouldn't mind doing it more often. There's nothing like the strategy and impact that a catcher has on the baseball field, another one of those feelings that's addicting when you do not have the chance to experience it all the time.
Speaking of High School sports, the entire community continues to be disgusted by the unfair playoff seeding that put the undefeated Tehachapi Warriors Football team not only in the Central Section Division II bracket (a division higher than our base division), but giving the Warriors the #9 seed, robbing the school and the community of a deserved home game. Granted, our talented squad went to Bakersfield High School and defeated the mighty Drillers for the first time in school history, but we then had to travel to top-seeded Central Valley Christian, a private school with three times the amount of financial resources available to our kids. We played a great game against a very good team, but in the end our lack of roster size made it too tough a battle to win and our season ended at 11-1.
Tehachapi is one of several small schools across a variety of sports over the last few years who have fallen victim to this subjective seeding process that benefits larger schools by allowing them to compete against smaller teams in the playoffs. Since the only goal from those in charge of the CIF Central Section is to get larger schools into the state playoffs, they do so by giving them favorable seeds against smaller programs. It's a broken and flawed system that I will not let stand.
The only fix is legislative and I have already reached out to some local elected representatives to lay out the potential action. It is too early to divulge any details but early conversations have been promising to have a bill in front of the legislature that requires all CIF seedings be determined by student enrollment, and, have private schools be required to compete in their own separate divisions when it comes to playoffs. This proposal protects student-athletes, limits unnecessary long travel and ensures that private schools with vast athletic financial resources are not allowed to pick off small public schools in the post season. The CIF Central Section had their chance to fix this inequity but chose to continue to punish student-athletes, so we will let the State Legislature weigh in and hopefully make this right. You can only ignore the kids for so long before us adults take the necessary action.
So yes, the last several weeks have been on the "ragged edge" of sorts and I would not have it any other way. I have already started training for next year's physical battles and gearing up for the potential legislative fight. Call it an addiction, but getting better personally and making things better for student-athletes will always be my driving force.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter, broadcaster and athletics administrator. He advocates for the value of athletic competition and serves as the President of the Tehachapi Warriors Booster Club. He can be reached at email@example.com.