Mike Tupa | Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise
Unless Christmas fell on a Sunday, I probably was out on a road run between 1982 to 1986.
Those were my running days. Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other holiday it didn’t matter.
But, for religious reasons, I never ran on Sunday.
I still believe Sunday should be a day off for all high school and college athletics. Partly because of tradition and partly because I think everyone needs a day off, to put those things behind, to recharge and spend time with family and friends.
But, regardless of that, I still remember running around the icy streets of Salt Lake City, while I was on holiday leave, during my Marine Corps days in the early-to-mid 1980’s.
I think I managed to spend every Christmas at home during those years, except for my 1984 winter deployment to Iwakuni, Japan.
On Christmas Day 1984, an incredible newlywed couple named Wes and Peggy — he was in the Marines and she was his wife — invited some of us single guys on base to their apartment. We spent the whole day there, watching television, opening presents, visiting and ending up by playing our favorite game, “Risk”.
Wes and Peggy opened their door to us often during those months, a refuge of family feeling and friendship while we were a million miles from home, or so it seemed.
One of the Marine friends Dave was a computer genius well before the PC era. He programmed his own computer game, which kept us entertained through some of the long hours.
Every afternoon or evening at Iwakuni, a soup truck came to the barracks, kind of like an ice cream truck in America. I often went out and bought a plastic bowlful of the delicious noodle-type mix.
I recall one day when a sergeant and I decided to take a walking tour of Iwakuni. He had been deployed there before and knew the layout. As we walked along a river, I saw the remnants of collapsed bridges under the water level, a reminder, I assumed, of the destruction of World War II. We also went up to some old castle, which had been converted to a museum.
But, other than that, I hardly ever went out into the town of Iwakuni. I did all my running on base — along the top of a seawall wide enough for two lanes of traffic. Everything else we might have needed was on base.
The next Christmas, I was home, my service completed.
But, I continued to run for another 12 months, finding time between my job and time at Weber State college to work on the student newspaper.
It was during that time, I met a remarkable athlete named Farley Gerber. Gerber was a steeplechase winner from Weber State and had set the American collegiate record. In the 1984 Olympic Trials, he had finished just one place short of making the Olympic team for the Los Angeles Games.
During our interview, he was still little more than a newlywed, living in an apartment with his wife and their baby. He had grown up on a farm and had been able to compete in high school athletics because of the emotional support of his mom.
That first year in the Marines helped prepare me, in many ways, for my future. In January 1987, I had to undergo my fourth knee surgery, this one because of damage from my five years of distance running on a right knee that had already had two major surgeries.
Later in 1987, while I struggled to find a job as a newspaper reporter, I wrote for the Utah Running Magazine, a monthly publication. My job was to cover races, mostly 5K’s, around the Salt Lake City valley or in Provo.
There was no reimbursement for gas and they paid me in food coupons from Italian restaurants in downtown Salt Lake City, one $5 coupon per story, although sometimes the publisher gave me two coupons. I think I earned around $60 worth and only used about $15 worth.
In the last two weeks of December 1987, I landed a reporter’s job in eastern Nevada.
That was 34 years ago this week.
Following is a look at local sports from 1988-89
Dewey High School boys basketball coach Drew Nelson could be excused for some preseason concerns going into the 1988 season.
Nelson had to break in five new starters, all who were coming off the football field.
Nelson felt it would take two years to measure this team’s capability, adding he thought the 88-89 team might come in at .500.
Departed players, who had gone 14-9 in 87-88, were Eric Ogans, Matt Pendergraff, Scott Pracht, Paul Shook and David Marshall.
The potential starters for 1988-89 included perimeter players Bobby Stanley, Greg McClintock and Vince Vincent and post players Scott Schooler, Travis Ruble and Ryan Higbee.
— Bartlesville High School’s girls basketball team was definitely looking forward for the 1988-89 season after a disappointing 3-20 mark the previous year.
The 1988-89 season also marked an historic change in Oklahoma girls Class 5A basketball as it switched from a six-on-six format to five-on-five.
Lady Bruin coach Carol Green felt her squad would adapt well to five-on-five.
One of the key returnees was Emily Howe, a 6-foot-1 center. She averaged 17.9 points a game the previous season.
Other returnees with varsity playing experience included Cheryl Clinkenbeard, Jana Riggs, Melissa Hanson, Amy Murtha and Angela Minor.
Clinkenbeard had averaged 10.4 points a game in 1987-88.
Two other players who offered helped were seniors Jennifer O’Mealey and Stacey Springer.
— Amy Peper came in as Dewey’s new point guard, replacing Carrie Conner, who had gone on to Bartlesville Wesleyan College.
Peper also proffered a three-point shot.
Andrea Peper and Jodi Olsen were two promising post players.
— Bartlesville Wesleyan College’s women’s basketball team thumped Southwestern, 71-59, in the annual BWC Thanksgiving tournament.
Sandra Cloud grabbed 16 rebounds for BWC and scored 19 points.
Dena Shields, who was coming off a 30-point game against Tabor, tallied 11.
Mitzi Houser led BWC against Southwestern with 26 points, including 17 in the second half.
In their previous tourney game, BWC had edged Tabor, 70-65.
Shields hit 11-of-22 from the field to reach 30 points for the game. Cloud scored 17.
Don Scott blackened the nets with 34 points to lead the BWC Eagles to a 98-79 win against Sterling College in the men’s division of the Thanksgiving tournament.
Tim Bryan hit two free throws and Rusty Stecker nailed a three-pointer to give the Eagles a seven-point bulge late in the game, 77-70.
— Nowata’s football team won a tough quarterfinal playoff game against Tulsa Cascia Hall, 13-7.
James Powell returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, which would prove to be the margin of victory.
Nowata also scored on 20-yard touchdown pass from Ty Hewitt to Todd Nunnallee.
This was just Cascia Hall’s first loss of the season.
Hewitt’s touchdown to Nunnalee came off a 4th-and-10 play. Hewitt threw the ball to his receiver in the left corner of the end zone.
Curt Mills kick one-of-two extra points on the day.
In their previous playoff game, Nowata doubled Hartshorne, 16-8.
Brad Hicks sparked the Ironmen, running for 113 yards on offense and registering two sacks on defense.
Hicks also scored the winning touchdown on a three-yard run in the second quarter.
Nowata’s other scoring came on a one-yard run by Hewitt, an extra-point kick by Mills and a 25-yard field goal by Mills.
The Ironmen defense held Hartshorne to just 24 yards in the second half.
Jerry Voris recovered a Hartshorne fumble on the Hartshorne 25-yard line to set up Nowata’s first touchdown.
Mills rushed for 68 yards for Nowata, which won its ninth straight.
Nowata shut out Sperry in the first round of the playoffs, 19-0.
Hicks scored on runs of nine and 11 yards and James Powell caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Hewitt.
The Ironmen defense held Sperry to just 34 yards of offense for the game.
— Dewey dropped its final regular season game on the gridiron to Collinsville, 13-7.
Vince Vincent scored Dewey’s lone touchdown on an eight-yard burst. Travis Ruble kicked the extra point.