WICHITA, Kan. — Every year for the past 102 years, dreams have come true at the Kansas State High School Track and Field Championships.
The meet’s 103nd running will be no exception this Friday and Saturday, as more than 3,000 competitors and 20,000 spectators will gather on the campus of Wichita State University.
Wichita author Grant Overstake recently captured the drama and excitement of the Kansas State Meet in an inspiring sports novel for young adult readers titled, Maggie Vaults Over the Moon. The story features Maggie Steele, a gutsy farm girl from fictional Grain Valley, Kansas, who overcomes tragedy and soars to new heights as a pole-vaulter.
Overstake attended many state meets growing up and competed in the meet while attending Wichita Heights High School. He also covered the meet as a reporter, and experienced it as a parent, cheering for his son.
After watching so many dramatic performances through the years, it was natural for the former Miami Herald sports writer and Kansas newspaper editor to use his favorite sporting event as the backdrop for his first novel.
Kirkus Reviews calls Maggie Vaults Over the Moon, “An inspiring young adult novel about perseverance in sports and in life.” The book also has been endorsed by Olympic athletes, coaches, counselors and teachers because of its positive message for readers from middle grades to adults.
“You’d think some other author would have written about the Kansas State Meet before now,” Overstake says. “I feel fortunate that after more than a hundred years, that the ‘some other author’ turned out to be me.”
Maggie’s most recent honor coincides with the Kansas State Meet: The novel is featured on the cover of the May issue of the Kansas State High School Activities Journal, along with a strong endorsement from the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA).
“It’s a great honor to have Maggie appear on the cover and to represent the real athletes competing in Wichita this weekend,” said Overstake, who added, “I look forward to being up there in the stands watching them and cheering them on.”
The author composed the following reflection, inviting others to attend the meet along with him and 20,000 other track and field enthusiasts:
See Dreams Come True at Nation’s Largest Track Meet!
If you happen to live within driving distance of Wichita, Kan., I invite you to come to Cessna Stadium on Friday or Saturday for the Kansas State Track and Field Championships.
The Kansas State Meet is truly a marvel to witness, and, viewed through the right lens, sitting next to the right people, it’s as exciting and inspiring as the Olympic Games.
For the small price of a ticket (and sunscreen, lots of sunscreen) you can bear witness to a bright and hopeful future, as real-life Maggie Steeles awaken to the moments of their dreams.
It might be on the pole-vault runway, or at the high jump, or over the hurdles. Or, it might happen in the shot put ring or at the finish line of a 1,500 meter run. Or, everybody’s favorite, the relays.
But mark my words, somewhere on the track or in the field, you’ll see an athlete who has come to Cessna Stadium with the steely resolve to express something truly remarkable, burning deep inside, at times overcoming extremely difficult or tragic life circumstances.
He or she will respond with uncommon resilience to the intense personal pressure and, inspired by the roaring crowd, uncork a lifetime-best performance, astonishing everyone, including and especially, themselves. It never fails.
I plan to find myself a seat high in the stands, amidst a cluster of folks from some tiny little town I’ve never heard of, all of them wearing like-colored shirts, to watch the show. I can’t wait to spend time with them, and to learn about their hometown heroes.
Because when you’re in the stands at the Kansas State Meet, it doesn’t matter if your adopted hometown’s athlete is headed for gold or finishing waaay back in the pack, your ticket entitles you to cheer yourself hoarse, like the rest of us. — Grant Overstake
PS: If you wind up near the pole-vault pit on the east side of the stadium, be sure to look for the folks wearing green and gold; with a wise old Grandma under a parasol; and a boy about 10, holding a painted sign reading, “Go Maggie! Go!” If you’re ready to experience one of life’s greatest moments, something over the moon, invite yourself to sit with them, and enjoy the show.
Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is an inspiring read for fourth graders to adults. From now through August, the author will make a donation to the Kansas High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) Sports Hall of Fame for each copy sold at the Watermark store, located at Douglas and Oliver in Wichita, or via the Watermark website.