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By David Pickle
The Division II National Championships Festival will take place Nov. 30-Dec. 4 in Louisville, but the scope of that event will not be much bigger than what’s going on this weekend in Warrensburg, Mo.
Partly by design but mostly through the success of its own teams, Central Missouri will host what Athletics Director Jerry Hughes called a “mini-Festival.”
Central Missouri bid on the cross country regional a year ago, but the Mules' football and volleyball teams also played their ways in to hosting regional competition this weekend. The bottom line: Warrensburg will host more than 400 student-athletes Thursday through Saturday.
It makes for a hectic week, but Hughes said it’s a good kind of hectic.
“It’s pretty busy,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and we’ve never hosted this many at once.
“All the hotels and restaurants for 60 miles around are happy. Everything is booked. It’s great for the area and the community, having all of the student-athletes coming to town and all of the fans. It’s what we’re in the business for.”
Cross country will have the most participants with about 25 men’s and women’s teams. There will be eight volleyball teams [Central Missouri, Washburn, Truman, Emporia State, West Texas A&M, Abilene Christian, Northwest Missouri State and St. Mary’s (Texas)], along with Central’s football opponent, West Texas A&M, whose fans will have a special opportunity.
“I just got off the phone with Mike McBroom, the AD from West Texas,” Hughes said. “He’s excited. He’s got his volleyball team here, so he can just come here and watch them all.”
As big as the weekend is, it could have been bigger.
Had St. Edward’s women’s soccer team not won in overtime Sunday, Central Missouri would have been hosting the regional final in that sport this weekend, along with everything else.
It would have added to the load, but Hughes said there’s no such thing as too much when it comes to enjoying the fruits of success.
“We had all the rooms,” he said. “We had it worked out, and we were ready.”