Pulling for a win
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
HUTCHINSON -- It was the end of an era Sunday for two area families at the Kansas State Fair.
Mikayla Steinle finished second in the 12-year-old girls' division of the annual pedal tractor pull in the final competition for a trio of sisters from Lucas.
Jared Casey also competed as a 12-year-old, in the boys' division, to end a more than 20-year run for six siblings from Plainville.
But in the 30-year history of the competition at the state fair, no family probably has more winning history than the three daughters of Danny and Mary Ann Steinle.
Amanda, the oldest daughter who now is a 21-year-old college student at Fort Hays State University, began a long journey of traveling the area competing in pedal pulls 17 years ago when she was just 4.
Amanda and middle sister Sami, now a junior at Sylvan-Lucas High School, each won two international championships as well as numerous state titles and several top finishes at nationals.
Youngest sister Mikayla came to her first state pedal pull in a stroller and left Sunday with another large trophy in helping lead an impressive showing for competitors who live in adjoining counties, in small central Kansas towns along Kansas Highway 18.
Haley Fallis from Luray, 14 miles west of Lucas, finished third in the 10-year-old girls' division, and Geriun Boor from Sylvan Grove -- about the same distance to the east of Lucas -- won the 8-year-old boys' title.
And the girl who started the pedal pull craze in their area was there to see it all, as Amanda Steinle still volunteers as a worker at the annual state meet.
"It's kind of an emotional day for all of us," Amanda said of her family. "It's the last one for any of us."
Well, the last state meet, that is.
The top three finishers at state qualify for the national championships later this month in Mitchell, S.D.
"Oh, yes," Mikayla answered when asked if she was excited about going to nationals.
"It's kind of bittersweet," the girls' mother said. "We don't want it to come it an end. So we'll probably keep helping out" at the state meet.
Sunday was a banner day for Kansas Highway 18 residents.
Carter Tuttle, Plainville, finished second in the 10-year-old boys' division, while Bryson Bollig from Palco was the 5-year-old boys' champ.
It was the second straight state title for Bryson, who won his division again this year after claiming the 4-year-old first-place trophy a year ago en route to winning the national championship, then the international title last month in Fairfield, Iowa.
Three other northwest Kansas pullers took home trophies as well.
Devyn Underwood from Bazine finished second in the 8-year-old boys' division, moving up one spot from his third-place effort as a 7-year-old a year ago, while 4-year-old Libby Soehner from Levant and 11-year-old Leanna Huddle from Oakley each placed third.
Leanna also was third at state a year ago, in the 10-year-old division.