One of Kirk Rangel's favorite baseball memories comes from his Pony League days at the Two Rivers Sports Complex.
A youth tournament was underway with the Arlington Eagles out in the field. When his team needed him, Rangel made a big, sliding play on the ball.
“I was definitely surprised I made the catch,” he said Sunday.
The Arlington senior started baseball at the T-ball level, graduated to coach-pitch, played Pony and is now apart of the high school and American Legion programs.
“It's definitely a big part of my life,” Rangel said.
After he spent his his fall competing in his second sport, cross-country, the Eagle and his senior teammates were looking forward to their final campaigns this spring.
“We were just waiting for the spring season,” he said.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 eliminated the high school baseball schedule. It's been disappointing, but Rangel can hope for Legion ball and still look back at his four high school years fondly. Sports were a key social activity to go with his exploits in FBLA, of which he was once the state treasurer.
Cross-country, Rangel said, is a challenging sport.
“I wasn't sure I could do it,” he said.
But Sam and Noah Kubat, and some more AHS teammates, recruited him to the team. He spent his high school career improving his times.
Baseball, though, is “definitely” Rangel's favorite athletic endeavor. A key moment of his high school-age run was the Junior Legion team's area tournament victory in 2017. He closed out the title game against St. Paul from the pitching mound, helping his team onto state competition.
Next, the AHS senior plans to study Sports Media and Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Though in a different form, Rangel's sports career will go on there. He suggests high school kids take advantage of their athletic opportunities in their hometowns first — even if they aren't early standouts.
“You have four years to improve,” the Eagle said.