Greg Echlin | KCUR

Greg Echlin

Sports Reporter

Ever since he set foot on the baseball diamond at Fernwood Park on Chicago's South Side, Greg Echlin began a love affair with the world of sports.

After graduating from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Greg worked as a TV sports anchor and a radio sportscaster in Salina, Kansas. He moved to Kansas City in 1984 and has been here since covering sports.  Through the years, he has covered multiple Super Bowls, Final Fours and Major League Baseball's World Series and All-Star games.
 
With his high metabolism rate, Greg is able to enjoy a good meal and stay slim when he's not running around on the sports scene. He loves desserts — even making them; cheesecakes, pies and parfaits are the most common around the Echlin household.

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Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is being considered to become a USA Gymnastics national team training center site. But with the governing body’s change in leadership and its own future still unsettled in the wake of a massive sexual abuse scandal, the USAG said it doesn’t have a timeline for its decision.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Updated at 11:48 a.m. with commission's approval — Chris Payne had hoped that there would have been Memorial Day Weekend racing at a new motorsports complex like there was with the Indianapolis 500, the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Formula One’s Monaco Grand Prix.

That wasn’t the case. But there are signs that it will be a reality in 2020 at the old I-70 Speedway. On Wednesday, after months of haggling, the Lafayette County Commission approved the operation of the I-70 Motorsports Park under Kansas City businessman Payne’s ownership. 

Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City made a trade for a familiar face this week in an attempt to reverse their recent struggles before Sunday’s match at D.C. United. But the biggest spark may not come until 16-year old Gianluca Busio rejoins the team.

Mizzou Athletics

Former Lee’s Summit High School quarterback Drew Lock is expected to buck a trend in this year’s NFL Draft when it comes to players from the Kansas City area.

Since 2011, three first-round draft picks — Aldon Smith (Raytown), Shane Ray (Bishop Miege) and Charles Harris (Lincoln Prep) — anchored the defensive line at the University of Missouri. But Lock, whose Mizzou career ended at the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, is expected to be one of multiple quarterbacks taken early.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Updated 5:30 p.m. March 16 to correct headline, characterization of investigation  Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill is involved in an investigation into an alleged assault on a juvenile at his home. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Blue Valley Northwest graduates Clayton Custer and Ben Richardson helped Loyola Chicago through their bracket-busting run in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament last year.

They also helped revive the Missouri Valley Conference, a mid-major that relies on men’s tournament money, often from a lone team.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Baker University’s play-by-play announcer Tom Hedrick signed off for good after Wednesday’s basketball game between the Baker Wildcats and Mid-America Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas.  

It ended a 62-year career, one that had him announcing everything from the Kansas City Chiefs’ only Super Bowl win to KU basketball to Cincinnati Reds games. But Hedrick is just as well-known as a professor, teaching budding sportscasters about the business.  

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Since the 1930s, Missouri and Kansas high school boys wrestlers have gone to the mat to find out who’s the best in their respective states. This year, Missouri added girls’ wrestling to its state championship lineup, only the 12th state to do so.

BigStock Images

In the last year, three boys high school basketball coaching stalwarts in and around Kansas City, Missouri — Willie Bowie, Bud Lathrop and William Madison — have died. As holiday tournaments get underway, the coaches’ longevity and success are sure to be remembered, all while the next legends establish themselves.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

No matter how many different puzzle pieces fit together to make the Kansas City Chiefs a success this season, the perception is that it’s The Patrick Mahomes Show.

The starting quarterback has capitalized on not only being surrounded by high-level skill players, but also a marketing team that has positioned Mahomes to make good money — and for more than just himself.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Thirty years ago, I attended the Nov. 30, 1988, news conference where then-Kansas State athletic director Steve Miller introduced Bill Snyder. At the time, no one envisioned a football coaching career that would ultimately place Snyder in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Perhaps there’d be modest success that Vince Gibson and Jim Dickey enjoyed during their respective tenures with the Wildcats? Sure, that couldn’t be ruled out. But no coach dating back to the first year of the program in 1896 could sustain any degree of consistent success, and Snyder’s first season was difficult, a 1-10 record. That — and K-State football — changed.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3 file photo

The Kansas City Chiefs fired star running back Kareem Hunt on Friday night after TMZ published a closed-captioned video earlier in the day of an offseason assault against a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Updated 10:53 p.m. Nov. 29 with match result — With the 3-2 loss to the Portland Timbers Thursday night, Sporting Kansas City lost its chance to play in the Major League Soccer championship.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Les Miles is 65, but he’s not prepared to dig into his retirement savings nor the $1.5 million buyout settlement he agreed to last week with LSU football.

 

Far less than what LSU had agreed to pay Miles through 2023, the buyout paved the way for him to accept a new challenge: turn around the moribund football program at the University of Kansas.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

With Wednesday’s hiring of Brandon Martin as new athletic director, UMKC completed its self-assessment with where it wants to be moving forward: committed to the Western Athletic Conference.

“We have been Division I and intend to stay Division I,” UMKC chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal said, referring to the top division of NCAA athletics.

Ian Echlin / For KCUR 89.3

Despite smaller budgets than major college football teams, NCAA Division II football is in the midst of a sports facility “arms race,” and school administrators don’t deny it.

“It’s kind of like the Division Ones,” said Mel Tjeerdsma, Northwest Missouri State’s legendary former football coach and former athletic director. “You have to keep up with the Joneses. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Sunday’s NASCAR race will cap the busiest weekend of the year at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. It’s a market that’s a bright spot for a sport on a downward slope nationally.

Erica Hunzinger / KCUR 89.3

Despite the second-to-worst season in Kansas City Royals’ history (58-104), manager Ned Yost wants to stick around for at least one more year.

And he’ll do just that, agreeing to a one-year extension Sunday for an undisclosed amount to manage in 2019. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City-area officials celebrated in June when the U.S., Canada and Mexico won their combined bid to host the men’s World Cup soccer tournament in 2026. That’s because the city is one of 17 in the U.S. that have a chance at hosting matches.

“Kansas City is probably shining as much as it can and we still have so much room to grow,” Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James said June 14.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR 89.3 file photo

The Kansas City Royals are on pace to break a team record. It’s not one they’ll be proud of.

In 2005, the team lost 106 games. There are 29 left this season, and whatever the Royals’ record is by then, it may not be the worst in baseball.

This weekend’s series between the Royals and Baltimore Orioles will have a say: Two teams mathematically eliminated only four years after they played each other in the American League Championship Series.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Things were going badly enough for the Kansas City Royals when they opened a homestand on a five-game losing streak Friday night. Then a pipe broke in the right-field bullpen area and flooded the warning track.

And the Royals were winning.

The game, already underway, was delayed for 30 minutes. As water gushed from the bottom of the padded wall, the stadium crew frantically shut off the valves to that part of the ballpark and swept the standing water into the drains.

Sporting KC

Ike Opara was 26 in 2015, in the prime of his career and facing the possibility of retiring from professional soccer due to a torn Achilles tendon.

“I thought that was it for me,” Opara said.

This year, the defender is one of the major reasons Sporting Kansas City is a MLS Cup contender. Opara is one of a handful of Kansas City professional athletes who have demonstrated that an Achilles injury no longer is considered a career-ender.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is taking place this week in Washington, D.C., with Salvador Perez representing the Royals.

But there’s another Kansas City tie: The first All-Star game was played in 1933, the same year the Washington (D.C.) Senators went to the World Series with a first baseman who was known around Kansas City, Missouri. His name was Joe Kuhel (pronounced “cool”).

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Bethany College track and cross country coach Aaron Yoder spends a lot of time on the treadmill in the Lindsborg, Kansas, school’s cardio room. It doesn’t seem unusual unless you see what he’s doing — running backward.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Alfonzo King presided over Kansas City’s public golf courses in the 1960s and 1970s. That was especially true at Swope Park, where he’d regularly play 18 holes with barbeque icon Ollie Gates and civic leader Bruce Watkins.

“A lot of guys used to come down from L.A., Chicago,” the 73-year-old said. “Everybody wanted to come to Kansas City to beat me. I was the drawing card.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Golfers in this week’s U.S. Open will be trying to avoid hitting a ball into the sand. But at courses in Harrisonville, Missouri, or Leonardville, Kansas, finding the sand is equivalent to a day at the beach.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The U.S. men’s soccer team won’t be in this summer’s World Cup in Russia, and the organization is trying to figure out how to re-enter the world’s consciousness. In that, Kansas City plays a prominent role —in more ways than one. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Chiefs won’t go to trial this week over the December 2013 beating death of a Smithville man in the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot, opting instead to settle out of court. 

It’s the second lawsuit the Chiefs have settled this year over fan safety, and there’s a third slated for trial next month involving a fan who was injured during a fracas in the grandstands.

Ty Russell / OU Athletics

Patty Gasso has spent her last 24 years in the dugout, coaching Oklahoma’s softball team to 12 Women’s College World Series appearances.

But she’s an anomaly in the Big 12 Conference: one of only three women heading a softball team. Among the Power 5 conferences (Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12), the Big 12 is the only one to have more men running softball teams than women.

Erica Hunzinger / KCUR 89.3

As the Kansas City Royals celebrate the franchise’s 50th year, the team is hoping to rekindle what made them successful early on. And that all started by trading an obscure pitcher named John Gelnar.

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