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

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.

Ian Echlin

In December, Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self did not have reassuring words about the men’s basketball team.

“This is the softest team that Kansas has had since I’ve been here,” Self said.

Those remarks came after the Jayhawks suffered a home loss to Arizona State on Dec. 10. Just four days earlier, Kansas lost to Washington in front of a friendly crowd at the Sprint Center.

KU’s play, even in some wins this season, left Self frustrated. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

As they advanced over the first two weekends of the NCAA tournament to reach the Final Four, the University of Kansas Jayhawks played inside arenas relatively close to Lawrence, which gave them some friendly crowds.

But at the Alamodome in a dome in San Antonio, it’ll take more of an effort to win over Texans in the crowd who aren't dressed in Villanova, Michigan or Loyola colors.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City native Amaad Wainright already has had some big moments with the Kansas State men’s basketball team, including the team's run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 and a season-high 35 minutes played during a Big 12 tournament loss to conference champion Kansas earlier this month.

MU Athletics

For the first time in 17 years, the Missouri Tigers are playing in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Check out the rosters, and you’ll find one surname listed five times: Porter.

There are the brothers likely bound for the NBA, Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay; sisters Cierra Porter, a junior forward, and graduate assistant Bri Porter; and the patriarch, Michael Porter Sr., an assistant coach for the men’s team.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Updated at 7 p.m. March 9 with updated travel details — Kansas men’s basketball team is just down the road from home this week for the Big 12 conference in Kansas City. Mizzou only had to go to St. Louis.

UMKC, on the other hand, traveled more than 1,300 miles to Las Vegas for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament. The WAC is a far-flung conference: UMKC’s closest competitor is Chicago State. Otherwise, they’re going to places like Seattle and Bakersfield, California, and paying for the travel.

MU Athletics

Mizzou’s Michael Porter Jr. is the type of player coaches build a team around, and many wanted to. Even Kansas.

“The things that people say about him being a potential top-3 pick or the No. 1 pick, totally accurate,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said last fall about Porter likely landing in the NBA. “I’d be shocked if he’s not. I think he’s every bit as good as advertised.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

About 300 alumni of North Kansas City High School, some of whom traveled hundreds of miles, gathered one last time Thursday night to pack themselves on wooden planks for the Hornets' final girls and boys basketball games at the facility that's been open since 1951.

These days, high school gymnasiums are usually built with retractable bleachers. But when the North Kansas City High School Fieldhouse is torn down and the wooden planked seats removed, the wrecking ball will drop on two giant slabs of staircased concrete.

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