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Sunday, August 31, 2003

KU fans endure downpour, loss

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The unrelenting drizzle that soaked Lawrence all day Saturday wasn't enough to keep thousands of dedicated fans away from Kansas University's opening game.

A 28-20 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats, however, did put a damper on festivities.

But the nearly 2 inches of rain falling Saturday on and around Memorial Stadium didn't deter an onslaught of poncho, rain coat and baseball cap-clad fans from being whipped into a frenzy for the 6 p.m. kickoff.

Creatively cozy

Tiffany and Brandon Parker, Ken Martin and Andy Jaynes huddled under a blue tarp while sitting in the stands. The four friends -- all 1996 KU alumni -- made a cozy plastic cave to help stay warm and dry.

"We didn't know it was supposed to be like this," said Jaynes, 31, who drove from Northfield, Minn., to see the game. "We came down here thinking it was going to be 106, and incredibly hot."

Mark Peschke, Aaron Kirby and the rest of their buddies took refuge at Meat Market, 811 N.H., before heading to the stadium. They had been there since 1 p.m., drinking beer, gearing up for the game and staying dry -- at least for the pregame festivities.

"A little wet isn't going to keep us away," said Peschke, 30, his attention half devoted to the flat-screen television airing the Nebraska-Oklahoma State football game. "Weather isn't a factor when it comes to a football game. Rain or shine, I'll be there."

Peschke flew in from Chicago for the weekend. He and the rest of his buddies are 1996 and 1997 alumni and consider themselves "die-hard" fans, he said.

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From left, Brandon Hazzard, 13, Bailey Dunning, 12, and Kelsey Dunning, 10, all from Tonganoxie, watch the Kansas-Northwestern game from beneath a tarp. Despite the forecast calling for a dry evening, the rain never let up during Saturday's football opener at Memorial Stadium.

"We love football," said Kirby, 29, of Leawood. "We want them to be a powerhouse again."

Jock talk

Justin Glasgow, a former KU offensive lineman, came from Topeka to use the season tickets he shares with his wife and parents. They threw down money in advance to park their two trucks in the lawn of a house on Illinois Street for the next four home games.

"Obviously coming here is an experience that can't be missed," said Glasgow, 26. "We'll be here no matter what."

Glasgow wore number 76 as a Jayhawk from 1994 to '96. He's excited about coach Mark Mangino and the upcoming season, he said.













"Win or lose, it's a great time of year," he said. "I like what I saw last year, and I'm looking for more."

Fans big and small

"We're not fair weather fans!" said Helen Hawley, of Lawrence.

She and a few dozen friends and co-workers from Diamond Everly Roofing Contractors were feasting on brisket, chicken and grilled veggies while huddling under makeshift tents to stay out of the rain. Their rain-soaked KU flags on the tent poles kept fluttering, in spite of the weather.

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Adrian Cullen, 2, is sheltered from the rain with a little help from his mom, Addie Cullen, of Tonganoxie, at the Kansas-Northwestern game. Fans were drenched Saturday by heavy rains that lingered in Lawrence.

It's been several decades since Hawley, 46, a Wisconsin Badger-turned-Jayhawk fan, moved to Lawrence. Cheering for KU sports has since become a family tradition.

"Rock, chalk, Jayhawk," said her 3-year-old grandson, Darik, as he half-hid behind his grandma's knee.

"We show them how to be a fan early," said Hawley, beaming.

Lifelong love of the game

Bob Idol reckons he's been coming to KU football games since he was 4 or 5 years old. His father was a letterman in 1918, and some of Idol's earliest memories are of going to the games with him. Idol would have graduated from KU if he hadn't served in World War II, he said.

The now 77-year-old was at Saturday's season opener with his wife, Marge.

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Tierra Green, 11, from St. Louis, Mo., peers from beneath a raincoat as she watches the Kansas-Northwestern football game at Memorial Stadium. The Jayhawks lost, 20-28, to Northwestern Saturday in their season opener.

"We both love coming here so much," he said, noting that they make a 90-mile drive from their Robinson home in northeast Kansas.

"We're just thankful that it's not snowing or cold," Marge said, but, "really, that wouldn't keep us away either."

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