Rivalries don’t get much stronger than Prairie Grove vs Farmington. It’s a feud that has seen a fair share of bitterness.
But last Friday, one player brought the two schools and towns together. If only for one night.
McKay Gregson normally sits on the Prairie Grove sidelines as the team manager. But he got to suit up on senior night. Gregson suffers from 22-q-11 deletion syndrome. Gregson’s 22nd chromosome is deficient which causes autistic like symptoms and makes normal things difficult such as learn and social interaction.
Farmington made a run late to pull away but the Tigers’ home crowd continued to chant Gregson’s name. Then a cheerleader ran behind the bench.
Tigers’ coach Steve Edmiston sent Gregson to the score’s table to check in and the crowd erupted.
“It felt great,” Gregson said. “It felt good to come in. Both sides were cheering for me and I never had an experience like that ever in my life.”
“Just getting to see him out there when he’s been with us for three years,” Prairie Grove senior Derek Arguello said. “Always being there with us. Always shooting with us like that. It was awesome.”
As the clock was winding down, Gregson fired a 3-pointer from the right wing. The shot was short and bounced straight to Farmington’s Jeremy Mueller. With a nine point lead, the game was in the win column for the Cardinals.
Then Mueller fired the ball back out to Gregson who had drifted about 30-feet from the rim. Gregson let it fly.
“It was just kind of natural for me to throw it back to him and help him get another shot because it just seemed like the right thing to do for him,” Mueller said.
Gregson took full advantage at his second chance.
‘BOTTOM’. That’s what could be heard coming from the Prairie Grove broadcast. One of those calling the game for the Tigers was Lynn Gregson. McKay’s father.
Not only could the joy be heard in the elder Gregson’s voice but you could also sense something else.
“Pure sportsmanship and class was the only thing I could think of when Jeremy threw the ball back,” Lynn Gregson said. “Especially with this rivalry. It’s so intense and both teams want to win so badly and to watch the sportsmanship was just amazing.”
McKay Gregson brought a pair of rival communities together with one shot, but it almost didn’t happen. Edmiston was caught up in the drama of the game. A game that was not only against their rival but played part in the conference standings. Enter Prairie Grove cheerleader Kyllie McMullen.
Coaches don’t want to be bother during the game. They don’t want to talk to anyone. That didn’t matter to McMullen.
“I kept thinking he’s just going to shoo me away,” McMullen said. “He’s going to tell me ‘I don’t need anybody on the sideline. This is my game. He just instantly put McKay in. I didn’t even need to keep talking. He just interrupted me and put him in.”
A single game between rivals is normally lost over time. Feb. 14th’s meeting between Farmington and Prairie Grove will never be forgotten.