The 92nd Winchester Invitational Tournament kicked off this weekend with a stacked list of contenders in each bracket. Year after year the friendly folks put on the week long event behind so much history from the years past. And one man holds the title as the tournaments historian wizard who knows each and every facet about Winchester basketball. Kent Coultas is probably one of the nicest guys you will ever meet..and also one of the smartest. "KC" as he's known around Winchester can drop a local sports history answer "snap" just like that...and he's been doing it for a long time.
Kent Coultas: "I've always, even since gradeschool, I've liked sports and history, so, I went, about twenty years ago there was trivia question about the tournament that came up and nobody knew the answer. So, I was on Christmas break from college, so I went and dug through some old newspapers and found the answer and kind of been going on with it ever since then."
And Kent has kept those newspapers til this day. Saving all those great memories from each tournament.
Kent: "I enjoy looking at the old scores, the old newspapers and scores and things that happen 20, 30, or like our tournament 90 some years ago. I just enjoy going through the old newspapers and reading what happened years ago."
Many ask Kent what keeps him so interested year after year. It's the tales about the early years he really enjoys.
Kent: "Before the bridge was built, it made it easier for some of the Pike County teams. The river would freeze over. I know one story, the basketball team at Nebo actually drove their bus across the river. And another time, Pittsfield players drove to the river and their players walked across the river and some people from Winchester picked them up and brought them from Winchester to the games. Stories like that are pretty neat to me.
For all the years Winchester has been opening the doors for the WIT, one of Kent's favorite memories happened not too long ago.
Kent: " Being at Winchester, it's always nice when the home team does well in the tournament. I think two years ago we were lucky enough to win it. And I remember one year we were ranked 11th, you don't see too many teams do well but we actually pulled a few upsets and got to the championship game. That was a nice year for us too.
With such a rich history, Kent is quick to point out how passionate the town is in putting on a great event.
Kent: " We take a lot of pride. We call it the oldest invitational tournament in the state of Illinois. Nobody's ever called us to challenge us. I think the community just takes a lot of pride. You'll see all kind of volunteers down here working all week. We just like putting it on. We always hear compliemnts on how well we do and how everybodys treated. It just makes us feel really good to know that."