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Last week the sports world came to a grinding halt across the country due to COVID-19, or the coronavirus. Not only did professional sports such as the NBA, NHL and MLB suspend their seasons, the NCAA cancelled “March Madness” in what is now being called “March Sadness”.
Shortly after professional and college sports navigated unfamiliar territory, high school sports followed suit. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced the recommendation of all public schools to close for four weeks, with a return date of April 13. On Monday, March 16, the Iowa Unified Activities Partners released a statement concerning spring sports. The IUAP announced the season would be suspended following the recommendation of Governor Reynolds as well as barring contact between coaches/administrators and athletes, while revisiting the schedule before the April 13 return date.
The suspension caught more than one student-athlete off guard, stunning seniors and leaving them in a suspended state between pushing themselves to practice on their own or hanging out at home while schools are closed.
“I actually went to the track today and ran some, but it’s hard to really do much without your teammates pushing you or your coaches there telling you what to do,” said senior track athlete Sam Stewart. “I think this can go for golf, softball, baseball and other spring activities that go on.”
Senior Dawson Frost reached out while on vacation to express his concern for the spring season.
“It all feels like a bad dream. Especially being on vacation right now, I don’t think it has hit me fully,” said Frost. “I know yesterday it really hit hard, like I may never run track again which sucks a lot because this year I was so excited to actually place and hopefully win state in shuttle hurdle.”
Goals that were once at their fingertips, now seem to be slipping away as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.
“Personally, this season has always been the season to break records,” said senior Isaac Timmerman. “It’s very hard to think about not having the season.”
“All of high school is supposed to lead up to your senior year,” said Frost. “And it all being possibly ripped away is awful.”
Some athletes, like Stewart, never see much time away from sports.
“I feel like this is extremely hard because I haven’t not had at least one practice a day in something since probably my sixth grade year,” said Stewart. “I really have no idea what I’m going to do for the next four week. No one knows whether they should still be practicing on their own time or not and I fell like if we do have a season, everyone is going to be so far behind.”
For these athletes, their final time putting on the spikes and racing around the track could have been in 2019. For Stewart, she could be missing out on the last time to run against her sister, Maddie.
“We are both very competitive and go at it all the time in practices, but I feel like over the past couple years, we have gotten a lot closer because of sports and activities that we are both involved in,” said Stewart. “I’m grateful for that, but I do hope that we are able to have another track season together again just to help push each other and create more memories.”
Coach Brad Elliott, head coach of the Raiders, sent his team their daily workouts and stretches, stating it is up to them individually if they wish to continue practicing on their own.
“Keelan [Klommhaus] and I talked about going on our own to run hurdles just to stay in condition, hoping they don’t cancel the whole year,” said Frost. “It’s going to be hard to go out on my own and push myself knowing that it could all be for nothing, but also the fact that I’ll still be playing college sports next year causes me to know I have to stay in good shape throughout the summer.”
While the season seems to be up in the air, early today (Tuesday, March 17) the Iowa High School Athletic Association announced State Track Meet Qualifier locations which are scheduled for May 14, one month after the expected return to school date. For class 1A, Mount Ayr is set to be the host site, giving the Raiders and Raiderettes a possible much needed leg-up in what has been an unprecedented beginning to the spring season.
“The senior leadership is great, so I am sure we will have some unorganized practices without coaches,” said Timmerman. “At the end of the day, Mount Ayr will be the best if we get a track to shine on.”