Spring Sports Are In Peril For High School Athletes
By Al Zipsie
The question will high school sports be played in Illinois this spring.
The bad news they are postponed. The good news they are not yet canceled. However, things are in limbo all because of the coronavirus.
For the athlete who has only played a spring sport, he or she needs to keep hope that the season may be shortened, but will be held with a limited regular season and then the State series. The IHSA has said they move the season back some but only with permission from our board of directors."
The IHSA had set March 30th for schools to reopen. Now Illinois Governor J.B.Pritzker extended a stateline school closure through April 7. Chicago Public Schools won't reopen until April 21st.
"I'm hopeful spring sports can be played out with some form of regular season and some form of postseason," said IHSA executive director Craig Anderson. "At this point, much like our students and schools are waiting for advice on when things can go back to some normalcy, we're doing the same thing. "We're just tentatively on hold. Unlike the NCAA, at this point, we're not canceling our spring sports.
Stateline high schools and statewide cannot practice with their coach. The first spring sport scheduled to have a state meet is girl's track and field May 21-22 at Eastern Illinois University. Boys track in Charleston is May 23-25. Boys tennis May 23-25. Girls soccer May 24-25 and May 31 and June 1. Baseball and softball are both scheduled for May 31-June 1 for 1A and 2A. And June 7-8 for 3A and 4A.
The IKWF state wrestling has canceled. the Illinois 1A and 2A basketball state finals was canceled. The IHSA said they were sending the four teams a semi-finalist plaque. The 3A and 4A boys basketball tournament were canceled before the Sectional championships.
All of the Stateline basketball teams were eliminated by then. Can you imagine making it to the state finals a dream since childhood only to have it canceled?
The Dakota wrestling and Eastland girls basketball both got their state championships in before events were canceled.
"I can't believe this is going on in our country," said Dakota boys track coach Dan Sheets. "I hope things work out and can all resume our normal routine. We just have to keep the faith and hope and do what we can control and that is act as if we will compete this year."
Many stateline baseball and softball teams, as well as track teams on boys and girls, was hoping for state championships this spring.
The Dakota track team led by Nolan Lentz is hoping for state medals. He set a school record last year in the 400 meters and 400 relay, who brings back Lentz, Kaleb Morris, and Jordan Ayres. Lentz is also close to a school record in both the 100 and 200.
Lentz was an all-conference picker and punter as a junior but missed his senior year with a pre-season injury. Then He sat our wrestling where Dakota won a state title. Now his senior track season may be wiped out. On the bright side, Lentz will run track at Dubuque College.
Other NUIC track standouts who hope for a chance at a track title are Milledgeville sprinter Olivia Stirrup and Polo's Jace Coffey a state runner up in the discus last year.
"This definitely is a hard time right now for us at Dakota, like it is for so many schools," added Sheets. As of right now, the IHSA is still having the State Series for the spring sports. They had released a statement saying they have not canceled it. But as we have seen anything can happen. With school closed, I am unable to hold practices with the team. I feel bad for the kids. This is the best track team we have at Dakota in years. They have been working hard in the offseason since January. Obviously we want the kids safe and to stay out of harm's way during these trying times."
The NCAA march madness should be going strong right now. I was looking forward to seeing Illinois and Bradley play. I could only stare at the blank TV and chant where is my March Madness basketball. I miss playing a bracket so I could defend my last-place finish. All other pro sports are on hold as we can only All hope things go back to normal soon. And I hope baseball at least is played my White Sox finally have hope.
We need sports to help heal us as it did after 9/11. Now a tough decision harder then when to cancel sports is when to resume it. Nobody wants to come back to soon and have it backfire.
The joke on the internet about the typical male sports fan. "Day 2 without sports. Found a lady sitting on my couch. Turns out she is my wife. She seems nice."