High School Sports

Seniors Part I: Athletes won’t have chance to leave final mark on athletic programs

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Southmont athletic director Aaron Charles held back tears Thursday evening as he reminisced about the senior class that has set records, won championships, and left the Mountie athletic program in a better place than they found it.

“I’ve been here long enough and I saw them in junior-high and you start seeing the classes that are with them,” he said. “We’ve felt like we’ve taught a lot of good characteristics that they’re going to take with them forever, but that success part we really thought this would be the time that we would see that because of preaching that togetherness, and, wanting to have that common goal and being successful, because we want them to be successful when they leave and out in the real world. That was really starting to come together.”

There will be no more sectional championships won by the class of 2020, as Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb closed all schools through the rest of the academic year on Thursday afternoon due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the IHSAA followed suit by canceling the spring sports season.

The Mounties won four fall sectional titles, and a winter title. These Southmont seniors were on pace to break a school record for most sectional titles won in a school year as they entered the spring as favorites in softball and girls’ tennis.

Charles knows the difference they’ve made.

“It’s not an ideal situation, but they’re going to be leaving Southmont, and they’ve all left their footprint,” he said.

Seniors Logan Berrisford, Lexi Rusk, Bailey Thompson, Carson White, Bailey Thompson, and Erin Williams helped the Mounties to their first girls’ golf sectional title last fall, while Lexi Nelson and Emma Ward helped win a volleyball title for the first time since 1993. Mia Myers, Lexi Odum, and Claire Remley helped the Mounties to a third-straight girls’ soccer sectional title, while Trevor McKinney, Conner McVay, and Reese Long helped Southmont to a tennis sectional title for the first time since 1991.

This winter Aubrey Jones, Suzi Pedro, Jane Scheidler, and Emma Tyler, guided the Mounties to a swim sectional title for the first time since 2001.

Berrisford, Remley, Thompson, Ryleigh Cable, Hannah Thompson, and Kaylea Newgent won’t have the opportunity to help the Mounties repeat as sectional winners in softball this spring either.

“For our seniors it’s hard,” Charles said. “I think we are just going to do all we can to recognize them and honor them, and when we get back to doing some other things get them back in and their families and make sure we give them a proper send off.”

Crawfordsville athletic director Bryce Barton was looking forward to the spring sports season.

“We had some talented seniors who had put a ton of time into their finals season at CHS,” he said. “It is disappointing they will not be able to see the results of that hard work. Some are continuing their athletic careers at the collegiate level and I wish them the best of luck and keep working. To those, who will not continue their athletic career, this is a lot of what-ifs. We wish they could have experienced their senior night, their final game, a chance to compete for a championships.”

“We hope they enjoyed their experience at CHS and they were better because of participating in athletics. Know that their coaches will always be there for them rooting them on and giving tidbits of advice when needed.”

Barton shared this with his athletes on Twitter

“I ask one thing of you today. Close your eyes and visualize yourself in your CHS uniform running the perfect race, throw, or jump, the walk-off hit, the perfect point to win your last tennis match. Always an Athenian!”

Imagine seniors like Carson Scott with a walk-off hit on the diamond, Sierra Hutchison making a diving grab in the outfield, or Madison Fry making one last chase at becoming a state qualifier.

North Montgomery athletic director Matt Merica can’t help but go down memory lane and remember what his mindset was like as a senior in high school.

“I’m trying to think back to what my mindset was when I was 18 and a senior in high school, and I can’t imagine what is going through their minds,” he said. “You have to feel for the senior athletes, as well as just the seniors. Everything that they’re going to miss out on this spring is unfortunate. It’s some thing that is our of their control and hopefully they will learn from it and make them stronger as they become adults.”

There will not be a final baseball game for Kai Warren, a second track state qualification for Kade Kobel, or a final tennis match for Gracie Chapman.

Fountain Central athletic director Jason Good, along with many people within high school sports, held out hope the last few weeks for an abbreviated spring sports schedule, but ultimately knew it was a long-shot.

“I hate it for our senior spring athletes who have to miss their last season of sports their senior year,” Good said. “For our younger athletes, I hope they are taking advantage of online workouts they can do at home to stay in shape. Hopefully, we are able to open our facilities as soon as possible for offseason workouts, but the priority now is making sure our students are getting everything they need to stay safe.”

The careers are over for dozens of local high school athletes, but there accomplishments won’t be forgotten.

This is a four-part series looking at the cancellation of high school spring sports. This is from the athletic directors’ point of view. If you are an athlete, coach, or parent please email your thoughts/story to sports editor Jared McMurry at jmcmurry@jrpress.com

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