Area seniors hold out hope for shortened high school spring sports season
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
A small glimmer of hope for high school senior athletes statewide came in the form of a brief note posted to the Colorado High School Activities Association website Monday evening.
That same night, Gov. Jared Polis extended the statewide stay-at-home order through April 26, and earlier he had said that social-distancing measures and limits on large public gatherings would need to continue through April to curb the spread of COVID-19.
That left CHSAA’s current timeline unchanged — for now.
The spring sports season and other CHSAA activities remain suspended through April 30 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“The recent closing of some schools and districts (for the remainder of the school year), and Gov. Polis’ extension of the stay-at-home order, hasn’t changed the timeline we established on April 1,” CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said in the statement.
CHSAA officials have not elaborated on what exactly that could mean come May, and if an abbreviated season for baseball, girls soccer, track and field and other spring sports could still happen.
Glenwood Springs High School senior athletes Kuba Bartnik and Celia Scruton hope it means their efforts to keep up with conditioning and training as best they could during the suspension won’t be for naught.
“It is heartbreaking to have the vast chunk of my senior season stripped,” said Bartnik, a promising sprinter on the Demons’ track and field team who is holding out hopes for a return trip to the 4A state meet.
“A lot was riding on having a breakout season with my lofty goals and likely figuring out where I may continue to pursue my track and field career,” he said.
The initial news in late March that the season would be suspended through April came as a shock, Bartnik said.
“After deep contemplation … I discerned that I needed to turn that frustration into my work and keep moving on,” he said of a regular routine of “track” workouts on the bike path near the high school.
Since CHSAA does not allow the use of even outdoor school facilities during the shutdown, Demons’ track coach Blake Risner prepared some voluntary individual workouts by placing distance markers on the bike path so that Bartnik and others could do sprint workouts.
“It keeps me going and helps me to prevail optimistically through the situation,” said Bartnik, who has aspirations to run track in college. “I hope I will be able to throw on my high school track uniform once more and perform well.”
Scruton, who is senior captain for the GSHS girls soccer team, is also taking the suspended season in stride.
“It has definitely been a hard pill to swallow, but I’m trying to stay positive,” she said. “I keep telling myself that we will come back, we will play at least one game, have one more practice …
“The most upsetting thing for me is that I may never get to step on the field with girls I have played with since elementary school, and not being able to play with my little sister, Abby, for at least one last game.”
Scruton said the scholarship she accepted earlier this year to play soccer for Evergreen State College in Washington state is unaffected by the current situation.
She has been working out on her own, doing cone drills by herself, running and getting as many touches on the soccer ball as she can.
“I have also worked out with my college team a couple times over video calls,” Scruton said.
The thought of not playing her final high school soccer season is the worst, but it’s not just that, she said.
There also won’t be a prom dance, and there’s even a question whether graduation ceremonies can take place in early June.
“Not having all the rituals that go with being a senior makes it feel like we have no closure,” Scruton said.
Coal Ridge High School senior Ryan Kotz just came off a storybook hockey season playing for the Glenwood Demons. The all-league forward was chosen to play for Team Colorado in a national high school hockey tournament that was to be played in early May in Minnesota.
The tournament has since been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, and now his senior baseball season for Coal Ridge is in jeopardy, too.
“We still throw the ball around when we can and play some wiffle ball,” Kotz said. “Everyone is just trying to stay ready to play, just in case.
“My friend, Jared (Lund), and I were looking forward to hitting a lot of home runs this year. If it does happen, we just have to go all out.”
Coal Ridge senior Maren Hough was looking forward to the spring girls soccer season and was planning to double up as a member of the Titans track and field team.
“Your senior year, you know, it’s what we’ve been looking forward to,” Hough said.
Her soccer team made it to the 3A state playoffs last year, losing a heartbreaker in the first round in overtime. The senior captain had been hoping to help carry her team deeper into the playoffs this spring.
If the season does resume, she may not be able to do both soccer and track.
Last season, she was part of the state-qualifying 4×400 relay team, and also competed in the open 400 and triple jump.
Hough had hoped to try hurdles this season, but expects to focus solely on soccer if sports do start up in May.
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“There are parts of (Grizzly Creek Fire) that got 8 inches of snow in the recent weeks, but we still have activity on warm days,” a Forest Service spokesman said. “We’ll probably need some kind of season-ending weather event, like a big rain or snow to put it completely out.”