Mar 14, 2020 3:11 PM

For these athletes, this is a spring break they don't want

Posted Mar 14, 2020 3:11 PM

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Creighton right-hander Ben Dotzler was supposed to be in the bullpen at TD Ameritrade Park this weekend, readying himself to pitch against Northern Colorado.

Molly Little, who plays lacrosse for Denver, expected to be on the road for a much anticipated match against Michigan, the team the Pioneers beat to reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last year.

Avrey Steiner thought she would be with her softball teammates for Illinois’ first home games of the season against Bowling Green and Green Bay.

Everything changed for thousands of college athletes when the NCAA announced Thursday it was canceling all spring sports championships, along with remaining winter championships, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Conferences followed, saying they were temporarily or permanently shutting down their regular seasons.

Suddenly, athletes who put in long hours juggling commitments to their sports and academics had lots of free time.

And they’re miserable.

“We didn’t work a whole year,” Dotzler said, “to play 15 games.”

Little said she woke up at 6:30 every morning to go to the training room to rehab an injury and stretch before lifting weights and running — all before going to a 2 1/2-hour practice and then her classes.

“There’s nothing that can prepare you for the feeling of your season being done, and it’s not because you lost in NCAAs,” Little said. “I spent many hours crying with teammates. You work your whole life to get to this point, to play on this big stage, and to have it taken from you is devastating.”

Steiner said she was doing fine emotionally until she started cleaning out her locker Friday.

“That really got me,” she said. “A lot of people are going to say, ’Oh, yeah, this is like a week off or getting a couple days off. I guarantee you it’s going to hit me and other people in the coming weeks.”

Some good news arrived on Friday when the NCAA informed schools that spring athletes would be given another year of eligibility to make up for their lost season. Details must be worked out.

States Fort, a senior on the Coastal Carolina men’s golf team, hopes to return for another year even though he’ll graduate in May.

“I would try to make it work with grad courses,” he said. “I would do everything in my power as long as the finances are there. I would love to come back and play with these guys.”

Not all seniors will be able to take advantage of being granted an extra year. Some already have jobs lined up. Others have been accepted into graduate programs at other schools. There are athletes who currently are on partial scholarships, and they may not be able to afford paying the difference for another year.

Though the eligibility extension offers some consolation, it will be impossible for athletes to duplicate the experiences of playing with their 2020 teams.

The Richmond women’s lacrosse team, for example, was off to a program-best 7-0 start and ranked in the top 20 nationally for the first time since 2008.

“We just accelerated into the season and started off so hot,” senior goaltender Megan Gianforte said. “Personally, I thought I was peaking this year. I felt I was in the best condition for this season. That’s why I was so excited for it. We brought in so much talent, which helps me defensively.

“I’m leaving Richmond now with such unfinished business, knowing all the potential we could have had. I just know how much more we have to give.”

Now the spring athletes are left to wonder what they’ll do with themselves.

“It is just heartbreaking to see these kids face this unfortunate situation,” longtime University of San Francisco baseball coach Nino Giarratano said. “They are too young.”

Creighton sophomore Tommy Steier said he and Dotzler, his roommate, have been spending a lot of time hanging out with teammates, rehashing old stories and plotting their immediate futures.

Creighton isn’t allowing athletes to use the school’s training facilities during the shutdown. Baseball players will work out on their own and prepare to join summer teams in a few months — if the summer leagues operate.

Fort, the Coastal Carolina golfer, said a temporary sports stoppage would have been more appropriate, followed by a reassessment of the situation. He wishes the NCAA would have waited before canceling championships scheduled for months from now.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the virus.

“Obviously I’m biased because I play a small outdoor sport where spectators aren’t much of an issue,” Fort said. “It was kind of quick and a little rash and short-sighted on the NCAA’s part, especially to blanket cancel all sports.

“I can understand basketball. That’s a spectator sport where you have a ton of people constantly rubbing shoulders. I can almost understand baseball. But sports like (men’s) volleyball, softball, golf and lacrosse don’t have as much of a pronounced fan base.”

Creighton’s baseball team was busing back to Omaha from Minnesota on Thursday when the players’ Twitter feeds started showing conference basketball tournaments being canceled.

An hour after the players got home they received a text telling them to return to campus for a meeting. Steier and Dotzler said everyone sensed what was coming.

As coach Ed Servais broke the news, seniors, who wouldn’t know for another 24 hours they would be allowed to come back next year, broke into tears.

“It was hard to see all of them knowing they were losing what they love to do,” Steier said.

Gianforte, the Richmond lacrosse goalie, said she and her teammates had a feeling as early as Wednesday afternoon their season might be in jeopardy. That’s when the Ivy League announced it was closing down spring sports.

“I think the other conferences were feeling some peer pressure,” she said.

Then the NBA announced Wednesday night it was suspending its season.

“That,” Gianforte said, “is when we knew we were goners.”

Continue Reading Great Bend Post
Mar 14, 2020 3:11 PM
Barton women's bowling captures national runner-up; Cougar men roll to eighth placing
Barton men's and women's bowling team and families at the 2020 NJCAA Championships at AMF Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga, NY

Participating in its' first ever NJCAA Championships, the upstart Barton Community College women's bowling team placed national runner-up with the men eighth this past weekend at the AMF Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga, New York, as the Cougars also garnered the program's first national champion and All-American award.

The women's team led the nineteen team field after day one of the competition, compiling a twenty-pin lead after Thursday's singles and doubles competition. Returning Friday for the first block of the 5-man games (first three games of six), the Cougars posted a 545 with a 542 follow-up in Saturday's second block (last three games of six) in slipping into third place. Barton erased a 227 pin deficit in the final event of the competition, rolling the two highest scores in the three-block Baker games of 598 and 610 with a 541 sandwiched in between, to post a combined 12,113 and 107 pins more in the Baker than Iowa Central Community College who captured the title 44 pins ahead of the Cougars.

Barton's men's squad compiled 11,724 pins as Rock Valley College claimed the team title among the twenty-two entrants, knocking down 13571 pins avenging last season's runner-up finish with Iowa Central coming in third with 13131 pins.

Women's Recap

Alexandria Newell inked the program's first individual championship, compiling a 605 in Thursday's singles competition. Newell moved up the leaderboard following an opening 192 with 224 and 189 games to best the 94-member field by thirteen pins. Faith Whited joined Newell in the top ten, bouncing back from a 163 to roll a 219 and 174 for a 6th place 556 total.

Allison Brodrick had a solid first day of competition with even better final two stages to earn All-American status and etch her name in Barton history. Placing 29th in singles competition with a 502 (162-144-196), Broderick rolled a 526 (186-162-178) in doubles to complete the day. In the first block of the 5-man games, Brodrick knocked down 545 on Friday with Saturday's second block and back-end of the six-game set producing a 542, accumulating 2,115 pins over twelve games for a 6th best 176.3 average.

In doubles action Whited paired with Taylor Cessna for a fourth place finish out of forty-four pairs in rolling a combined 1,034 six-game score. Cessna led the pair with a 549 (185-194-170) while Whited knocked down 485 (117-160-208). Brodrick's 526 and Erin Mayfield's 486 (137-147-202) earned a 10th place finish with the duo combining for 1,012 pins as just eleven total pairs eclipsed the 1000 combined total.

Women's Individual Single Scores and Placings

1st Alexandria Newell: 192, 224, 189 – Series: 605

6th Faith Whited: 163, 219, 174 – Series: 556

15th Lauren Lust: 218, 176, 147 – Series: 541

19th Taylor Cessna: 182, 160, 188 – Series: 530

29th Allison Brodrick: 162, 144, 196 and Erin Mayfield: 146, 199, 157 – Series: 502

45th Alexis Leon: 154, 136, 162 – Series: 452

75th Ashley Dykes: 132, 147, 124 – Series: 403

Men's Recap

After day one of competition, Barton found themselves in seventh place tallying 7722 total pins just five back of Suffolk Community College after the trio of singles, doubles and five-man action.

Freshman Alec Roberts pieced together a pair of solid day performances leading Barton individually to an eighteen performance in the 120-man field blasting 2184 pins in twelve games averaging 182 per ten frames. The freshman rolled a fifth best singles score of 624 falling just twenty-two pins shy of singles national champion Derik Lisi's 666 mark.

Fellow Great Bend native Jordan Black finished two-spots back of Roberts tossing 2157 pins averaging 179.8 per series.

Struggling in singles, Creyton Nisly and Tracey Hill rallied with stout double performances as the pair combined for a team best 1079 pins leading the Cougars double four pack to a fifteenth place showing.

Also making a strong doubles run was Jacob Holden and Benjamin Banks stringing together a twenty-third showing posting 1024 pins finishing two spots ahead of Black and Roberts 1014 total.

Faltering two spots in Saturday's competition, the tandem of Black and Roberts continued to consume the hot hand for the Cougars as the twosome finished with team bests 1135 and 1025 respectively rolling Barton to a tenth place showing in the five man games.

Entering the final event consisting of nine baker games in three separate blocks, the Cougars tossed the fourth highest score in the opening block rattling 580 pins. However the climb up the latter in the final two blocks would fade posting scores of 434 and 520 for the thirteenth and eighth best marks finishing with the eighth best baker score of 1534.

Individual Single Scores and Placings

4th Alec Roberts: 221, 192, 211 – Series: 624

35th Jordan Black: 197, 164, 182 – Series: 543

42nd Jacob Holden: 195, 147, 192 – Series: 534

62nd Dalton Lowe: 170, 185, 154 – Series: 509

93rd Creyton Nisly: 150, 153, 162 – Series: 465

94th Tracey Hill: 150, 165, 146 – Series: 461

96th Devin Palmer: 151, 142, 167 – Series: 460

111th Benjamin Banks: 131, 158, 133 – Series: 422