While not many students were complaining too loudly about school being cancelled for the rest of the 2019-2020 year, senior athletes may be the exception to the rule. The Coronavirus pandemic officially deprived student athletes the chance to shine in their final spring season of competition when Missouri Governor Mike Parsons announced on April 9th that classes will not resume in the state’s public schools prior to the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) announced the cancellation of all remaining post-season events for the 2019-20 school year.
“This decision is very difficult for all involved especially given the impact it will have on our students, parents, coaches, teachers, and administrators throughout the state,” said MSHSAA Executive Director Dr. Kerwin Urhahn. “We thank all of the participants, the coaches/directors/advisors, the administrations, the parents, and everyone else who has dedicated tremendous amounts of time, passion, and effort to these events.”
The biggest impact of this decision will be felt by the seniors, many of whom have exhausted their eligibility without taking the field, court or course.
“To our senior participants – we thank you for everything you have done for your schools and communities and wish you the very best in your bright futures,” Urhahn continued. “While this is a difficult ending, the lessons you’ve learned and friendships you’ve made through high school activities will last your lifetime.”
For Scotland County, that means Brock Aylward will not have the opportunity to try to take the next step in the state golf playoffs, and the Tigers or Lady Tigers will not have the opportunity to uncover the next hidden gem on the track such as 2019 state champion Matthew Woods. Nor will Branton Burrus get the opportunity to try to pitch SCR-I to back-to-back district baseball titles.
“We had started practice on March 4th at the Timber Ridge Golf Course and were just two weeks away from our first golf meet when school was postponed,” said Aylward. “I qualified for sectionals my sophomore and junior years. I was disappointed in my performance last year at sectionals and I was determined to qualify for state my senior year.”
The SCR-I senior has set aside the golf clubs for now as he has kept busy working on the farm, hauling grain and preparing for planting. And despite school not being in session in the building, Aylward has continued his pursuit of the valedictorian honors for his class.
“I am still diligently working on my online classes and AP Calculus course,” said Aylward. “Academics are still my main priority until the end of the school year. My online courses will be completed on May 1st, while my AP Calculus class will be finished on May 12th.”
Coach Michael Moore indicated that Aylward was to be the lone senior on the 2020 SCR-I golf squad and that he is still having trouble processing the fact there will not be a season.
“I would say that disappointing is an understatement,” said Moore. “As time went on, I had a feeling we were going to miss a majority of the season, but I was hopeful that we could get back and get a few events in before the postseason tournaments started.”
Moore said he was most disappointed for Aylward, who he noted had worked hard at improving his golf game.
“I feel like he had a great chance at going to the state tournament this year,” said Moore. “He just missed making it last year by a few strokes, when one bad hole took his chance at state away. He had set a goal for himself to make it this year, and through nine practices, he was playing some great golf. My heart goes out to him, and all senior spring sport athletes who have had their high school careers end this way.”
Track Coach Troy Carper expressed similar sentiments after his hopes of building on a stellar showing at state in 2019 where dashed by the Coronavirus.
SCR-I sent 13 student athletes to Jefferson City last year and saw senior Mathew Woods bring home the Class state championship in the long jump.
Carper noted that Spencer Kerkmann was one of the Tigers that lost the opportunity to be the “Woody” of 2020.”
Kerkmann was part of the Tigers sprint relay squads. Last year he teamed up with Woods, Kaden Anders and Alex Long to finish fifth at state in the 4×200 relay.
The lost track season will also mean the new Scotland County R-I all-weather track will see its official debut pushed back a year.
The brand new facility was set to host the Scotland County Relays on April 9th, as well as a junior high track meet on May 6th.
“Our track and field facilities have been at the forefront of the improvements this past year,” said SCR-I Athletic Director Lance Campbell. “Our facilities are among the finest in the area, and we hope that the public is impressed with these upgrades at our facilities. Although we are extremely disappointed with the continued postponement and ultimate cancellation of school and thereby our first home track meet in five years, it was simply the right decision moving forward. We are beyond excited by the prospect of showcasing our track and field facilities with competition at our inaugural event in the spring of 2021.”
Unlike most of its spring counterparts, the SCR-I campus bowl season was in full swing when COVID-19 hit. SCR-I was heading toward the post season with a 17-11 record overall, but on a 12-0 run that included winning the Scotland County Invitational for the first time since 2007 as well as the more recent Lewis & Clark Conference Tournament to claim the league crown.
“It was a good year,'” said Coach Nathaniel Orr. “We had just begun to hit our stride before it was unceremoniously cut short.”
He pointed to the team’s 7-1 record overall versus district competition, citing a great opportunity to advance in the state playoffs that was taken away by the pandemic.
“Erica Yarbrough was our only senior and was having her best season ever,” said Orr. She specialized in art, science, theatre, pop culture, and mythology and was a part of a very well rounded team.”
Mr. Orr faced similar circumstances for his band program.
“When school was first canceled, we were one week away from large ensemble Festival” he said. “I remember that last rehearsal ending and thinking the band is almost ready We had improved so much over that week. It was such a shame to not realize that may be our last time to play together as a group.”
(Look for a complete story on the music program next week)
The new all-weather track at Scotland County R-I High School will have to wait another year for its official debut after the 2020 track season was canceled across Missouri due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a tough run at sectionals in 2019, SCR-I senior Brock Aylward was hoping for one final shot to advance to the Missouri state golf championship this spring.