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High schools: Resuming spring sports is now a long-shot

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

It’s looking more likely every day that history will record the spring of 2020 as the high school season of what might have been.

With the announced decision by Governor Roy Cooper on Monday to keep students out of public schools in North Carolina at least through May 15 due to the threat of COVID-19, the chance of high school athletics resuming at any point this school year is in serious jeopardy.

The NCHSAA’s quick response to the governor’s announcement was to extend the suspension of high school sports through at least May 18. The original shutdown, which included the basketball state championship games, was through April 6.

High school athletics have been on hold across the state since midnight on March 14. Not just games, meets and matches in baseball, softball, boys tennis, girls soccer, girls and boys track and field and boys golf, but also any school-related training, workout and skill development.

“Having heard the updated information relative to schools remaining closed until the middle of May, NCHSAA interscholastic athletics will remain suspended until at least May 18,” NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker said in a statement. “The NCHSAA Board of Directors and staff will use the next few weeks to weigh our future decisions based on the new directions given by Governor Cooper, other government leaders, and organizations charged with public health and safety during this unprecedented time. Such decisions will include the possible resumption of spring sports’ competition and the possibility of holding the state basketball championships.”

So it’s probably going to be what might have been for East Rowan baseball slugger Wayne Mize (five homers and 15 RBIs in six games), for Carson’s breakout star Dylan Driver (.692 batting average in six games), for South Rowan soccer star Madison Henry (13 goals in five games), for West Rowan softball pitcher Whitley Arnott (40 strikeouts in three games), for Salisbury pitcher Ellen Yang (53 strikeouts in five games), and for West baseball pitchers Cullen Davis and Casey Gouge, who still had 0.00 ERAs after multiple outings.

What might have been for North Rowan rookie baseball coach Patrick Hampton’s senior-laden team.

Actually, what might have been for Rowan County baseball, in general. East, West, Carson and South all were headed for stellar seasons, while Salisbury went 3-0 the week before “the break.”

It’s also probably going to be what might have been for traditional powers like Salisbury boys tennis and Salisbury girls soccer that were obviously going to be outstanding again. And also for surprise teams such as South Rowan soccer. The Raiders, who won four times all last season, had started 5-0.

The NCHSAA has dealt with disaster/crisis situations in the past, such as devastating hurricanes that disrupted football seasons, but a pandemic is uncharted territory for everyone.

“While we remain hopeful that we will be able to resume competition, particularly for our senior student-athletes, we also recognize the need to protect the health and safety of our students, coaches and the communities we serve,” Tucker said.

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