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What might have been

Hannah Brown
Luke Ballarad was a state qualifier in pole vault last year for the Kiowa County High School track team. He was looking forward to a banner year in 2020 before spring sports were canceled due to the novel coronavirus.

Even though the 2020 Kiowa County High School Track season won’t happen due to COVID-19 cancellations, the young athletes and coaches still deserve some recognition for what might have been.

Head coach Travis Powell has been coaching track and field for 22 years and has spent the last 11 years coaching at Greensburg High School and Kiowa County High School.

“We had very high hopes and a lot of excitement coming into this season for our boys and girls squads,” said Coach Powell.

This year, Powell would have been assisted by Matt Hoffman, Stephen Hokanson, Dianne Unruh, and Lori Wade as assistant coaches. During the 2019 season, the boy’s squad earned 3rd place at the SPIAA League Meet while also finishing in a tie for third at the Regional Meet. The girls swept the three postseason meets, finishing in the top spot at the SPIAA Meet, the Regional Meet, and the State Meet, earning the title of 2019 1A State Champions.

Some key returners for the boys and their planned events were: Gage McDonald: sprints, Colby Tedder: throws, Cooper Zenger: javelin and sprints, Luke Ballard: pole vault (state qualifier), James Brack: mid-distance/distance, Caleb Fulton: mid-distance/distance, Luke Kishpaugh: discus and sprints, Tanner Newell: mid-distance/distance, Caydan Pore: jumps and sprints Jordan Smith: jumps and sprints. Luke Ballard qualified for state in pole vault last year.

“We felt like we had some pieces that we were going to put in place to be very competitive as a team and our boys group had the goal of contending for the SPIAA league title this year. We also had confidence that we would get a number of individuals qualified for the state meet as well as a couple of relays on the boys side,” Powell said.

Some key returners for the girls and their planned events were: Kellie Rhodes: sprints, (6th place at state 400M, 1st place at state 4x400M Relay), Sabrina Thomas: throws (5th at state shot put, 6th at state javelin, 1st at state discus) Gracie Gray: sprints, Ellery McMurry: throws, Ashton Reh: mid-distance/distance, Madison Yost: mid-distance/distance, Charleigh Friesen: sprints, Addi Heinson: sprints (2nd at state 100M, 2nd at state 200M, 4th at state 400M, 1st at state 4x400M relay, Addison Sherer: sprints, Emma Thompson: discus and mid-distance/distance. Charleigh Friesen and Addison Sherer were both alternatives for the 4x100M relay and 4x400M relay teams last year.

“On the girls side, we felt very strong as well. We knew we were returning a strong nucleus of girls from last year’s team that we could piece some younger girls in that we saw some excitement and potential for the season,” Powell said. “We obviously felt that if we could stay healthy then we would have the big target on our backs that our league and regional teams would be going for. We felt that a league title would be very good for us to achieve and then we would see where we were at to compete for regional and state titles as well.”

Junior Nathaniel Enfield, sophomore Bo West, and freshmen Brady Deterding, Josh Scott, Kyler Sheldon and Buck Slade were all planning to join the KC Mavs’ track team for the first time this season before it was canceled. There were also some promising newcomers for the Lady Mavs, including freshmen Sierra Britton, Jaucilyn Arredondo, Blythe Campbell, Liberty Gilkey, Raygan Heft, Shelby Lingafelter, Karina Martinez, Rylee Ott, Alex Redecop, Judy Redecop, Grace Thompson, and Carson Tyree.

“We are disappointed that we will just have to think about the what-ifs regarding this season, but we also know that this situation is about so much more than our track season,” said Powell. “I recorded a video message for my kids on Monday night that I would send to them in the event that our season was canceled. Sadly, I had to send that video to the kids Wednesday afternoon once I got the official statement from KSHSAA regarding spring sports. My message to the kids was one of gratitude and thanks for what they had done for our program, whether it was the senior for four years or the freshman and new kid who had only practiced a few days. Trials and tribulations allow us to persevere, find things we can be grateful and thankful for blessings, and find out some things we might take for granted really mean more to us than we realize.”

The Mavs and Lady Mavs were set to start the season on April 3 at the Kinsley Invitational, hosted by Kinsley High School, but all spring events have been canceled by KSHAA.