Construction, pandemic force MHS track and field seniors to miss final two home seasons

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Marysville High School distance runner Tristan Karnes, center, competes during a 2019 race. Karnes is one of many MHS seniors who were not able to perform during a home meet their last two years of high school.

(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)

As everyone knows, high school spring sports athletes in Ohio have been cheated out of their season due to COVID-19.

It’s especially tough for seniors, who have missed out on their final opportunity to represent their schools in various athletic endeavors.

The Marysville High School track and field senior class has reason to feel an extra sense of loss.

That’s because those athletes have missed out on two home seasons.

MHS could not hold any home track meets during the 2019 campaign because of the construction of the new football stadium.

The old track went around the football field and was taken up during the stadium project.

The new track stadium, located adjacent to the turf gridiron field, was scheduled for unveiling this spring.

Those plans were squashed when the coronavirus pandemic canceled the season.

“When it was first announced the season was officially canceled, it dawned on me the seniors wouldn’t be able to run on the new track,” said MHS senior distance runner Tristan Karnes.

“The fact my class did not have any home meets our last two years of high school is pretty tough,” he said. “It doesn’t feel fair, but it goes with the times.”

Along with not being able to christen the new track and field facility, Karnes feels Monarch athletes are missing out on what could have been one of their best seasons in a number of years.

He said both boys and girls athletes could have advanced to the Division I regional meet in several events.

“It’s been an emotional toll, knowing we aren’t able to compete this spring,” said Karnes. “It’s tough for the seniors, but it’s also difficult for the juniors and sophomores who were really anxious to run this year.

“We have a beautiful stadium that we can’t use.”

Marysville track and field athletes have been busy keeping themselves in shape.

A few weeks ago, several competed in a virtual track meet and recorded their times and distances.

“We had held out hope last month that we might be able to have some type of season,” said Marysville head coach Luke Sundermeier.

The coach acknowledged it’s been difficult on everyone within the program by not having a home meet the past two seasons.

“However, as far as coaches and athletes are concerned, we can only control what we can,” said Sundermeier. “Things like scheduling, facilities and the virus are beyond our control.

“We had to run meets away from home because of the construction last year and the pandemic is a once in a lifetime type of deal,” he said. “It’s hard, but we can’t waste time worrying about it.”

The Monarch coach said there were 34 seniors on this year’s roster, including several  who are now considered as four-year lettermen.

They are Caitlyn Cotner (jumps and sprints), Jacquelyn Witt (distance), Rhiannon Gossett (throws), Jenna Rioch (multiple events, including middle distance), Haley Cook (jumps, relays and sprints), Mary Calvert (pole vault), Leanne Eichorn (distance), Katelyn Rabe (hurdles and pole vault), Leah Harding (middle distance) and Chris Lambert (sprints and middle distance).

Karnes is a three-year letterman.

Additional seniors in the program this year are:

Boys

Sawyer Bix (sprints), Cody Braun (sprints), Noah Brown (sprints), Trevor Cantwell (sprints), Matteo Cauzzi (distance), Logan Clute (sprints), Tyler Hamlett (distance), Jeriah Hanf (sprints), Nick Irving (distance), Colin Kovinchick (throws),

Brody Lewis (sprints), Zach McIntosh (sprints), Matteo Natividad (sprints), Elijah Newland (pole vault) and Ryan Walters (sprints).

Girls

 Hannah Alice (distance), Brooklyn Heller (pole vault), Cheyanne Hoyt (sprints, jumps), Sydney Lee (middle distance), Kayla Michalak (distance), Ellie Nichols (distance), Tyshondra Russell (jumps) and Karleigh Sutter (throws).

“I’ve had some emotional talks with our seniors and I told them it’s OK to feel bad,” said Sundermeier.

The current pandemic has focused a lot of attention on the field of medicine.

Sundermeier said several track and field seniors will be going to college with an eye on some type of medical career.

“Jacquelyn Witt will study to be a nurse, Jenna Rioch will study pre-med and Mary Calvert plans to become a bio–medical engineer,” he said. “This group thinks on a high level.”

The coach said he wants to do some type of special celebration for the seniors, whenever it is appropriate to do so.

“We want to honor the seniors, but we will have to see what we will be allowed to do and when we can do it,” he said.

Sundermeier said he and his coaching staff continue to maintain contact with their athletes.

“The kids have remained ‘competition ready,’ but now, we’re making sure everyone is in a good emotional state,” he said.

Sundermeier was asked whether the 2020 shutdown could have an adverse impact on roster sizes for future MHS track and field teams.

There were 138 boys and girls in the program at the start of preseason practice.

“Actually, I think it may have the reverse effect,” he said. “The majority of this year’s team has been kept engaged and I think they still want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

“I’m hoping a lot of them will want to come back in 2021 even more motivated than ever.”



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