COVID-19 related pause putting Panther winter teams behind during preseason

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Carly Lehman of Fairbanks goes up for a shot during a 2019-20 game. Panther teams are in pause mode to to coronavirus issues. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)

The gymnasiums remain closed for Fairbanks high school and middle school winter sports squads.
The school district has put preseason practices for all teams on pause through at least Nov. 30.
That is due to the school’s coronavirus issues.
“We’re currently on remote learning and we’re not practicing until at least Nov. 30,” said FHS athletic director Larry Morris.
The athletic director said the pause has caused a great deal of frustration for coaches and athletes.
“However, this is out of our hands,” said Morris. “This is something we can’t control.”
District officials announced Wednesday the school is experiencing “a significant increase” in COVID cases and quarantines.
There is evidence of a spread within the Panther athletic programs, it was reported.
The pause has postponed the girls basketball team’s opening game of the 2020-2021 campaign.
The Lady Panthers were scheduled to host West Liberty-Salem on Friday, but that game has been called off for the time being.
“The girls have played in two scrimmages and the boys have played in one,” said Morris. “However, all of our athletes are missing out on critical preseason conditioning time.”
The shutdown canceled one additional girls basketball scrimmage and two others for the boys hoopsters.
“We’re also behind three bowling matches,” said Morris.
The Panther athletic director said the pause has not caused as many problems for the wrestling program.
“So far, wrestling has been impacted the least among our winter sports,” said Morris. “They practiced for a couple of days before our pause.
“However, they want to get back on the mats as soon as possible.”
Morris said the winter sports pause is unlike what school districts experienced during the spring.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association first postponed spring sports and then ended up canceling the season all together.
“Spring sports were shut down and they didn’t come back,” said Morris. “This (winter sports) is a stop-and-start situation.”
Morris said the earliest Panther basketball teams would be able to start the season, barring any additional difficulties, would be the week of Nov. 30.
“Our girls team is scheduled to play at Northeastern on Wednesday, Dec. 2,” he said. “Right now, our earliest boys game will be Friday, Dec. 4 at Triad.”
Morris said those games are still up in the air.
He also pointed out another factor that could cause problems for winter sports.
“We don’t know if, or how many, weather-related postponements we may have,” he said.
“Right now, everything is up in the air and it’s all touch-and-go.”

Trey Good of FHS goes up for a basket during a game from the 2019-20 season. The Panther boys hoopsters, like other winter teams in the district, are on pause due to coronavirus issues. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)



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