There’s a lot to glean from CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod’s “message” that came out last week.
First and foremost, of course, was how he offered up the maddening news that 2020 spring sports had been canceled. It joined the NCAA all across America in its own heartbreaking call that canceled all athletic spring sports.
For the good.
The right call.
* Dee Payan’s second season as Cal State San Bernardino softball coach had plenty of NCAA Div. 1 transfers ⎯ San Jose State, California Baptist, North Dakota, Middle Tennessee ⎯ plus North Carolina State’s Haley Finn, who was batting .375 before COVID-19 struck.
Payan had her team in last year’s conference tournament finals. This season’s roster seemed a little stronger. How long would the Lady Coyotes last in 2020?
* Was Aquinas discussing thrower Noelle Chavez up for a repeat of last spring’s CIF Division 4 championship?
* Across the wash at the University of Redlands, NCAA All-American doubles team Brysl Libao and Brad Cummins had dibs on a Division III national title. Would they have won?
* Citrus Valley’s 4 x 400 girls’ relay team ⎯ improving its time to a 3:55 at last year’s CIF Masters ⎯ had at least three runners returning this spring, including Cienna Norman-Thomas, Alana Barger and Kamryn Hughes. What did coach Carlton Austin have in store?
* Boise State-bound Bobbiann Pratt, already hitting .556 through 13 Aquinas softball games before the COVID-19 storm hit, had batted .534, .625 and, as a freshman, .734. Could she have topped her prep career off with some dazzling numbers through a full season?
* Sensational freshman Hannah Jugar, certain to be an NCAA Division III All-American, was the perfect addition for the University of Redlands to launch a shot at a national team title. Yes or no?
* Southpaw Tyler Penix, a Citrus Valley-to-Missouri Valley College-to Cal State San Bernardino prospect, was already 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA over 35 innings in a Coyotes’ uniform. Is that a nice enough addition to Cal State’s rebuilding process off a 15-33 season in 2019?
* You had the feeling that San Gorgonio would’ve had an athlete unload a huge spring season. Just who, though?
A sprint relay team with a handful of speedsters -- Ayla Smallwood, Alesia Stokes, Vanessa Taing or Oretha Osbourne-Lewis?
Baseball’s Pablo Ochoa, hitting .375 before the season was lost.
My bet would’ve been college-bound softball player Jesse McMichael, a double-barreled threat with the bat (.375) and the circle (2.17 ERA). Osbourne-Lewis, though, looked set for a primetime season.
Sadly, Ochoa, McMichael and Osbourne-Lewis are seniors, their prep career not just interrupted but savagely curtailed.
* We’re all worried that football’s fall season training schedule ⎯ weight room, grass time, 7-on-7s and every other kind of off-season coaching time ⎯ will frustrate the efforts to launch a season come September.
More to come on that notion.
Seniors everywhere ⎯ those are the real losers in all this, considering they’ve trained hard for three previous seasons to get into position to cap their prep careers ⎯ had some big plans on the line.
So what lies ahead? Fall? Football? Will there be a season?
“I sure hope so,” said Cajon coach Nick Rogers, Cowboys’ coach for the 2017 CIF champions, runners-up the following season. “We are prepping for various modifications to our season so that we are prepared as best as possible.”
In other words, his fingers are crossed, too.
* * *
Back to Wigod:
It’s amazing to me that the CIF commissioner actually had to spell out that 2020 spring sports seniors “would not be able to receive an additional semester of eligibility in that same sport?”
Was that a real question to high school sport’s superior official?
Truth is, he wants everyone to graduate on time and move ahead.
* * *
Last week’s announcement ⎯ no championships for high school spring sports ⎯ should’ve been expected.
It was coming. There was no handwriting on the wall. It was written on all our foreheads. The only things that’ll wash it off are the tears.
Parting shot, Kurt Bruich, Citrus Valley football coach: “I think the real question is: When will we start back to school next year? That will determine whether this is a fall season of sport …”
(Got a sports tip among the pandemic? Want to chat about sports? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)