NO MATCHES, NO MEETS, NO GAMES: In tennis, there are the wonderful sounds of ball and racquet meeting each other and squeaky feet sliding across the court.
At track and field complexes, there is the familiar sound of a gun being fired to start another race. And the cheers that follow wonderful performances.
Softball brings us the crack of the bat, but also the never-ending chatter of songs and cheers from the dugouts.
In baseball, there is nothing like hearing an umpire say, “Play ball.” Along with the ping of the bat and the ball smacking into a catcher’s mitt.
Unfortunately, those sounds will not be heard in the spring of 2019.
While we all had held out hope some type of sports season would be salvaged for high school girls and boys tennis, girls and boys track and field, girls softball and boys baseball, it turned out not to be the case.
Last week it was announced students in West Virginia would not be returning to the classroom for the remainder of the 2019-20 term because of COVID-19.
It was a tough blow to the athletes, especially the seniors.
And it certainly was disappointing news for the likes of Ravenswood tennis coach Sam Hilton, Ripley tennis coach Dwayne Merritt, Ravenswood girls head track and field coach Renee Swisher, Ravenswood boys head track and field coach Todd Murray, Ripley girls track and field head coach Krystle Cunningham and boys head coach Jason Cunningham, Ravenswood girls softball coach Cindy Carmichael, Ripley girls softball coach Kenny Swisher and head baseball coaches Wes Swain of Ravenswood and Shane Casto of Ripley.
These are serious times and something no one could ever have expected.
We all know better days are ahead.
THREE-PEAT DENIED: With the cancellation of spring sports, Ripley girls track and field missed out on its chance to win a third consecutive Class AAA state championship.
The Lady Vikings stood a great chance with the likes of senior standouts Allison Fields and Tori Starcher back for their final seasons.
Fields would have been a contender to win the 100, 200 and 400 events.
Starcher was gunning to take the 800, 1600 and 3200 for a fourth straight year.
Both also would have been a part of the 4x4 relay that would have been setting out for a fourth straight title.
Starcher’s great career ends with 12 state track and field championships and one title in cross country.
Fields had seven state championships in her high school track and field days. She was also a runner-up twice.
VAD RUN ENDS: The annual West Virginia Sports Writers Association Victory Awards Dinner was cancelled this year for just the second time since its inception in 1945.
The dinner was slated for this coming Sunday, May 3.
Starcher was set to be honored for a second straight year as the Female Ray McCoy Award winner, which goes to the state’s top runner.
The Stanford-bound runner came close to being honored for a second award.
Starcher finished third in the balloting for the Hardman Award, which is given to the state’s top amateur athlete.
WVU wrestler Noah Adams, who finished the season undefeated and qualified for the NCAA Wrestling Tournament, was the winner. Adams was the just the second WVU wrestler to win a Big 12 Conference championship.
Finishing second in the voting was WVU pitcher Alex Manoah, who was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays last spring.
Not bad company at all for Starcher.
HOT ROD: Rod Lanham, a three-sport standout at Ripley High back in the ‘80s, has been named the head boys basketball coach at Wood County Christian School in Williamstown.
Lanham has had various stops as a coach at both the high school and middle school levels, including Ripley High, Ripley Middle, Heritage Christian Academy and Preston County High School.
Wood County Christian will compete for the first time this season as a member of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.
Lanham was a Class AAA First Team All-State football player in 1986, helping lead Ripley to its first-ever playoff appearance.
He also excelled in basketball and baseball and spent time as a college athlete at Concord and Fairmont.