The old adage, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” was indeed applying to West Virginia high school sports teams this spring as a huge chunk of the 2020 season had evaporated due to the coronavirus.
As late as this past weekend, West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission executive director Bernie Dolan held out hope that some type of season and postseason could still be staged.
Then word came Tuesday school would be officially closed for the remainder of 2019-20.
Which, of course, brought those seasons of sports to an end. Seasons, in fact, which never got started.
Ripley boys track and field was among them.
Head coach Jason Cunningham, a 2004 Ripley High graduate, echoed that of all coaches stating it was tough as everyone had hoped for the best and that something was going to be salvaged this spring.
The seasons in the spring for boys and girls track and field, boys and girls,tennis, girls softball and baseball are now but a case of "what might have been."
Cunningham had been working with a roster of 29 athletes who were set to compete this season.
Ripley’s senior class featured Garrison Phillips (distance), Dalton Adkins (shot put/discus), Jacob Casto (shot put/discus), Gabe Zuniga (middle distance), Adam Hill (shot put/discus), Gage Parsons (shot put/discus) and Trey Jones (shot put/discus).
“This is really unfortunate for our seniors,” said Cunningham, who was entering his second season as Ripley’s head coach with Victoria Crise as his assistant.
Juniors out for the team were Ian Gainey (sprints/pole vault), Daniel Goodreau (hurdles/middle distance), Matthew Moore (shot put/discus) and Trey Starcher (sprints/ short put/discus).
The sophomore class consisted of Noah Kessell (distance), Evan Anderson (sprints), Anderson Phillips (middle distance), Levi Jones (distance), Chase Pepper (distance), Jacob Harvey (high jump/long jump), Hunter Harper (hurdles/middle distance), Randy Hatfield (shot put/distance), Brody Campbell (shot put/distance) and Cole Neal (distance).
A group of eight freshmen set to compete for the first time at the varsity level consisted of Jacob Banton (pole vault/hurdles/sprints), Alex Guo (hurdles/sprints), Joey Ramsey (sprints/high jump), Tyler Adkins (hurdles/sprints), Josh Roush (sprints), Colt Harper (sprints), Frankie Winter (shot put/discus) and James Williams (sprints).
“We felt we were going to be tough in the sprint relays,” Cunningham said.
Ripley also featured some solid distance runners and a bevy of throwers (shot put and discus).
Last year both Anderson and Pepper were members of the 4x800 team that qualified for the State Meet (Brandon Cochran and Isaac Putnam were the other two members with both graduating in 2019).
Ripley’s other two qualifiers last year were a pair of Class of 2019 graduates pole vaulters in Evan King, who finished fourth in Class AAA, and Caleb Banton.
“We had a lot of young kids on the team,” said Cunningham.
His hope is they will return next season with the chance of making up for lost time.