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Area seniors reflect on spring season cancellation

Carson, Douglas and Dayton seniors look back on high school athletic careers

By Carter Eckl ceckl@nevadaappeal.com
THEY SAID IT

Best high school athletics memory?

“I would say either lettering for the first time my freshman year in track – that I clearly remember because I had been working so hard for it all season so that was really rewarding – or qualifying for state my junior year of cross country. I clearly remember that because that was a goal I didn’t think I’d ever reach so that was an awesome moment.” – Hannah Kaiser, Carson high track and field.

“I’d say probably when we went nine innings against Spanish Springs this year. Even though we lost it really bonded us because we realized we were good and if we’re competing against a team like Spanish Springs, our name is not just Douglas High School that people think is going to roll over. We’re actually a threat and we’re going to come to play.” – Austin Grant, Douglas High baseball.

“Best moment would probably have to be when our team won regionals last year. That was just an incredibly feeling. We worked all season for that and to see it all pay off that was really awesome.” – Zach Sever, Carson High track and field.

  “I think it was sophomore year when we went to state. That whole season was the best moment ever.” – Kendal Moore, Douglas High softball.

  “I definitely think qualifying for state. That was amazing just to have that feeling. We had this awesome road trip to Vegas and I got to spend a bunch of time with my teammates. We ended up getting second place overall for the girls track team and it hadn’t been done it a really long time. It was jaw dropping to think that that was even possible and that we accomplished it.” – Taryn Encinas, Carson High track and field.

  Main emotions when the season was canceled?

“It just brought me to tears because I didn’t even take into consideration that that game at McQueen was my final game. I had hope and I went on to believe that there was another opportunity for all of us to get together again.” – Garritt Benavidez, Carson High baseball.

  “I thought that I was doing a lot better than the rest of the years. I was maybe trying to go for some better PRs. This has taught me that nothing is really guaranteed.” – Annika Wick, Carson High track and field.

  “First when I heard that is was being temporarily suspended I was really upset. … I was really frustrated because I had put in a lot in the offseason. I was doing pole vaulting in Reno over the winter so it was really sad that all my progress and work had been put on hold. When it was permanently closed is was really sad, I guess. It was just disappointing.” – Peter Miklich, Dayton High track and field.

  Any final message?

“Just thanks to all the coaches. Volleyball coaches, softball coaches and Mr. Glover especially. Mr. Glover turned that whole program around.” – Kendal Moore, Douglas High softball.

  “I think coach Gonzo (Ryan Gonzalez) has been great. He was coaching me before high school too, when we had a travel team. So, I’ve known him for a while. He’s been really great, especially when I hurt my knee he was very helpful and understood what I was going through.” – Austin Grant, Douglas High baseball.

  “Just a thank you to all the coaches. I know they’ve all worked so hard and been so supportive. I’m really going to miss them all next year.” – Hannah Kaiser, Carson High track and field.

  “I’m grateful for all of my high school experience because it taught me a lot. I dealt with a lot of adversity and I’m really grateful for that because I’d rather have it sooner than later. I’m really grateful that I had a senior night for basketball. I know some girls, this was their only sport. So, I have sympathy and feel bad that they don’t get their senior night for their sport. I’m really lucky I had one for basketball. That night was really emotional and basketball isn’t even really my sport. I know it would have been ten times more emotional for softball.” – Bella Kordonowy, Carson High softball.

Disappointing, sad and frustrating were the first words out of many seniors from Carson, Douglas and Dayton High Schools after finding out the spring sports season had been canceled Thursday due to COVID-19.

A few of those athletes are fortunate enough to be able to continue competing in college, but for many they’ve run in their last meet or swung the bat for the final time.

While seniors across the area raved about their overall athletic careers and what sports has meant to them as individuals, all of them are left wondering what could have been?

Some are stuck without a memory of what a final Senior Night would have felt like or even a photo to commemorate the final day of school.

Some are left even without a memory of their last day of school.

The Carson High softball team had traveled to down to Las Vegas for a tournament when the suspension first broke March 16 and Bella Kordonowy says she doesn’t even remember her final day inside Carson High.

“I don’t remember the last day of school. Nobody told me it would be the last day,” said Kordonowy, a senior who will play softball at the University of Nevada next year. “I don’t even know what I did that day.”

Douglas senior Austin Grant, who tore his ACL as a junior, had banked on his senior season making up for missed action in the previous year.

“Since I couldn’t play last year it kind of hit a little harder. I’ve been playing with these kids my whole life. I took everything for granted and it got taken away my junior year, but at least I have my senior year,” said Grant, who will play baseball at York College (York, Neb.) next year. “Then I took that for granted too because now that’s gone.”

“My first thought was kind of shock,” said Carson High’s Zach Sever. “I wasn’t too happy about it with it being my senior year of track is disappointing.”

When sports first halted

When the season was first postponed Monday, March 16 many area competitors tried to find the best coping mechanism available – athletics.

However, self-motivation is something people spend their entire lives trying to master.

Treating the downtime like an offseason in order to stay in shape was the mindset of some, but without the ability to train alongside teammates due to social distancing guidelines, the grind to continue pushing was a hurdle.

“Not going to lie, I was super sad about it,” said Carson High senior Annika Wick, who was competing for the track and field team. “I didn’t really keep up with anything. I didn’t go out that much. I didn’t really work out that much.”

The escapism of athletics still fanned the flame for seniors like Carson’s Gilbert Polanco-Vasquez, who said running has always been a way to clear his head – in season or out of season.

“I didn’t feel like doing anything, I just wanted to go and run,” said Polanco-Vasquez. “It just takes a lot of stuff off my mind, that’s why I run track and it helps me build something as who I am.”

Building on themselves and passing on advice to those below

Even with losing most, if not all, of their final season, seniors from around the area found ways to reflect on what their time in competition had meant to them.

Missing their final season of competition didn’t detract from any overall experiences.

“It’s been amazing,” said Carson senior track athlete Taryn Encinas. “I wasn’t ever expecting to participate in any school sport because I’ve always been a competitive dancer. So, to go out there and just learn more about myself and push myself in a different focus and environment, overall I think it helped me grow as an individual.”

Dayton High senior Peter Miklich had a chance to look back fondly on taking advantage of nearly three sport seasons each year and all the friends he made along the way.

“Not just about teamwork and goal setting, but how to push yourself and how to work with people,” said Miklich. “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people so there’s just lots of good lessons and examples. It’s been really awesome.”

Reflection is a powerful tool and everyone that expressed disappointment in losing a season followed up with counsel to those who still have a chance to come back and take advantage of another high school season.

“Always do your best. Don’t slack like I did,” said Carson senior Garritt Benavidez. “Don’t take it for granted. It goes by too fast.”

“Run every race like its your last. You don’t know when you will have your last race,” said Hannah Kaiser, a four-year letter winner for the Senators’ track and field team.

Nobody will be able to give the outgoing seniors one last taste of what high school competition will feel like.

The bitter taste of a season cut short without warning will remain, but the lessons taken away from the disappointment will last a lifetime.