Dealing with challenging times in sports and beyond

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I know there’s usually not much commentary in these sports previews, but unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions.
When my tireless efforts on this spring sports preview began, life was ‘normal.’ That’s a far cry from where we’re at now.
What’s worse, we have no idea what “normal” looks like in a few days, let alone in a week or two.
Spring sports unfolding over the next few months is a giant question mark and understandably why. What we’re dealing with now isn’t a regional issue or even a national concern. It’s a global pandemic.
However, I will continually use the word ‘when’ spring sports begin, not if. Until someone tells me they won’t take place, I won’t believe otherwise.
Understandably, people may wonder why we put out this section without knowing an official start date for our area spring sports.
It was met with plenty of debate within the office and a few sleepless, toss-turning nights from the sports guy.
In the end, this preview isn’t about me, the coronavirus or the ANR itself.
It’s about the three Giltner seniors pictured on the front of this section -- Cortney Hoelck, Hannah Preissler and Sydney Janzen (I hope they’re not too mad about taking a photo in the rain while it was hovering around 32 degrees but hey, it had early track meet weather conditions).
It’s about the entire Giltner girls track team which has a potential date with more history in the making. A sixth straight Class D state championship -- an idea that those athletes, especially those three seniors, have been working since last June to get.
It’s about the potential for Aurora’s Kyla Carlson to dazzle a statewide audience one more time at the high school level with a chance to add more gold to her mantle.
It’s another chance for Aurora’s Cassidy Knust to compete in several events culminating at nearly the same time and earning medals in all of them.
It’s the opportunity for new, fresh faces from Aurora -- like Mack Owens or Carlos Collazo -- to have a first impression at Burke.
Or, the chance to give Aurora’s twin seniors Kane and Kole Fiala the chance to ride out into the sunset with a state meet performance.
It’s starting a new state appearance streak for the Aurora golf team and seeing how Ethan Shaw’s work on the course over the last 12 months has paid off.
It’s the opportunity to see if the Aurora boys soccer team can not only take the next step and qualify for a district final, but punch a ticket to state in its fourth season of existence after taking a step closer each of the first three years.
It’s about seeing seniors on the Aurora girls soccer team be the first players to go from freshmen and work their way through graduation.
It’s about giving Giltner senior Rody Lyon a potential to finish his high school athletic career on a high note. The last time Lyon competed in a high school event was pulling up 50 meters short of the finish line in the 400 meter relay at the 2019 state meet.
Lyon missed his senior football and basketball seasons -- both of which had the potential to be all-state caliber seasons for the Hornet. This is his chance to get back out there that last time and show everyone he’s still got it.
It’s about seeing a new crop of Hawks soaring through the spring season and the potential for some fresh state qualifiers, no matter how many show up in the team photo.
It’s about giving a proper sendoff for three certain High Plains seniors, including Keaton Van Housen, Dylan Soule and Jarrett Parsons. All three will compete at the next level in athletics, but all three have a real shot to win gold medals at Burke, if given the chance.
It’s another shot -- literally -- for HPC’s Brianna Wilshusen to make state and come up with a medal this time. Not only that, but maybe taking more of her friends this time.
Most of the preview stories on the individual teams have little mention of the coronavirus and the uncertainty of the season, and that was done on purpose.
I felt it best to focus on the athletes and their accomplishments, instead of an unknown. Our area athletes deserve that.
Think of all the work they’ve put in, some of them since state track ended last season, just to prepare for this. They deserve this ink time.
Some of these athletes are depending on this spring sports season to obtain a college scholarship. Decisions made now can effect someone for a very long time. It’s not an easy one and frankly, one most of us don’t envy having to make.
One thing we can all agree on is that we should do everything possible to try and give those kids the chance to show off the hard work they’ve put in, which is why this section exists.
Here’s hoping we get to see those athletes get the chance they’ve earned and deserve.
RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at sports@hamilton.net.

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