Seniors saddened by loss of track season

Track graduates six seniors from promising squad

Kendyl Bolinder | @Bolinderkendyl

On March 17, Governor Kelly made the decision to close all Kansas school facilities for the remainder of the year, ending the 2020 track season before it ever began.

Track had high hopes for this season, with several returning state qualifiers and medalists, and upperclassmen who “set the tone for what was expected,” according to head coach Roger Alderman.

In an e-mail to athletes and coaches shortly after the announcement, coach Alderman tried to put things in perspective.

“It is OK to feel angry, sad, frustrated, confused, upset, or any other emotion. It’s good that it matters enough to you that it is tough to get over. In life you want to be involved in careers, activities, relationships, etc that matter that much to you, it’s what makes them worthwhile,” Alderman wrote. “Know that even though our season can be taken away, our community of athletes, coaches, family, fans, etc cannot be taken away.”

Senior Luke Stuhlsatz runs at the home meet during his junior season.

The team looked forward to six seniors finishing their high school track careers on a high note.

“This senior class is one of the most athletically gifted you will find at a small school, and that applied to the track team members as well,” throwing coach Brendan Praeger said. “They really expect success in every sport, and I think that pushes everyone to be better.”

Sophomore Maddie Shurle reflected on the impact they had on younger athletes.

“The seniors definitely pushed us to work harder in practice. They would always bring positivity as well, and just make sure we were doing what was right,” she said

Sophomore Maddie Schurle hurdles at the pre-state meet in Wichita last season. Schurle qualified for state and was hoping to return this year.

Senior Bryce Tharman was particularly upset over the cancellation of his last track season, as he worked harder than ever during the off season to make it the best one yet.

“As upset as I am about it all, there’s not much I can do about it. It sucks having put in more miles this winter than I had done any other off-season, but I’ve come to realize there’s nothing I can do about it. Just because my track season is done, doesn’t mean you won’t still see me running on the dirt roads every day.”

Senior Sierra Quathamer runs at Wabaunsee during her junior season.

Another senior out of six whose track career was cut short is Sierra Quathamer. “I’m really going to miss the family aspect and working out with my friends. I have so many memories from sports, and it’s a shame I won’t be able to make more… I’m also really going to miss Alderman as my coach. He has done so much for his athletes, and I don’t think there are enough ways to thank him.”

Tharman, who’s dad has been extremely helpful for him in coping with this change, said, “As of March 30, 2020 it has been 18 years since my dad’s spinal cord injury that put him in a wheelchair. Clearly that was quite the frustrating setback for him. COVID-19 ending my last ever season of track was a setback for me as well, but he’s explained to me how he’s learned that everything happens for a reason, and that you can’t sit around, feel sorry and dwell. You need to accept, overcome and make the best of things.”

Senior Laurel Barber runs during her junior season. Barber will continue her track career next year at Ottawa.

Coach Praeger said he’s been encouraging athletes to try to keep things in perspective. “When you’re in high school, especially at the end of your senior year, it seems like the most important time in your entire life, but I think if you talk to a lot of adults, very few will say their life was defined by any three-month period in high school. There is a lot they can do during this time to keep growing and improving as people, and they can’t let an unfortunate situation define their whole high school experience.”

Alderman’s final message to athletes emphasized the importance of building a strong team. “One of the blessings of sports is that it creates these teams that we can rely on to share our joys and comfort our sorrows. You will always be a part of Wabaunsee Track & Field and I hope that means as much to you as it does for me.”

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