KIMT NEWS 3 SPORTS – This fall, teams have had to deal with a lot of adversity; cancellations, quarantines, etc. It has been a season that no sports fan will forget anytime soon. There have been a lot of highs and lows, but athletes persevered and took advantage of every opportunity that was presented to them.
“2020 is the year of adversity and adaptability,” said Rochester Grizzlies head coach, Chris Ratzloff.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? On August 4, the Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors voted to allow soccer, tennis, swimming and diving and cross country to proceed with a limited number of contests. A motion to start volleyball and football was voted down and the season was delayed until March.
“No doubt, I’m disappointed and all our kids and coaches are disappointed,” said Lourdes head football coach, Mike Kesler.
On September 21, the MSHSL reversed course bringing volleyball and football back to the fall with a shortened schedule and a limited number of fans. Teams were left scrambling to prepare for the season.
“A lot of work right now,” said John Marshall volleyball head coach, Mike Archer. “The setting up practice schedules, making sure that we can get everything onboard setting up a bunch of other things, getting the girls back in the gym on a permanent basis where we can really get ready for this season.”
Still, coaches had a lot more questions than answers.
“I’ll tell you right now I don’t even know if there’s a state tournament. I haven’t seen anything about a state tournament,” Stewartville volleyball coach, John Dzubay said.
The eventual answer to that question was no. Only section tournaments would be allowed. That’s where the Austin boy’s soccer team would capitalize, winning their fourth consecutive section title.
“I think there’s a little bit of closure with winning that game on PKs knowing that a year ago we lost our last game of the season on Pks,” said head coach, Jens Levisen.
They say that if at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again. Across the state line in Iowa, the Osage volleyball team perfectly executed that motto, finally winning their first state championship.
“The past three years have been unfinished business and us seniors worked our butts off this summer and we knew that we were going to end up in this championship game. We knew that we were going to win this thing,” Dani Johnson said.
During the first week of section tournament football and the final two weeks of the volleyball regular season in Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz announced a four-week pause on sports. The Blooming Prairie, Lanesboro and Kasson-Mantorville football teams would go on to win their section titles while volleyball teams were left heartbroken.
“(It’s) kind of a bummer but we’ll get through it,” Lonnie Morken, head volleyball coach at Mabel-Canton, said.
Now, the first of four weeks is almost over. Gyms, ice arenas and wrestling rooms sit empty in silence, hoping that sports will resume on December 19.