The UHSAA suspension of spring sports may thwart Park City’s quest for state titles
This was to be their final season.
After suiting up for Park City High School the past four years as a member of the football and lacrosse teams, this was to be the last time Dylan Bauer, Brady Baumann and Andrew (McKnight) Pederson would put on a Miners uniform in their quest for a third consecutive state title in lacrosse.
But what made this season more special was that for the first time, lacrosse was no longer considered a club sport and was officially sanctioned by the Utah High School Athletic Association.
“That was the main goal of the season. … We wanted to not only win three state titles in a row but be the first team from Park City to win the championship from the state,” Bauer said.
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But on Thursday, March 12, the UHSAA announced that all spring activities would be suspended for at least two weeks due to the outbreak and spreading of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.
But the longer this suspension goes on, and with the NCAA canceling sports for the spring season, the Miners are trying to be positive but can’t help acknowledge the writing that may be on the wall.
“We might never play again for Park City, and it’s hard to except going out after just playing one game this year,” Bauer said. “We are trying to be positive but sometimes you got to be a realist also and understand how serious this is. They’ve shut down the college season and pretty much the entire town, so it’s not looking the best for us.”
For Baumann and his teammates, they’re unsure as to whether they’ll be able to resume and finish their season that they entered as the favorite to win the inaugural state championship according to the Deseret News.
But more than winning a state title, Baumann is hurting over the fact he may never play with his friends again, let alone wear that uniform.
“I’m trying not to think about the fact that I might’ve put on my Miners gear for the last time,” he said. “It’s pretty depressing to think about not stepping on Dozier Field again and playing in front of all those people. That atmosphere, it’s what I live for and I love it so right now it’s just killing me.”
For coach Michael Persky, he’s just hoping that the season will be able to continue at some point — only if it’s deemed safe to do so, though. But if that doesn’t happen, his heart aches for his senior class.
“I think the kids had their heads in the lacrosse state of mind. … They were excited about playing,” Persky said. “The seniors are a tremendous class of competitors who wanted to make a statement their senior year. … They deserved the right to do that but circumstances dictated other stuff.”
The boys weren’t alone in seeing their quest for a state championship thwarted.The Park City girls team is going through the same thing. After being chosen as a favorite to take home the state title by the Deseret News as well, coach Lucy Mower acknowledge that her squad was preparing as if they were going to be there in the end fighting for that title.
“The girls all have a really good lacrosse IQ and knew what they needed to be doing if they wanted to playing in the end,” Mower said. “We have a strong senior class and a strong group of returners who came back this year. We were focusing on controlling the things we can control and we were off to a good start already.”
Park City track and field athlete Paul Baynes is also dealing with the fact that his senior season might be over — a tough thought to accept considering he already owns the fastest 400-meter time in the state this year.
On Friday, March 13, Baynes competed in the Snow Canyon Invitational and took first in the 400-meter race in a time of 49.5 seconds, the same time he ran when he finished in second-place at last year’s state championships.
“It’s exactly what I ran last year so I was really happy to be starting this year with how I ended last year,” Baynes said. “It’s a good benchmark but it’s also frustrating without knowing how this year will end. I’m going to be able to test my speed but not in the same environment as a meet.”
The Notre Dame signee is staying in shape in throughout the suspension, hoping to get a chance at the track’s version of the triple crown — winning the 100, 200 and 400-meter races at the state championships.
“I prefer the 400 compared to the 100 and 200 because you have to do everything well, but at the end of the day you’re toast and burnt from running it,” Baynes said. “I want to break 48 (seconds) in the 400, 22 in the 200 and 10 in the 100, all times that I think I can do. These are definitely some huge jumps but I’m ready for it.”
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.