UTICA — Heartbreakers in sports are usually reserved for games lost at the last second or the thrill of victory being snatched away because of a fluke occurrence or an outside force.

The postponement of spring sports by the Ohio High School Athletic Association in response to the COVID-19 pandemic definitely constitutes a fluke occurrence by an outside force.

Winter sports were coming to a close and spring sports were ramping up in Ohio before governor Mike DeWine announced March 13 that school would be done remotely beginning March 16.

The closed doors hope at schools hopefully will be open again April 6.

“It’s definitely a bummer,” senior baseball player Brandon Piper said. “We’ve been working hard all offseason — all of our guys have. Coach (Michael) Sandman and the rest of the coaching staff have been putting in a lot of time and effort to try to get us ready. We felt like we were in a good spot to get going.”

Senior runner Sierra Hill wasn’t planning on running at the next level. So, this season is her last chance.

“It honestly hurts and it’s really upsetting because I’ve been (working) for this,” she said. “I did cross country (in the fall) as training (to) get ready for it.”

Utica was geared up for a season that was supposed to start at the Fredericktown Invitational on Saturday – opening day for track and field statewide.

“Once we started practice — we were all really excited for meets to start,” Hill said. “Hearing that we couldn’t practice or anything … it was very devasting. I was heartbroken about it.”

Senior runner Landon Hartman was a little blunter about the situation.

“I hate this,” he said. “My last year is gone … possibly, I guess. But now I’m gonna have to end it on this note. There’s nothing good about this.”

Students are adjusting to do their school work from home.

Hill has been taking courses at the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County. She’s been working in a medical assisting lab, so distance learning has been an adjustment.

“I’m very much a hands-on learner,” Hill said. “So, I have to be right there so I can grasp it. We’ve been learning what first-year college students are learning. So, the plan for me was to work a year (to) see if liked it enough to stick with it before going and spending a lot of money to further (my education).”

With Ohio’s stay-at-home order in effect, it seems more and more likely that there won’t be a spring season.

“It definitely makes me appreciate the game and that I’ve been able to play it for so long,” Piper said. “It definitely puts it in perspective of how quickly it can be taken away from you. This is a game that I’ve been playing since I was five years old, and the possibility that I won’t get to play again is definitely heartbreaking.”

“It’s all really just hope,” Hartman said. “There’s nothing else you can really do. All you can do hope that everything gets better in time (to run again).”

Hartman is planning on continuing his running career. He’s looking at MVNU, Ohio Wesleyan University, Wilmington College and Wittenberg University. He’d like to major in social work.

Piper will be joining the United State Air Force after graduation.

“I knew I wasn’t going to play in college,” he said. “So, I really wanted to make this a good year and end it on a high note.”

News file photo Utica’s Landon Hartman, right, runs in the 100-meter dash at the 2019 Mount Vernon News SpecTRACKular at Fredericktown High School. Hartman finished fourth in the event.

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Michael Rich: 740-397-5333 or mrich@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mrichnotwealthy



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