Column: Lake area athletes, teams provide entertainment in long overdue postseason
It has been a long two years since sports could be enjoyed during the spring months.
A worldwide pandemic in COVID-19 is to thank for that as it completely changed life as we knew it. Isolation became normal, uncertainty about the future became normal and a world without sports- or any fun occasion for that matter- is one I did not want to know.
Read More:COLUMN: Coronavirus cannot define us
The year 2020 began like any other- and quite well for those who are fans of the Kansas City Chiefs- with a Super Bowl title for the first time in 50 years. A parade ensued, but little did anyone there know, including myself, what was about to come our way.
Still fresh in my memory, high school wrestling season in the state of Missouri had just wrapped up and the basketball postseason was well underway. The last game I had the privilege of covering- a pair of district championship games Climax Springs was playing at Southwest Baptist University- unfortunately became the last official sporting event I would get to see for the next six months.
I remember an NBA game being cancelled and when March Madness, one of my favorite events of the year, was cancelled, I knew something was different. Unfortunately, high schools around the Lake area and across the country did not get to escape that reality. Local teams preparing for their spring seasons soon found their entire seasons being cancelled and abruptly taken away.
A disappointment for sports fans and journalists covering a team is one thing, but it was surely so much worse for the athletes and coaches who have the privilege of leading those programs. Seniors missed out on making one more round of memories before leaving high school and younger athletes lost an entire year of growth and development.
But, sports eventually returned in the fall and some sense of normalcy returned overall, even if things looked a little different with masks and limited seating capacity. So, as things continued to improve and take a turn for the better over the ensuing months, it may have seemed like a literal breath of fresh air when spring high school sports programs made their return for the first time in two years.
And, when it came time for the first postseason in two years- Lake area teams showed a competitive edge and if nothing else, a fair amount of entertainment. It was as if a worldwide pandemic reminded them of how much they enjoy competing, and to not take anything for granted.
Baseball brought a trio of district opening games that were all decided late in the seventh inning. Camdenton started its postseason ambitions with an upset over a higher-seeded team when it knocked off St. Francis Borgia 6-5 after erasing a 2-run deficit with four runs in the seventh, Versailles earned a walk-off 4-3 victory over Knob Noster in its district opener- thanks to one Ty Chamberlain- and Macks Creek put up a fight before coming up on the losing end of a 3-2 game in its district opening battle with Tuscumbia, No district titles may have been won between the three programs, but all three put up a fight before eventually bowing out.
Over on the tennis courts at School of the Osage, there was some hardware won. The boys tennis program not only swept the individual district titles in singles and doubles play, but captured the team title as well to advance to sectionals and have a shot at the state tournament before the season came to an end.
On the soccer pitch, the Camdenton girls won their first district championship in a decade with a 1-0 win over Belton and eventually bowed out in sectionals to a Grain Valley team that made a run all the way to the state championship match. Osage put up a fight, too, before bowing out to Logan-Rogersville 4-3 in extra time of a district semifinal match.
Meanwhile, there were five Lake area golfers between Camdenton, Osage and Eldon who reached their respective state tournaments and took on the best Missouri had to offer. One of them went on to earn All-State honors, too, as Eldon senior Aidan Wells went out with a medal as one of the top 15 golfers in the state in the final event of his entire high school career.
Last but not least, the spring season wrapped up with Lake area track and field athletes putting together a few highlights- among them a district championship for the Camdenton boys and state championships for Camdenton’s Parker Wormek and Osage’s Sara Wolf. Overall, the Lake area athletes at Camdenton, Osage, Eldon and Versailles captured medals in 16 different events and speaking of Wolf, she medaled in four of them- the maximum amount allowed.
It encapsulated the grit that can be seen in this small corner of the world and perhaps showed an encouraging sign of things to come. For the first postseason in two long years, Lake area athletes and programs did not let it go to waste.
Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-346-2132