After 2020, spring sports teams savoring this season

By Bill Althaus
Blue Springs South senior Logan Dykhouse, shown during a tennis match last week against Lee's Summit, remembers being on spring break when the pandemic shuttered what would have been his first varsity season. Spring sports athletes have returned to competition in recent weeks for the first time in nearly two years.

The date March 13, 2020 will always be seared into the mind of Blue Springs South tennis player Logan Dykhouse.

And there are countless 2020 students who can share his memory of the day the sports world shut down.

"We had just taken our team pictures and spring break was about to start," said Dykhouse, who had not played tennis at South for more than 700 days when he and his teammates opened this season with a 10-0 win over Lee's Summit.

"My family went to Colorado to ski, and we got there and the mountain was shut down – everything was shut down. It was unbelievable. And before long, I found out my junior season of tennis was canceled. It was hard to wrap my head around it. 

"I really enjoy tennis, and this year, we're all enjoying it because it was taken away from us last year. We had so many great seniors last year, and they didn't get to play. And this season, I'm our No. 4 singles player and the last time I played, when I was sophomore, I was No. 17 novice. So, there's a little more pressure this year, but a lot more fun."

South coach Nathan Mooney shares Dykhouse and his teammates' excitement.

"We practiced on the 12th of March, took our team photo and I told all the guys goodbye and to have fun on spring break," Mooney said. "Our last time together was 368 days ago and it's been over 700 days since we competed as a team. I know every coach and every player would say this, but we're all biting at the bit to play this summer."

Last March was the season Grain Valley baseball coach Brian Driskell and his nine seniors had been dreaming about since they were youngsters. They had perhaps the premier pitcher in the state in Jacob Misiorowski, solid hitting up and down the lineup and a hunger that comes when the moment you've waited a lifetime for arrives.

“I’m not sure if I will ever have – from top to bottom – as deep and talented a group as that 2020 team,” Driskell said. “There may be a team that wins more, but the talent was crazy. I never had a group so talented and so close together – they were like a family. They were like a bunch of college buddies in high school – they all got along so well.”

This year's Eagles team is playing with a passion and a purpose, for those brothers who were unable to complete their final season as an Eagle.

"All the guys on this year's team, especially our seniors, are dedicating this season to the guys who graduated last year and didn't get to play because of COVID," said senior Cole Keller, who has had a game-winning, extra-inning base hit and a game-winning grand slam this season. "I still hate that we missed last season and I was a junior. I can't imagine what it must have been like to miss last year – your last time to play with all your friends. That's a big reason we're so committed to having a great season this spring."

William Chrisman senior Jacque David was the top ranked shot put and discus performer in the spring of 2020, but the season was canceled. However, David would not have been able to compete because she tore her ACL during basketball.

"I was so disappointed when I tore my ACL, then, the track season was canceled and we had no idea if we would be able to compete this year," David said.

She played a big role in Chrisman' first appearance in the state final four since 1993 – the Bears finished in fourth place at the Class 5 Show-Me Showdown in Springfield – and now she is gearing up for track.

"I'm not taking any time off," she said, grinning. "I can't wait to get back to throwing. I missed last season and thought I would miss this season, too. I'm so proud of what we did in basketball, and now I hope we have the same success in track."