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High school spring sports season successful despite setbacks

Updated May 31, 2021 - 7:41 pm

Coaches always seem to be looking forward, and Thomas Maxwell is no different.

The Sierra Vista High baseball coach could see he had a special group when he took over the program three years ago. But it wasn’t that year’s team he had his eye on; it was a younger group that made up the backbone of this year’s team.

“I knew this was the team that was going to do it,” Maxwell said.

The Mountain Lions made good on Maxwell’s premonition by running through the Class 4A playoffs last week and won the crown by edging top-seeded Silverado 5-4 in the championship game.

While the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association refrained from calling it a state championship, Sierra Vista celebrated it as one because all 12 of the 4A teams in the state are in the south and competed in the tournament.

“We’ll get state championship rings,” Maxwell said. “To us, it’s a state championship. Winning the title was great, but watching them celebrate was the biggest reward.”

It was a happy ending to a trying year. With COVID-19 cases spiking last summer, the NIAA pushed the entire sports calendar into the spring semester, with six weeks of competition allotted for winter, then fall and finally spring sports.

The NIAA eventually canceled the winter season, and the Clark County School District decided to sit out the fall, too. In March, the CCSD announced a plan to return students to school, which also meant the spring sports season was on.

While it was a shortened season that was made even shorter for some by missing time because of COVID-19 protocols, teams were happy to have the opportunity to get back on the field.

“The kids were so full of heart,” Shadow Ridge softball coach Julia Meyn said. “We had so many hoops to jump through because of COVID, but we had to do our job. Whether that meant testing Mondays, wearing masks or sitting on chairs outside the dugout, the kids stepped up.”

Meyn said her main message to her players was to leave it all on the field, because they never knew when the season could be shut down as it was in 2020.

They did, and the Mustangs reached the Class 5A Southern Region tournament championship game before falling to Arbor View 6-5.

“That was such a big game for everybody involved,” Meyn said. “It was an exciting game, everybody was fighting, and it went back and forth. I congratulate Arbor View, and I’m very pleased with what we were able to accomplish.”

Football spring practices a plus

The fall season being canceled meant no football games for CCSD schools, but the district allowed teams 20 padded practices culminating with an intrasquad scrimmage to help them get ready for the fall.

While Liberty coach Rich Muraco said he would have rather had a chance to play games during the spring, he was happy to get something. And he hopes spring practice won’t go away once things return to normal.

“We’re hoping it will continue, and it sounds like it will,” Muraco said. “It will really help Nevada high school football. You see it in the better states that they all have spring ball. It really helps with the development of kids.”

For most football players, the spring practices were the first time they had been in pads in nearly 1½ years.

Arbor View coach Matt Gerber said it was critical for his team because it is installing new offensive and defensive ideas.

“It would have put us a lot further behind if we hadn’t had that time,” Gerber said. “We’d been doing Zoom meetings and what we can workoutwise, but to get out on the field was needed.”

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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