By Kevin Cloe
It’s not quite a total cancellation … yet.
Wickenburg High School Athletic Director Matt Johnson, upon directives from school district officials, last week notified the school’s coaches that all before- and after-school activities have been canceled until May 9 due to the global COVID-19 virus pandemic that has shut down most education and commerce institutions in Arizona. That includes spring sports at the high school involving coaches and athletes in baseball, softball, track, golf, and spring practices for the 2020 football season.
“Teachers and coaches may not attempt to assemble students off campus for any type of event or practice unless guidance changes from our governmental agencies,” Johnson noted.
He later said the previously announced closing of district schools until March 27 has been extended to April 10.
The local school district’s May 9 date comes after all spring sports throughout the state have completed their scheduled regular seasons and is more specific than the governing Arizona Interscholastic Association’s (AIA) announcement last week.
“Arizona Governor Doug Ducey recently announced that all statewide schools will be closed through Friday, April 10,” the AIA reported. “With this directive, the AIA and its Executive Board must abide by this decision and require that all AIA member schools not partake in interscholastic competition until further notified.
“The spring sports championships are still not canceled at this point,” it added. “However, discussions for the administration of any postseason tournaments will not take place until after schools are back in session.”
Wickenburg High’s baseball schedule shows its end of the regular season on April 27 against host Northwest Christian. However, the AIA’s planned 3A Conference state playoffs are scheduled to start on Friday and Saturday, May 8-9.
The Wranglers, under Coach Gary Hodgkiss, hadn’t yet started its 3A West Region schedule and have posted a 4-3 season record so far. Its last seven scheduled games were canceled due to rain or the onset of the virus in the state. A total cancellation of the regular season would eliminate another nine games and any of the previous ones that might have been rescheduled.
The Wranglers’ girls softball program, under the guidance of Coach Keith Peterson, also was planned to complete its regular season on April 27. The Lady Wranglers, who had six of their games already canceled, are holding a 5-2 season record while waiting for decisions regarding the remainder of the season. Softball’s 3A Conference state playoffs are scheduled to start May 2, one week before the local school district’s tentative suspension date of May 9.
Coach Ronn Tillapaugh’s track and field team had scheduled its final regular season meet for April 29, prior to the Division III state championships that have yet to be determined. His Wranglers have already had three meets canceled due to the freeze on all spring sports.
Wickenburg High’s golf team has been least affected by the virus shutdown, having only two matches canceled earlier this month. Coach Dan Doom’s young team, with only one senior on its roster, had won five of its first seven matches and was scheduled to finish its regular season on April 21 — prior to its planned state tournament in Tucson on May13-14.