By Kevin Cloe
Their final season as high school athletes was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of community activities to limit the spread of the virus.
Some had the potential of experiencing life-long memories of post-season competition. Instead, they will sadly recall how most of their senior year of spring athletic participation was wiped out.
However, it affected only nine of those athletes at Wickenburg High School.
Wyatt Grantham, who was one of the stars on the Wranglers football team in the fall as defensive end and offensive lineman, attempted to finish his senior year with non-stop athletic participation. He made his first attempt in high school basketball during the winter season, and then he hoped to cap his fourth and final year as the experienced leader on the Wranglers’ golf team.
Before the spring season was cut short, Grantham posted the Wranglers’ lowest score in the season opener and then was the team’s second-best scorer in the next two matches.
Asked how he feels about his final golf season being wiped out, he briefly said, “Hate it … but what can you do.”
Jeri Rainey hoped to complete her fourth year on the Lady Wranglers’ softball team by helping her team qualify for the state playoffs for the second time in four years.
She was the workhorse pitcher on the team, working out of the circle in seven of her team’s first eight games before the rest of the season was canceled.
The Lady Wranglers ended the abbreviated season with a 5-2-1 record, second best in the 3A West Region that would have automatically qualified them for the playoffs.
Not only did she carry the load regarding pitching duties, she also was the second-leading batter on the team with a .783 average that included three doubles, five triples and two home runs in 23 official at-bats.
The other seniors on the team were Yvette Sandoval, Alli Mallory and Xanath Mora.
Sandoval played for the Lady Wranglers in her freshman and sophomore years, skipped her junior year, and then returned this year — playing in all eight games as catcher and infielder. She was the third-leading hitter on the team with her .444 batting average that included two triples and one home run.
Mallory also played for the Lady Wranglers in all four years, while Mora played on the Lady Wranglers’ varsity for the first time this year.
On the other diamond, the baseball field, outfielder/infielder Tyler Ness was the only senior starter on the roster. He played for the Wranglers as a freshman, skipped his sophomore season, and then started the last two seasons.
Similar to the softball team, Coach Gary Hodgkiss had high hopes of guiding his team into the state playoffs for the first time in five years. His Wranglers started this year’s shortened season with a 4-3 record.
The other senior, back-up infielder Cole Pickrell, was playing for the Wranglers’ varsity for the first time and saw limited action this season.
Sprinter John Haviland was the only senior on the Wranglers’ boys track and field team, competing in the 100- and 200-meter events while also anchoring the team’s 4x100 relay team. He also used his speed to compete in the long jump and triple jump events.
Only two seniors competed in the Lady Wranglers’ track and field team — Grace Lopez returning to compete in the shot put and discus events along with the occasional javelin throw.
Kaelyn Shipman, in her senior year, competed on the track team for the first time early this spring.