Before COVID-19 abruptly changed the lives of everyone in mid-March, the Ripon Tiger track and field team had just began practice.

It was four days in, when everything was halted. The spring sports season was soon suspended and eventually canceled in mid-April.

“We had four really good days of practice. It was exciting,” Ripon head track and field coach Chris Gatzke said. “The electricity in the gym when we started back in March was phenomenal. We were really looking for some good things, and then when everything just got canceled, it was like ‘Wow.’”

While Gatzke and his student-athletes were disappointed about missing out on the season, they made the most of it this past month during the WIAA’s 30 summer contact days for spring sports.

The track and field team had seven practices and then took part in three meets last week, in addition to a pole-vault only competition.

There was a girls’ home relay meet last week Monday against Campbellsport, a triangular meet with Laconia and Campbellsport last week Tuesday in Rosendale and a boys’ home relay meet last week Wednesday against Campbellsport.

According to Gatzke, Ripon had anywhere from 18 to 28 athletes participate in practices, and then at the meets there were probably around 26 who got a chance to compete. Gatzke noted some couldn’t make it to competitions because of work or other commitments, or their events weren’t going to be offered.

The head coach was especially happy for the seniors, who received a chance to have their last races.

Among the seniors competing were Max Beuthin, Jose Munoz, Carter Hahn, Lexi Elegbede-Peer, and Emily Cramer. Payton Draeger and Isaiah Ellis likely would have taken part if hurdles were scheduled from the start at the Laconia meet, while Jason Wang was unable to make the competition due to work.

“That was the most enjoyable part was the fact that the seniors got to do something; they got that closure,” Gatzke said. “We had some pretty decent performances and had some fun.”

Read the full story in the July 30, 2020 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

Jonathan Bailey has been covering sports and general news assignments for the Ripon Commonwealth Press since 2011. He is a former reporter for The Green Laker, a summer publication produced by the Ripon Commonwealth Press, and now is its editor.

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