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Players react to spring sports cancellation

March 29, 2020 - 00:00
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    Maddi Kamas, Ian Daugherty, Ally Stephenson and Madelyn McCabe. [Photo Credits: Russell Stitt – Kamas and Daugherty Beth Jansen – McCabe, KT&FP Staff – Stephenson]

Ally Stephenson had a state championship to defend.

Madelyn McCabe, too.

Maddi Kamas had one to win.

Ian Daugherty, too. None of them will get the

None of them will get the opportunity.

The OSSAA board of directors Thursday voted unanimously to cancel the 2020 spring sports season in Oklahoma.

“It was the worst vote I’ve ever had to say ‘yes’ on,” said Kingfisher Superintendent Jason Sternberger, who is on the OSSAA board.

“But in the interest of public safety there was no choice in the matter. There was no choice but to vote ‘yes.’”

That vote ended the season for the likes of Stephenson, McCabe and Kamas before they even started.

For Daugherty, Thursday’s vote was a double-whammy.

The vote also officially canceled the state basketball tournaments for Class 2A-6A. A junior, Daugherty

A junior, Daugherty had earned a starting spot on Kingfisher’s top-ranked basketball team that qualified for state.

He’s also a top prospect in baseball for the Class of 2021 and has committed to play at Oklahoma State University.

The Jackets had won all five of their games on the diamond before the season was put to a halt.

“Not being able to compete in the state basketball tournament and the majority of the baseball season was hard for me to hear,” Daugherty said.

The KHS baseball team was coming off its best season ever. The Jackets returned a strong core from a team that advanced to the Class 4A semifinals in 2019. As for the basketball team, the Jackets were ranked No. 1 and looking to win their second straight championship and third in four years.

“All the hard work and sacrifices my teammates and I have made over the past several months will not be rewarded,” Daugherty said. “All we can do now is keep working.”

Daugherty gets to return next year, but that’s not the same for McCabe.

The Cashion senior has won team and individual state championships over the last two seasons.

She’s won two consecutive 2A state titles in the high jump and was looking to turn long jump silver into gold this year as well.

“I’m very disappointed my last year of high school ended this way, but everything happens for a reason,” McCabe said. “I believe God has a better plan for me as well as all of the spring athletes across Oklahoma this year.”

McCabe earned four medals in each of the last two state track meets and played a big role in Cashion’s first-ever team track title in 2018.

“The three years I was able to compete in track and field were better than I could have ever dreamed,” she said.

McCabe has signed to compete in track and field for Southeastern Louisiana University, a Division I program in Hammond.

She said she’ll spend her extra time now preparing for the Great Southwest Track & Field Classic in June or, if that’s canceled, prepare for her college track career.

Stephenson leapt - literally - onto the track and field scene last year.

As a freshman at Kingfisher, Stephenson broke the school record in the high jump multiple times before ultimately winning the Class 4A state title in the event. Stephenson also won

Stephenson also won gold in the high jump at the Meet of Champions after state.

She also qualified for state in the 100 meter dash. Stephenson won’t get a chance to build on that success her sophomore season.

“I was really looking forward to this track season with my team and coaches,” she said. “I’m sad that it’s been canceled and I can’t imagine not having anything to compete for this season and for this long.”

Kamas is one of the top junior golfers in the country. She committed to play collegiately at Oklahoma City University during her freshman season at Kingfisher.

However, she’s been denied a high school state championship.

She was in contention in 2018 heading into the second day of state, but inclement weather forced the OSSAA to call off the remainder of the tournament.

Kamas was in the lead for a good part of last year’s 4A state tournament, but saw a putt that would have put her in a tie for the lead lip out on her 36th and final hole.

If there was a list of favorites to win gold this year, Kamas was at the top.

“It was really hard, especially since state my freshman year was only one day and last year was not the turnout I hoped for,” she said. “I was ready to come back this season and I was excited to play new courses we didn’t play last year.”

While McCabe doesn’t get another crack at high school success, the three from Kingfisher do.

All three, however, empathize with their upperclassmen.

“I’m just sad the seniors won’t have their chance to have one last season,” Kamas said.

Added Daugherty: “I especially feel bad for the seniors who didn’t get to finish their high school season.”

“It breaks my heart more for the seniors that don’t get a chance to compete again and the families that are affected by this pandemic,” Stephenson said.

The cancellation, of course, isn’t limited to the athletes.

Audra Smalley watched her KHS girls golf team finish strong a season ago and finish fourth in Class 4A and just four strokes shy of being state runner-up.

With the bulk of that team returning in 2020, including Kamas, Smalley had high expectations.

“I am both mad and sad that this is happening,” she said. “I am heartbroken for my whole team, but especially my seniors who will never get another chance to play high school golf.”

Smalley said last year’s finish motivated the team to improve even more leading up to this season. They took part in summer tournaments, played rounds on their own and participated in the Summer Pride weightlifting program.

“I was so excited to see their hard work pay off this season,” Smalley continued. “I know we were going to do great things. I love these girls and I just wanted to have them accomplish all the goals they had set for themselves.”

In true coach form, Smalley said lessons can be learned from the disaster.