The NCAA announced late Thursday afternoon that all remaining winter and spring championships have been canceled. A second announcement was made that evening that all MIAA practices and athletic competitions are to be halted until further notice.
The decision came after a full day of nationwide sports cancellations on March 12 among other events and major closings.
Newman University wrestlers Tyler Lawley and Kameron Frame were set to compete in a tournament March 13 and 14 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Instead, they were traveling back to Wichita, Kansas on the day they were supposed to be giving their all.
Head Wrestling Coach Ryan Smith said the cancellation was definitely unexpected and he, along with the rest of the team, is shocked and disappointed. However, he also expressed some understanding, saying “this is a bigger issue than Newman wrestling.”
Smith said, “From a wrestling standpoint, definitely we’re very disappointed that it has come to this. We were already here and the guys were fired up, it’s hard to watch this happen. The whole situation blows me away as far as where we’re going. This is bigger than wrestling, basketball, MIAA — this is NCAA, too, and professional sports. Newman is pretty small in the grand scheme of things. The next 30 days is going to be interesting.”
Frame said his family had made the drive to see him compete in the tournament, yet just minutes after they arrived, the news came through that the event would be canceled.
“It’s heartbreaking and shocking,” he said. “It all came out of nowhere and in just one day you’re hearing about all these events being canceled. Luckily, Tyler and I have more years to come, but my heart goes out to seniors whose college sports careers are done because this is their last season.”
Frame said he will continue to stay in shape on his own in hopes to be ready for the USA Wrestling UWW Junior & U23 World Team Trials in late May.
“It’s tough and hard to have to go through this. We discussed possibly going to the U23 championships. But this might be it for the season. We’ll try to stay in shape. We can work out on our own, go for a run, we just can’t do this as an official practice.”
Lawley also had family travel to the tournament and arrive shortly before it got canceled. He said they, too, were in shock.
He said the work they put in during the season takes a lot of mental and physical effort and the cancellation was tough to take.
“We make a lot of sacrifices as far as holidays and not eating. We spend a lot of time working out and then for it to be not worth it in the end is tough,” said Lawley.
He said he plans on spending more time working at his job, but also plans to continue working out as well. He also has hopes for the summer U23 tournament and will continue his wrestling fitness routine so he can be ready.
Wrestling is just one of many sports that have been affected by the MIAA suspension. Baseball, golf, softball and tennis are also MIAA-sponsored teams that had championships or games canceled.
Softball senior Lacey Colvin said, “I may or may not have had my very last college softball practice and game without even knowing. One thing is for sure, I never would have anticipated my last semester and season to go like this and that is disappointing.”
Director of Athletics Joanna Pryor said this is especially hard for student-athletes for whom sports is part of their identity.
She explained, “Sports is part of who they are, it’s in their soul, their being. Without sports, they will struggle a little bit. They will have a lot of extra time on their hands, time that would have been spent hitting practice with their teammates, traveling to competitions — quality time spent with their second families.”
Student-athletes on campus are indeed experiencing emotions they never thought they would experience. But there are also many who understand the situation at hand.
Women’s golfer Kristin Lau said she thinks the decision was probably a good one, but also feels bad for her teammates who were looking forward to competing in regionals.
“I think the suspension was a good decision on the part of the conference since the coronavirus is starting to spread more rapidly in the U.S. Sporting events can get very crowded.”
The COVID-19 virus has taken its toll on the world, and it is hitting home in the U.S. Fields and stadiums around the nation will be eerily empty for an unspecified amount of time. Academically, universities and k-12 schools are extending spring break sessions or telling students not to return to campuses and take their remaining semester in an online format.
Newman University has extended its spring break session and will now run from March 16 through March 29, for face-to-face classes. Online classes will resume as normal on March 23. The current goal is for face-to-face classes to resume Monday, March 30, but the university is carefully monitoring the situation and those plans could change.