The fate of hundreds of NHS athlete’s fall sports seasons laid in the hands of coaches and administratation this fall as they were left to make impossible decisions.
The low-risk sports (boys’/girls’ cross country, girls’ golf, girls’ tennis and girls’ swimming and diving) could begin practice on Aug. 17 and high-risk sports (football, boys’ soccer and boys’/girls’ volleyball) could begin practice on Sept. 7 according to the Fox Valley Association’s Fall Sports Update; unfortunately, this plan quickly fell through.
Neenah’s teams were initially starting on the aforementioned dates, but things quickly took a turn for the worse. Before they even played a match, boys’ soccer and volleyball were canceled. Following suit, girls’ tennis and swimming were canceled as well. Comparable with Republicans in the 2020 election, football fans remained hopeful to the end, but the FVA announced the season would be delayed until March next year with practice beginning on Monday, March 8, and the first games on the 24th.
This leaves three teams standing: girls’ golf, girls’ cross country and boys’ cross country.
“We definitely had our ups and downs throughout the season,” junior Bella Wilgreen said. Wilgreen highlighted the struggles for underclassmen who had never participated in a golf match before. Despite the struggles, they were able to send six golfers to regionals, two of whom, Emma Buss and Annabelle Hodges, qualified for sectionals.
Girls’ Cross Country
Although the season looked different, team captain Elliana King said that she is thankful to even have the opportunity to run and compete. After winning its subsectional meet, Neenah scored 85 points at the WIAA Division 1 Hortonville sectional meet earning them third place leaving them one spot out away from state; however, the future is bright: Neenah’s top three runners from the sectional meet, freshmen Lexi Dorner and Rachel Dietrich, and junior Hadley Hawkinson will all be returning.
Boys’ Cross Country
Along with the girls’ team, everyone was gracious for the chance to run, but “If you had asked me three months ago if we were going to have a state championship or not, I would have told you no way,” team captain Trenton Bauer said. After a strange year featuring a conference including a hodgepodge of teams including Green Bay Notre Dame, Two Rivers, etc., the teammates ran their hearts out.
At WIAA Division 1 Hortonville sectional meet, junior Austin Henderson finished first and senior Trenton Bauer finished third leading the Rockets to its 36th state meet as a team. Henerson and Bauer once again finished top for the team placing third and 13th respectively, and the team earned seventh place.
Bauer said that he is optimistic for the future of the team, and he could not be more proud of them.
The athletes who were given a chance to compete were grateful for the opportunity, and their efforts and results certainly made NHS proud.