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The tradition of Sioux Falls Lincoln track and field will continue no matter what hits it

Sioux Falls Lincoln 2019 boys and girls state champion track and field teams. (Courtesy: Jim Jarovski)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (BVM) — Not knowing is a terrible thing. Waking up everyday for some news that could give you closure to find there is none. Trying to stay focused on the task at hand, but always wondering if this effort will be for nothing.

That is what many athletes felt as they tried to prepare for their spring sports while knowing that there is no foreseeable start to their seasons.

The COVID-19 pandemic ended the seasons of winter athletes across the country just as they were about to wrap up. An understandable measure to ensure safety, but one that is hard for anyone to accept, especially high school athletes.

They did not get to properly end their seasons, but for the athletes that compete in the spring, there season may not even get the chance to start.

Coaches like Jim Jarovski, who is both the boys and girls head track coach at Sioux Falls Lincoln, tried to keep their athletes focused on being ready for the season. He and his assistant coaches were in contact with their athletes sending them workouts and encouraging them to be ready for the season.

“My hope was that they say if we start school again on May 2 or May 3 we will have a shortened track season,” said Jarovski.

Unfortunately it wouldn’t get to that. On April 6, the SDHSAA announced that it would be canceling all spring sports seasons. The announcement was made official on April 21 at the SDHSAA Board of Directors meeting. The decision was made due to the fact that high school classes would not be reconvened for the spring.

“Pretty disappointed, mostly for our seniors and really for our whole track team. We had a good team and the worst part is not being able to see those seniors off the right way,” said Jarovski. “It definitely hurt for a couple of days, but it has started to get a little better each day.”

Jarovski has been with the Patriots for 15 years and has done well to carry on the long standing tradition of excellence that is clearly visible at Sioux Falls Lincoln. In the last four years, the Patriots have won three track state championships on the girls side. As for the boys, they have won four consecutive state titles and were gearing up to tie the school record of five state championships in a row.

The boys senior class hadn’t lost a single meet in their three previous years of competing and were going for four straight undefeated seasons. The girls team was continuing a rivalry with Brandon Valley High School, the only other team to win a state title in the last four years.

“It’s especially difficult because obviously from a talent standpoint they’re outstanding. But they honestly were a phenomenal group of hard workers, kids that were passionate about track and field, enjoyed being around each other and enjoyed being around the coaches so this is a special group,” said Jarovski.

For those seniors their track season and the end of their senior year ended without them being able to do many of the things that are so special for seniors.

“I just feel terrible for them, they’ve been looking forward to this…and not only the kids, but the parents it’s hard for them too you know you get to watch your son or daughter be so successful at track…and then not see them compete their senior year,” said Jarovski.

We feel for those athletes, but that does not mean we don’t understand why the season did not happen. Coach Jarovski accepts it, as do his athletes. That is part of what makes it so hard. It may be in the best interest of everyone’s health to not have a season.

It is hard to accept, but Jarovski had a touching silver lining to this strange crisis we all find ourselves in that he tells his athletes who reach out to him.

“It is my belief we’ve been given this gift of time,” said Jarovski. “How are you going to use this gift of time? And now that we have a lot of free time, are you going to use that to better yourself? Are you going to use that to make changes in your life? Whatever that is athletically, spiritually, academically. And are you going to improve yourself? So, that is a challenge I try to convey to those that reach out to me is use this time wisely. Use this time to better yourself in some way and hopefully kids take that to heart.”

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