Grand Island Central Catholic’s Eli Fox, shown eyeing the line near the green on the No. 1 hole during the Class C State Golf Championships last year at Meadowlark Hills in Kearney, and the Crusaders hope there is a chance for them to play this year.  Corbey R. Dorsey/For the Independent

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all areas of life all around the globe.

While there are many important questions the world is grappling with, there are many others that aren’t life and death, but are still important to those involved.

High school sports are one of those. The spring sports season is on hold, and may well be canceled at some point.

That possibility is not lost on Grand Island Central Catholic boys golf coach Craig Rupp and his team.

The Nebraska Schools Activities Association announced Monday that all spring sports were on hold until at least March 28. There will be no actual competition until at least April 2.

Those dates may well be pushed back at some point.

“I would love for them to say, ‘Let’s not have any meets until April 15,’ and from April 15 give us a full month for everybody to play,” Rupp said. “But the NSAA is in a tough position. If they do it for one sport they have to do it for all the sports. That’s a tough thing to deal with. You never know. Hopefully maybe we can salvage this spring.”

For Central Catholic, the goal of the boys golf team is just about always a state championship. This year is no exception.

GICC won its first state title in Class B in 2002 and won Class C-1 state titles in 2003 and 2004.

The Crusaders won back-to-back Class C titles in 2015 and 2016 and again in 2018 and 2019.

Last year’s title wasn’t secured until Eli Fox sank a putt on the final hole to complete the Central Catholic scoring with a 324 team total. Battle Creek was just one stroke back at 325.

“Our kids want to defend our title,” Rupp said. “I’m sure everybody else does too. Track, baseball, soccer and tennis. They all want to do that too. But the first thing is to make sure everybody is safe.”

The Crusaders lost three golfers from that team, including Jack Goering who tied for fifth, Jayden Palik and Peyton Kort.

Will Goering and Fox, who tied for second a year ago, are both back. Goering is just a junior, but this would be the last go around for Fox.

And now, the season might not ever get started.

“It is very disappointing for them, especially the seniors I have,” Rupp said. “And especially for Eli Fox. You know he’s been playing on the team since he was a freshman and I believe that he has a chance to finish in the top five this season or even be able to win Class C. I think his game has come that far.

“For him and all the other players to work all summer, and we’ve had actually a pretty good spring for the first couple of weeks. All the kids were into it and we were having fun. It’s sad.”

If the season does get started, Rupp will have to fill the holes created by those graduated seniors. But he has some options.

Rupp said seniors Linden Sack, Dietrick Stolz  and Colby Setlik and sophomore Jackson Henry would all be challenging for varsity time. He would expect freshman Bowdie Fox to be the Crusaders’ No. 3 golfer behind older brother Eli and Will Goering.

“I have high expectations for him for the upcoming season and the years after that,” Rupp said of Bowdie Fox. “He’ll be very competitive.”

Weather permitting, the golfers will likely be out practicing. There is plenty of open space on a golf course and the risk for contacting the coronavirus would seem to be minimal.

“You really aren’t next to each other for 18 holes,” Rupp said. “Rarely are you within 10 feet. So I mean there are certain things we could do.”

Rupp said if they were allowed to start the season they could put measures in place to prevent close contact with other golfers. That would include skipping the normal handshakes at the end of a round, no gathering in the clubhouse before or after the event, and having the medals mailed and the results emailed.

But Rupp said the NSAA can’t possibly say OK to golf but no to other sports this spring. It has to be all or none.

“I don’t think you can favor one sport,” Rupp said. “I think the ADs know that and the players know that. If you have to cut down one sport you’re going to have to cut them all.”

For now, Rupp has told his players the season is not over yet.

“What I told my guys is, “Gentlemen, the season has not been canceled. It’s just been postponed,’” Rupp said. “So they’re doing a lot of work on their own, with weather permitting.”

Will Goering and Fox, who tied for second a year ago, are both back. Goering is just a junior, but this would be the last go around for Fox.

Recommended for you

Load comments