A Grip on Sports: The marathon of ups and downs that is high school sports is over for another school year

A GRIP ON SPORTS • The last Saturday in May means many things to many people. For anyone associated with high school athletics, it means the end. The end of the school seasons for that year. And the beginning of the preparations for the next.

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• Not everyone sees it that way, of course. If you have ever worked in sports media that covers preps, all you really see it as is relief. The high school athletic year begins in mid-August with football practice. It flows through cross country runners crunching leaves, continues while wrestlers bounce around overheated second-floor rooms, moves outdoors when it is still snowing and finishes with a flurry of some seven sports on Memorial Day weekend.

It’s a nearly 10-month marathon that ends with a sigh more often than a celebration.

Most adults on campus involved with high school sports experience it that way as well. Oh, there are celebrations throughout. Big and little ones. Lots of moments to cherish, ones that lift the soul and create a snapshot in the mind that will never fade. Then there are the others that, to paraphrase Thomas Paine, rip your soul out, throw it to the ground and stomp on it for 37 minutes.

Which makes it just like all levels of athletics.

Every year high school sports winds through the local institute of learning, setting the bar for the students’ emotions. My brother in law, while he was a high school principal, always felt the football season’s successes or failures could set a tone that carried through the halls for the final seven months of the school year. Thus, hiring the right coach was paramount.

After all, in an era of splintering, the big sporting events bring students (and parents) of all walks of life together to root for their peers. Not much else does that.

By the time warm weather rolls back around – or, in the case of 2022 in Spokane, teases that it will roll back around – everyone in every high school is a bit tired. The administrators. The teachers. The students. But just give them a successful track squad, or baseball team, or tennis, or golf or whatever and they perk up. The stretch run to summer gets a bit easier.

High school sports are done for another school year. Officially, they won’t start up again until mid-August. Unofficially, however, they kick back in Tuesday as every sport in every school – pretty much – begins summer workouts that will run until early July.

It just proves the old adage there is no rest for the wickedly talented. Or for anyone else associated with high school sports.

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WSU: Speaking of training, Theo Lawson caught up with former Washington State football coach Mike Price recently. Not so that Price could reminisce about his days on the Palouse. But so he could talk about his latest endeavor, training high school quarterbacks. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college sports, we watched a lot of the NCAA softball Super Regionals yesterday, including UCLA’s win over Duke that put the Bruins in another World Series, Oregon State’s Series-clinching win over Stanford and Arizona State’s win over Northwestern that extended that Super Regional to today. We didn’t see Arizona’s rout of Mississippi State that sent the Wildcats to Oklahoma City once more. … There was a wild baseball game in the Pac-12 tournament, with UCLA scoring nine runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie, then overcoming Oregon State in the 10th, winning 25-22. It was all for naught, though, as the Beavers won the nightcap and assured themselves a spot against Stanford in today’s final. … In basketball news, Harrison Ingram is returning to Stanford.  

Gonzaga: The Zag baseball team fell short of its goal of winning the WCC’s postseason tournament. They lost 15-12 in 11 innings Saturday to USD in Stockton. The 10th-ranked Bulldogs will wait to see its NCAA fate. It will be announced tomorrow morning. … Around the WCC, all we could think about when reading this story about ESPN and BYU were those little fish that swim around sharks, cleaning them.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, Northern Arizona has rebuilt its basketball roster a bit. … Idaho State has redone its basketball court a lot.

Preps: Let’s get going. We’ll start with the sport that features the most participants, track and field. Keenan Gray has coverage of the 4A/3A/2A meet in Tacoma, highlighting the state champions. … Dave Nichols has the 1A/2B/1B meet story from Eastern Washington University, accompanied by Colin Mulvany’s photo gallery. … Dave has a roundup of State tennis action. … We also pass along roundups from softball and baseball.

Indians: Everett turned up the power and powered its way past Spokane 12-5 at Avista.

Mariners: Two games against the Astros. Two wins for Seattle. Nothing wrong with that unless you have lost your moral compass and for some reason are an Astros’ fan. The M’s won last night 6-0. … There is more to life than what happens on the field.

Storm: The WNBA and its players agreed to a clause in their most recent contract. It’s about putting the league first in the players’ priorities. Stars like Breanna Stewart wish their peers hadn’t agreed to it. … A run of COVID-19-related issues has the team wondering if there is anything it can do differently.

Auto racing: Are you going to watch the Indy 500 today? How about NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600? It’s auto racing’s biggest Sunday in this country.

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• We pulled the trigger yesterday. Bought a new computer with all the bells and whistles. It will be here later in the week. Don’t worry. We can always use our trusty laptop to put together this feature if we need to during the crossover period. We expect to be here each day. Until later …

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