Crusaders’ spring sports season: a tribute to senior athletes

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Crusaders spring athletes were training, practicing, and looking forward to facing competition on the courts, fields, and tracks. Just as their seasons were about to start, high schools and their athletic teams were sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crusaders head coaches take a look at what could have been in this spring sports roundup.

Head Coach Dave Gandolph

The 2020 Scecina baseball team had high expectations. The Crusaders were ranked No. 3 in the state preseason poll with good reason.
“After two consecutive Sectional championships, they knew how to win,” said Gandolph. “With 10 returning letterman, including five pitchers, a long run in the state tournament was an attainable goal.”

The seven seniors are Owen Begley, Patrick Denney, Luke Leffler, Jullian Patino, Eli Phillips, Seth Stillions and Liam Wright. They had the experience to lead juniors Hayden Kopernak, Daniel Linn, Jameson Welborn, and sophomores Anden Glawatz, Aidan Ray, and Luke Soultz to achieve lofty goals. Add some really athletic freshman players, and it would have been an exciting year.

“Unfortunately it was not to be,” said Gandolph. “Our theme for the year was appropriate – ‘ON TO THE NEXT.’ ”

Boys Golf
Head Coach Ott Hurrle

headshot of student Max White, Class of 2020

Max White

Max White, a four-year varsity golfer, would have been the Crusaders’ No. 1 golfer this season.  Max qualified for the Regional round of the state golf tournament as a sophomore and junior. He was expected to do the same this season and hopefully put himself in position to play in the state tournament.

“His progress would have been both exciting and enjoyable to watch,” said Coach Hurrle.


Head Coach Holli Streeval

The excitement for the 2020 Crusader softball season was palpable. Streeval said every player was looking forward to what the team would accomplish.

“We had a tremendous turnout at preseason workouts and tryouts, and we were going to have a JV team. We had girls working hard week in and week out to be part of our program and that commitment started with our senior class,” she said.

Seniors Monika Nance, Sophia Petrone, Bailey Sims, Rachel Martinez, Kate Denise and Eliza Leffler stepped up in every way a coach could want and were the leaders for every player. Senior Sarina Long, who had suffered injuries in the past, was the student team manager this year.

After tryouts and the teams separated into the JV and varsity squads, every senior took it upon herself to work with someone from the JV team.

“Our seniors knew that those girls would be the future of the program that they had loved for four years,” Streeval said. “They knew they needed to help those girls develop just like they were helped to develop their freshman year.

In the weight room the girls gave all they had to make themselves and the team better. The upperclassmen took the time to exemplify the “WE >ME” mantra the team had adopted for this season. “

“There were laughs, there were tears and there were surprising moments of team unity that came at every workout,” Streeval said. “We had something special this season and our seniors will be missed.”

Although the team didn’t play any games, the season was not a waste, said Streeval. While the seniors are experiencing disappointment that will take time to heal, she said they spent months as leaders.

“I know that is no consolation to them, but it shows the amazing qualities each senior possessed and the amazing qualities that will ensure they are successful in the next stage of their lives,” she said.

“As a coach, there is nothing else I could have asked of them. I pray every player knows how important they are to this program and I pray that our seniors move on knowing they helped create a culture of respect, discipline and hard work that has been Crusader softball for so long.”

Girls Tennis
Head Coach Angie Therber

The season was full of potential with the return of several strong players for the girls tennis team. Leading the charge were senior Lexi Carr and junior Olivia Smith, both third-year veterans.
“Carr brings a focused resolve developed by facing many opponents over the years who were more experienced, but less athletic,” said Coach Therber. “This year she could have brought It all together with her athleticism, keen court coverage sense, and improved tennis skill.”

Smith, who has worked on her game since long before high school, would have been be a strong singles contributor with her superior speed and agility that allow her to cover the court better than most.

Other varsity prospects were second-year players senior Dezirae Harris and sophomores Josephine Marshall, Cierra Berry, Jaylenae Durr, and Heather Willis. The team efforts would have been bolstered by senior players Grace Ochoa and Symone Daniels, juniors Izzy Guinan and Abigail Lopez, and freshman Emily Gonzalez.

Seniors Alex Andrews and Michael Black were the student team managers.

“I was excited to see the potential play out this season,” said Coach Therber. “We had a healthy core of experience and plenty of athleticism and dedication to carry us through a solidly competitive conference season.”

Girls Track and Field
Head Coach Christian Gleeson

Under the new head coach, seniors Daisy Garcia, Syadarah Haskins, and Abby Page were expected to lead a balanced team with a strong junior class and host of new talented underclassmen into the 2020 season.

Stephanie Garcia was the student team manager.

The team had more depth on the roster than last season, which could have led to a climb in the Indiana Crossroads Conference and Sectional standings. Coach Gleeson would have been able to add multiple athletes events to help the team score points in all four phases (field events, sprints, distance and relays) to set the bar high for 2020.


Boys Track
Head Coach Christian Gleeson

The new coach was taking the helm of an experienced and talented 2020 team. Senior David Baker (high jump) was the team’s lone returning Regional qualifier. With a healthy TyiShaun Woods, along with fellow seniors Marquis Edwards, William Curial, and Julian Gonzalez, the boys were aiming to improve on their finishes at the Indiana Crossroads Conference and Sectional championships. These seniors, teamed with a solid junior class and strong underclassmen, were on their way to a successful 2020 season.

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