SOUTH JORDAN — Some high school athletes are missing possible scholarship opportunities due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With no spring season, many of them did not have a chance to prove themselves or improve their personal bests to get those scholarship offers.
“It’s definitely disappointing. I’ve worked so long and so hard for this,” said Payton Suitter a senior on the track and field team at Bingham High School in South Jordan.
Suitter runs the 300-meter hurdles and said a couple of colleges told him if he shaved one second off his time, he could get a scholarship.
“I was definitely on track to do that, and even better than that,” Suitter told KSL. “I’ve still been training every day, trying to walk on somewhere in the fall.”
Summer Steeneck, a senior pole vaulter at Riverton High School, said one college told her if she could clear 12 feet she would get a scholarship.
“I felt super confident,” she said.
Her personal best going into her senior season was 11-foot-6, and she believed she could have cleared 12 feet during her senior year.
“I was super confident in getting it. I’ve been talking to my coaches and they are like, ‘yeah you could have easily go it,’” Steeneck told KSL. “This was going to be the best season and I was really excited. It was heartbreaking that we were not going to be able to get a season. I cried to my mom forever. It was so bad.”
Austin Hone, a Brigham High School senior who runs the 800-meter race, did get a partial scholarship to Utah Valley University. He said they told him if he shaved four seconds off his time his senior year he could get a full ride.
“It was very important. I was hoping to get into college on my own merit,” he said. “There is not much I can really do about it now all I can do is keep training.”
Ed Eyestone, the head track and field coach at Brigham Young University, said there is no question the virus has changed recruiting at colleges across the country for spring sports. That would include track and field, baseball, softball and soccer.
While there were some senior athletes hurt by no season, he said it’s the high school juniors that will really take the hit.
“We are left without any concrete results from their junior season,” Eyestone said. “We usually depend on seeing the results of student-athletes from their junior year to help us decided who to recruit going into their senior year.”
As a result, he said coaches are going to have to look at athletes’ sophomore year and their first competitions their senior year.
“Cast a wider net and be a little more patient in making decisions. Waiting until maybe early spring of next year to see how those rising seniors will be performing,” he said. “The bottom line is the creme rises to the top, so we are going to see those great high school athletes still rise up and do what they need to.”