Mustang High School’s athletic teams will not soon forget March 12 — the day the coronavirus crisis stopped their sports seasons.
The night before, in an NBA game between Utah and the Thunder in Oklahoma City, a chain reaction started just before tip-off when Jazz player Rudy Gobert’s test for COVID-19 came back positive.
Gobert never arrived at Chesapeake Arena, remaining at the team hotel where he was quarantined.
Nonetheless, the Jazz-Thunder contest was abruptly canceled and fans sent home.
All sports across America soon would be placed in limbo as seasons were either suspended or outright canceled the following day.
Mustang’s soccer teams had their games at bedlam rival Yukon called off.
The Bronco baseball program would find its news just as disconcerting: A March 12 game at Deer Creek and a spring break trip to play three games in Florida were nixed.
The Lady Broncos’ slow-pitch softball team did play that day in Southmoore’s Big Cat Classic at Moore High.
MHS and Chandler just had ended the second inning in their opening game of the tournament. Mustang coach Geoffrey Davis said the game then was halted by Chandler, which was notified to immediately return home.
“At that point, it became clear of the uncertainty of our season,” Davis said. “Our players wanted to stay and continue playing.
“Once I got the go-ahead from our administration, I told our players that this could be the last day of slow-pitch for a while and to leave everything on the field. Our players did just that!”
The Lady Broncos and top-ranked Moore agreed to play.
Mustang led 13-8 in the fifth inning but the Lady Lions rallied for an 18-13 victory.
Monday, the Oklahoma State Board of Education decided to close public schools across Oklahoma, including canceling all extracurricular after-school activities, including sports competitions and team practices until April 6.
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association previously had canceled state basketball tournaments for Classes 2A to 6A. Mustang was hosting the opening round in 2A.
“It’s certainly an unprecedented situation in sports,” Davis said. “Ultimately, we can only wait on OSSAA’s decision. Until then, I will remain optimistic our season will resume.”
Mustang’s soccer teams never got on the field for their highly-anticipated games at Yukon. They were canceled earlier in the afternoon.
“Our players were disappointed,” girls soccer coach Lindsay Riggs said. “They were ready to play. It was a perfect day for a game.”
Previous to Monday’s school closure ruling, Riggs said no practices had been planned for spring break but “players were going to do their own thing.
“I think there is still time to get games in before school is out for summer when we return April 6.”
Jared Homer, the Bronco boys soccer coach, said his team “always takes spring break off. I like to give them a mental break.”
MHS’ boys were dejected when they couldn’t play Yukon, which they had beaten in a shoot-out last year, Homer said.
“You hate to have any stoppage,” he noted. “They were pretty upset when our game at Yukon was canceled. But that seems like forever ago now.
“I’m cautiously optimistic about our season. Obviously, I want that for my guys, especially the seniors to go out on their own terms.”
LETTER OF INTENT
Homer said senior midfielder Kory Soulinthavong, the Broncos’ team captain, signed a letter-of-intent Sunday to compete in college.
He will receive a soccer scholarship to play for Western Illinois University, a Division I school in Macomb, which is a member of the Summit League.
Mustang coach Joe Patterson’s baseball players were as unhappy as anybody at the school. The team had four contests canceled, including the three-game spring break trip to Florida.
“We were scheduled to play a game last Thursday versus Deer Creek when we got news that everything was being shut down,” Patterson said.
However, the worst news was yet to come.
“The boys were very upset about not getting to go to Florida, but they understood,” Patterson said. “It’s a team trip we’ve taken for years that they really enjoy. It’s good baseball in Florida and a team-bonding experience.”
The Broncos’ trip to the Sunshine State was to have featured games last Monday at Niceville, Florida; against Coosa Valley, Alabama on Tuesday at Navarre, Florida, and versus Presbyterian, Tennessee, on Wednesday at Tate High School in Cantonment, Florida.