Spring sports canceled; Athletes return in summer
High school sports and youth sports went on a lengthy hiatus after OSSAA shut down the spring sports season in March.
In early May, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association ordered school districts to keep athletic facilities closed until June 1. OSSAA Director David Jackson said, “Our focus has become doing all we can to help preserve the opening of schools and activities in the fall.
The pandemic hit Sallisaw again in December. The time the school district had to put the boys and girls basketball and wrestling teams in quarantine because of COVID-19 issues.
Here is the second half of the Top 10 stories of 2020.
The Class 2A-6A Oklahoma high school state girls and boys state basketball championships are the biggest story of 2020. It’s almost a non-story because the games didn’t happen because of the pandemic. The cancellation really affected the Roland High School boy’s basketball team. They were in Oklahoma City ready to play Sequoyah-Tahlequah in the opening round of the state championships when the game was postponed. For about a month, the OSSAA tried to reschedule the games, but the pandemic grew more intense and eventually the championships were canceled.
The OSSAA allowed high schools to start summer conditioning programs for all sports on June 1. Each school adopted its own set of social distancing and COVID-19 policies for the Summer Pride workouts. High school football practice started Aug. 10. High school fast-pitch softball also returned for a fall campaign. The high school football season had its up and downs. Sallisaw and Gore High School players were quarantined for 14 days early in the season because of COVID-19 issues. Many teams across the state couldn’t play games because of the pandemic. The season was completed and the playoffs were held. Gore and Vian advanced to the third round of the Class 2A and 3A playoffs. Gore fell to Woodland 38-18 at K.G. Horn Stadium. Vian lost to Metro Christian 34-22. Metro Christian went on to repeat as the Class 3A state champion.
The Sallisaw Drillers youth baseball team defeated Dibble twice to claim the 12-Under OK Kids Baseball state championship at the Sallisaw Youth Sports Complex in late July. The Drillers beat Dibble 6-5, 7-4 after losing the opening game of the series 5-4. The players are Morgan Duke, Gabe Miller, Wyatt Prewett, Donald Smith, Uriah Sanchez, Luke Pack, Michael Polecat, Tae Muskrat, Tanner Elms and Brayton Carter. They are coached by Brad Pack and assistant coach Matt Duke.
Coaching changes also happened in wrestling at the high school level. Longtime Sallisaw High School wrestling coach Darrel Hume became the first coach of the Sallisaw High School and Middle School girls wrestling team. The OSSAA made girls wrestling a fully-sanctioned sport for the 2020 season. It was an exhibition sport in 2019. Darren Peaster was elevated from boys assistant coach to coach the boys program. Peaster was inducted into the Oklahoma chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018. In Vian, Landon Decker became Vian High School’s third head coach in history this season. He replaced Beau Burleson, who was elected as District 2 County Commissioner in Sequoyah County in November.
Sallisaw High School boys basketball coach James Youngblood resigned after basketball season. The Sallisaw Board of Education decided not to renew girls basketball coach Derek Barlow’s contract at its May meeting. Sallisaw hired former Gore High School basketball coach Chadd Gehrke, right, to coach the Black Diamonds and longtime high school coach Curtis Curry as the Lady Diamonds coach in May.