Like many of you, I’ve been glued to a screen for the past 48 hours. Speculation and theories were running amuck all afternoon, but everyone knew where this was heading. But yet we continued to hold out hope that there was hope.
I was in mid-sentence in a text telling my brother-in-law to pump the brakes when the news hit. The ESPN anchor tapped his earpiece, stopped all communication, and solemnly looked up and relayed the words we all feared, “The NCAA cancels remaining winter and spring championships.”
The Hawkeye seasons are officially over. Baseball, softball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s rowing, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s track and field, and wrestling. All of it, everything...
In the sporting world, there is nothing more harrowing than not being able to control the uncontrollable. Today, we received that wakeup call. That in spite our best efforts, we can never fully escape real life. That sometimes, a real-life crisis or in this case, a pandemic, can bring the entire world to their knees. By now we all should know the dangers covid-19 presents and if you don’t, then please educate yourself immediately. This is bigger than wrestling and bigger than sports. What we do right here and right now could save lives moving forward and that’s what makes this whole situation easier to handle. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t be disappointed.
I’ve been covering wrestling for BHGP’s for two years now, but I’ve been a die-hard wrestling fan my entire life. I can confidently say that I’ve never been more invested in a program than I am at this very moment and regardless of how this season ended, that wasn’t going to change.
But damnit, my heart breaks for this wrestling team. My heart breaks for these seniors. I feel awful for Pat Lugo. I feel awful that Spencer Lee will be denied a run at 4 titles. I feel sick to my stomach that Tom and Terry Brands can’t snap a decade long draught and bring a team title back to Iowa City.
My heart is breaking for all 330 wrestlers that were supposed to compete on the national stage, their coaches and families, and their respective institutions. I feel terrible for all student athletes across the entire NCAA landscape. But sometimes real-life doesn’t care about athletics and that was proof enough today.
2020 was supposed to be a special.
2020 was supposed to be the year.
2020 was supposed to be a lot of things that aren’t… this.
There’s going to be a lot of frustration, questions, and second-guessing over the next few days. Why didn’t they postpone instead of canceling? What happens to the seniors and their eligibility? How will this impact recruiting or even the upcoming Olympic games?
While this season didn’t end the way we wanted it to, there’s still reason to celebrate. We went 14-0 and won the Big Ten Tournament by a landslide. We sent all 10 starters to the big show and were poised to make an epic run that would have resulted in a team title. Nothing can take that away from us. I’m proud of this team and I know exactly what we were going to accomplish.
Regardless of what looms for us on the horizon, we’re all in it together. You, me, everyone. There is no escaping the reality that we’re in, but it’s up to us to set an example moving forward and get ahead of this before it causes irreversible harm. So, despite our anger and resentment at what was denied it’s time to rally together and beat the shit out of covid-19.
Be kind and look out for each other. Be safe and Go Hawks.