NICK THOMPSON, TRUMPET SPORTS WRITER
Wartburg sports — including wrestling, men’s and women’s basketball and indoor track and field — are back.
All sports are now competing with the new COVID-19 guidelines to ensure safety for both the teams and fans attending.
“We are wearing masks while we are lifting, warming up, and basically all the time except for when we are running. At meets, we have to wear masks at all times unless we are on the line for the start of our race. If we take our mask off at any other point, we will be asked to leave the meet,” Sailor Hinegardner, third-year track and field athlete, said.
Track and field has been working to get used to the guidelines and basketball games now have limited attendance policies to help stop the spread of COVID. This lack of fans doesn’t seem to have an impact on the men’s basketball team though.
“The A-R-C has a mandatory two per person attendance policy for anyone involved in the program. We would certainly have more fans at our games if we were in a ‘normal’ year but thankful we have the minimal number we do for each of our games,” Dick Peth, men’s basketball coach, said. “Every individual is different in terms of how much energy they bring to the court each and every day. As we mature mentally, we understand that a game is just an extension of practice with three additional officials on the court.”
Athletes are not the only ones benefiting from getting back on the playing field though. The administration is also learning how to better deal with having sports back in this new normal sports world.
“All of our winter teams have been able to compete pretty regularly and have had success. There have been a lot of schedule adjustments throughout the conference, but our teams have been doing well,” Rick Willis, Wartburg’s athletic director, said. “We continue to improve our testing capability and the participants continue to better understand the behaviors required to stay healthy.”
Both the wrestling and the men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams are experiencing success so far this season. The wrestling team is currently tied for second in the national rankings as a team. They also have seven individuals ranked in the top-10 nationally.
The track and field teams are both ranked at number one in the nation.
“We haven’t even talked about being ranked number one in the nation. We don’t get wrapped up in the rankings or numbers. We know we have more work to do, and that we have to continue to focus on our training so that in March, during championship season, we are ranked number one when it counts,” Hinegardner said.
The women’s basketball team is 7-0 overall and 2-0 in conference.
“Coming out to a 7-0 record has been really great. We weren’t sure if we were going to get any games at all so I’m just thankful for every day that I get to keep practicing and playing games with my teammates,” Hannah Anderson, third-year women’s basketball guard, said.
“We practiced for a long time without a game, so it was exciting to compete against another team and get the season started. Since then we have tried to prepare as we normally would, but also don’t take our time together for granted. Our expectations for the rest of the season are to prepare daily to be the best team that we can be,” Bob Amsberry, women’s head basketball coach, said.
Being back to sports has brought a greater appreciation to some of the athletes. After a long offseason and questions surrounding if they were going to play or not, these moments they have now hold a greater meaning.
“I personally am glad that we are even able to practice, but with this whole COVID deal I am very grateful to play the sport again. Since this year is a ‘one-of-a-kind’ year I think everybody on the team would think the same way. The ball will stop bouncing eventually and it happened so fast we didn’t get the chance to appreciate what we have in front of us. This is a big eye opener for me and the rest of the team,” Keagan John, third-year men’s basketball guard, said.
“My favorite part of this year was being reunited with the team. We had a long time this spring/summer training apart from each other, so being able to be together again is such a blessing,” Hinegardner said. “We have athletes already setting lifetime personal records and even breaking school records. This is only the start of what is to come, those moments are unmatched.”
To keep up with winter sports scores, game dates and more visit go-knights.net.