By Mark Jurgena
After months of deliberation and decision-making high school sports have returned across the state including Collinsville.
Monday four sports began their seasons with morning practices.
The boys and girls cross country teams got things rolling with an early morning workout. Longtime coach Darryl Frerker welcomed 16 Kahoks to the initial practice of the season. There were 13 boys and three girls at the workout. Frerker received word from additional runners that they could not make the first day of practice.
“It’s great to see the kids and have a halfway decent morning,” said a clearly enthusiastic Frerker. “It was a little bit humid but heck it’s August, right? It’s great to see all the kids again and it’s just nice to…start.”
Frerker was also encouraged about some additions to his team courtesy of the switch in seasons by the IHSA. The Kahoks cross country squad picked up a few boys soccer players after the soccer season was moved to the spring.
While they now have a roster and a practice schedule, their meet schedule is still being worked out. They are trying to maximize their competition schedule but due to IHSA mandates, they must only compete against schools within their conference or within their state EMS borders. For CHS, those borders are essentially the Metro East area.
“Right now, coach Neil (James) at O’Fallon had done a lot of homework and he put a couple of scenarios together for at least the conference to compete against each other by way of dual meets, triangular meets. That all hinges on the numbers because you can’t have more than 50. I know coach Neil sent something to their AD so that’s something they can talk about to see if that’s what we want to do.” said Frerker.
For now, the IHSA still lists August 24th as the first day contests may be held. The cross country season ends October 24th.
Later in the morning coach Jessica Ledford conducted her first practice with the girls tennis team. Based on her attendance numbers from her summer contact sessions, she believes there will be around 25-30 girls playing this fall once everyone reports for practice.
Ledford’s team graduated only one senior from last year’s squad and all those top underclassmen are back this season.
“I definitely think some of our girls that were on JV last year will move up to varsity,” began Ledford. “They improved a lot. I’m hopeful that our top five, I haven’t really seen them play each other yet, I’m hopeful they’ve improved too. I know a lot of them were taking lessons.”
The tennis schedule was largely unaffected by the regional mandate. The girls will open their season August 27th against Alton Marquette.
Coach Steve Schnieder’s girls golf team had 18 athletes at their initial practice.
“We had two seniors in Carson Jones and Samantha Qualls,” Schneider said. “They have a little bit of varsity experience from last year so it’s nice to have them back. Our junior class has three returning varsity players in Ricki Merlak, Maya Clark and Abby Fister. All three have played 18 hole tournaments so it’s exciting to have some experience back. A lot of those juniors have been putting in time over the summer and working hard and have improved on their scores.”
He commented that he also has quite a few freshmen and sophomores on the JV squad. Schneider believes a few of them may have a chance to contribute at the varsity level this year.
The girls golf schedule has remained largely untouched by the new IHSA restrictions, however some of the bigger tournaments may have to be adjusted due to the state mandate of less than 50 people.
They open their season today against Belleville East and Alton at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey.
Boys golf had 24 kids out today for golf including some players from football and boys soccer since their seasons were moved to the spring.
“The first day was definitely interesting,” coach Colin Moore said. “Kids were walking up with masks on and scanning them in and checking waivers, it was definitely different than it was in the past. Golf is usually pretty laid back and this was very high intensity trying to make sure we did everything right. You could tell a couple of the kids were a little apprehensive.”
However once practice began Moore believed a sense of normalcy returned.
“A lot of them were just happy to be out there, when we ended practice they didn’t want to leave,” said Moore.
Like the girls program, the boys schedule changed very little with the new state restrictions.
They open their season next Tuesday at the Spencer T. Olin Golf Course in Alton for the Alton Tournament. They follow that with the Madison County Tournament next Thursday.