Mike MandellMike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at email@example.com. MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020 Latest Posts Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all) Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020 ELLSWORTH — This is not how the 2019-20 college sports season was supposed to end.As is always the case, the flip of the calendar from February to March raised the stakes for athletes at universities across the country. For winter athletes, it meant the chance to compete for championships; for those competing in spring athletics, it marked the start of conference play and the first full month of the season.Instead, that season came to a grinding halt with a series of cancellations stemming from the novel coronavirus. From the NCAA canceling March Madness and other championship events to individual conferences calling off their winter tournaments, athletes who are used to seeing their seasons end on the courts, fields and tracks instead saw them end in conference rooms.With winter sports nearing the end, the season’s conclusion was a finality for those athletes; for the underclassmen, a year they would never get back, and for the seniors, the end of the line. Yet with spring sports still in their early stages, those involved in baseball, softball, tennis, outdoor track and more earned a major reprieve: an added season of eligibility.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder text“It feels good to know that we have that opportunity,” said Conner Wagstaff, who graduated from Ellsworth High School last year and now plays baseball at Southern New Hampshire University. “We’re obviously bummed out with the season being over, but at least we know we have that option going forward.”The eligibility relief came after the NCAA Board of Governors instructed all three divisions of competition to grant an additional year to affected athletes. Administrative committees for each division announced March 13 that they would be providing said relief, though details are still being sorted out at the Division I level.Bucksport softball’s Mikayla Tripp pitches during the fourth inning of the Golden Bucks’ 2019 season opener against MDI at Bucksport High School. Tripp, now a freshman on the Husson University softball team, appeared in four of the Eagles’ 12 games prior to the cancellation of the 2020 season. FILE PHOTOWhereas Wagstaff and Southern New Hampshire had already played 16 games by the time the season was canceled, other teams had yet to begin when the dominoes began to fall. Such was the case with the Thomas College baseball team, which features three Ellsworth graduates (Nick Bagley, Devin Grindle and Brad Smith) and was less than a week away from its first game.“It’s really hard because we should be down in Florida playing right now,” Grindle said Tuesday. “We had been practicing since January and had even started some of our outdoor practices, so it’s tough.”Among the issues to be addressed is the effect eligibility relief will have on roster sizes. The NCAA places strict limitations on the number of scholarships (except at the Division III level, which has no scholarships) and overall roster spots teams are allotted for each sport, and with schools also bringing in incoming recruiting classes, there’s a chance many programs could be stretched thin.“I think that’s going to be an issue that varies from school to school,” said Steve Peed, the athletic director and head women’s lacrosse coach at Maine Maritime Academy. “There might be a little bit of a downward push in terms of recruiting, and that could really shake things up.”Getting an additional year is a positive development for many athletes, but exercising that option isn’t always affordable for the seniors set to graduate. Although seniors on scholarships might revel in the opportunity to return for one more year, doing so would mean an extra year of tuition for non-scholarship athletes.Such is the dilemma for seniors such as Bagley, who is still deciding between returning to Thomas and accepting a job offer, and fellow 2016 Ellsworth graduate Kate Whitney, who has elected to forgo an extra year with the St. Joseph’s College softball team. It’s also the case at MMA, where Peed said his two seniors aren’t about to put their prospective careers on hold.“They’re both pretty deep into the job process already,” Peed said. “One has a six-figure job locked down, and the other is interviewing. They’re not going to give that up for a year of lacrosse.”Even for those who will return, the restoration of eligibility won’t reverse the heartbreak of the 2020 season’s early end. Yet in a situation with few alternatives, the chance to play four full years isn’t something that will be lost on those athletes.“We wanted to play, obviously, but to know we’re not losing that year is a very, very good feeling,” Wagstaff said. “It’s awesome to know we have the chance to come back with some of the seniors who helped us through this season.” Bio
Coming off their first team title since 2015 at the Pinetree Intercollegiate, the University of Wisconsin men’s golf team has been a middle-of-the-pack squad for most of the season. The Pinetree played to the likes of senior Jordan Hahn, who led the Badgers by tying for first place individually. Hahn got red hot on his back nine, carding four birdies and joining teammate Griffin Barela to become the second Badger in under a year to tie for first in a tournament.Three other Badgers, including Barela, finished in the top 10, solidifying a dominant five-stroke team victory. Most recently, the team traveled to Awendaw, South Carolina, to compete at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Golf Club. The Badgers’ starting five consisted of freshman Cameron Frazier, sophomores Barela and Sam Anderson, junior Pete Kuhl and Hahn, the team’s steady leader. Men’s Golf: Badgers look forward to spring season with high ambitionsAfter a 10th place finish in last year’s Big Ten championships lead by a top 10 individual performance from then Read…Head Coach Michael Burcin noted before the trip that Barela and Hahn continue to be the leaders of the team. In their previous tournament, Barela’s strong weekend finish brought him to tie at sixth on the leaderboard at the Mission-Inn Spring Spectacular down in Florida. His personal efforts brought Wisconsin up to a respectable ninth-place finish.At the Hootie, the Badgers finished at 7-over par, which ranked 13th out of the 15 teams that participated in the tournament. Barela carded two rounds under par, both times shooting a 69. His final round propelled him to finish tied for 13th place. Joining him in the top-25 was Hahn, who finished the tournament at 1-under par, giving him his seventh top-25 finish of the season. The Badgers will look to get back on top when they travel to West Lafayette, Indiana, for the Boilermaker Invitational in two weeks.