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The uncertainty of fall: Area athletes are trying to stay calm amidst season delays

In a normal Minnesota fall sports season, area football teams would be under the lights this Friday night and area volleyball teams would be on the court already. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made this a highly unusual year and some athletes are picking up new sports, some are staying patient, and almost all are feeling confused.

Hayfield senior Maryx Young was frustrated when she missed out on track and field last spring, but when volleyball and football seasons were moved from the fall to the spring to start this school year, Young, like many other high school athletes, has found herself anxious and nervous.

Young has hopes of playing college volleyball and having her season moved will make it difficult to get her recruiting process going. She is also bummed out at the thought of missing out on homecoming and football games, which are as traditional as the falling leaves when autumn arrives in Minnesota.

“Stuff doesn’t always work out, but we’re hoping to have a full season in the spring,” Young said. “It’s kind of tough for our seniors not to have football, volleyball or homecoming. It’s probably going to be the most boring fall season known to man in Minnesota.”

Young has begun emailing college coaches, but she’ll have to rely on highlights and stats from her junior year with the Vikings, where she posted 590 set assists and 306 digs. She’s also staying active by working out, but it’s been a difficult process for Young to be away from competition for nearly a year.

“It’s terrible. I’m a very competitive person and once we hit that season it’s go time. It’s very tough for me to not be competing,” Young said. “We’re so used to volleyball and we don’t really know what to do with ourselves now that we won’t have it. This year is crucial for anybody that wants to get noticed and recognized. I really hope we can play (in the spring) to have more highlights and show college coaches what we’re made of. This season could really make or break that.”

Blooming Prairie senior Luke Larkoski was on cloud nine last fall when he helped the Awesome Blossoms capture their first ever state football title, but he’s been doing something he never could have imagined this fall.

Larkoski is one of four BP football players and 11 volleyball players who have decided to run cross country this year as they look to stay in shape for their main sports.

“I was doing our speed and agility camp for a couple of months, but that stopped,” Larkoski said. “Cross country has been a little different, but I’m learning that I’m a better runner than I thought I was.”

Larkoski is a hard nosed defensive player when he puts on pads for the Awesome Blossoms, but he’ll have to settle for running without contact for the immediate future. He said the football team does have three weeks of fall practice scheduled, but he isn’t sure if he’ll be able to wear pads for those sessions.

“I’m a football player and I love football and it was kind of sad that we couldn’t have it this fall,” Larkoski said. “It’s a little upsetting. Your whole summer you think about football and then when July and August come you’re getting ready for it. When you win a state championship you want to defend it and it kind of sucks that we couldn’t do that this fall.”

Pacelli senior Zach Bollingberg is an all-around athlete who can put up 20 points on a given night in basketball, pitch a shutout in baseball, or rack up 100 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns in football, but this fall will be the longest stretch he’s had without a competition in a long time.

Bollingberg spent his summer staying active for the Austin 18U baseball team and he also stayed busy with the Lyle-Pacelli basketball and football teams. He was hoping he could play football this fall, after LP snapped a 32-game losing streak last year.

“We were really looking forward to playing, especially coming off of last year where we were in games,” Bollingberg said. “We really thought we could have a pretty good season and compete with most of the teams in our conference.”

Bollingberg is going to spend his fall staying in shape and hoping that the Athletics can play basketball this winter as they have a senior-heavy team that could be a contender in Section 1A.

For now, he’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

“It’s going to be pretty weird not having a sport and not being around friends. I’ve always looked forward to that and it’s given me something to do after school. It’s something I love,” Bollingberg said. “It’s the start of our senior year and it’s going to be a lot different. It’ll build up at the end of the year when we have all the sports jammed in and we won’t have time to do anything else.”