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Carroll County in a ‘holding pattern’ awaiting new spring sports timeline

Carroll County’s high school athletes received another potential blow to the chances of having a spring season when Maryland State Superintendent Karen Salmon announced Wednesday that public schools will remain closed through April 24 because of the coronavirus threat.

For now, schools are slated to re-open April 27. But it’s still uncertain as to when high school sports might resume, said Carroll’s supervisor of athletics Michael Duffy.

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“We really just don’t know right now. We’re kind of in a holding pattern,” Duffy said. “We had talked about originally with the two-week absence, we’d need a week to then begin competition. But we never talked about what a six-week absence would be. To try and speculate on that would be presumptive.”

Spring sports were scheduled to begin Friday, March 20, with 21 public-school events on the first play date. Six of the eight reigning Carroll County Athletic League champions were all supposed to be in action — Century baseball, Manchester Valley softball, Westminster boys lacrosse, Century girls lacrosse, and Liberty’s boys and girls tennis teams.

Century’s boys track team, which won the CCAL meet title in 2019, was in the field for the Urbana Invite on Saturday, March 21. South Carroll’s girls, county champs last spring, were set for the Seahawk Invite at South River High School on the same day.

All of those events were postponed, along with every other one in the days since.

“I can definitely feel for all of our students, having to try and figure out, what is it going to mean?” Duffy said. “When will they get some sort of conclusion of what it means? I don’t envy ... being a teenager in that position.”

Salmon’s announcement came during a Wednesday news conference led by Gov. Larry Hogan, stemming from their March 12 decision to close Maryland’s public schools from March 16-27. That was set to come to an end March 30, but now it’s being pushed into late April with confirmed cases of coronavirus rising statewide.

“I think everyone has now taken this as seriously, for the most part, as it should be, in dealing with safety first, and everyone’s health first,” Duffy said. “And then we worry about the luxuries in life second.”

The possibility for some semblance of spring sports remains with the state’s latest decision, but with two weeks of preparation likely needed before games can begin, the hope of playing in 2020 seems bleak amid a worldwide health crisis.

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“High school sports is a wonderful activity, but at the end of the day it is a luxury,” Duffy said. “And it’s tough for me to say that, because I live and breathe it. But I’m glad that people are focusing on their health and safety first and foremost. And we will get back to high school sports.

“I don’t know when that’s going to be, but we will.”

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