Gerstell’s baseball team entered the 2020 season as reigning champions of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association’s B Conference, and the Falcons appear to be holding onto that title for another year.
The MIAA came together Monday with the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland and released a statement saying the leagues remain hopeful that spring sports, on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, will resume this season. The leagues agreed they won’t hold postseason championships this spring, but planned to schedule rivalry games and have “Senior Day” ceremonies.
That’s what Gerstell baseball coach Cap Poklemba is trying to focus on, he said.
“We’re going to do everything we can, within the means that we have, to get something done,” Poklemba said. “It’s never about the championships, it’s all about the kids and the seniors. It wouldn’t have mattered if we had won or lost, it’s just the fact that [seniors] Chris Hagan and Logan Satti don’t get to go out one more time, wear a uniform, and have a Senior Day.”
Gerstell captured its first MIAA title last spring, led by standout pitcher Reece Early. The Falcons went 17-7 and beat Boys’ Latin twice in two days to win the B Conference crown.
Early earned Times Player of the Year honors in 2019 before heading off to the US Naval Academy, and Hagan joined him on the all-county first team. The Delaware State commit batted .478 with six home runs and 34 RBIs last spring.
Poklemba, who in February earned Baltimore Small School Coach of the Year from the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches, said he used Zoom, a popular online video service, a few days ago to catch up with his players — if only to see each other’s faces and check in to see what they’re doing without sports.
Gerstell Academy is closed through April 24, along with the rest of Maryland’s public schools. And the MIAA and IAAM are following the same current procedure as the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, with suspension of all spring sports until April 27.
Josh Gochnauer, Gerstell’s girls lacrosse coach, said he knows there’s not much he can tell his players to make them feel better.
“It has been hard,” Gochnauer said. “We touched base early on, right when [things] got canceled, and now ... we’re excited to try to get any sort of season in.”
The Falcons went 4-12 last season, 3-10 in the IAAM’s A Conference. But they were returning their share of talent with senior attacker Haley Gochnauer (23 goals, 50 assists), junior midfielder Emily Messinese (53 goals), senior midfielder Lauren Messinese (21, 12) and junior midfielder Kennedy Major (22 goals).
Josh Gochnauer said he read about high schools in other nearby states trying to petition to play a shortened season from May into mid-June. A little hope like that is needed during these times, the coach said.
“If they allow us back on campus, we’ll be ready to play,” Gochnauer said. “Whether it’s a three-week season, a six-week season. Whatever we can do to get those girls, especially the seniors, back on the field.”
Gerstell boys lacrosse coach Mike Flemming echoed Gochnauer’s sentiments. The Falcons, coming off a 3-15 season, enjoyed a pair of convincing scrimmage wins this spring, over Maret School and Glen Burnie, before things came to a halt.
Senior attackman CJ Kovalsky was back after totaling 66 points a year ago (50 goals, 16 assists), along with junior attackman Drew Huber (34, 22) and sophomore goalie Adin Laughlin (257 saves).
Flemming said the MIAA’s positive outlook is coming at a good time with the Falcons’ collective spirit being tested.
“I’ve been communication with my captains ever since we’ve gone into the lockdown, and we’ve been sending out workouts and stuff like that, trying to be optimistic,” the coach said. “Every day that we’re scheduled to have a game, I send something out in our group text, something about how it could have been a very positive experience, and trying to keep everybody fired up.”