Prep Track and Field

High school athletes 'frustrated' with no place to showcase talent

HS journalism: Recruiting suffering with no competition

Iowa City High's Jordan Sekafetz, clearing a hurdle during the shuttle the Mississippi Valley Conference indoor meet las
Iowa City High’s Jordan Sekafetz, clearing a hurdle during the shuttle the Mississippi Valley Conference indoor meet last season, is frustrated college programs can’t see the progress she has made this year. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Since the discovery of COVID-19 in December of 2019, the virus outbreak has been deemed both a pandemic by the World Health Organization and a national emergency by President Donald Trump.

COVID-19 has led to the use of extreme measures, including the lockdown of multiple countries.

With the closure of schools through April 13 in Iowa, and the postponement of spring athletics, the college recruitment process for spring athletes is feeling the effects of the virus.

“I would recommend that sophomores and juniors adjust the best they can right now. Do the best they can with online learning, find the part of sports that they enjoy and can replicate on their own, and to take care of themselves physically and mentally,” said Lindsey Horner, women’s soccer coach at Drake University. “When we all get through this, there will be an adaptation phase to playing again.”

While the full extent of COVID-19’s effects on the recruitment process can’t be identified yet, some high school athletes are starting to worry.

“It’s frustrating. I feel like I’ve put in all this work and now it’s just like there was no point to it because I don’t have anything to show (this season),” City High junior Jordan Sekafetz said.

Sekafetz has participated in track and field for the past four years and hopes to continue her career on a Division I or II college team. Her main events are hurdling, sprinting and long jump. She is ranked 24th in 60-meter hurdles for Iowa, according to Athletic.net.

“What’s hard about this year is that I haven’t had anything but indoor (track) season to really show college coaches what I have this season and how much I’ve improved between my last high school years,” Sekafetz said.

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All activities of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the Iowa High School Athletic Union are canceled during the four-week closure of Iowa schools as recommended by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. This includes a ban of in-person contact between high school coaches and student athletes. According to the IGHSAU website, no decisions have been made about events following this four-week period.

In addition, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the governing body for student athletes in multiple conferences throughout North America, has put in place a recruiting dead period, which includes “an immediate ban on in-person recruiting from Division I coaches” and the suspension of “any official and unofficial visits to campus from prospective student athletes.”

This creates new challenges for coaches and recruiters from all divisions.

“We are still in the early stages of trying to figure out how to push forward recruiting wise,” said David Paulsen, the cross country and track and field director at the University of Northern Iowa. “There’s a lot more questions than answers right now.”

Philip Hansen, the athletics direct at City High, recommends athletes continue practicing from the safety of their homes.

“This is an unprecedented time for athletes and recruiters,” Hansen said. “Spring seasons have not been canceled entirely yet, so athletes should be ready when the opportunity arises. Remember all athletes in Iowa and surrounding states are facing the same challenges.”

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