ANDERSON — After reporting positive COVID-19 test results among their student-athletes, both Pendleton Heights and Shenandoah have hit the pause button on preseason conditioning.
Both programs have terminated their summer conditioning programs until Monday.
“We felt like we probably could have continued to do what we were doing,” PH athletic director Chad Smith said. “We had a good plan in place, but in the end, I just felt like we’re a week away from starting the season, there’s no sense in continuing to risk a chance of spread right before we start fall sports if we want any chance to play fall sports.”
The IHSAA announced Wednesday fall sports will proceed as planned with official practices for girls golf beginning Friday and for cross country, football, boys tennis and volleyball beginning Monday.
PH reports two student-athletes have tested positive, with one showing minor symptoms and the second has been asymptomatic. While this is good news for the athletes themselves, it also increases the chances they may have unknowingly spread the virus to others.
“They’re not ill and, hopefully, by the time we all come back — their last contact trace they had would be over 14 days, so we feel pretty good that we’ll be OK,” Smith said.
Pendleton Heights is one of three area golf teams, along with Lapel and Daleville, set to begin its season Tuesday.
Shenandoah athletic director Todd Salkoski said in a Tuesday tweet one athlete had tested positive and the school was working with the Henry County Health Department with contact tracing. He said the athlete experienced mild symptoms.
“We’re just trying to do everything we can to protect,” Salkoski said. “Basically what we did was that, once we learned that we had a positive case, we went back and reviewed video from the gymnasium to try to determine which students were in close contact, students and adults. We ended up sending names to the Henry County Health Department, and they took over from there.”
Another issue both schools may have to deal with is early season scheduling of opponents from Indianapolis Public Schools or Marion County. IPS canceled all athletic events until Aug. 29, and the Indianapolis Star reported Marion County will not allow competition in high school football, soccer or volleyball before Oct. 1.
The PH girls soccer team had games scheduled against Pike on Aug. 19, at Lawrence North on Aug. 24, and at North Central on Sep. 10.
“What we’ll probably try to do is find a different opponent,” Smith said. “That’s on the list of things to do right now.”
Shenandoah’s first two football games involve Indianapolis schools. The Raiders are scheduled to travel to Scecina on Aug. 21 and host Heritage Christian on Aug. 28.
Rescheduling or cancellation of games during the season could be a common occurrence. One possible result is conference teams could end up playing multiple games with one another.
“No one knows how this is going to go, but that’s something that I’m certainly anticipating,” Smith said. “It could be the day before or the day of, and we hear, ‘Hey, my volleyball team can’t play tonight’. At that point, depending on the timing, we’ll have to decide if we’re going to cancel, just have that night off or we have to try to find another opponent at the last second.”
Smith adds the best way for fans, athletes, parents and coaches to approach the coming season and all of its uncertainty is to be ready for anything and surprised by nothing.
“That’s going to be the name of the game, is to be flexible,” he said. “That’s going to be the key word for everyone.”