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Lost athletic scholarship opportunities for some high school seniors

A newly built track and football field venue at a high schools stadium shot in the USA using a Canon 5D MarkII.

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah – The pandemic is affecting so many aspects of people’s lives and their futures. One thing being affected that you may not normally think about, scholarship opportunities. The problem comes due to the fact that for those high school seniors who were hoping to earn those coveted college scholarships. Their senior season was canceled. 

Many were just shy of qualifying for scholarships and needed the spring season to qualify for those athletic scholarships. The athletes were counting on the spring season to improve their numbers just enough to earn those coveted scholarships.

The senior athletes’ stories

“It’s definitely disappointing. I’ve worked so long and so hard for this,” said Payton Suitter, a senior on the track and field team at Bingham High School told KSL-TV

Suitter’s runs the 300-meter hurdles and was told if he could shave just one second off of his time he could get a scholarship. Unfortunately he never got that opportunity due to sports being canceled for the remainder of the season. 

“I was definitely on track to do that, and even better than that … I’ve still been training every day, trying to walk on somewhere in the fall.”

Summer Steeneck, another high school senior at Riverton High, and a pole vaulter told KSL that if she could clear 12 feet she could get a scholarship. 

“I felt super confident,” she said.

KSL Honors the Class of 2020

Steeneck had been able to accomplish 11-feet-6 inches, she felt she would have been able to meet that goal during her senior year. 

“I was super confident in getting it. I’ve been talking to my coaches and they are like, ‘yeah you could have easily go it.

“This was going to be the best season and I was really excited. It was heartbreaking that we were not going to be able to get a season. I cried to my mom forever. It was so bad.”

Another athlete, Brigham High School senior Austin Hone runs the 800-meter race was a little more fortunate. He did get a partial scholarship to Utah Valley University just missing full scholarship because he didn’t have a chance to shave 4 seconds off of his time. 

“It was very important. I was hoping to get into college on my own merit,” he said. “There is not much I can really do about it now all I can do is keep training.”

How this has affected colleges and universities

A head coach at Brigham Young University, Ed Eyestone, the head track and field coach, told KSL that the virus has affected recruiting at colleges and universities all over the country without question. The cancellation of sports clearly hurt the students as well as the athletic departments looking to recruit the best athletes for the coming school year. 

Eyestone went on to say that it’s the high school juniors that are hurt the most.

“We are left without any concrete results from their junior season,” Eyestone said. “We usually depend on seeing the results of student-athletes from their junior year to help us decided who to recruit going into their senior year.”

This will make it necessary for coaches to look at the athletes’ sophomore year as well as their first competitions as a senior, which is a disadvantage. 

“Cast a wider net and be a little more patient in making decisions. Waiting until maybe early spring of next year to see how those rising seniors will be performing,” he said.

“The bottom line is the creme rises to the top, so we are going to see those great high school athletes still rise up and do what they need to.”

Eyestone said, “We are going to have to be better coaches, we’re gonna have to… study the film.”

What can the athletes do now?

The three athletes that KSL spoke with all say they are planning on walking on at the colleges to see if they can get the scholarships they had been planning on before the season was canceled. 

There may be fewer spots for the athletes to compete for since college athletes also had their season canceled and they may not be vacating those spots.