Coronavirus kicks Hamilton High off national sports stage

 

The odds are really stacked against any high school winning a national championship, in any sport.

And the odds that a school would win two titles at almost the same time have to be astronomical.

But, just a couple of weeks ago, Hamilton High School was poised to take a shot at beating those odds, thanks to a hockey team that had already won a state title and a nationally-ranked baseball team considered among the favorites to win an eighth.

And then the spring sports were suspended as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, a move ordered by the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA). After the temporary two-week suspension of school and spring sports, a full shut-down for the remainder of the school year came on March 9th. The 2019-20 school year was over.

That left the school’s baseball team and its hockey team with nothing more than dreams of what might have been this year – national titles for each. Both were looking like serious contenders for that big brass ring.

The Huskies’ hockey team won the Arizona High School Hockey Association Division I state championship on Feb. 8 by beating Scottsdale’s Chaparral High School. Then began the fund-raising effort they would need to travel to Mansfield, TX, to compete in the nationals.

But four weeks later USA Hockey decided to cancel the March 26-30 national championships. It would have been the first time the hockey program had a chance to compete in the nationals, which is where the college scouts would be. The players’ chances for expanded exposure to the recruiters ended with the cancellation.

Meanwhile, the baseball team had already climbed to a MaxPreps No. 1 national ranking and had every chance to get a shot at going on to claim the title.

The March 17 rankings showed the Huskies at No. 1, but that same week the AIA suspended the season. Updated rankings released on March 20 found Hamilton sitting at No. 4 — which is where it ended the season since the remainder of the school year was cancelled. No chance to climb back to the top of the polls.

Hamilton was No. 1 in the state’s Super 10 baseball rankings, was undefeated at 8-0, and had outscored its opponents, 54-26. But all of that meant little to players hoping for so much more in a very promising season.

The Huskies are the defending 6A state champions, but will have to wait another year before getting a chance to post a repeat.

And both teams will have a long wait to get another chance at getting back to national title contention.