COVID-19 impacts Seven Lakes cross country, team tennis seasons

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 10/30/20

COVID-19 had a significant impact on the Seven Lakes cross country and team tennis teams this week.

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COVID-19 impacts Seven Lakes cross country, team tennis seasons


COVID-19 had a significant impact on the Seven Lakes cross country and team tennis teams this week.

On Thursday afternoon, under advisement from Fort Bend County Health and Human Services, Katy ISD temporarily closed Seven Lakes High School from Friday, Oct. 30 to Tuesday, Nov. 3, due to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. Under the closure, all extracurricular activities were suspended as well.

The news came less than 24 hours before the District 19-6A cross country meet would be held at Bear Creek Park.

“When we were notified (on Thursday) that there could be a potential issue with Seven Lakes running the race Friday morning, we consulted the UIL and threw out some different ideas,” Katy ISD athletics director Debbie Decker said Friday evening. “One of them, the UIL agreed was the best-case scenario we could do, under the circumstances.”

The district would not be given an extension on holding its 19-6A meet. So, Decker and her staff came up with an idea to have the Spartans boys and girls run their 5K races at Bear Creek Park later that Thursday afternoon.

Decker consulted with Seven Lakes principal Kerri Finnesand before holding an emergency district executive committee meeting with all 19-6A principals for approval.

“It beats not being able to get the kids’ times at all,” Decker said.

Seven Lakes boys cross country coach Scott Kenney and girls cross country coach David Pollack were notified of the plan after the DEC meeting.

“It was good news, bad news,” Decker said of how she told them. “The good news is we have a way to get their times. The bad news is we have to run today.”

The Spartans coaches had four hours’ notice to get their kids ready and at the course to run by 4 p.m. Thursday. The girls ran first, and the boys ran at 4:30 p.m.

The course had already been marked by assistant athletic director Pat Dowling earlier that day. Paetow’s cross country coaches were used as official timers.

The races had a lead gator and trail gator and a couple of course monitors to ensure a fair and unbiased race, Decker said.

“It wasn’t perfect, but it was the best we could do,” Decker said. “It was unfortunate, but at least the kids had an opportunity to run.”

The Spartans did not reveal their times until after Friday’s district meet. It was only then that their times were figured into every other team’s to determine who would qualify for the Region III-6A meet on Nov. 10.

Seven Lakes, which swept last season’s district team championships and is perennially a regional power, did not qualify either of its boys or girls teams to regionals. It qualified one girl, Katie Fitzpatrick, and two boys, Fernando Hernandez and Ruben Rojas.

Late Friday evening, the Seven Lakes’ cross country and track and field Twitter account tweeted: “Proud of Spartan Cross Country kids and Seven Lakes H.S. Sometimes unfair and unjust things happen even when you follow the guidelines. We remain Spartan Proud of you! #asterick.”

The Spartans’ team tennis club did not have the same opportunity to compete as the cross country team.

Seven Lakes had scheduled its area round playoff match against Cy-Fair to be played Friday. The two coaches agreed to that arrangement on Wednesday.

But with Friday no longer a viable option, the Spartans asked their opponent, Cy-Fair, on Thursday if the match could be moved to later that day. The Bobcats tried to accommodate the Spartans, but some of their top players had jobs to attend to Thursday and would not be available to play.

So, Seven Lakes had to forfeit.

“It’s so unfortunate for our kids, because I know they worked very hard,” Decker said.

With a picture of the team and individual player photo banners that surround his team’s court on campus, Seven Lakes tennis coach Kevin McIlvain tweeted on his account late Friday evening: “Unfortunately, our season comes to an end from the sidelines in the Area Round due to the school being closed for matters out of our control. Thanks for your hard work and doing things the right way Spartan Tennis!”

COVID-19, novel coronavirus, Seven Lakes High School, Seven Lakes Spartans, sports, Katy ISD, Texas


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