Senior student-athletes at Tennessee high schools are balancing hope with uncertainty when it comes to closure on an important chapter of their lives.
Earlier this week, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's Board of Control unanimously approved continuing the suspension of postseason basketball, which maintains the possibility of awarding state championships for public school boys' and girls' programs this year. The TSSAA also is open to having the Spring Fling — where state titles are decided for baseball, soccer, softball, tennis and track and field— in early June instead of late May as usual.
Arts & Sciences track standout Brevin Sims, a nine-time state champion who has never lost a race with a state title on the line, isn't giving up on the chance for more high school accomplishments before beginning his college track career at Syracuse.
"I am continuing to wake up every day and give 110% in practice without knowing if I am going to get a chance to display all my hard work," Sims said. "Knowing that I might not get a chance to accomplish some of my goals is discouraging but also has taught me to not take any accomplishment for granted and embrace all that I have accomplished up to this point."
Sims recently became the first athlete to win the 60-meter hurdles title four years in a row at Tennessee's high school state meet for indoor track, which is not sanctioned by the TSSAA. His time of 7.76 seconds broke the meet record he already held and is the fastest indoors in that event for a high school athlete in the nation this season.
He holds the outdoor state record in the 110 high hurdles at 13.80 seconds but hoped to both break that mark and the 300 hurdles record of 36.40 (set by Harrison Williams in 2014) this season.
"Hopefully I have the chance for one last state championship," Sims said. "Following this chapter I would love to become a national champion and push myself to make it to the Olympics one day."
Red Bank senior Madox Wilkey, who completed his Lions football career this past fall and set program records by totaling 6,713 yards and 62 touchdowns, was well prepared for one final season on the baseball diamond.
"Right after I played in the East-West Football Classic at Austin Peay, I was already throwing baseball and getting back into baseball shape," said Wilkey, who hit .440 last season and was the Lions' top pitcher. "On weekends even when we haven't had practice, we would all go to the field and put the extra work in because we all want to win.
"With our season on hold for now, it's a blow to the stomach. We have built a brotherhood. For some this is the last chance to put on display what they have been working for their whole life: a chance to get an athletic scholarship and play in college."
Wilkey is keeping his arm in shape and working out as he waits to see what will happen.
"I would be OK with just playing a couple more games with my guys and show what we have been working for," Wilkey said. "Even if it's just one or two games and then the postseason. Anything to get to play again."
Walker Valley's softball team won last week's Pleasure Island Showdown in Gulf Shores, Alabama, going 6-1 and outscoring opponents 58-8.
With a standout senior class of Carissa Frost, Laney Harris, Katelyn Howell and Natalie Pruitt, the Lady Mustangs hope to contend for the Class AAA state title. Those four helped Walker Valley finish as a state runner-up two years ago, but like every other TSSAA softball team, the Lady Mustangs are on hold.
"My team is filled with hope and anticipation that our softball season will not be canceled this spring," said Frost, who has eight stolen bases this season. "I made the decision to sacrifice playing other sports to have shoulder surgery in order to play one last softball season.
"I believe God is with every single one of us in these trying times, and we have to put our trust in him. I love my team, and I know we can take on anything as long as we are together."