Holding Pattern

Lynx basketball, wrestling teams go into 2-week shutdown before seasons begin

WCHS boys’ basketball coach Marty McKinney voices his displeasure during a game against St. Edmond in December of 2019. The Lynx season is currently on hold until at least Dec. 15. DFJ file photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Normally, the butterflies that come with the anticipation of a new season would be churning in the stomachs of Marty McKinney and Chad Hisler.

But this is 2020. Nothing is normal. In fact, the word might as well be scribbled out of the dictionary for the time being.

McKinney, the head boys’ basketball coach at Webster City, and Hisler, the Lynx head wrestling coach, were both supposed to see their seasons start in the coming days. Instead, they find themselves in a two-week holding pattern, on the outside looking in as programs all around them compete.

All WCHS athletics have been paused for two weeks due to the school’s decision to move to a remote learning plan through Friday, Dec. 11. The Iowa Department of Education granted Webster City Schools’ application last Tuesday.

The shift was made due to an increase in COVID-19 infections in Hamilton County over the past month. As of Sunday, over the past 14 days, the positivity rate in the county sits at 26.9 percent.

WCHS head wrestling coach Chad Hisler questions a call during a tournament in December of 2018. The Lynx are currently scheduled to compete for the first time on Dec. 17. DFJ file photo/Troy Banning

The WCHS girls’ basketball team was able to get in two games prior to the season suspension. The Lynx boys’ basketball team was scheduled to open its season at Pocahontas Area on Tuesday, while the wrestling program was supposed to begin its season with a home triangular against Algona and St. Edmond on Thursday.

Teams will not be allowed to practice over the next two weeks, which means the kids will be on their own to stay in shape and prepare for when the season does resume, McKinney says.

“It’s kind of up to the kids right now,” he said. “Our plan is to play Hampton on (Tuesday, Dec. 15) and we’ve got to be ready to go. Hampton is not going to care that we’ve been off for two weeks. Algona that following Friday isn’t going to care. They’re not going to feel sorry for us. So we’ve got to prepare any way we can and most of that is going to be conditioning, strength and then mental is going to be a huge thing. Right now we have to control the things we can control.”

McKinney’s squad dealt with numerous absences, mostly due to contact tracing, during its preseason practices prior to the suspension. But he’s hopeful that following the two-week shutdown, his program can get back on track and put a solid season together.

“Everything that we want to do is still in front of us, it’s just going to be a different path,” he said. “It’s not ideal, it’s not how we drew it up, but it’s still there in front of us.”

Hisler says his program was able to get in 10 solid practices in the preseason, and like McKinney he says his athletes will have to take personal ownership over the next two weeks to ensure that they’re ready to go when WCHS returns to in-person classes.

“The kids are very disappointed that they don’t get to practice and we’re up in the air with what’s going to happen, but hopefully we can come back in a couple of weeks and compete,” Hisler said. “A lot of these guys have prepared on their own in other sports, so it’s not like that’s anything new. But they’ve got to hold each other accountable to make sure each other is doing it.”

The wrestling team is currently scheduled for its first competition against Clarion-Goldfield-Dows and Clear Lake on Thursday, Dec. 17. The Lynx could add a dual to the schedule earlier in the week as well.

The other seven North Central Conference schools — Algona, CGD, Clear Lake, Hampton-Dumont/CAL, Humboldt, Iowa Falls-Alden and St. Edmond — are still having in-person classes, which means their seasons will continue over the next two weeks.


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