Sink or swim

Wildcat teams struggle to stay afloat after flood


Kate Laubacker

The baseball fields at EHS lay exposed once again after the flood of 2017, May 12.

Walking into the A.D.’s office, the smell of Febreeze hangs over a moldy aroma overtaking the room, May 8. The carpetless floors are now just a slab of concrete next to walls of foundation bases that are quite the eyesore. Adhesive residue makes visitors’ shows stick an extra second to the floor as they exit. Two workers move shelves, bookcases and boards from the walls. Power drills and the thumping of a hammer sound almost every five seconds. Just five minutes in that office could leave a person with a throbbing headache.

But Cindy Hirsch, activities director secretary, tries her best to chug along making phone calls, responding to emails and scheduling sporting events.

“It can be a little disruptive to be truthful. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I have gotten used to it at times,” Hirsch said. “It doesn’t really bother me anymore.”

Hirsch and Gregg Cleveland, athletics director, have become accustomed to the chaos of construction that occurs on a daily basis.

“I mean we have to deal with it,” Cleveland said. “What can you do? We can’t just walk out and say we are going to Marquette.”

The chaos of the A.D. office is a reflection of the chaos the rain, the flood and the ensuing recovery wreaked on many a spring sport.

“The flood happened so late, we have only had to reschedule a few activities because the freshmen and the JV teams were at the end of their seasons. It didn’t really affect anything,”  Cleveland said. “It stinks that they didn’t get to play as many games, but you can’t fix the rain. Most of the other schools are kind of in shutdown mode too when it comes to their lower level sports. I hate the fact that they didn’t get to play all their games.”

Some teams suffered more than others, but the flooding left its mark on the seasons of spring athletics as those seasons came to a close.

Varsity baseball

The water was relentless. Between March 28-April 23, five games were rained out. The week of the flood, April 28-May 4 cancelled another five games. Twelve feet of water turned the baseball fields into lakes.

The varsity boys baseball team had to scramble to find any place possible to practice.

“We had to practice one time at Parkway South over the break because of the flood,” Graham Hastings, outfield, said. “That was the only practice we had gotten in all week while other teams practiced all week. Overall I think we performed well and got through the flood as a team.”

The senior players ended up playing a season where 10 of their 24 games were canceled and only seven games at home.

“It was really disappointing because we realized that we had played our last home game, but so many people dealt with so much more than we did,” Michael Molengraft, infield, said. “Homes and businesses were destroyed, so you can’t really feel sorry for yourself when other people are dealing with so much more.”

The varsity boys baseball team’s season closed with a 9-11-5 record.

JV baseball

The JV boys baseball team was also unable to use their fields.

“All three teams were practicing in the gym mostly just hitting in the cages and playing catch on the gym floor when it was available,” Tyler Kennedy, infield, said.

Moving indoors into an enclosed space is much different from the open diamond of the baseball field. The change in location had its consequences.

“It was a struggle for everyone but even more so for the infielders because being unable to field a ground ball on dirt for such a long time span is unusual considering we practiced outside every day,” Kennedy said. “Overall, it was a hard adjustment from being inside for a week to going out on the baseball field expecting the same results. But all good athletes should be able to adjust to their surroundings.”

The JV boys baseball team experienced 11 canceled/rained-out games out of the 21-game JV season. Their last games was April 25 instead of May 3 ending the season 10 days early with a 5-4-4 record.

Girls varsity lacrosse

Soaring through the season with an 8-1 record, the varsity girls lacrosse team was sitting high on state rankings with their first lost of the season, April 24.

As the Meramec river waters rose, a week off of school meant five games cancelled and a week off of practice right before upcoming state playoffs.

“We weren’t able to practice as much so our heads weren’t in the zone,” Makayla Jackson, defense, said. “As one of my teammates [Mackenzie Bemis, defense] said, ‘I almost forgot it was lacrosse season.’ That mentality of not being in the game was hard. After the flood we ended up losing two games consecutively, so having a week off was not ideal at all.”

Seeded in the “Sweet 16,” the top 16 teams in the state for state playoffs, the girls finished their season in the first game of state playoffs with an upsetting lose to their Lafayette rivals, 7-8, May 15.

“I think if we would have had that week of practice it would have been different,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if we would have went to the final four. I know we had the skill, but I think if we kept up with the determination, we could have moved on. I just think Lafayette wanted it more than us our last game.”

It all comes back to that week off of practice.

The girls varsity lacrosse team ended with a 8-3 winning record; however, the team would have rather ended their season with the title of “State Champion.”

Girls JV Lacrosse

The JV girls also faced the consequences of having a week off of practice towards the end of their season.

The team tried to get together during the break to freshen up their skills; however, that just wasn’t possible for some.

“I live off on FF and F so I was flooded in the whole time while people that were in Eureka were trying to get together the whole time,” Hannah Daffron, midfield, said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t know where to practice.”

Daffron found the week off at the end of a season threw her off physically and mentally.

“We definitely lost a lot without a whole week of practicing. It put us behind,” she said. “I didn’t work out in that time, so I definitely lost some skills. When we did go back to practice everyone was a bit slow and sluggish. Also, we were just working on new plays and just getting plays down, but since we took that week off the plays weren’t as clean. That ultimately put us back.”

The girls JV lacrosse team ended their season with a 2-2-4 record. Seven of their games were cancelled from the rain throughout the season which left them playing only five games at home.

Boys varsity volleyball

The boys did not practice the entire week of the flood since the water prevented players from getting into the Gym complex.

Gym A out of commission, the boys varsity volleyball team had to make adjustments.

“We couldn’t practice in there, so we had to share Gym B with the JV and freshman teams,” Chris Hill (11) said. “Not having a ton of room to practice was hard because you need a lot of room to move around. Normally, we practice in Gym A and have a divider that can divide the practices to minimize the chaos of flying balls, but there isn’t one in Gym B.”

They ended their season with a 11-12 record, May 12.

Girls varsity soccer

The girls varsity soccer team celebrated their district championship win, May 12, and their sectionals win against Jackson, May 23. However, the road to sectionals was not that easy.

“Since we had a week off of school we couldn’t play our games, and since we didn’t have games coach [Gary Schneider] wanted us to practice,” Hayley Jakovich, center back, said. “We obviously couldn’t get on the field to practice,  and the roads were shut down from Wildwood and Eureka. We really couldn’t meet up, so he just had to trust that we would work on our own and get in some running.”

The odds were against the girls the week of the flooding, throwing off their schedule.

“The flood did affect our performance,” Reiley Hertlein, forward, said. “Having a week off threw off our daily routines of fitness and skills we used in drills.”

Although the team was unable to practice with each other, it did not stop them from preparing for their upcoming games on their own.

“Everybody completed a workout of about an hour of running in order to stay in shape,” Jakovich said.

Their success at districts and sectionals testifies to these champions’ ability to adapt and adjust.

They face Francis Howell Central, Saturday, May 27 at EHS in state quarterfinals. Spectators will pass the fields still quarantined after the flood as they head to the stadium to watch the girls battle to be one step closer to the state title.

Track and field

Girls and boys track teams typically practice on the stadium field track; however, the flood water prevented that.

“The flood caused us to have an entire week that we could not practice,” Sabrina Jung, track athlete, said. “The parking lot was flooded so no one could make it back to the track area to practice. That was tough because it was one of the last weeks before districts, so we missed out on some much-needed practice.”

The boys took 5th at districts and the girls 7th, May 13. The boys then placed 13th at sectionals and the girls 10th, May 20.

Five Wildcats headed out to Jefferson City High School to compete at state, May 26-27.

  • Hassan Haskins took 2nd in long jump, May 26.
  • Jamal Pittman will compete in discus, May 27.
  • Ja’nia Lews will compete in the 100m and 300m hurdle events, May 27.
  • Rihana O’Malley will compete in high jump, May 27.
  • McKenzie Miller took 15th in discus, May 26, and will compete in shot put, May 27.

#Floodof17: One week. Five days. So many consequences. In the battle against mother nature, standing strong in the end may have to be enough.