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Seasons cut short

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JCHS golf, tennis seniors cope with early end of play

  • Seasons cut short
    Kaitlyn Brower, one of nine Jones County senior golfers this season, tees off for the Lady Hounds.
  • Seasons cut short
    Austin Mills at last year’s state tourney.
  • Seasons cut short
    Nick Johnson hits a shot for the Greyhounds during last season’s play.
  • Seasons cut short
    Breanna Griswold

Jones County’s golf team had barely gotten the season started when it ended due to the COVID-19 shutdown in mid March.

The tennis team was past the halfway point, but still had plenty of matches and the region tournament ahead of it.

Coping with the shutdown has been difficult for the coaches and players, especially so for seniors who saw their chances to compete end so suddenly.

“Due to all the rain we had early in the spring, we only played a few matches before we stopped – against Washington County, Pike County and FPD,” said golf coach Jeff Williams. “Our middle school team didn’t get to play at all.

“It’s a shame, especially for our seniors. We were going to be senior led teams for both the boys and girls, and I thought we’d have a good chance to get both into the state playoffs.”

Jones County’s boy seniors were Austin Mills, Carter Trantham, Cole Compton, Connor Tanner and Nick Johnson. The senior girls were Emilee McElmurray, Emily Carter, Kaitlyn Brower and Kloey Goins.

“A couple of our girls had already signed in golf (Brower and Carter with GMC), and one in softball (Goins with Georgia Gwinnett), so they get a chance to keep playing in college,” Williams said.

“We’re still working to get a couple of the boys signed, but this shutdown has slowed the process with the colleges. I feel Nick will get a chance somewhere, but a couple of the others might be hurt by not getting to finish the season.”

Mills is one of those. He thought he might get a chance to sign with a college but figures now it is only a remote possibility.

“If an opportunity comes, that would be great. But if not, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll still play golf and have fun, and I’ll go to school somewhere.”

He’s actually been playing a lot of golf since school shut down. He works at Lake Jonesco Golf Course and has been able to play several times a week when he is not working or doing online school work.

Mills said the worst part of the shutdown has been not being able to be with his friends.

“We talk on the phone and all, but it isn’t the same as hanging out with the guys, going out to eat or something. That’s what I miss the most.”

Brower said she is thankful she will be able to keep competing in golf at GMC next year but is still upset she couldn’t finish her senior season at Jones County.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family and planning for next year,” she said. “I’ve been practicing my golf some. I talked to the GMC coach and he told me what kind of scores I need to be shooting for, so I’ve worked on that.”

As for finishing school online, Brower said the change hasn’t been too hard. But she also misses her friends.

“We’ve learned to cope. I guess that’s one good thing from this, we’ve learned we can adjust our lives. But it is still sad not to finish with all the people we started with.”

Tennis coach Mark Higginbotham said he felt bad for his players not to be able to finish the season, but he said all but one will have a chance to come back next year and play.

“We only had one senior, Breanna Griswold, but I hate it for her. This was her first year playing any sport, so to have it cut short really hurts,” he said. “And she was turning into a pretty good player.

“Our younger players are missing the chance to work on their games and get better, but hopefully they can play some on their own over the summer and fall and come back ready to take a step forward next season,” Higginbotham said.

Next season is something everyone is looking forward to more than ever this spring.