The lights at Port Angeles Civic Field were turned on for 20 minutes Friday night to honor the school’s spring 2020 student-athletes who lost their seasons to the COVID-19 virus. Schools all around the Olympic Peninsula did the same thing. (Pierre LaBossiere/Peninsula Daily News)

The lights at Port Angeles Civic Field were turned on for 20 minutes Friday night to honor the school’s spring 2020 student-athletes who lost their seasons to the COVID-19 virus. Schools all around the Olympic Peninsula did the same thing. (Pierre LaBossiere/Peninsula Daily News)

School lights honor spring athletes

Students lost 2020 seasons due to COVID-19 virus

PORT ANGELES — For 20 minutes Friday night, Olympic Peninsula prep athletes got their due.

Athletes who had their spring seasons eliminated, some of whom on the Peninsula had serious aspirations for state titles, were honored Friday night by schools around the state turning on their lights for 20 minutes with the lights being turning off at exactly 8:20 p.m. — 2020 in military time.

The event featured a blazing sunset and rainbows caused by a low cloud cover.

Port Angeles Athletic Director Dwayne Johnson said every school on the Olympic Peninsula with lights — Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Chimacum, Forks and Sequim — agreed to turn on their lights. At a tiny school like Clallam Bay, the football field was lit up by car headlights.

“We trying to put our feet in the shoes of our student-athletes,” Johnson said.

Some of the Port Angeles coaches gathered for the event, making sure to keep six feet apart.

For Roughriders’ girls track coach Bill Tiderman, it’s a bittersweet season, especially considering that Port Angeles had some girls with a chance to place at the state track and field meet. Distance runner Lauren Larson had a legitimate shot at a possible state championships in distance events.

“There were a few tears when I talked to kids” about the spring season. Tiderman said that on the plus side, he doesn’t have many seniors. Kynzie DeLeon, a distance runner, likely would have placed at state and McKenzie Musalek had a good shot at placing in the pole vault, but those were the only seniors who had a serious chance at placing, he said.

Sequim Athletic Director Dave Ditlefsen said the Wolves’ event “went very well.”

Ditlefsen said some Sequim residents brought out their old classic cards for the drive-by event.

”We had a steady stream of cars doing a loop in the parking lot honking their horns for a good 13 minutes. I didn’t know what to expect,” Ditlefsen said. “I was glad to see a lot of faces I haven’t seen in a while.”

Ditlefsen is not only the Sequim AD, but the baseball coach, too.

“I miss the guys, I think they were jelling really well. It’s very disappointing. We had good camaraderie,” he said. He said most of the kids will be back in 2021, but senior and starter Silas Thomas will miss out his senior season.

Ditlefsen said he really felt bad for the Port Angeles prep baseball team, which was bringing a bunch of seniors back to defend its league title.

“They were loaded and ready to go,” Ditlefsen said.

Port Angeles baseball coach Casey Dietz said he had seven experienced seniors on the team looking to add a third straight league title and a chance to make noise at the state 2A tournament.

“It was definitely disappointing. It was quite a group of guys coming in this year with a lot of talent and a lot of skill. It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Dietz said.

The Roughriders had seniors Brody Merritt, Timmy Adams, Ethan Flodstrom, Lucas Jarnigan, Milo Whitman, Tanner Lunt, Tyler Bowen this year. Most of them were longtime starters.

“I definitely wish we could have got these guys one more year in green and white,” Dietz said.

On the plus side, Dietz said most of these kids are good enough at baseball that they will continue their athletic careers in college (Bowen will play football next year for University of Puget Sound) and there is still a possibility they could play American Legion ball this summer for the Wilder Baseball Club.

That possibility will depend on when Gov. Jay Inslee lifts his “stay home” order and whether American Legion can put together a season. “It’s still too early to know,” Dietz said.

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