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Baddick, Jones reflect on lost senior seasons

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of articles the Times News will be running on former area athletes who are currently seniors in college and have had their spring sports seasons canceled because of the coronavirus threat.)

By TJ Engle


On March 16, the mid-Atlantic Conference announced that it was canceling all spring athletic practices and competitions through the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a decision that was made nearly simultaneously by every league in every division of the NCAA.

While the decision impacted all spring sports athletes, it was especially hard on seniors.

Alexis Baddick and Shelbi Jones - a pair of area athletes who were primed for big seasons as part of the Misericordia University women’s track and field team - were among those effected by the mid-Atlantic Conference’s decision.

Baddick and Jones were not only looking for individual success this season, but were part of a strong Cougar team that was seeking its third mid-Atlantic Conference championship in the last four years. That team also includes a pair of underclassmen with area ties in junior Brenna Karnish of Marian, and sophomore Jill Olewine of Northern Lehigh.

“When I first heard the season was canceled, I was upset and shocked that it got to that point,” said Jones, a Pleasant Valley graduate. “I know they talked about the potential of the season to be canceled. But I was really hoping it wouldn’t come to that. So, when it did, I was very sad, and I guess very emotional about it.”

Baddick, a Tamaqua graduate, was in disbelief that it happened in her final season with the Cougars.

“Honestly, it was really heartbreaking,” said Baddick, who competes in the long and triple jump. “It still doesn’t seem real. Everyone is still adjusting.”

At the end of this month, Baddick and Jones would have competed in their last mid-Atlantic Conference Championships at Messiah College.

Jones had her heart set on setting personal records in the 400 and 800 meter runs, and was hoping for another team championship as well.

“I definitely wanted to come out with another championship as a team, especially since it was our senior year,” said Jones, who is also a member of the Cougars’ 1600 and 3200-meter relay teams. “I knew that we were capable of doing it.

“I wanted to assist my team in any way that I could to get another championship.”

Last year, the PV graduate finished fifth in the 800 with a time of 2:19.88, which is her PR in that event, and ran a leg with the Cougars’ third-place-finishing 3200 relay team.

In 2018, Jones collected fifth-place finishes in three events - 800, 1600 relay and 3200 relay - at the MAC championships. In 2017, she finished second as a member of the 3200 relay team, and also recorded sixth-place finishes in the 400 and 1600 relay.

Meanwhile, Baddick finished fourth in the triple jump a year ago with a distance of 10.93 meters, which stands as a PR for her, and also collected a 14th-place finish in the long jump.

In 2018, she finished 11th in the triple jump and 13th in the long jump. During her freshman year in 2017, Baddick ended 10th in both the long and triple jump.

“Knowing that I won’t be able to accomplish any of the goals I set for my final season is disappointing,” Baddick said. “My coach and I were really working on some things that had me excited for the outdoor season.

“I was looking forward to the season, and especially the MAC Championship meet.”

Both Jones and Baddick are currently spending their senior year taking online courses as they continue planning for their next steps in life.

For Jones, who majors in speech language pathology, that might just include another year of track if things fall into place.

“For now, I will definitely keep in touch with my coach, and just make sure I’m getting in all the training and runs and workouts I need to,” she said. “Since the NCAA did allow seniors to have that extra year eligibility if they wish to, I might use it because I’m in a five-year master’s program.

“I’m lucky enough that I will be still be considered a full-time student and be able to use that eligibility. So, hopefully, around this time next year, I will be competing.”

But, for Baddick, who is majoring in medical imaging, another track season is not on the horizon.

“I was accepted into the West Virginia University Hospital’s radiation therapy program, which is set to start in July,” Baddick said. “Once everything gets back to normal, that’s going to be what I’m moving onto.”

The COVID-19 virus has definitely altered life for everyone, something Baddick, Jones and all members of the class of 2020 know all too well.

“It’s kind of weird now trying to think about how I’m going to look back and remember everything at Misericordia,” said Baddick.

“Technically, my time at Misericordia isn’t over yet, but really it is. It’s kind of a weird thing right now to think about. I will remember everybody that I met in both academics and athletics. I made some great friends. I just don’t know how I will remember this senior year when I look back.”

Jones summed up her feelings about the year by saying, “I just hope that everything gets back to normal soon.”

Don’t we all.

Shelbi Jones, a Pleasant Valley graduate, runs the 800 during a 2016 meet. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO
Tamaqua graduate Alexis Baddick is missing out on her senior track season at Misericordia University.