CHS spring sports prep for return after year’s absence

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
As head coach Jimmy Chapman looks on from their midst, prospective members of the 2021 Chillicothe High School soccer Lady Hornets work maneuvering the ball in traffic as a unit during practice Tuesday. CHS graduate Chapman was to serve his first year as head coach of the Lady Hornets last spring, but COVID-19 wiped it out, so he and the team are looking ahead eagerly to this year’s scheduled season and home opener next Friday against Sedalia.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

While not yet having put it quite in the proverbial rearview mirror, high school spring sports in Missouri – and, specifically, Chillicothe – seems to have at least pulled abreast of the COVID-19 pandemic with seemingly better-than-even odds of passing it by in 2021.

Canceled a year ago as the novel coronavirus first reared its deadly head, a variety of factors – most notably multiple vaccines becoming more and more available, high school spring sports look likely to begin “on time,” by and large, with reasonably-good prospects for the season to proceed unimpeded.

For Chillicothe High School, that means the resumption soon of interscholastic competition in track-and-field, baseball, girls’ soccer, and boys’ tennis and golf.

Since last seen, two of those CHS programs have undergone a change in on-field leadership.

The soccer Lady Hornets were due to be under the guidance of veteran assistant coach Jimmy Chapman as head coach last spring, but that went by the wayside when the pandemic struck.

Now, the CHS alumnus is set to guide the varsity team into battle for the first time in true competition next Friday when Sedalia visits Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II for a 5 p.m. match.

The Chillicothe booters actually were to get their first taste of pseudo-competition today as they hosted a couple of schools in a scrimmages “jamboree,” beginning at 9 a.m. at Litton Stadium.

A Chillicothe High School baseball Hornet picks a ground ball at shortstop during a pseudo-scrimmage on “Chuck” Haney Field at June Shaffer Memorial Park Stadium this past Monday. After having what projected to be a very good 2020 season obliterated by COVID-19, the 2021 baseball Hornets are working toward their scheduled season opener – and debut under new head coach Joshua Lisle – at Savannah next Friday.

One other Chillicothe spring sport has a head coach readying to make his debut in the post.

After what promised to be a very good 2020 season for the baseball Hornets was ripped to shreds, head coach Canaan Fairley opted to decline to return to that position after three seasons in charge (not counting 2020). In his stead, Joshua Lisle takes over a team which has only a couple of players with substantial varsity-level experience.

The rest of the CHS leadership is intact from 2019.

In track and field, long-time boys’ head coach Bill Shaffer remains with Karen Jackson guiding the girls’ team yet again.

In boys’ tennis, Bob Long continues in that job for a seventh year, looking to arrest a 3-years string of sub-.500 records in dual-match competition.

In boys’ golf, Jim Wheeler stays in charge for a sixth year as that program tries to reverse a decade-plus downturn.

While the soccer girls will have the first home competition next Friday, the baseball Hornets are set to debut that same afternoon at Savannah.

The following Tuesday, March 23, CHS is slated to host its annual season-starting “time trials” meet which doesn’t involve team points standings. The first “scoring” meet is planned for a week later in a quadrangular meet at Brookfield.

While on that sport, the annual Chillicothe Joe Shy Relays are slated for Friday, April 9. The first home meet is a quadrangular set for April 1.

Also due to debut Tuesday, March 23, are the tennis Hornets, who will go to Carrollton for a dual match that afternoon.

Barring rainouts or other postponement, last to swing into action will be the golfers. They’re ticketed for a home match involving at least Cameron on Wednesday, March 24.