Players and Coaches Reflect on a Lost Senior Season

Senior sprinter Erin Muldoon finished fourth in the 200-meter and seventh in the 100-meter races at the  Malibu Invite.

Distance runner Aidan Reid was racing through her senior season with the Malibu High Sharks track & field team when the season was abruptly shut down due to spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The 17-year-old had already run to four top-five finishes in three meets this spring and had goals of running her fastest time ever and helping the Sharks girls 4×400 meter relay team capture a Citrus Coast League championship. However, the danger of the virus and COVID-19, the respiratory disease it causes, ended those goals and Reid’s high school athletics career when it grounded much of daily life, including the sports world, to a halt.

Reid was disappointed when she found out on March 12 the track season was closed.

“Track and cross country have been the highlights of my high school experience,” Reid, who began running sports as a ninth grader at the behest of her parents, said. “I was really excited to finish out this last season. It was unfulfilling to have it canceled right at the beginning.” 

She placed second in the 800 meter race and fifth in the 400 at the Lawndale six-way meet on Feb. 26. Reid also helped the Sharks 4×400 foursome finish second in their race at the event. The 12th grader finished fourth in the 1,600 at the Feb. 29 Malibu Invite. The runner, who specializes in the mile and 800-meter dashes, was one of seven seniors on Malibu’s track and field team. The others were Asher Andrus, Charlotte Louks, Erin Muldoon, Kate Nadeau, Maddy Maier and Tristan Pollard. 

Amy Galipeu, a Malibu track coach, felt bad that the seniors had a premature ending to their Malibu sports calendar. 

“They deserved to run their last race and compete at the highest level they can achieve,” she wrote in an email. “I had my senior season come to an abrupt end from an injury and this brings back so many feelings I can relate to, including being told my high school couldn’t compete in the county championships due to the spread of swine flu in 2009.” 

The team found out its season would be canceled the day of their first league meet, which was also students’ last day at Malibu High School. However, instead of letting the season close with a thud, the coaches decided to hold one more event for the Sharks. The day’s competition against an opponent was already canceled due to rain, so the squad held an unofficial meet.

“We wanted our kids to have a memorable day,” Galipeu recalled. “With no official, we choose to run the 1,600 [meters] and 100 [meters], and athletes could pick which event they wanted to compete. Athletes of all abilities and even coaches and spectators took part in the pouring rain and howling wind. It will be something I will always remember as a coach. We may have lost the season, but we never will lose our Shark spirit.” 

Reid, who will run cross country and track at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, appreciated her coaches’ decision.

“The coaches did a really cool thing,” she said. “They did a very nice thing.” 

The coronavirus’ wave of death and illness across the globe also ended seasons for the Sharks baseball, softball, swimming and boys volleyball. 

Derek Saenz, the boys volleyball coach, said his squad was in midst of a promising spring schedule that had the team aiming for a second consecutive berth in the CIF postseason tournament. The squad made the playoffs last year despite not rallying together many victories, but Saenz said the Sharks improved during the offseason. The Sharks held at least two practices a week over the offseason, competed in adult leagues and played beach volleyball in the winter. 

“Everything was based on this season,” Saenz said. “We were going to be competitive, but everything stopped the last week before league play started. We were in position to win league outright this year. We were confident about that.” 

George Roth, 17, the team’s setter, said the coronavirus’ impact on his senior campaign was rough. “I kind of saw it coming, but I wanted to deny it,” the 12th grader said. “It was hard. We improved a lot over the years and were finally going to be a good team.” 

The Sharks downed Animo Robinson, Agoura and Westchester (twice) before the rest of their schedule was quashed. 

The Sharks were creating something positive that got cut short, said Saenz.

“Overall, they are pretty mature and have perspective that people are dying, and people are losing their livelihoods,” he said. “They aren’t sitting there in a bubble thinking ‘poor me.’ They are pretty healthy about it.” 

This week, the team had its second Zoom meeting. On the video chat service, the team members dissect game film and talk with each other. Whenever the quarantine is over and sporting activities can resume, Saenz hopes the Sharks can play one-day beach volleyball tournaments. 

“We are just playing it by ear,” he said. “I want to get them out there whenever it’s safe.” 

Roth hopes to play club volleyball his freshman year of college at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo. His potential future volleyball play will help determine how he remembers his final months of high school volleyball. 

“It depends on if it ends up being the end of volleyball for me, in a sense,” Roth said. 

The Malibu baseball team downed Nordhoff, Fillmore and Santa Paula in consecutive matchups before the season was scrubbed, while the softball team batted to two wins over Bishop Diego and one victory atop Channel Islands.