Athletes glad to be back

Park Rapids seniors are thankful to get the opportunity to compete in fall sports.

Members of the Park Rapids boys and girls cross-country teams warmed up at the track during a practice on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Park Rapids high school athletes returned to the courts, pool and track for the first day of practices for fall sports on Monday, Aug. 17.

The Minnesota State High School League approved fall sports for cross country, girls swimming and diving, and girls tennis while moving football and volleyball to the spring. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those three fall sports will have restrictions. Each cross country team is limited to a maximum of seven meets with only three teams competing at a time. Girls swimming and diving can only compete in a maximum of 11 dual meets with no invitational meets allowed. Girls tennis is limited to a maximum of 11 dual meets with no tournaments, quadrangular meets or triangular meets allowed.

Football and volleyball will have to wait until mid-March to begin their seasons.

Park Rapids seniors in those three fall sports are especially happy having the chance to start their final year of high school competing in athletics.

Cassidy Bera and Taylor Dravis were happy to hit the Depot Courts for the first day of tennis practice on Monday.


“I didn’t think we’d have a season. That was a big fear of mine,” said Bera, who missed the softball season last spring when it was canceled. “I missed being on a team. I’m very excited and happy to be back.”

“Everyone told us that we weren’t coming back. Tennis is my favorite sport, so I was upset,” said Dravis. “I was at work when I got a text saying we get to play. I freaked out. I was so excited. It was a pretty boring summer. It’s really nice being back and seeing all my friends.”

Park Rapids will open the girls tennis season at East Grand Forks on Tuesday (Aug. 25) with the home debut set for Sept. 3 against Roseau at 2 p.m. at the Depot Courts.

Even though the season will consist of only dual meets and possibly not a section tournament, both Bera and Dravis are just happy to have the opportunity to play tennis this fall.

“It’s going to be super weird (playing only dual meets). I’m used to playing all day long,” said Bera. “I hope we do really well as individuals and as a team. I’m just glad to be back.”

“Since we didn’t know if we were going to have a season or what it was going to look like, I’m just going to have fun,” said Dravis. “I’m just excited we get to play.”

After missing out on his junior track season when it was canceled last spring, Skyler Hagen was hoping he wouldn’t miss his senior season of cross country.

“I felt last year would have been a good year for us in track. I was looking forward to track season. I missed it so much,” said Hagen. “I was upset because I didn’t think we’d have a cross country season. To have a cross country season is a blessing. It’s great being back with my friends.”


Owen Wagner was also happy being back on the track to start the first day of cross country practice Monday.

“Honestly I didn’t think we’d have a season,” said Wagner. “I’m happy to be out here. I wanted to be out here with the team. It would have been sad not to have a season, especially my senior year. Hopefully we can finish the season.”

The Panthers’ cross country team will open the season at Pine River on Thursday (Aug. 27) competing against Pine River-Backus and Nevis. Park Rapids will host Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and Staples-Motley in the home opener at Headwaters Golf Club on Sept. 14 at 4 p.m.

Even though there might not be a section meet, Hagen and Wagner are preparing to help the Panthers make a run at qualifying for state if a state meet is held.

“My individual goal is to get my PR (personal record),” said Hagen. “I’m hoping the team goes to state if we have a state meet.”

“I’m hoping we have a good season,” said Wagner. “I’m hoping we have a section and a state meet. It would be nice to get to state, but it’s just nice to have a season.”

Savana Damar and Ellie Ulvin were a little concerned that they wouldn’t get the chance to swim during their senior season.

“It would have been pretty sad not having a season. I thought we’d be able to figure out a way to make it work, but I was a little nervous not knowing what it would look like,” said Damar. “I’m happy to be back with the girls and I’m very excited to get the chance to have a season.”


“I wasn’t confident at all. I definitely was really nervous that they would shut all sports down,” said Ulvin. “It’s going to be interesting with all the procedures we have to follow. It’s going to be way different than past years, but I’m glad we’re able to be back in the pool.”

Park Rapids will open the girls swimming and diving season at Detroit Lakes on Sept. 1 before hosting Warroad on Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. in the home opener. Decisions about a Section 8A meet and a state Class A meet will be made at a later date.

Damar and Ulvin are looking to get off to a good start and hopefully use their eight scheduled dual meets to prepare for a section meet and possibly a trip to state.

“I’m sad that there won’t be any big meets and there might not be a state meet, but I’m hoping we at least have a section meet,” said Damar. “I’m looking for all of us to have individual improvement and I hope we break some records. I want to go out with a bang.”

“When I found out we were getting back in the pool, I said ‘let’s go’,” said Ulvin. “I’m definitely excited to compete and for the team to compete. Hopefully we can have a section meet. That’s what we work for all season. Even if we don’t have a section meet, I’m going to try and make it a fun year.”

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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