Even though their season was cancelled, the Waconia baseball players went out and participated in their salt drive recently to help out their community.
“They didn’t have to come, but they did because that is who they are,” coach Mark Grundhofer said.
Because of the cancellation of the season due to COVID-19, one of Waconia’s largest senior classes did not get to step out on to the field for their senior year. 2020 looked to be a promising year, as the Wildcats returned more than 10 seniors from a team that had recorded a regular season win over the eventual section champions and Class AAA State Tournament runner ups Benilde-St. Margaret’s. The returning seniors were set to be Todd Jager, Max Kalenberg, Carson Karnes, Max Grundhofer, JJ Langer, Ben Hissam, Ryan Dvorak, Connor Olson, Trey Peitz, Jacob Sonnek and Logan Gieseke.
“That would have been one of the biggest senior classes,” Grundhofer said. “It was a special group.”
The season started with uncertainty, as the final postseason tournaments for winter sports were shut down. And after one week of practice, before the roster was even set, the baseball teams had to wait as the season was postponed. There was still a chance to play for weeks, as various things developed around COVID-19, before the season was officially cancelled.
“They miss it, they miss the game,” Grundhofer said.
The cruel irony of this spring has been the weather. While the fate of the season was uncertain for many weeks, the weather has been near perfect for spring sports. And since the season was cancelled weeks ago, the sun has been shining nearly everyday.
“As soon as it was cancelled, I could have predicted that,” Grundhofer said.
But the one silver lining for this group is that because they were such a strong graduating class, many have a chance to continue their athletic careers. Three player are for sure playing baseball at the next level – Kalenberg at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU), Karnes at SMSU and Max Grundhofer at Mesabi Community College. Two players are planning to walk on teams to play baseball at the next level – Langer at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse and Hissam at St. John’s. Jager is set to play at the next level as well, but in another sport – football at St. John’s. Most of the senior class for the Wildcats is set to continue their academic careers at the next level as well, even if their not set up to play baseball.
“They’re a smart group of kids,” said Mark Grundhofer. “They are a good group of guys, I’ve coached some of them since they were 5-6 years old.”