Vidakovich column: Glenwood collegians reflect on lost freshman season
In the grand scheme of sports, 2019 Glenwood Springs High School graduates Bryce Risner and Emily Worline should probably consider themselves lucky. With the new social distancing requirements in place, the frustrations for the two former Demon athletic standouts are well-documented. Their freshman collegiate outdoor track seasons have been nixed, and they are forced to finish spring semester academic work online and away from the bustling daily life of a college campus.
The bright side for Worline and Risner is that they both can still continue their training and coursework at home in Glenwood, with friends and family nearby for support.
Risner, a jazz saxophone major at the University of Northern Colorado and a member of the Bears’ Division I track and field team, would have made his UNC debut at a much-anticipated meet in the warm climate of Florida in March. That was scrapped, as was the rest of his freshman season. A hurdler and high jumper for the Greeley school, Risner is coping the best he can with the challenge of watching a winter’s worth of hard work and preparation go up in a viral cloud of dust.
“I’m still following a flexible daily academic routine, playing with other musicians over media sources instead of in person,” Risner said. “There’s a lot of new academic material each day to try and absorb for a music major.”
Running and jumping for his head coach and father Blake Risner in high school, Bryce was a state runner-up to Demon teammate Wyatt Ewer in the 300 meter hurdles, and he finished third in the 4A high jump competition. Ewer, who along with fellow GSHS alum Sequoia Kellogg, is now running track at Western Colorado University in Gunnison, provided the spark of competition for Risner that helped elevate the two talented young men to great heights during their careers in the red and white uniform.
“It’s been difficult for everyone to navigate daily life when no one is able to interact in person, but it’s been an opportunity for me to evolve and take personal responsibility in order to ensure that everyone is safe. My personal goal is to continue to excel despite the difficult times we are in,” Risner said.
For Worline, who was also an all-conference member of the Lady Demon basketball team, training and schoolwork has continued at home also. A nursing major who is attending Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Worline, who would have competed in the 400 and 800 meter runs this spring, has shifted her training and focus to next fall’s cross country season, running longer distances each day to be prepared for what hopefully will be a return to competition in September.
“I’m trying to find the positives each day, and I’m very grateful that I get to be with my family and train in this beautiful place,” stated Worline.
With the positive outlook and unwavering commitment to their academic and athletic careers, it’s a safe bet that Risner and Worline will bounce back for a big sophomore season at the collegiate level. Times are tough now, but in the long run the two former Demon classmates will come out of this as stronger people with an unbreakable resolve to succeed.
*Next week I will be talking with some local athletes and coaches who have also seen all, or at least the majority of, their spring sports seasons go by the wayside.
Mike Vidakovich grew up in Glenwood Springs, is a longtime youth basketball coach and is a regular sports contributor for the Post Independent.
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I’m not often given to public displays of affection, but on the morning of Monday, July 19, I felt it necessary to give an old and dear friend a proper send off.