EWU spring seniors face decision regarding a return

EWU seniors in spring sports, including Madalyn Ardueser of the golf team and Mikayel Kachatryan of the men's tennis team, saw their final seasons at EWU come to an abrupt end this year.

Left: Courtesy EWU Athletics Right: Bailey Monteith for The Easterner

EWU seniors in spring sports, including Madalyn Ardueser of the golf team and Mikayel Kachatryan of the men's tennis team, saw their final seasons at EWU come to an abrupt end this year.

By Drew Lawson, Sports Editor

The EWU men’s and women’s track teams were busy preparing for what promised to be a competitive outdoor season. The golf team was in the middle of a tournament in Utah. The men’s tennis team was full of confidence after finally notching a conference win, and the women’s tennis team was in Colorado trying to extend its hot 4-1 Big Sky start. 

That all came to a screeching halt when the Big Sky Conference announced it was suspending all spring sports on March 18. The season’s cancelations were especially disappointing for EWU’s seniors. 

Marta Heinen is the lone senior on the women’s tennis team. She said the team found out that the season was called off while they were on the road, and the disappointment was clear. 

“Everyone was kind of bummed, because we were doing so well,” Heinen said. “I couldn’t really believe it, that that’s the way it ended. The week before we had a home match, and I never thought that would be my last match.”

For Mikayel Kachatryan, the sole senior on the men’s tennis team, the abrupt end to his senior year was “very unexpected.”

“I didn’t expect that my senior year was going to end that way,” Kachatryan said.

The golf team features three seniors: Madalyn Ardueser and twins Megan and Ashley Ohland. Ardueser said tears were shed when news of the season’s abrupt end came. 

“It was pretty brutal,” Ardueser said. “It was hard to swallow. It wasn’t something that you would expect to happen. It took a lot of time to process what was actually going on.”

The men’s track team has 13 seniors, while the women’s team has 10. Jumper/hurdler Parker Bowden of the men’s team said news of the cancelation was practically surreal.

“It was just weird,” Bowden said. “It didn’t feel real, so there (weren’t) a whole lot of emotions for everything. I think it took a couple weeks for it to really set in: the season was over.”

Bowden said while the cancelation was discouraging, it wasn’t particularly surprising given the wide array of postponements occurring across the sports world. A week before the Big Sky’s decision to suspend spring sports, the NCAA made a historic decision to cancel its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

“It was kind of in the back of your mind, seeing as other things were getting canceled,” Bowden said. “We kind of knew before the (Big Sky) said it.”

Bowden noted that while this situation is difficult for EWU’s athletes, they aren’t the only ones affected by what’s going on. 

“There’s thousands of other athletes in my position who are going through this,” Bowden said. “It almost makes it easier to deal with it, because we’re not alone in this.”

Many EWU seniors were faced with a decision when the NCAA announced that it would grant seniors in spring sports an extra year of eligibility. Some EWU seniors are undecided, while some are already intent on returning. Others have made the decision to not use their extra year of eligibility. 

Ardueser told The Easterner that she and the Ohland twins aren’t returning to EWU. Ardueser will graduate at the end of spring quarter and plans to pursue a professional golfing career.

“It didn’t work out in the timing for me to re-arrange everything and come back to do more school,” Ardueser said.

Kachatryan has also competed in his final match at EWU. Prior to the cancelation, he signed to be a graduate assistant coach at Georgia Southern University next year, so Kachatryan is on his way south next year. 

Heinen hasn’t decided whether she wants to use her extra year of eligibility. She will complete her academic requirements this year, and isn’t sure what she would do academically to be eligible to play another year of tennis. 

“Right now I’m still thinking a lot,” Heinen said. “I love Eastern and stuff, but at the same time my plans were to start something new and grow up in different ways, so I don’t really know just yet.”

Bowden is interested in returning, and said many members of the men’s track team also desire to use their final year of eligibility. If Bowden returns next spring, he’d be competing in the outdoor season for the first time in two years after redshirting last year due to injury.

“A lot of us would enjoy to have that chance for (eligibility),” Bowden said. “It feels like we have some unfinished business.”

Bowden said the women’s team is likely to lose more seniors that will decide to graduate and leave EWU. 

The Easterner is currently following the decisions of all spring sports seniors at EWU and will provide updates as those athletes make decisions regarding their future.