El Campo Ricebird senior Philip Hundl, like other athletes in his grade, school and throughout the area have had their sports season put on hold by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Hundl won two bronze medals in the 110-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles at the state track meet last season as a junior. As a senior, he came in preparing for a shot at gold. Now he sits at home wondering if his high school career is over or if he will actually get a chance to compete again.
“I was kind of down for about a week,” Hundl said. “(The UIL sent out an update) and said we’re going to try and finish the season if we can and that perked me up a little bit.”
Since the update, along with doing schoolwork, Hundl has added in working out to try and stay ready for if and when the UIL announces competition will continue.
“I’d rather come back and be prepared than have a season and I haven’t done much and I’m scrambling,” Hundl said.
Had the season not have been derailed Thursday would have been the area track meet in Sealy. However, Hundl was only able to compete in two track meets with the home Ricebirds Relays his last before spring break and the eventual closing of the high school in March.
Hundl chose not to play football and basketball this season, with his sights solely set on having a great year in track. While he only competed in two meets, he set two personal bests.
In his first track meet, in Needville, Hundl had a personal best in the high jump. At the Ricebird Relays, he had a personal best in the 110-hurdles.
“I was just starting to hit some good times and heights,” Hundl said. “I went 6’8” and 14.08 in the first two meets. It was going to be a really, really good year for personal bests. Last year was definitely was a struggle to get some good heights and times, it wasn’t until state that I had a personal best. It’s frustrating (thinking) man, how much higher and faster could I have went if we would have kept continuing. It’s a really tough set back for sure.”
To stay in shape, Hundl does some lifting at his house keep his muscles active and for cardio, he rides a bike which is less stressful on his joints.
Even if Hundl doesn’t hurdle or high jump again in high school, his athletic career isn’t over.
After high school, Hundl will join the Air Force Academy’s track team.
While he may be coping with the fact he might not compete again in high school, Hundl feels for the senior armed services athletes in college. The NCAA granted a waiver for spring sport athletes to have an extra year of eligibility. Armed services seniors, they won’t get that same chance, once they graduate, they start their service time.
“That kept me in my place about this whole thing, it could be way worse,” Hundl said. “The Air Force Academy specifically had they have a kid that was really competitive in the 800. He went to the national outdoor (championship) and in his senior year he doesn’t get a chance to compete.”
For El Campo’s double bronze medal winner, if this is actually the end, it will be sad, he said, but his last high school track memory was a good one.
“The meet I finished on at the Ricebird Relays at home, we got the win in the 4x400 relay in the last event of the night and we won the meet, which was the first time as the varsity boys that we won a meet in a couple of years,” Hundl said. “That right there is a really, really good memory, but on the season as a whole, it would definitely be kind of frustrating to look back on for sure.”