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Another casualty of the covid-19 pandemic -- Championship Weekend.

Spring sports state tournaments would have wrapped up this past week, and this week would have been the annual weekend of state finals for baseball, softball and boys and girls soccer held on the campus of the University of Arkansas.

If you're a sports fan and you've never experienced this setting at the U of A, I recommend you do it at least once.

It's pretty neat. On the Friday and Saturday of that weekend -- with good weather hopefully -- state championships are decided in all classifications. It's just one championship game after another, and it's awesome.

Yes, parking can be a big issue as graduation ceremonies are also occurring at the same time, but those of us who are veterans at this don't worry about that so much anymore. Arrive early, stay late and enjoy high school state finals.

Bogle Park, home of the Razorback softball team, and Razorback Field, the soccer facility, are right next to each other. Baum Stadium, home of the Razorback baseball team, is just a short ways away.

I've been fortunate enough to cover state finals at all three sites in my career. Here lately it's been mostly soccer with the Siloam Springs beat.

In fact, on five occasions -- 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 -- Siloam Springs had both of its soccer teams in state finals for a championship doubleheader.

Only one of those years -- 2013 -- did SSHS come away empty-handed.

Perhaps the ultimate thrill was in 2016 and 2017 when both SSHS soccer teams won state titles on the same day -- back to back.

It makes for an exhausting, emotional day, but it's all worth it once you see the joy on the kids' faces.

On the flip side, when your team loses a state final, it's a devastating blow and tough pill to swallow.

You're happy for the kids that get to celebrate being state champions. You're crushed for the ones who came up short. These are the emotions you experience at field level in the aftermath of a state championship game. And it's hard not to get caught up in them.

Here's another fun fact about Championship Weekend: Since 2011, Siloam Springs has had at least one team in a state soccer final.

Each time, there has been tremendous fan support.

We are blessed to have these championship sites in Northwest Arkansas, still.

Once upon a time, the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Week was held up here as well, but that has since relocated to the campus of Central Arkansas in Conway.

The hope here is that All-Star Week will eventually return back to NWA.

-- Graham Thomas is the managing editor for the Herald-Leader. He can be reached at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Sports on 05/17/2020

Print Headline: State title games a casuality of covid-19

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