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Monday, November 30, 2020

Coronavirus

What was lost when coronavirus forced UH athletics to cancel everything


One of UH athletics' biggest hits from the coronavirus pandemic was the cancellation of March Madness, where head basketball coach Kelvin Sampson's squad was projected to be a No. 7 or 8 seed. | Mikol Kindle Jr./The Cougar

One of UH athletics’ biggest hits from the coronavirus pandemic was the cancellation of March Madness, where head basketball coach Kelvin Sampson’s squad was projected to be a No. 7 or 8 seed. | Mikol Kindle Jr./The Cougar

When the new coronavirus forced the cancellation of the remainder of UH athletics’ events and caused the sports world to pause earlier this month, moments many anticipated were suddenly lost.

Senior send-offs, breakout seasons and potential championships all turned to dust, leaving many robbed of what could have been.

Here’s what vanished when UH athletics had no other choice but to cancel the remainder of 2019-20:

March magic

For the first time in the tournament’s history, March Madness will not be played.

If it weren’t for the cancellation, Houston, which was projected to be a No. 7 or 8 seed, would be playing in the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row under head coach Kelvin Sampson.

That hasn’t happened in over 35 years, and the Cougars will have to wait another year to have the chance to dance.

Guards Caleb Mills and Marcus Sasser won’t be able to experience playing on college basketball’s biggest stage in their freshmen campaigns.

And worst of all, outgoing senior Chris Harris Jr. won’t get the chance to finish his college career with a bang.

Hitting power

Before the remainder of its season was canceled, the softball team was red hot.

Houston was 16-7, having gone on an 11-game win streak earlier in the season, and sophomore Kati Ray Brown was dominating at the plate.

The catcher’s .852 slugging percentage and nine home runs led the American Athletic Conference.

As a whole, Houston also led the AAC in those categories, posting a .592 slugging percentage along with 38 home runs, eight more than second-place Wichita State.

Continued dominance

In recent years, Houston’s track and field program has been among the best in the country, getting close to winning national titles on several occasions.

The Cougars had a shot in 2020, but with all NCAA championships canceled for the season, that dream is dead until at least next year.

Houston, which placed second and third in the 2019 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships, respectively, had sent six athletes to represent it in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for this year’s national indoor title meet before it was canceled.

Chance to three-peat

Houston’s women’s golf team would be less than a month away from trying to win its third-straight conference title at the AAC Championships had it not been for its cancellation.

Last season, UH dominated the championships, finishing 30 strokes ahead of runner-up UCF. The team was also joined by then-senior All-American Leonie Harm, 2019’s individual AAC champion.

But now, like most, the Cougars are at home, waiting out the storm.

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