The calendar doesn’t reflect it yet, but spring is here.

The local high school sports winter season came to a conclusion Tuesday with the Jay County boys basketball team falling in its sectional opener.

The Fort Recovery girls squad had its year end Feb. 25, and the Tribe boys got bounced from the tournament a day later.

And Saturday, the Patriot gymnastics team had its schedule completed with its sectional meet.

The winter season began nearly five months ago when the JCHS girls hoops team kicked things off Nov. 13.

What a long way we’ve come since then.

We’re a couple weeks away from the best season of the year, but first let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the winter season.

We did it

After nearly 12 months of uncertainty, we did it. We made it through two full sports seasons without any enormous hiccups locally.

Sure, attendance was severely limited at times. It was a hassle for family members having to choose who got to attend contests because of limited ticket availability. Early in the hoops season, there were times the general public was not allowed whatsoever.

But with the introduction of coronavirus vaccines, cases in Jay County have plummeted since the pandemic’s height back in November.

If the winter sports season would have lasted longer, even more fans would have been allowed at contests, giving athletes a bit of normalcy we all so desperately desire.

Jay County’s boys basketball team had to quarantine three times. The girls’ program was at times affected with schedule changes, a limited roster or by having varsity-only contests.

Fort Recovery had very few changes to any of its three winter sports teams. Everyone locally was able to complete their respective seasons.

We did it.

Welcome back

When news broke of his hiring back in April, the buzz around coach Jerry Bomholt and the JCHS boys basketball program began.

Unfortunately, few casual fans got to watch the man in action for his second stint leading the Patriots because of the pandemic.

In due time, however, they will.

I just wish more people got the same glimpse of him that I had this season.

Bomholt has had limited time with his team. Their normal summer slate of workouts and scrimmages were scrapped. Then, when it was time to get the season underway, they were sidelined as the old ball coach contracted COVID-19. Two other positive tests put the season on hold.

In spite of all working against him getting acclimated with his new squad, Bomholt poured everything he had into the boys. The emotion in his voice when speaking with media following games was an indication of how much he loved his players.

It didn’t matter if it was after a victory or defeat, sometimes it seemed talking about the team was going to bring him to tears. Tuesday’s loss to Delta in the sectional opener was the closest he’s come to breaking down after a game. It wouldn’t have been the first time this year he’s been brought to tears in an interview.

We’re glad to have you back, coach.

Youth movement

There’s a good chance you didn’t get to catch the Jay County wrestling team in action this season because of the attendance restrictions.

Next year, when hopefully there will be a sense of normalcy again, go catch a meet.

This is not a suggestion. It’s a demand.

The youth movement among the Patriot wrestling team is in full force.

Cody Rowles, Tony Wood and Cameron Clark — all freshmen — qualified for the state finals. In the 45-plus years of the JCHS wrestling program, only two others have represented the Patriots at the state tournament as freshmen. One of them, Ethan Reiley, is still in the program (he’s a sophomore now).

Fellow freshman Taye Curtis, Conner Specht and Bryce Wenk made a name for themselves as well and are on the verge of deep tournament runs.

And AJ Myers, who is an eighth grader this year, was a middle school state champion in January and will be joining the high school team next season.

This team has become a must-watch.

Good girls

They’ve graced this space once already this year, but it bears reiterating: Jay County’s girls basketball team was one of the most fun hoops teams to watch these last eight seasons.

The Patriots were perhaps the nicest group of girls anyone would want to be around, and it started with the team’s two seniors, Aubrie Schwieterman and Grace Saxman.

Don’t be deceived by the niceness, however. Once the game was underway, these girls were among the fiercest competitors. Schwieterman just might rip off a limb trying to steal the ball away from someone if the rules allowed it. She knew how to control that intensity like a light switch.

But the way the team seemed to have someone step up at just the right moment made each game a treat. It was always a question of who it was going to be on any given night.

Yes, the likelihood of it being Renna Schwieterman — she’s on pace to become the school’s all-time leading scorer — was pretty high, but other girls got in on the action too.

At times it seemed as if we wouldn’t have a fall sports season, let alone a winter one as well. Nevertheless, we’re two-thirds of the way through the high school sports calendar year.

With the winter season — full of much to celebrate in terms of the Patriots and Indians — behind us, let’s spring anew in a couple weeks as we head outdoors to baseball and softball diamonds, tracks, tennis courts and golf courses.