UNLV baseball had 17 games on the books already by March 10. It was a slow start to the season. The team came out 6-11 over the first month of play, but there was reason for hope on the horizon.
The Rebels had just swept a three-game homestand against St. John's University. Not just a sweep — it was decisive, with UNLV outscoring the Red Storm a combined 34-5. Rebel pitchers Ryan Hare, Chase Maddux, and Josh Sharman each went six innings in their starts. Catcher Eric Biagini was 6-for-10 at the plate, and designated hitter Jack-Thomas Wold was 5-for-12 with two doubles.
Their March 11 tilt against the University of Houston was rained out.
Then, with a suddenness that still shocks even weeks later, the season was over.
On March 12, the NCAA announced that March Madness wouldn't be held.
The baseball team gathered at 9 a.m. that morning as scheduled to travel to their game in Santa Barbara, California. An hour later, players were told that they would be staying in Las Vegas. That's when Rebel baseball players had to accept a reality that just hours before seemed entirely impossible.
"The weekend before, I remember seeing a bunch of stuff on Twitter about it and it was like a joke," said Wold, a junior studying economics. "It was like a meme that other countries were struggling with it. We were all talking about it like, ‘There's no shot they shut down our season.’"
Emma Wahlenmaier, a junior distance runner on the women's track and field team, had just finished the indoor track season. UNLV topped the Mountain West championship in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Feb. 29.
The outdoor track season was set to kick off March 19. It never made it.
"We were going to be going out of town for a few meets. I was like, ‘Yeah, that one will probably be canceled, but the rest of the season should probably be fine,’" she said. "And then everything just escalated and the whole season was canceled. It was kind of overwhelming. I didn't really know how to feel just because it happened so quickly."
Though there's been nothing yet settled about whether to reschedule any of the current season, the bright spot is that the NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to student-athletes who are affected by the current cancellations.
Still, that leaves some students with unique choices to make about how they'll handle the extra year. Wahlenmaier, who is planning on entering the radiography program, had planned on taking her studies to a fifth year, so she is expecting to compete.
Wold, who was in line to graduate after next season, sees an opportunity. He was out with a broken hand for a stretch of last season.He can use the additional eligibility to help make up some for that lost time over the past two seasons.
But that doesn't mean the impacts this year are any less felt.
"It frustrated me because I'm a very organized person," Wold said. "It bothered me not to have a plan. It bothered me to have nothing to prepare for. I feel like the team — we started off, we were struggling a little bit — but everything was starting to come into place. Things were starting to click."
While their seasons were cancelled and UNLV’s facilities shut down, training continues. Student-athletes are using TrainHeroic, a strength and conditioning app and online portal. Its routines are designed by coaches to use bodyweight exercises like pushups, lunges, and squats for those with no access to weights.
Wahlenmaier, who lives with teammates Avi'Tal Wilson-Perteete and Elisa Rovere, runs and trains with them. And as a runner, she's able to get in her daily miles and stay close to competition-ready. For Wold, with limited opportunity to face live pitching, dialing in the timing necessary to be successful at the plate has been difficult.
Still, missing out on the spirit of the competition is leaving the largest hole for both of them.
"When you can't have something, you realize when it's gone how much you really like it,” Wahlenmaier said. “I know how much I like running, how much I like competing. I've found that since it's taken away, it's like a punishment. The next time we get to compete — it just makes me want to come back out there."