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United South Central suspends activities, canceling remainder of fall season

WELLS — Siting rising COVID-19 case numbers in the county and school district, United South Central announced Monday morning it would be transitioning to a distance learning model through Dec. 4.

Per guidelines set forth by the Minnesota Department of Education, all activities would also be suspended, meaning the end of the fall sports season for the Rebels.

For the football team, that meant cutting the season short just before the first game of the Section 2A tournament. The Rebels were slated to take on Bethlehem Academy at home Tuesday night.

“It’s a surprise, but at the same time it’s not given the increasing COVID-19 numbers you see across the state,” said head coach Brandon Neseth. “We feel fortunate that we got in the six games we did, but at the same time we believe we could have won the section this year, so we are bummed we didn’t get that opportunity.”

The Rebels’ football season comes to an end with a record of 2-4, but three of those losses came by seven points or less.

“We are thankful for the school and community for making this season special given all the circumstances,” Neseth said. “It was a season that will never be forgotten and I think all our student-athletes learned some strong life-long lessons from it.”

The volleyball team also lost the remainder of its season, also finishing with a 2-4 record. Its two wins came over Maple River.

“We’re obviously disappointed that we’re not able to finish our seasons, but the health and safety of our student athletes is our highest priority, so it was a decision that needed to be made,” said volleyball head coach and activities director Joe Kuechenmeister. “As a coach, you feel for the kids the most because you know they’re again missing out on an opportunity to do something they love. That’s not an easy pill to swallow.

“On the other hand, there were times last spring and into the summer where I didn’t know if we were going to be able to have a season at all, so I’m also grateful that I even got the opportunity to be in the gym with this great group of kids.”

The Rebels had four games canceled due to COVID-19 concerns earlier this season and were scheduled to have five more regular-season matches before their season was canceled.

“In sports, we always talk about controlling the things you can control, and your response to adversity is something that’s so important,” Kuechenmeister said. “ My hope is that the student-athletes of Rebel Country will use this latest hurdle as motivation to do big things when we get the green light to compete again.”

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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