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story.lead_photo.caption Texas High senior Owen Likins was a four-time state qualifier for the Tigersharks swim team and had set the goal of winning a gold medal in track and field this spring. During the current suspension of athletics due to the COVID-19 virus, Likins has continued his running workouts and training along with his sophomore brother, Evan. (Submitted photo)

TEXARKANA Several local and area athletes have taken it upon themselves to continue working out and training for the spring athletic seasons that are currently suspended.

Student athletes from all classifications and every school have found the drive to keep pushing themselves to be better in their respective sports and encourage their teammates to do the same, safely.

Gallery: Can't stop, won't stop

Ben Witterstaetter is a senior baseball player at Liberty-Eylau and plans to play for Texas A&M University-Texarkana after graduation. As a pitcher and utility for the Leopards, he has continued pitching twice a week and practice hitting a couple days a week, also.

"When they told us we couldn't even practice, I knew I couldn't just stop playing baseball," Witterstaetter said. "This is my senior season, and I have faith that we'll be able to play. I have to keep getting better if we're able to play because our goal is still to go deep in the playoffs and go to state.

"Sometimes I work out by myself, and sometimes we have a few of us get together. We're all on the same page and all want to get better. We're just grinding it out while we wait it out."

Jazmin Hever is a sophomore runner for Pleasant Grove's track and field and cross country teams. She has continued training by herself since school practices have been shutdown.

"I took a break once everything started shutting down, and I was a little upset that our practices and school got closed and our season was possibly over because I've been working so hard to be able to compete this year," Hever said. "I have very high expectations for this season (in track and field). I realize that there's a chance we may not compete this spring, but this is still an opportunity to train, whether it's for this track season, or next year for cross country and the next track season.

"I have nothing else to do but get better as an athlete and runner. I have hope that we will be able to compete again this season."

Owen Likins is an 8-time state qualifier in three sports. He has advanced to the state swim and dive meet four times, the state cross country meet three times and made it to the state track and field championships last spring. He's hoping to make it nine state meets.

"A lot my training I do on my own, anyway, especially during the winter between cross country and track (during swim season)," Likins said. "I do a lot of running on my own, just me and Evan (Owen's brother). So this isn't that much different than what I do during the offseason.

"UIL has said that they still plan on holding the state championships, and so I hope I still get to run at state. At the beginning of the season, I set my goal to win a state championship, and so that's still the goal. I would like to come home with a gold medal."

Likins swam the 200 and 500 meters for the Tigersharks and so far this spring he has competed in the 800, 1600 and 3200 meters, as well as a leg in the 4x400 relay team. Likins has signed with Texas Tech to continue his academic and running careers in Lubbock, Texas.

Jordyn Standley is a junior shortstop/pitcher for Arkansas High. He has already verbally committed to SAU Tech in Camden, Ark.

"I don't know when our season might start back up, so I feel like I need to be ready to play as soon as the season comes back," Standley said. "I've never been the most athletic person, so I felt like I needed to work harder to keep myself in shape and on the same path.

"My life, pretty much, revolves around softball. It's definitely been rough not getting to play, not getting to be on the field. I'm still motivated because, eventually, we'll be back on the field, and that's what I'm looking forward to most."

Most of Standley's workouts she is going through alone. Occasionally, he mom will help her, and a couple of times a fellow Lady Back has joined her to train.

Ethan Brooks plays football and baseball for L-E. He was a first-team all-district linebacker in the fall as well as being an FCA All-Star Selection in the upcoming Battle of the Border (Arkansas versus Texas). He is attending LSU-Shreveport after graduation on an academic scholarship and also plans to play baseball for the Pilots.

"It was extremely disheartening when it was announced our season was suspended you almost feel robbed because this is my senior year, this is what I've been working towards." Brooks said. "For it to have been ripped away, it was very disheartening.

"After a while, you realize 'Hey life goes on' and we're still brothers on the this team. I still want to play with my team as long as we can, hopefully, to a state championship, if we're allowed to continue the season."

For safety precautions, the team does not get together entirely, but the players have made each other accountable to one another to keep working and keep improving, so that when L-E is able to resume the team will be ready.

Colby Brooks is the Leopards' junior catcher.

"Before they closed the gyms, I was working out in the gym," Colby said. "I work out at home, watch what I eat and just try to stay in shape while we're on this break. The ultimate goal for us is state, but what we're looking at right now is just to get back to our season, come out on top in district and get the best seed for the playoffs."

Evan Likins went to state this winter with the Texas High swim team, which he competes in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle. A sophomore, Evan also runs cross country for the Tigers and the 800 and 1,600 meters.

"It's been hard to see this season cut short, but I know I have two more years and plenty of time to compete," Evan said. "It's good to have an older brother to train with, and I hate the position he's in, as a senior. He's helped keep me motivated to keep training.

"We try to run all the time and take as little time off, as possible, all year long. The goal is to get better and get faster, and if you're not running then you're not going to get faster."

Nate Moore, a junior at Liberty-Eylau, plays pitcher and shortstop for the baseball team. His motivation isn't just for himself and his team, but the senior teammates who are in their final season.

"We were actually playing a game when we heard of the suspension, and my teammates and I decided that if this was our last game, we were going to play it the best that we could," Moore said. "We did. And I kept on thinking, 'keep on grinding. don't let the grind stop.' If we lose what we've got now, all the work we've put in was a waste of time.

"I think about us coming back to play the rest of our season every single day. The first couple of nights I prayed about it and that this all passes over and that it ends up not affecting those around here. Especially for my seniors, I just want to get back on the field. It is a big disappointment that we're going through this. You can't do much about it, just see what happens and keep on going with your training to improve."

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