PRCC’s one shining moment that never was: NJCAA cancels tournament
Today was supposed to be the first day of the NJCAA Tournament with nearby Pearl River Community College serving as the number one seed in a field of 24 junior colleges from around the country.
Instead today marks the day the national tournament was canceled due to the Coronavirus, leaving the undefeated Wildcats with a lot of “what-ifs” about their one shining moment.
“I’m a freshman, like I’ve got two rings. Accomplishments. I’m happy with our team.” Amazing the difference a week can make, going from being named the number one seed in the NJCAA Tournament last Monday to having that tournament canceled altogether this Monday. Head Coach Chris Oney said, “One thing I can say is that I don’t think I’m ready for retirement. All this laying around, sleeping and not having anything else to do, it’s just something that’s not been very fun. I can tell you that.”
PRCC’s date in Hutchinson, Kansas was originally postponed on Thursday with a tentative start date of April 20th. The NJCAA has since canceled the remainder of all spring competitions, citing recommendations from the CDC. “It never was reality. Now that I guess it’s a reality, it’s not good. You’ve got to go on the rest of your days really not knowing exactly what all this team could have accomplished and what we could have accomplished as a program. So I guess that’s a bummer or whatever, but at the same time it’s something that life threw at us and we’ve got to move on from it.”
On the one hand, moving on might be easier for a team that’s 28-0, fresh off both MACJC and Region 23 Tournament championships.
But on the other hand is the heartbreak of never knowing the outcome of the one shining moment that could have been for the best team to ever come out of Poplarville. “All I can think of to talk about is exactly what it was we accomplished. And what it was we accomplished is far more to talk about than the ‘what if’ part.”
As the only undefeated program left standing, the ‘what if’ part actually makes a pretty strong case for itself when it comes to remembering the legacy of what the Wildcats will probably forever consider to be a de facto national championship. “In the meantime though, we’re going to call ourselves National Champions. We’re going to reach out to the NJCAA and see if it’s something that can be done, that we go off of the last poll. And the last poll obviously had us ranked No. 1 in the country.”
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Hutch-bound PRCC would have won the national tournament, but it’s certainly a compelling argument.