PORT ANGELES — The return of high school sports will be delayed by at least another month and all three prep seasons have been reduced by a week, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced Wednesday.
Due to rising cases statewide of COVID-19, the WIAA Executive Board voted Tuesday night to delay the beginning of high school sports to Feb. 1 and condense each WIAA season to seven weeks.
The decision was made after Gov. Jay Inslee implemented new statewide COVID-19 restrictions Sunday that will remain in place for at least a month.
Under a revised 2020-21 calendar released by the WIAA last summer, Season 2 featuring traditional indoor winter sports such as basketball, wrestling and gymnastics was scheduled to start practices Dec. 28 with an eight-week season running in January and February.
Now with Tuesday’s decision, Season 2 practices are now scheduled to begin Jan. 25 for gymnastics and Feb. 1 for basketball, wrestling, bowling and boys swim and dive with competition beginning Feb. 8 with a culminating regional event March 20.
Season 3, comprised of traditional fall sports such as cross country, girls soccer and volleyball will begin practices March 15, with competition running from March 22 through a culminating event May 1.
Football also is planned for Season 3, with practices beginning March 8 and games beginning March 19.
Season 4, the traditional spring sports of baseball, softball, track and field, golf, tennis and boys soccer will begin practices April 26 with competition running from May 3 through a culminating event on June 12.
“The Olympic League athletic directors will start reworking schedules to fit into these timelines right away with the understanding that we may not be able to squeeze in a full league schedule as you are accustomed to,” Sequim Athletic Director Dave Ditlefsen said.
Besides altering the 2020-21 season schedule, the executive board also approved an extension of the WIAA open coaching window to Jan. 23.
This allows coaches to work with athletes in a similar fashion to the summer coaching window.
Earlier this month, the board announced the creation of regional events in place of state tournaments during the 2020-21 school year. North Olympic Peninsula schools in WIAA District 3 were matched with Southwest Washington District 4.
The board also announced that if fewer than 50 percent of schools in a particular region and classification are unable to compete in a sport, in accordance to state health guidelines, the WIAA will make adjustments to the season schedule to allow the chance for greater participation.
“It is worth noting that by the time Feb. 1 rolls around we will likely still be battling COVID numbers, but the WIAA is allowing flexibility for local leagues to have the option to offer seasons that may be cancelled in other areas of the state,” Ditlefsen said. “If other areas are still high in COVID numbers and need to re-schedule winter sports once again, it is possible that our area may be cleared to resume play amongst our local schools with the understanding that there will be no big playoff event to look forward to at the end.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] news.com.