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MHSAA representative council announces schedules, pending end of COVID ‘pause’

Hope to complete fall sports tournaments by end of calendar year

EAST LANSING — The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association approved on Wednesday an adjusted schedule to restart and conclude fall tournaments in football, girls volleyball and girls swimming and diving.

Also presented was a plan to resume winter sports after the three-week “pause” in activity ordered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services scheduled to end Dec. 9.

The MDHHS announced Nov. 15 a three-week pause to various activities including school sports, effective Nov. 18, in hopes of halting the state’s rising COVID-19 infections.

The volleyball and swimming and diving tournaments have one week remaining, with MHSAA finals for both previously scheduled for Nov. 21. The 11- and 8-player football playoffs also are nearing their conclusions, with the 8-player postseason two games from completion and 11-player down to its final three rounds.

Winter practices for all but boys basketball, bowling, skiing and wrestling had begun for most high school teams.

If allowed by the MDHHS, practice would resume for all three fall sports Dec. 9, with the following revised tournament schedules:

— Volleyball: Quarterfinals in all four divisions would be played Tuesday, Dec. 15, with semifinals played Dec. 17-18 and finals on Saturday, Dec. 19. Those final two rounds would be played at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena, as previously scheduled.

— Swimming and Diving: All three Lower Peninsula finals would be conducted Tuesday, Dec. 22 (diving), and Wednesday, Dec. 23, (swimming) with three high schools each hosting one meet. This allows for a two-week practice window for all participating swimmers who previously met and entered qualification times, and for divers who previously qualified at regional meets.

— Football: 11-player regional finals and 8-player semifinals would be played Tuesday, Dec. 15, and Wednesday Dec. 16; 11-Player semifinals and 8-Player finals would be played Dec. 21-22, the 8-player championship games at Midland Community Stadium on Dec. 22; 11-player finals will be played Monday, Dec. 28, and Tuesday, Dec. 29, at Ford Field.

For winter sports, the council approved resuming practices on Dec. 9 if allowed by the MDHHS, with competition to begin Jan. 4.

“We understand where COVID numbers were trending, and that’s why we have been supportive of the order to pause,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “But these fall sports deserve closure, and this strategy provides the best opportunities without further interruptions to a normal course of training and competition.

“A very small percentage of our teams remain active in our fall tournaments, also limiting potential exposure to the virus across the state. Meanwhile, by waiting until January to begin winter competition, the council is allowing our teams to continue activity but also restricting the mixing of communities to further promote reducing COVID spread,” Uyl added.

The council meets again Dec. 4 for its annual fall meeting, and at that time will consider possible tournament adjustments necessary due to the shortened winter competition season.

“We’re in a much different situation than we were in March as far as dealing with the pandemic,”Uyl stated on Monday. “Our staff and executives (MHSAA) are far more prepared to have a plan going forward to deal with whatever may occur from this always changing situation.”

Also on Monday, Uyl elaborated that the MHSAA and the council will have a “Plan A, B, and C” set in place as each situation arrises.

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