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Winter sports get go ahead to start up

State High School League says seasons can begin on Jan. 14

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Jan 4, 2021

High school winter sports, including boys and girls basketball, wrestling and gymnastics have now been given the OK to start their seasons. The games and competitions might look a little different than this photo from pre-COVID-19 in February 2020 of Cam Anderson going up for a basket shows. Sports practices are slated to start on Monday, Jan. 4, with first games a week later on Monday, Jan. 14.

The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) has announced winter sports contests and competitions which are under sponsorship of the MSHSL may resume beginning Thursday, Jan. 14.

The announcement follows the issuance of updated information from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), including the release of a new document, COVID-19 Sports Practice Guidance for Youth and Adults.

Practice may begin on Jan. 4 for the winter sports seasons.

The MDH updated youth sports document requires mask usage by all participants during practices and competitions with a few exceptions. The exceptions are made for sports where wearing a mask may cause additional safety concerns. Those sports include gymnastics, cheerleading, wrestling, swimming and diving.

“These experiences are so important to students and they have been anxiously waiting to get these winter seasons started,” MSHSL executive director Erich Martens said. “By implementing these safety protocols recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and required by the Minnesota Department of Health, we have the best chance to provide safe seasons with reduced interruptions and also plan for full postseason experiences.”

The League continues to work directly with the MDH and the Minnesota Department of Education in developing plans for our student-athletes to return safely to in-person participation, according to Martens.

“We are excited for the opportunity to start both practices and contests in this winter season,” Martens said. “The commitment to safety by our more than 500 member schools is critical to not only start our seasons, but to finish them as well.”

Blue Earth Area activities director Rob Norman said the winter schedules are pretty much ready to be released.

“We just have a couple of tweaks to make,” Norman commented. “I anticipate posting the schedules by Jan. 6.”