The Mercer Island boys basketball celebrates their 61-36 victory over Interlake in the 3A KingCo championship game on Feb. 11, 2020, at Sammamish High School. File photo

The Mercer Island boys basketball celebrates their 61-36 victory over Interlake in the 3A KingCo championship game on Feb. 11, 2020, at Sammamish High School. File photo

WIAA pushes back return to play for prep sports

Season 2 now begins Feb. 1 and seasons have been shortened to seven weeks each.

The return-to-play date for prep athletes in Washington state has been pushed back.

On Nov. 17, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Executive Board voted to amend the season schedule for the 2020-21 school year, delaying the start of Season 2 until Feb. 1 and shortening each of the three remaining seasons to seven weeks.

Season 2, which includes basketball, wrestling, girls bowling, gymnastics and boys swim and dive, was originally scheduled to begin Dec. 28.

“The decision comes in light of surging COVID-19 cases around the state, putting in jeopardy the ability to begin WIAA Season 2,” the WIAA said in a release.

Season 2 is now set to end with a culminating regional event on March 20.

Season 3, featuring football, volleyball, girls soccer, girls swim and dive, slowpitch softball and alternative seasons for golf and tennis, begins March 15, with football practices starting March 8. The season ends May 1.

Season 4 — baseball, fastpitch softball, golf, tennis, boys soccer and track and field — starts April 26 and ends June 12.

The executive board also voted to extend the the WIAA’s open coaching window to Jan. 23.

The announcement comes just days after King County reported 5,913 positive cases and 16 deaths from Nov. 1 through Nov. 15. (See the latest numbers at the King County COVID-19 dashboard.)

If those numbers don’t improve over the next two months, a return to play will be even further away for many student-athletes.

Guidance set forth by the Governor’s Office and the Washington State Department of Health breaks up individual sports in to low-, moderate- and high-risk categories. It also earmarks individual counties with a three-tier system based on the COVID-19 benchmark statistics of cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period and percentage of positive tests during a week.

Currently, King County falls into the high-risk category. Only sports in the low- or moderate-risk categories can begin competition when a county is considered high risk. In Season 2, girls bowling, gymnastics and boys swim and dive are all considered low- or moderate-risk sports. Basketball and wrestling fall under high risk.

High-risk sports can begin competition when their county hits the low-risk threshold, less than 25 cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of under 5%.

Local student-athletes also have to rely on a dip in benchmark coronavirus numbers in nearby counties.

On Nov. 3, the WIAA announced plans to group its nine districts into three regions. District 2 encompasses most of King County and includes Snohomish County schools Granite Falls and Sultan, as well as a few other outliers, to form Region A.

There are three checkpoints that need to be passed for a season to commence as planned.

The first checkpoint is four weeks before an upcoming season. If a sport, by classification, is below the 50% threshold of participating schools, then plans will be developed for moving the season.

The second checkpoint is one week later. If a sport, by classification, is above the 50% threshold, then it will move forward as planned. If a sport is below the 50% threshold, then the plans for moving the season will be implemented.

The third and final checkpoint is two weeks before the start of a season. If a sport, by classification, has met the eligibility requirements to commence, then the region will decide whether the season moves forward as scheduled.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Sports

Keltie Jeri-Leon played his final game May 9 with the Seattle Thunderbirds as they wrapped up the 2020-2021 shortened season. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, Thunderbirds
Seattle Thunderbirds end WHL season by beating Spokane

Keltie Jeri-Leon ends WHL career with 250 games played

t
Dion Earl/File Photo
Former Kent pro soccer team owner sentenced for tax fraud

Dion Earl receives another year in prison in addition to sexual assault sentences

t
T-Birds drop two players from roster for ‘inappropriate racial comments’

Comments, actions directed toward teammate in locker room

Kentwood football. FILE PHOTO
Limited number of fans can attend Kent high school games

Change in policy that banned fans due to COVID-19 restrictions

Seattle Thunderbirds captains/assistant captains Henrik Rybinski, Keltie Jeri-Leon, Matthew Rempe and Tyrel Bauer. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse/Thunderbirds
T-Birds name captains for Western Hockey League season

Henrik Rybinski, Keltie Jeri-Leon, Matthew Rempe and Tyrel Bauer

Conner Roulette (34) returns for the shortened Seattle Thunderbirds season that begins Friday, March 19 against Spokane at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Lieese, Thunderbirds
T-Birds players pumped to return to play at ShoWare Center in Kent

Western Hockey League opener set for March 19

Kentlake High players practice in preparation for playing Kentwood on Friday night, March 12. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter
No fans to be allowed at NPSL, Kent high school games

COVID-19 protocol to keep spectators away; games to be livestreamed

Courtesy Photo, Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds
Four T-Birds games to be shown on television in March

Three against Portland, one against Spokane on JOEtv

t
High school football players prepare for showtime in Kent

After seven-month delay, teams hit the practice field

Lucas Ciona is expected to be one of the Seattle Thunderbirds players who will return to play in March at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, T-Birds
T-Birds, city of Kent modify agreement so hockey can return to ShoWare Center

Portland Winterhawks also expected to play home games in Kent