Season B started Jan. 25, but it took work, determination and soul-searching from the Colorado High School Activities Association to usher in the six sports seasons.
Boys and girls basketball, hockey, girls swimming and diving and boys and girls wrestling are the sports in Season B that will have abbreviated seasons, but at least as of press time there will be competition and eventually state champions crowned despite the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
CHSAA has had to make adjustments after seeking variances from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. CHSAA had to direct teams to make altered schedules, modify state tournament brackets and venues, try to find referees and officials from a dwindling list plus listen to complaints and suggestions from administrators, coaches, parents and spectators.
There will be a new look for all six sports as practices and competition must follow local and state COVID-19 guidelines and mandates.
“It's just been a challenge, but I think the best part of this is, it looks like we are going to get a season in, and number two, we are going to be able to conclude with some state championships,” said assistant CHSAA commissioner Bert Borgmann, who oversees boys and girls basketball.
All boys and girls basketball players must wear masks this season while playing, and CHSAA got a variance from the CDPHE to have 14 instead of 12 games during the regular season. Roster limit has been set at 12 for each team with three coaches and a trainer. That also required a variance.
State basketball tournament fields have been reduced. In Class 5A there will be a 32-team bracket with league champions automatically qualifying. The CHSAA seeding selection index will determine state tournament at-large teams. Highest seeding teams will be hosts for games on March 9, 11, 13 and 16 until the state championship games at a site still to be determined as of press time.
“There are a lot of little things that go into it,” said Borgmann. “We set out with a couple of goals. One was to have a season where we could get the kids on the floor, which to me is the most important one. Secondarily, we didn't finish and crown champions last year. I think it is important that we crown a champion.
“The variances we got were so that kids could play games,” Borgmann said. “There is nothing about capacity limits or anything like that. The capacity limits will be set by the local health care agencies. So you are going to go from this district to this district, this league and this league where some leagues are going to allow parents and others are not going to allow anybody. Those were decisions that were made locally for whatever reason.”
CHSAA does not have the authority to interpret or change CDPHE, local health departments or the governor's executive orders in regard to capacity limitations for sport arenas, gyms, pools, recreational facilities, ice rinks, classrooms, restaurants, theaters and so on.
Boys and girls wrestling regular season meets will be limited to four teams with 25 athletes in the competitive gym at one time. At the end of each match the official will instruct the winning wrestler to raise his or her hands while also raising his or her own hands with the same colored wrist band.
Adam Bright, the CHSAA commissioner who oversees wrestling, wrote in his Jan. 15 memo in the state wrestling bulletin that “a recent ranking system ranked our state tournament as third in the country. While this year will be different than those in recent memory, we will continue to work toward the goal of achieving that top ranking.”
Regional tournaments on March 5-6 will be divided into two days with certain weights wrestling each day. The top two boys in each weight class in the four regionals will advance to state while the top four girls in the two regionals will earn a ticket to state.
The 4A, 5A state tournament with eight-athlete brackets and a full consolation bracket will be held March 13 at a still-to-be-determined site.
Justin Saylor is the assistant commissioner who manages hockey and girls swimming.
“The upcoming season will present challenges we have not had to face during any point in our careers,” he said in his bulletin memo. “Collectively, we will overcome these challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and be better for it on the other side. I look forward to working with all the coaches, administrators and officials throughout the year.”
Hockey will have another class with 4A being added. There will be a 13-game maximum regular season and a team must play 12 of the 13 games against a league opponent. There will be 20 participants per team allowed.
There will be a four-team bracket for the 4A and 5A state tournaments and each league will have one automatic qualifier with the fourth team being an at-large selection.
Girls swimming will have a seven-meet maximum plus the league meets. CHSAA was granted a variance allowing 50 total participants for all teams.
The state meets schedule finds 5A teams competing on March 11, 4A on March 12 and 3A on March 13.
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