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MHSAA suspends all sports for 3-plus weeks

Negaunee's Philip Nelson signals to his teammates while scoring a touchdown on a punt return in the second quarter of a high school football game against Manistique played at the Miners' field on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

EAST LANSING — The Michigan High School Athletic Association has suspended the rest of fall tournaments in sports that still had contests yet to play in accordance with an emergency order issued Sunday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The state agency said the order, which was announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration, was prompted by a continued resurgence in the number of coronavirus cases.

The sports impacted include football, which has three weeks remaining in the 11-player tournaments and two weeks left in eight-player.

Negaunee in Division 6 and Iron Mountain in Division 8 of 11-player and North Central in Division 2 of eight-player were the only Upper Peninsula teams still alive in the playoffs after Week 3 was held last weekend.

The MHSAA directive, which included a memorandum addressed to MHSAA-member athletic directors around the state, doesn’t mean tournament games won’t be played; for now, just not during the three weeks covered by the order issued by the MDHHS.

“The MHSAA will be exploring all options to complete these three remaining fall tournaments,” the MHSAA memo states on the MHSAA website, www.mhsaa.com.

Other fall sports with tourneys still continuing were volleyball and Lower Peninsula girls swimming and diving.

The state health agency’s order takes effect Wednesday and lasts three weeks, which would be until Dec. 8.

Though volleyball quarterfinals in four divisions are scheduled for Tuesday evening and the MDHHS order doesn’t take effect until Wednesday, the MHSAA has chosen to suspend those contests, too. U.P. teams still left in those tourneys are Calumet in Division 3 and Carney-Nadeau and Rudyard in Division 4.

In addition, the MHSAA said all winter practices and competitions scheduled to take place during the next three weeks have also been ordered suspended.

“… (D)iscussions will take place to revise winter sports plans that will include updated practice and competition calendars,” the MHSAA memo states. “Our goal since June remains unchanged as we will continue to plan for three sports seasons that can all be completed during the 2020-21 school year.”

Just about every MHSAA-sponsored winter sport is impacted by the suspension, including boys and girls basketball, hockey, wrestling, U.P. swimming and diving, gymnastics, boys and girls bowling, boys and girls downhill skiing and competitive cheer.

For instance, hockey teams have already been allowed to hold practices for two weeks and games were set to begin Monday.

Girls basketball has been able to practice for a week and the first games were set to tip off on Nov. 30; boys basketball had been OK’d to begin practice Monday with their first game Dec. 7.

Wrestling was also set to begin Monday with the first meets on Dec. 9, while U.P. swimmers had been in the pool for a week and could have their first meets this Saturday.

Gymnastics had been allowed to practice since Oct. 26 and could’ve had their first meet this past Saturday.

Skiing was also OK’d to practice Monday with the first meet Dec. 12, while bowling practices could start last week in the U.P. with the first meet Nov. 28.

And competitive cheer practice were allowed to practice all of last week with the first competition this Monday.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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