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OSAA relaxes restrictions on indoor sports; championships for spring sports in the works


April 28, 2021

Despite rising COVID numbers in Oregon, state school sports officials are opting to let kids play.

The OSAA tweeted last week that it had decided to allow resumption of indoor full-contact sports, effective Friday, April 23.

That means basketball and wrestling, which both fit that category, will be good to go when Season 4, the six-week season for winter sports, kicks off May 10.

“That’s great news for us,” said Sweet Home Athletic Director Nate Tyler. “We’re opting in. Wrestling and basketball are going to be a go for us.”

Tyler noted that even if Linn County returns to “Extreme” risk, as reported COVID case numbers rise, sports will be able to continue.

He said there have been no “flare-ups” since Sweet Home returned to regular high school athletics in late February, since in-person school resumed for high school students in March and five-day-a-week in-classroom instruction started April 19.

“We’ve had kids test positive, but we’ve had no cases of kids getting COVID at school or school events,” Tyler said.

What the COVID rules mean for spectators remains to be seen if case rates continue to rise, he said.

“There’s no other guidance around that,” Tyler said. “It could be absolutely no spectators. I don’t know.”

Wrestling Coach Steve Thorpe, who also heads the state wrestling federation and sits on the national USA Wrestling board, said “a wide variety of organizations” have lobbied for lifting the restrictive rules that shut down interscholastic athletics for most of the last year.

He noted that winter sports athletes and coaches, particularly in wrestling and basketball, have had to leave the state to compete.

“(Former Sweet Home Football Coach) Rob Younger, director of the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association, probably worked harder than anybody I’ve ever seen on something like this,” Thorpe said. “A lot of credit goes to the work that he and the Oregon Association of Athletic Officials have done.”

Thorpe also credited OSAA officials who, he said, “have worked very hard to create opportunities for kids, but have been held at bay by what the governor decides could be done in Oregon.”

“They helped OHA see that mental health and physical health take priority over the small chance that somebody of this age can get COVID.”

Tyler said one challenge of the short six-week season will be getting all the league basketball games in: It will be necessary for teams to play three games per week to get everything in. Also, he said, because of COVID restrictions, boys and girls will not play at the same location; games will be home and away to reduce the numbers of people involved.

Meanwhile, after some seat-of-the-pants efforts to create “Showcase” state championship meets for fall sports in Season 2, which ended earlier this month, eight-team baseball and softball championship tournaments are being organized in 4A ranks and end-of-season tournaments will be held for golf, and a championship meet for track and field, Jerry Ulmer of OSAA today, the organization’s news service, reported last week.

The fields for baseball and softball will be comprised of the No. 1 team from each of the six leagues in the 4A Division, and the two-highest No. 2 teams as determined by a committee.

The committee will release first rankings after the third week of the season, which started April 12, and final rankings on May 15.

First-round games in the double-elimination tournament would be played May 18, with semifinals on May 20 and trophy games on May 22.

Final games would be played at North Marion High School unless geographical considerations prevail, depending on where the teams hail from.

Siuslaw will host a state track meet May 21-22.

Trysting Tree Golf Club will host a state golf championship on May 17, with a possible second day to be added.


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