The Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors asked state health officials last Thursday to allow spring sports athletes to compete outdoors without wearing a mask.
The recommendation by the league’s sports medicine advisory committee applies only to actual competition. Athletes would be required to wear masks during breaks such as before and after races and while sitting in the dugout or standing on the sidelines.
“It is critical for our member schools and participants to recognize that the state requirements and our guidance to member schools has not changed,” League Executive Director Erich Martens said. “Yet, we appreciate the review and subsequent position of our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee on this important issue. We hope to work collaboratively with the Minnesota Department of Health to modify their guidance on the wearing of masks in our outdoor competitions.”
The Minnesota State High School League’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee unanimously approved the following position regarding the wearing of masks in outdoor sports during spring competition to the Board of Directors:
• In all outdoor sports, masks are required to be worn properly at all times, except during the times when a student-athlete is actually competing.
• Student-athletes must continue to wear a mask until the competition is about to begin at which time they may remove their mask as they enter the competition surface or are at the start of a race.
• Masks must be replaced, and worn at all times, immediately following the competition and during all breaks in competition (ie: entering the dugout between innings, leaving the track at the conclusion of a race, returning to the bench area, etc.)
The plan would have to be approved by the MDH.
Spring state tournaments
In its approval of spring state tournaments, the Board of Directors supported a postseason plan that includes dates, locations and formats. Locations and dates for selected tournaments are still to be determined.
Speech begins the spring state tournament run on April 23 and the culminating event is Clay Target on June 25. In a nine-day stretch that begins on June 9, there will be state tournament events in Boys Tennis, Boys and Girls Golf, Softball, Boys and Girls Track and Field, and Boys and Girls Lacrosse before concluding with the Baseball Championship Series at Target Field on June 18.
In creating a framework of culminating postseason events, League Staff consulted the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, activities advisories, region secretaries, tournament managers and member schools.
“Calendars for our spring sports have been adopted by the board of directors and League Staff may now continue to work toward a culminating state tournament experience for all spring activities,” said Board President Blaine Novak, superintendent of schools in New York Mills. “We look forward to providing a rich and rewarding postseason experience for all member schools.”
State tournament schedules for spring sports include:
• Speech- The event will be conducted in a virtual format. Class AA will compete on Friday, April 23 and Class A will compete on Saturday, April 24.
• Adapted Bowling- Will be held in a virtual format the weeks of May 10 and 17 at home sites.
• Robotics- The modified competition this year will include completing a series of timed tasks with their robot and submitting video. Qualifiers will be selected based on their placement in FIRST’s At-Home Challenge and will be announced on April 18. Teams have until May 22 to enter their submissions for the Minnesota-specific challenge. An awards presentation show will be shown on a virtual platform on May 29.
• Adapted Softball- On the recommendation of the Minnesota Adapted Athletics Association, no state tournament will be held. A regular season will be conducted with the last day of competition on Saturday, May 29.
• Boys Tennis- Class A and Class AA: State Preliminaries Team and Individual: Wednesday, June 9, Class A and Class AA: State Team Semifinals and Finals: Monday, June 14, Class A and Class AA: State Individual Quarterfinal, Semifinals and Finals: Tuesday, June 15, Locations TBA.
• Golf- A two-day event in each of the three classifications scheduled is for June 15 and 16. Class A, Pebble Creek (Becker); Class AA, Ridges at Sand Creek (Jordan); Class AAA, Bunker Hills (Coon Rapids).
• Softball- The two-day, four-class event is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, June 15-16 at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
• Track and Field- The state meet is scheduled for June 17-19 at sites to be determined.
• Baseball- Locations and times for state quarterfinals and semifinals are to be determined. The Championship Series at Target Field is scheduled for Friday, June 18 with a rain makeup date of Saturday, June 19.
• Lacrosse- State tournament dates are Tuesday, June 15; Thursday, June 17 and Saturday, June 19 with locations to be determined.
• Clay Target- Qualifying will be completed by Saturday, June 19. The state tournament is scheduled for Friday, June 25 at the Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake. A weather makeup date is Saturday, June 26.
The approved state tournaments focus on providing championships that maintain health and safety, provide spectator access, demonstrate financial responsibility and create memorable tournament experiences.
After approving the placement of member schools into Administrative Regions, the Board of Directors turned its attention to Competitive Section Placements. Teams are placed into a competitive section based on geography, numerical balance and calculated League enrollment.
These placements are reviewed by the League Director in each sport or activity, then reviewed by Region Secretaries, and then forwarded to the AD Advisory Committee for recommendation. The Executive Committee provides the final review of these placements and provides the Board of Directors with their approved placements.
“The arduous process of administrative region placement and competitive section assignment is complete and approved by the board,” Novak said. “I want to acknowledge the work of all League Staff, as well as the AD Advisory, and the executive committee for their work in finalizing these competitive section placements.”
The Board of Directors approved the Competitive Section Placements, effective with the 2021-2022 school year.
Prior, the Board of Directors approved Administrative Region Assignments, placements that are based on a member school’s enrollment and geographic location.
NY Mills will remain in Section 6A for most sports, however, that section was shifted more south in some sports like baseball, softball and basketball.
In basketball, Section 6A will now include Breckenridge, Kerkhoven-Murduck-Sunburg, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and Benson, while no longer including teams further north of NY Mills like Mahnomen/Waubun.
In girls basketball the section also shifts south, but Ada-Borup West will remain in the section, but Mahnomen/Waubun will leave. Benson, Breckenridge, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunberg will also be joining the section moving forward.