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Winter sports awaiting some clarity

CHSAA’s Blanford-Green hasn’t ruled out another delay but talks are fluid

Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Holy Family High School’s Blake Hammond (No. 5) and Cole Greany (No. 10) try to box out Centaurus High School’s Owen Koonce (No. 11) in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

If the makeshift fall season can finish on schedule with only two weeks left in football, then the high school athletics calendar can officially flip to a winter slate also coated in uncertainty.

When reached out for comment on where the winter season stands with COVID-19 numbers across the state and nation on the rise, CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said via email the association has submitted its statewide safety implementation plan for the sports currently scheduled to start Jan. 4.

And while an additional push back wasn’t ruled out for CHSAA’s “Season B” sports — which includes basketball, ice hockey, skiing, spirit, girls swimming and wrestling — talks appear to be fluid.

“The recent statewide resurgence has definitely caused more scrutiny for a (Jan. 4) resumption by state, educational and health authorities,” Blanford-Green said. “We will continue to work collaboratively and closely with all entities in the next few weeks to determine how, when and what that may look like moving forward. The calendar as approved has afforded us time to plan around any delays.”

For now, those coaches and players remain in flux.

At Broomfield High School, boys basketball coach Terrence Dunn said his team practices have been shelved due to county and district mandates revolving around the steep rise in COVID-19 cases.

Until earlier this month, his team had been allowed to practice a couple times a week under strict guidelines. But since then they’ve been told to stop all team activities until further notice.

“We’ve been told by the school districts that we can’t have any workouts and we can’t encourage kids to work out in groups of their own,” Dunn said. “It’s really up to kids to get some work in on their own. We’re completely hands off right now.”

In past years, winter sport programs were able to meet for an allotted time prior to the season, gradually building into five days a week. And for a while, even in this social distancing climate, teams across the state were getting work in until the numbers spiked across Colorado in late October.

Now, any decision regarding when teams can meet appears to be based off state as well as individual county and school district mandates.

“You almost have to play it by ear,” said Longmont wrestling coach Matt Engelking, whose team had been allowed to practice with limited contact before it was halted weeks ago. “You do the two practices and when they say you can open up and do more, you do more. And you’re hoping by Jan. 4 you go full-tilt. As of now, it’s zero, which is rough.”

Even with the rise in numbers, the state’s football scene has managed to stay afloat. The sport’s fall fate was only greenlit in September after Gov. Jared Polis approved CHSAA’s variances. But even then it’s been nothing close to smooth sailing with a number of cancellations due to COVID-19.

The program at Mead, in fact, had qualified for the Class 3A postseason, but shortly after had to forfeit due to exposure inside the program.

As of the beginning of this week per the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, there had been over 202,000 reported cases in the state, ranging across all 64 counties.