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High School Sports: Postseason competition plan is finalized

Cross-country, tennis, soccer and swimming will all have section playoffs, though no state tournaments=

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Willmar's Ava Brogren swims the breaststroke portion of the 200-yard individual medley in a non-conference meet Sept. 10 against Bemidji at Willmar High School. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

BROOKLYN CENTER — Everybody currently competing in a fall high school sport is going to have a postseason.

How it happens will be very different for girls swimming and diving and girls tennis.

That was some of the news Monday at the Minnesota State High School League’s special virtual meeting of its board of directors via on-line conference call.

While moving football and volleyball back to the fall was the major news, the board also finalized plans for the six sports currently playing.

All six will play through section competition. No state tournaments are planned.

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Girls tennis, at least the team portion of it, will have a similar feel as previous years. Soccer largely will be unchanged, except for the 250-person capacity at events mandated by the state.

Girls tennis will not have individual singles and doubles tournaments this year.

Those sports began practice Aug. 17 and have seen their seasons cut by about 20 percent, as well as many modifications in terms of travel, crowd size and following Minnesota Department of Health protocols for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

State tournaments were not budgeted this year because of the uncertainty of being able to have them, said MSHSL executive director Erich Martens. Many college facilities are closed and the ability to use places like U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis was not possible.

Here’s a look, by sport, how things will go in the coming weeks:

Cross-Country

Cross-country will have section meets the week of Oct. 12. They will be conducted over two days, if necessary.

Teams in each section will be divided into four-team pods with six athletes allowed to compete per team. That’s one less than the regular season, when seven runners are entered for varsity meets.

It’s also one more team than has been allowed this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. Because there is no junior varsity, the high school league decided that 24 athletes running at a time is safe.

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After one group of 24 competes, the next group runs and so on until every team in the section competes.

Times will be kept and compiled to determine team and individual champions.

Section representatives will decide how the four-team pods will be determined. Seeding is a possibility. It’s also possible that boys would run one day and girls would run another.

Or, if travel is an issue, teams would have boys run in one race and girls in another. Social-distancing rules would remain intact, meaning teams and their up to 250 fans would leave for the next group to come in.

Willmar competes in Section 8AA.

Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Litchfield, Minnewaska, Morris/Chokio-Alberta, New London-Spicer and Paynesville run in 6A.

Section 3A includes BOLD/Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd, MACCRAY/Renville County West, Montevideo and Yellow Medicine East.

Girls Tennis

In Class A, 64 teams in eight sections will compete over eight days. There will be no individual competition. In Class A, there are 15-17 teams per section.

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The first round of team playoffs begins the week of Oct. 5 and will be in dual-meet format with the high seed as host. No more than two rounds will be played per week with section championships completed by Oct. 17. All matches will be played outdoors.

There is a possibility of consolation competition within sections.

Area teams expected to compete include Willmar in Section 8AA and Benson/KMS, Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd, Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta/West Central Area, MACCRAY, Minnewaska, Montevideo and Yellow Medicine East in Section 6A.

Section 5A includes Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and New London-Spicer.

Litchfield competes in Section 3A.

Litchfield, New London-Spicer and Minnewaska all competed in last year’s state tournament.

Soccer

Boys and girls soccer playoffs being Oct. 12-13. The next round would be Oct. 14-17 with the week of Oct. 19 for section finals.

High seeds will host throughout the tournament.

In boys soccer, Willmar competes in Section 6A, as does Central Minnesota Christian.

Section 8A includes the Minnewaska boys team.

In girls soccer, Willmar is in 6A.

Girls Swimming

Section competition will take place over two days at multiple sites during the week of Oct. 19. Diving will be separate from swimming. The maximum number of teams competing at one team will be four. Teams will have four entries per event. Once a session is completed, that group will leave to make way for the next group. Times will be tabulated and combined via computer to determine winners.

As in the regular season, no spectators will be admitted. Teams will be limited to three coaches and no student managers. Athletes will be asked to leave the pool deck area after competing.

Willmar, Litchfield and Montevideo compete in Section 3A.

The Morris/Minnewaska Gators, which is a co-op that also includes athletes from Hancock and Benson, compete in Section 6A.

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