MHSAA sets schedule to conclude fall sports

NILES — Following a meeting of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Representative Council, and the announcement by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that the state would resume in-person learning on Jan. 4, the MHSAA has released its schedule to conclude the fall sports season.

The remaining schools left in the state tournaments can resume practice on Monday.

The MHSAA also announced that the remaining teams in volleyball, girls swimming and diving, as well as, 8- and 11-man football would be a part of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ pilot rapid testing program designed to gain insight and collect data on the spread of COVID-19. The MDHHS is planning to expand rapid testing availability to schools in January.

According to Michigan High School Athletic Association Executive Director Mark Uyl, the MDHHS approached them about using the testing program. All costs would be covered by the state.

Robert Gordon, MDHHS director, the testing will begin when teams resume practice on Monday.

“We will also be offering a new pilot program for fall sports, including contact sports, that use antigen tests in order to ensure safety as students complete high school fall championships,” Gordon said. “This is a very limited number of schools that had seasons interrupted.”

The results will be used to help the MDHHS decide how the tests can be used when schools reopen in January, as well as how to keep them open moving forward.

“This will be a chance to do two things: It will let students complete a season that is, of course, very important to them. And it will let schools and the state of Michigan work together to learn how we can use antigen tests to encourage safe reopening in January,” Gordon said.

Uyl was pleased that the state would get a chance to wrap up the fall sports season.

“We are still processing some of the information that was not only part of the press conference, but part of the updated orders that become effective on Monday,” Uyl said. “The biggest thing that impacts the MHSAA is certainly the new MDHHS pilot testing program. We learned about this earlier today. What this is going to allow to have happen, is our three fall sports which have all been on pause, which included volleyball, girls swimming and diving, and football, to be able to resume with practices starting next week.”

He added that it would allow the athletes to have closer on their fall seasons. Those seasons will be wrapped up over the next 29 days.

The 8- and 11-man football playoffs resume with the semifinals and regional champions round respectively on Jan. 2. The 8-man finals will be played on Jan. 9 at a site yet to be determined. The 11-man semifinals will be played at home sites on Jan. 9, with the championships being decided the weekend of Jan. 15-16. That site will also be announced at a later date by the MHSAA.

Edwardsburg is scheduled to host Grand Rapids South Christian in the Division 4 Regional championship game.

The state volleyball tournament will resume with the quarterfinals on Jan. 5. The semifinals and finals will be played at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek Jan. 7-9.

Edwardsburg is scheduled to play No. 1-ranked Grand Rapids Christian at Three Rivers High School. A time has yet to be determined.

All three sports will continue to practice and compete under the safety guidelines the MHSAA issued prior to the start of their seasons.

It was also announced that no spectators would be allowed for the remainder of the playoffs.

Winter sports, which are currently not part of the rapid testing program, will begin practice on Dec. 21. No date has been set for when competition would begin, but Uyl stressed that the state is still set on having three full and meaningful seasons. He also expects the spring sports season to begin and end on time.

This is a developing story. Check leaderpub.com for further updates, including the reaction of Edwardsburg volleyball coach Nikki Bush and Eddies’ football coach Kevin Bartz.

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