Wednesday news…….

Good Wednesday morning. A lot to get to this morning. Everything this morning pertains to COVID-19, the high school sports season restart here in Washington, and how it impacts Mount Si High School.

So we’ll begin with some news from Wildcat football. The Washington Interscholastic Activities’ Association’s sports restart plan that they adopted at their board meeting last week pushed the high school football season back to next spring, and that created a potential problem for senior athletes all over the state planning on graduating high school early to join their college programs for their spring season next year. Mount Si had two, perhaps three, in that category, all key names, too, in Clay Millen, Andrew Edson and perhaps Cole Norah. Well, the Wildcats and their fans can breathe a sign of relief as Millen and Edson have made their decisions, and both are good news for Mount Si.

Our friends at SBLIveWA reported yesterday that Millen and Edson have decided to delay their early college enrollments and they will play the spring season for the Wildcats. Millen, who will sign with the University of Arizona in December, and Edson, set to sign with Washington State University as well at that same time after both verbally committed to play with their respective schools in the spring, both are high achievers academically, putting them in this very enviable position. Norah, too, is a high academic achiever, but he as of yet has not verbally committed to a school so for him to go this route he would need to verbal somewhere then sign during the early signing period in December provided that occurs this year. So the chances are likely he too will also play in the spring for MSHS.

The issue of athletes, such as these two or other seniors around the state planning early college entrance, transferring in order to keep those plans on track has been a focal concern of some since the announcement was made last week. We have more on that in a moment.

More changes for high school sports in Washington
The WIAA continued to work on the new season schedules yesterday, approving several changes at another board meeting.

Chief among these are a pair addressing sports in the traditional fall schedule which were not moved to spring at last week’s meeting. Both of these impact Mount Si. First, girls’ swimming was moved to the spring and secondly, cross country was given clearance to have alternate season schedules – they can continue as is now or move to the spring (which is expected for Mount Si as most Kingco Conference districts have gone to full remote learning). The girls’ swim change was expected; the association had indicated that the inclusion of the sport in the traditional fall schedule was going to be predicated on state approval, but with Gov. Jay Inslee putting an indefinite hold on counties advancing in the state COVID-19 restart plan to higher phases yesterday, that pretty much threw that plan out the window. So off to the spring goes Wildcat girls’ swimming.

As for cross country, this change was adopted to reflect the number of larger districts – including Riverview schools and several other districts in the Kingco Conference – which have decided to start the year with full remote learning. It is expected that most districts who adopt this approach will at least move through their first academic quarter, out to around October 15 or so, in this fashion, but it is likely any district that starts the year this way will end up going through at least the holiday break as many districts are likely waiting for a vaccine before allowing full in-person instruction. As for Snoqualmie Valley schools, district officials are still working on their plans. They have been polling both parents and staff and are expected to announce a decision in the next couple of weeks.

The WIAA also adjusted schedules for all sports, reducing allowable contests by 30%, so for a sport with a 20-game schedule, such as basketball or baseball, that reduces their total number of games by a half-dozen, making it more likely that both Mount Si and Cedarcrest High Schools will be playing league-only schedules this school year. Further, the start for football in the new spring calendar was moved up to February 17. This will impact basketball and wrestling programs at both schools and could cause reduced turnout for both sports at both schools, especially Cedarcrest. The practice period for basketball, wrestling, gymnastics and other winter sports will begin on December 28 with the season starting and ending one week earlier than had been approved last week. Coaching season limitations were also adopted, with football allowed 20 practices this fall as per state guidance.

Rounding it out, competitive cheer, a sport Mount Si participates in, was slated as a winter sport but was moved into the new spring season at the request of sport administrators.

Additional changes are expected as the conditions on the ground related to the spread of the virus continue to change. These changes, along with the uncertainty that still lingers, especially after WIAA’s outgoing Executive Board head Greg Whitmore admitted in an interview with KOMO-TV’s Femi Abefefe this week that the organization has no backup plan in place should they not be able to restart in January as planned, could continue to fuel discussion by athletes and families of possible out-of-state transfers. There was a big development on that front yesterday that could impact athletes from many Western states, including Washington, set to delay or perhaps cancel high school sports all together in 2020-21 should conditions not improve.

Utah officials double down on normal fall high school sports start
Officials with the Utah High School Activities Association, that state’s high school sports governing body, re-affirmed yesterday at a meeting of that organization at its offices in the Salt Lake City suburb of Midvale their plans to start a normal high school sports fall season, including football. The association voted earlier this month to proceed with that plan, and with states such as Washington, California, Nevada and potentially Oregon and Arizona contemplating season start delays in some or all sports, Utah is likely now to become a choice destination for athletes exploring potential transfer options.

That state’s COVID restart plan is divided into three phases – green, yellow and orange – and high school sports there will restart in accordance with both those guidelines and other safe start regulations as adopted by other relevant organizations.

It is not clear how much this will impact Washington athletes – Millen, Edson and Kennedy Catholic’s Sam Huard all have now announced delayed college enrollment to play football for their Washington high schools in the spring, which is likely to cause others to follow in that direction – but the option is still a very significant one for athletes and their families to pursue, especially as the Washington association at its meeting yesterday did not adopt any sort of emergency rules regarding that transfer issue dealing with so-called potential “double-dipping”, that being athletes leaving to play in states such as Utah in the fall then returning to compete in Washington in the new spring season.

As we have discussed, the categories of athletes likely to make the leap remain seniors expected to graduate high school early and start college in the spring and those with families in an open state such as Utah who can move in temporarily with those family members in that state in order to play. This remains the case, but with other issues in the news now likely to potentially influence families’ exits from Washington, perhaps permanently, and you know what those are, this is a subject that is expected to continue to be on the back of people’s minds for the next little while. If we hear any additional news on this front concerning Valley high schools, we’ll let you know.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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