High school sports update for Anchorage and the Mat-su

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 11:12 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The holiday break is over and students are getting ready to go back to school, but when will they be back on the courts and fields? That is the question that student-athletes across the state are asking. At this moment nothing is certain especially in Anchorage where Emergency Order 17 restricts indoor competitions. However, hopes are high in the Municipality of Anchorage and in the valley.

Palmer High School Athletic Director Dale Ewart said he is just excited to get going. “Just the possibility of getting back to normal really, I mean we are excited to get sports going again and get some activities going for kids. we are starting out pretty precautions as far as limiting our fans and mask-wearing for our athletes, and just doing in district stuff but hopefully in February and March we will have the opportunity to travel again,” he said.

In Anchorage, according to Marty Lang, Anchorage School District Director of Secondary Education, the return to competition starts this weekend. Cross country skiing will hold a meet at Kincaid. The schools that will be participating are all in the district to limit travel. Masks will be worn at all times and they are also holding the event in a “duel” format so that there isn’t a massive gathering of athletes: just two teams at a time. Spectators for skiing will not be allowed; it will be drop-off/pick-up only.

Basketball is to return to practice next week and will be practice-only for the foreseeable future until cases continue to decrease. Cheer is also starting next week with competitions to come as the city mandates allow. As for wrestling, the season has been pushed to start in March, which will make for an interesting season for wrestlers.

Lang said, “The emergency order delineates between indoor and outdoor competitions so practices are allowed both indoors and outdoors, outdoors competitions are allowed but indoor competitions are currently on hold until conditions in the municipality change.”

The situation looks different based on the Mat-Su’s mandates, but largely is the same, the biggest difference being that they can have indoor competitions. Hockey tryouts start this week to start their very condensed season that will be ending on Feb. 20. Basketball and cheer are both set to start next week and, just like in Anchorage, their first skiing competition is taking place this weekend. The wrestling season in the valley has also been pushed until mid-March.

Before the holiday break in the valley, the mitigation plan called for all athletes to be wearing a mask at all times, including during competition. However, after the break, that was relaxed, now masks are only required while on the sidelines. As for fans in the stands at games in the Mat-Su, athletes will be allowed two to three tickets each so that their families can attend; all games will also be livestreamed.

All of these dates as with the rest of the pandemic are subject to change, the situation is fluid at this moment. However, both Ewart and Lang both echoed the fact that they learned a great deal from what took place during the fall. So if cases start to rise again they will be better prepared to manage the situation.

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