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Spring sports on hold, hoops tourneys come to an abrupt end

As a result of Gov. Tony Evers’ executive order issued Friday to close all public and private schools due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, all spring sports activities in Wisconsin schools are suspended until Monday, April 6 at the earliest.

The closures became mandatory statewide at the end of school day Wednesday. Consistent with Gov. Evers’ announcement, all school training, practices, scrimmages and contests are suspended. In addition, schools and coaches may not bring students together or be involved with students during this time period for any extracurricular or athletic purposes, which includes practices and other instructional/organizational purposes.

Coaches may provide individual workouts virtually, but shall not encourage or organize their team assembling to practice.

At the high school level, track and field were the only practices that were in progress at the time of the governor’s order Friday and some indoor meets had been scheduled around the area for this week. Those are all canceled.

Softball practices were scheduled to start Monday, March 16 statewide with games allowed to be played as early as Tuesday, March 24. Baseball and girls soccer practices were slated to start on Monday, March 23, boys tennis could have started on Monday, March 30 and boys golf has a late April 6 start date this year due to a state tournament scheduling conflict with University Ridge Golf Course in Madison.

If or when school and spring sports resume, each sport will have minimum numbers of practice days to reach before actual competition can take place.

The WIAA abruptly ended the winter tournament season just after 11 p.m. on March 12 in response to the evolving concerns over the spread of COVID-19. That decision ended the state girls basketball tournament in Green Bay two days early and ended the boys post-season tournament at the sectional final level, where state-qualifying teams would have been decided. The Rib Lake Redmen were one of the 40 teams affected. The 22-4 Redmen were set to face 19-7 Wabeno-Laona in Pulaski Saturday for a berth in the Division 5 state tournament.

“I want the student-athletes and their coaches to know that your school leaders, the WIAA Executive Staff, our committees and the Board of Control have done everything imaginable to try to provide and preserve these opportunities for you,” WIAA executive director Dave Anderson said in a statement Thursday. “However, we want and need to be responsible in helping the global and state efforts to stem the tide and spread of this virus.” Hours before the WIAA’s final decision, the organization was informed the Kohl Center would not be made available for the boys state tournament March 19-21. Sectional semifinal games that were played on March 12 were done so in front of limited audiences.

Anyone who had bought tickets to the WIAA girls and boys state basketball tournaments through the WIAA or host arena will be refunded in full. Allow staff time to make these refunds and contact the WIAA office only if you do not see a refund to your account within two weeks of the tournament.