Marawood fall sports a go
Straford football likely to have a fall CWC season
By Casey Krautkramer
The Marawood Conference will attempt to play its fall sports seasons now, in the midst of COVID-19, instead of cramming them in next spring.
Marawood Conference commissioner Mark Lacke of Edgar conducted Zoom meetings early this week with administration from the 12-member conference schools. He said the schools decided to try holding the high school cross country, football and volleyball seasons this fall.
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) met on Fri- day and approved to allow each school district or conference to decide whether it wanted to play fall sports now or next spring. The WIAA allowed high school cross country team practices to begin on Monday, while football and volleyball squads can start practicing on Monday, Sept. 7.
WIAA officials agreed football games could only be played after Wednesday, Sept. 23. Lacke said all football non-conference games are canceled this fall and football teams would only play a sevengame Marawood Conference schedule. The WIAA hasn’t decided whether they’ll be postseason tournaments for fall sports this year.
The following schools are in the realigned Marawood Conference for football only this season: Abbotsford, Auburndale, Athens, Colby, Edgar, Marathon, Owen-Withee and Thorp. Lacke said one of these schools is currently “on the fence” on whether it wants to have a football season.
Stratford’s football team is playing in the Central Wisconsin Conference Large (CWC) this season. Travis Grubbs, Stratford athletic director, said the CWC would hold a football season this fall instead of moving it to next spring. He and the other CWC athletic directors have already met, and the school district superintendents plan to meet soon.
“As of right now, the CWC has adjusted its football game schedule so that teams would play their scheduled conference games on weeks No. 6 through 9 and then move the week No. 3 through No. 5 games to the end of the regular season, but in the right order,” Grubbs said.
Lacke said the WIAA is allowing fall sports teams, whose seasons get cut short before the halfway point in their game schedules because of an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, to play the remainder of their games next spring.
“If a football team’s season ends after it plays three games, then it could play its remaining four games in spring,” Lacke said. “I don’t see our schools wanting to play the rest of their football games this spring, however, because student athletes will be finishing up their winter sports seasons and preparing for their traditional spring sports seasons.”
Edgar senior football player Kyle Brewster is elated he and his teammates have at least been given a chance to play their football season this fall.
“I’m very excited to put on the football helmet for my senior year,” Brewster said on Tuesday night. “After all the uncertainty with our current situation, it’s such a relief for not only me but my teammates to have a fall football season. This whole summer we’ve been working in the weight room and getting onto the field to prepare for whatever the WIAA decided. We just prepared like football was going to start its normal time unless we were told differently.”
Stratford senior Lauryn Nagel is also excited about the upcoming high school volleyball season.
“I think I speak for a lot of people when I say we miss sports, because it has brought our families and friends close and this exciting atmosphere to our lives, which is something I look forward to every day,” Nagel said on Wednesday. “I think it’s been proven it’s more than just a sport to some people; we saw that when our basketball team’s season got cut short last year and our baseball team didn’t have a spring season, and for that my heart goes out to the players on these teams.”
Lacke said he and the administration at Marawood Conference schools have not yet discussed the specifics on how cross country meets, volleyball matches and football games would be played this fall. Examples include whether student athletes in these sports would be required to wear masks and how to limit the number of people attending the sporting events.
He said cross country teams would likely have dual meets against another local team; invites would not be allowed this fall. Lacke said the annual Smiley Invite in Wausau, which has teams from around the state competing in it, is definitely not happening this year.
Lacke said one of the 12 Marawood Conference schools have opted out of playing a volleyball season this year, so the remaining schools would play 11 conference dual matches. He said volleyball teams wouldn’t be playing in weekend tournaments this season.
Now that Marawood Conference fall sports is happening, Lacke needs to revise the team cross country, football and volleyball regular-season schedules. He said it’ll take some time for him to get team schedules ready for the fall 2020-21 sports season.
Brewster and Nagel are ready to deal with whatever happens in their fall sports seasons this year, but at least they get to start them like usual.