High School Sports

School closures puts halt on local athletics

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All three Montgomery County schools will be closed until March 30, while Fountain Central will not resume classes until April 13.

This puts a damper on the outlook of spring sports in the area, and while the situation surrounding the response to COVID-19 remains fluid, local athletic directors are hopeful they will be able to salvage at least a portion of the spring sports schedule.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association announced Friday that they have postponed the boys’ basketball state tournament, but the gymnastics state finals set for Saturday at Ball State University will still happen, but without fans. This does not directly affect any local athletes, but does put the history-making seasons of Covington and Parke Heritage boys’ basketball at least on hold, if not canceled all together. That still remains undetermined at this time.

With the Mustangs not returning to school until at least April 13, Fountain Central athletic director Jason Good told the Journal Review that the only decision made at this time is the cancellation of all Mustang athletic events through April 13. No practices will be allowed to take place until they return to school, and any decisions on the schedules of baseball, softball, girls’ tennis, boys’ golf, and track and field will be made at a later date.

Crawfordsville athletic director Bryce Barton has been proactive by letting his coaches know where things stand.

“I sent an email to my coaches saying how many practices they will need to have before they can play a game upon returning to school on March 30,” he said.

On Friday the IHSAA released a statement stating that regular season contests are conducted at the descretion of all member schools. It also states that once students return to school, all provisions of Rule 9-14 — ‘practice attendance to participate in a contest shall be enforced,’ will not be waved.

This requires at least 10 practices before participating in an event. While track and field and softball have started their seasons, baseball, golf, and tennis aren’t slated to start until next week.

Barton agrees on adhering to the rule, putting the safety of the athletes first, despite the possibility of canceling events.

“The kids will be away from the sport and need to get back in shape,” he said. “We will not push them past their limits.”

Barton also believes that if school has resumed, there will not be an in issue in hosting athletic events, even if the rule of 250 people maximum for an event is still in place.

The Crawfordsville AD says that if games are forced to be canceled rather than postponed, that conference games will take priority, and solutions are in the works to do what they can to make sure athletic teams will see the field at some point this spring if possible.

“I made it pretty clear (to Crawfordsville coaches) that it’s going to be pretty hard to play the number of contests allowable,” he added.

The IHSAA allows a maximum of 28 baseball and softball games, 22 tennis matches, 16 track and field meets, and 18 golf matches. The earliest a softball contest could take place is March 23, with baseball, golf, and tennis slated for March 30, according to the 2019-20 IHSAA Calendar.

The earliest Montgomery County schools will be allowed to compete in softball will be Monday April 6, assuming six practices are held Monday-Saturday upon returning to school on March 30. Baseball, tennis, and golf will start on Monday, April 13 at the earliest. Crawfordsville, North Montgomery and Southmont were suppose to open the track and field season on Friday night with an indoor meet at Wabash College, but that was canceled on Thursday. Outside of track and field, no Montgomery County school had an event scheduled until the week upon returning from spring break. Those schedules will be altered as necessary.

North Montgomery athletic director Matt Merica released a statement on Friday following the decision to close school through the conclusion of spring break, which is scheduled for March 23-27.

“Effective at the end of the school day today, March 13, North Montgomery High School will be closed and students will return on March 30. During this time, all practices, contests, workouts, meetings, banquets and other activities previously scheduled are canceled. Athletes will not be allowed to use school facilities until we return to school. Once we return to school, athletes must complete 10 separate days of practice before they can compete in a contest. With that being said, there will be contests postponed or canceled. An accurate schedule for each spring team will be established once we return to school. Coaches may still communicate with athletes to provide information during the school closure. Please me safe and I hope to see everyone back at North Montgomery.”

Barton released a similar statement on behalf of the Crawfordsville athletic department, and said a new updated schedule will be released to the community as soon as they are able.

Keep in mind that like Fountain Central, many school districts may not resume school until a later date, which could further postpone or cancel athletic events involving Montgomery County teams.

The Southmont athletic department and athletic director Aaron Charles released a statement saying many of the same things, including making sure people are aware that at this time the IHSAA plans to stage all spring tournament series at this thime, and that Southmont will adjust schedules as necessary once returning to school on March 30.

This story will be updated as more information is made available.

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