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HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

Several winter sports approved to return; basketball, hockey must wait

Port Byron girls basketball 5.JPG

Port Byron's Rileigh Luste wrestles with Onondaga's Avianna Baker for a loose ball Feb. 17 in Port Byron.

There will be some high school sports this winter in New York state.

New York State Public High School Athletic Association officials confirmed Monday evening that, after consultation with state officials, several low-risk interscholastic sports will be authorized for competition this winter, beginning Nov. 30. 

The low-risk sports that pertain to the Cayuga County area include swimming and diving, bowling, and indoor track and field. 

The announcement from the NYSPHSAA comes hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo's teleconference in which State Budget Director Robert Mujica, who has been the voice for high school sports protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, said the state is "not inclined to go ahead with opening winter sports at this time," due to rising infection rates in New York state. 

Under the current protocols, high-risk winter sports (sports that feature intentional physical contact, like basketball, ice hockey and wrestling) are allowed to conduct skill-based drills and conditioning, but cannot play games or scrimmage. 

“At this time, authorization has not been provided for high risk sports to begin play. The high-risk sports start date continues to be examined and will be revised if needed but is contingent upon authorization from state officials,” the NYSPHSAA said in a statement.

While the NYSPHSAA's announcement Monday is a positive one, it may not drastically alter what is available to Cayuga County-area student-athetes this winter. Section III, which incorporates Cayuga County-area schools Auburn, Cato-Meridian, Jordan-Elbridge, Port Byron, Skaneateles and Weedsport, announced last week its decision to postpone the indoor track and field season due to lack of available facilities. Most of Section III's indoor track meets are held at Onondaga Community College's SRC Arena, which is currently off limits. 

Section III also announced last week it was altering its winter sports calendar, bumping the start date to Dec. 14 and concluding Feb. 28.

Section IV, which includes Cayuga County schools Moravia, Southern Cayuga and Union Springs, decided against participating in fall sports, and there has been no formal announcement from section leaders whether any winter sports will be permitted. 

For Cayuga County-area schools that opted in for fall sports, there have been several hiccups that have forced postponements or cancellations.

Last week, Auburn canceled its remaining varsity and junior varsity boys soccer games after a member of the program tested positive for COVID-19, forcing all other student-athletes in the program to quarantine for two weeks. Jordan-Elbridge and Skaneateles have also postponed athletic competition, to varying degrees, after someone in the high school had a positive test. 

Over the weekend, the Cayuga County Health Department reported that two people — one student-athlete and one spectator — that attended a cross country meet Saturday at Jordan-Elbridge High School tested positive for COVID-19. Four schools — Jordan-Elbridge, Skaneateles, Weedsport and Christian Brothers Academy — competed at the meet. The overall event included boys and girls races for the varsity and modified levels.

Sports reporter Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at justin.ritzel@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.

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Sports Reporter

Justin Ritzel is a sports reporter for The Citizen. Justin has been covering high school sports and minor league baseball in Cayuga County since 2015.

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