In the Eye of the COVID Storm

When the COVID19 pandemic hit the United States in full force – nearly everything was affected. When ‘everything’ included high school sports, State High School League media specialist John Millea became the public’s on-line window into the High School League’s every significant decision. The outbreak had the MSHL and Millea caught in the middle of a COVID storm.

March 11th was a day no one in athletics will forget.

“I will remember that forever,” Millea said. “The girls’ basketball tournament was going on, and on day one of the tournament, we started hearing rumblings that an NBA player had tested positive. I don’t remember thinking much of it – it is a Utah Jazz player- how is that going to affect us? That night, I got home, and I started seeing the NBA got shut down, and we started to see all these leagues get shut down. On day two of the girls’ tournament, I didn’t watch any basketball. I was in our tournament headquarters room at Williams Arena. We were on conference calls with the office, we were watching the news, and by the end of day two, the decision was made that we were going to keep the season going, but each team will get 100 fans because we didn’t know what COVID was. By Friday morning, the plug had been pulled. The girls’ tournament had been canceled. The boys’ basketball section tournament games that had not been played were not going to be played. That was like an earthquake. We had never seen anything like this. Not long after that, the spring season was canceled.”

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Minnesota Department of Education issues updated guidance on spectators for indoor events

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — Using information released today by the Minnesota Department of Education, the Minnesota State High School League updated member schools with information for spectators of indoor activities to align with the MDE guidance. Under the MDE revised guidance, two fans per participant will be allowed to attend indoor events. Prior to the updated guidance, no spectators were allowed.

The updated guidance is effective immediately, but member schools will determine implementation plans for their events. Member schools do have the option of implementing stricter guidelines.

MDE continues to stress that sporting events are high risk for COVID-19 transmission and are further high risk for activities that promote airborne particles of COVID-19.

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Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Report

With relief and optimism, I write this to inform you that we will have a wrestling season. On October 1st, the MSHSL Board of Directors passed a motion for the wrestling season to begin on November 30th. The efforts of many and the positive dialog promoting a safe return to wrestling were a significant factor in working with the MSHSL. A special thanks go out to all those who passionately support student-athletes and their opportunity to participate this season.

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MWCA Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame Honors Five at Banquet

On Saturday, October 3rd the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association held their Dave Bartelma Hall of Fame Banquet. The celebration, originally scheduled for May 2nd, was held in Benson, Minn. Attendance was considerably less than normal because of the current pandemic.

2020 inductees Dave Droegemueller, Loren Hacker, Dan Jinks, Don Kuusinen, and Brian “Buck” Lindberg were present and participated in the inductions. 2020 inductees who have opted to be part of the 2021 induction acceptance speeches are Brian Bakke, Tom Campanaro, Mark Costello, and Bob Mueller.

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A.M. “Sandy” Keith 1928-2020

Hall of Famer Alexander MacDonald “Sandy” Keith passed away on October 3rd. He was 91 years old.

Keith served as a Minnesota State Senator, Minnesota Lieutenant Governor, and Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Keith excelled as an athlete in football, wrestling, and baseball for Rochester High School. He placed third at 154 pounds at the 1946 Minnesota State Tournament. Keith played football and wrestled for four years at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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MSHSL Approves Winter Sports Plans

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — The remainder of the Minnesota State High School League’s activities calendar came into view today during the Board of Directors Meeting that was held in a virtual format.

After a presentation by the League’s Return to Participation Task Force, the Board of Directors approved a maximized winter activities season that trims 30 percent of the contest dates. By keeping the length of seasons generally intact, member schools will have the flexibility for rescheduling if contests are postponed because of COVID-19 related outbreaks or other interruptions. As part of the approval, members schools will have the opportunity to use the final two weeks of the season to make up contests if the postponements were weather or COVID related. Scrimmages and preseason jamborees are not allowed under the approved decision.

Waconia High School Activities Director Jill Johnson, a former board member and chair of the task force, said the approved plan also reduces the overlap in seasons, which benefits the start of spring seasons, thus, providing a full experience in these sports while minimizing exposure risks.

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