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High school spring sports season further delayed, but not canceled

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The La Grande softball team celebrates a home run hit by Jayce Seavert (1) during the state semifinals last year. OSAA announced Wednesday it is further delaying the 2020 spring season in conjunction with the Oregon school closure, which runs through April 28, but it left the door open that a shortened season could be played.

WILSONVILLE — A day after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown extended the closure of Oregon’s schools through April 28 in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Oregon School Activities Association adopted the same timeline, as late Wednesday it announced all practices and contests are now suspended through April 28.

Two of OSAA’s activities, the state speech championships and the solo music state championships, have been canceled, as they had dates set for late April or early May.

The governing board of Oregon high schools sports, though, left the door open for an abbreviated spring sports season.

If practices were to resume April 29, and games shortly after, it would result in a sports season of about 2-1/2 weeks for golf (state championships are slated for May 18-19), three weeks for tennis (May 22-23), four for track and field (May 29-30), and five for baseball and softball (June 5-6).

Peter Weber, executive director for OSAA, told The Observer on Wednesday afternoon the dates of those championship competitions played into the decision to try to salvage the season, even if it is shortened.

“We feel like those events are far enough out that there is a possibility they could take place,” Weber said.

The OSAA Executive Board is scheduled to meet April 1 and April 15, and by then the members will have a better idea of the outlook for the spring.

If teams were to resume practice April 29, the outcome could be for some of the sports — like golf, Weber said — to have just a district tournament and the state tournament.

Sports such as baseball and softball, though, would still need some form of a season to determine who makes the playoffs.

“Baseball (and) softball, I’m not sure how that would work with no regular season,” Weber said. “It would certainly be truncated.”

He added adjusting the dates of championship events could be on the table too.

“That’s a potential consideration, (though) there could be some venue constraints,” Weber said. “There are a lot of things on the table depending on how things shake out,” he said. “I don’t know how far we would go. We’re already going into early June.”

In the release, OSAA also announced the track and field championships, should they take place, would be moved from Hayward Field in Eugene “due to construction timelines” for the completion of the University of Oregon’s new track venue. Like they were a year ago, Classes 1A, 2A and 3A would be held at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, and 4A, 5A and 6A would be at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.

Weber said the delay in construction at Hayward was not related to the coronavirus.

“It was going to be hampered anyway,” he said. “Ultimately with them trying to get ready for the Olympic Trials, it was not going to work out this year.”

East Region Sports Editor

Ronald's primary beats are Eastern Oregon University, La Grande High School and the other eight high schools of Union and Wallowa counties. As an avid sports fan, he is primarily reading about or watching sports when he isn't covering a game.

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