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As many high school athletes in the West wait for winter seasons to start, COVID-19 hasn’t stopped Utah athletes from competing

UHSAA officials are readying postseason tournament schedules, which is no small task during a pandemic

SHARE As many high school athletes in the West wait for winter seasons to start, COVID-19 hasn’t stopped Utah athletes from competing
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Fremont’s Dallin Hall and teammates celebrate their win over Davis in the 6A boys basketball championship game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. High school sports in Utah have had some hiccups because of the COVID-19 pandemic but have been able to be played, unlike in many other states.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

One of the highlights for many high school basketball teams in Utah is the week they spend in Las Vegas participating in a variety of pre-Christmas tournaments across the valley, most notably the Tarkanian Classic.

Those Nevada tournaments didn’t happen in 2020 for obvious reasons because of COVID-19, but also because winter high school sports in Nevada still haven’t been given the clearance to resume. The same goes for other Western states like California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and New Mexico.

With so many of their nearby peers missing out on high school athletic opportunities, winter sports athletes in Utah have had the luxury of a somewhat normal season over the past two months, which will continue into the postseason in the coming weeks.

“Just to be able to have tournaments at this juncture with the surrounding states not being able to play, in some regard, is a blessing.” — UHSAA executive director Rob Cuff.

“Just to be able to have tournaments at this juncture with the surrounding states not being able to play, in some regard, is a blessing,” said UHSAA executive director Rob Cuff.

Cuff said the UHSAA board of trustees essentially took a leap of faith back in the summer to give the green light to fall sports, which finished on time despite wrapping up in uncustomary venues on many occasions.

A similar leap of faith greenlighted the delayed start to the winter season back in early December, and despite hiccups with numerous teams going into two-week quarantines, the postseason has already arrived for several of those sports beginning this week.

“A lot of that credit goes to the Utah Department of Health and the governor’s office who have allowed us to pursue, and second of all and most importantly, our schools and their ability to adhere to some restrictions and guidelines and have been able through testing to keep this going,” said Cuff.

So while the schools and teams have spent the past two months juggling unprecedented mandates and restrictions to continue their seasons, behind the scenes the UHSAA has been working diligently to make sure those seasons will have a proper conclusion.

Those tournaments will feel far from normal for most, but for winter sports basketball, swimming, wrestling and drill team, the UHSAA has ironed out most of the details for each sport — which Cuff jokes can change at anytime.

“Things change hour by hour and day by day, and we may not have everything in concrete right at the moment, but a lot of it is determined basically on spectators and what we can do as far as the number of spectators per participant with physical distancing. We feel it’s important and our board feels it’s important to give these students an opportunity to have a postseason,” said Cuff.

For boys and girls basketball, the inability to host tournaments at any of the state’s Division I college sites has forced all rounds of the 6A and 5A tourneys to be held at home sites until the semifinals. The 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A tournaments will all be held in Richfield at the Sevier Valley Center over two weeks.

All six wrestling state tournaments will be one-day tourneys instead of the customary two days. In addition, because fans won’t be allowed at traditional host site UVU because so much seating capacity is lost to accommodate eight mats on the arena floor, all are heading elsewhere.

BYU will still host the swimming state meets, but because of the small capacity at the facility, no fans will be permitted, and boys and girls tournaments for each classification are being split up into two sessions.

“We are so grateful to be able to have somewhere we can go do our swimming, and a place people are used to going,” said Cuff, who said the UHSAA is planning on streaming the event since no fans can be in the building.

Drill team is taking place over the next two weeks at the typical UVU location, and a limited number of fans will be allowed as the facility can roll out all its seating, which it can’t do for wrestling.

Cuff acknowledges that none of the scenarios are ideal for any of the sports, but he’s hopeful that this is just a one-time hiccup.

The basketball tournaments required the most juggling. Originally, Weber State was scheduled to host the boys and girls 6A and 5A state tournaments, with 4A going to SLCC, 2A to Southern Utah and 3A and 1A at the Sevier Valley Center.

The Weber State option fell through pretty quickly because of COVID-19.

“It’s just not going to be able to happen with spectators and the college schedule Weber State has, and the potential of having a number of different people in the building and not be able to adequately clean it for their college competition. And it’s a vaccination center now, there was just too much going on,” said Cuff.

The 6A and 5A girls tournaments had consistently been held at SLCC until last year, so that site will feel relatively normal for those athletes and coaches. The 6A and 5A boys have never played tourney games at SLCC. The first three rounds will be played at home sites of the higher RPI seed.

Back in the fall, SLCC was supposed to host the 6A and 5A volleyball semifinals and finals, but those plans changed just days before the matches were to begin and were moved to local high schools. Similar contingencies may become a reality for basketball as well.

To accommodate the 6A/5A move to SLCC, the 4A quarterfinals, semifinals and finals were moved from SLCC to Richfield the same week, but moved up to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The 2A tourneys are also moving to Richfield the same week they were scheduled, but moving up to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.


Winter sports postseason schedules

6A boys basketball

Feb. 24 — first round, home sites.

Feb. 26 — second round, home sites.

March 2 — quarterfinals, home sites.

March 4 — semifinals at SLCC.

March 6 — championship at SLCC.

5A boys basketball

Feb. 24 — first round, home sites.

Feb. 26 — second round, home sites.

March 3 — quarterfinals, home sites.

March 5 — semifinals at SLCC.

March 6 — championship at SLCC.

4A boys basketball

Feb. 23 — first round, home sites.

Feb. 26 — second round, home sites.

March 1 — quarterfinals at Sevier Valley Center.

March 2 — semifinals at Sevier Valley Center.

March 3 — championship at Sevier Valley Center.

3A boys basketball

Feb. 16 — first round, home sites.

Feb. 19 — second round, home sites.

Feb. 25 — quarterfinals at Sevier Valley Center.

Feb. 26 — semifinals at Sevier Valley Center.

Feb. 27 — championship at Sevier Valley Center.

2A boys basketball

Feb. 16 — first round, home sites.

Feb. 19 — second round, home sites.

Feb. 22 — quarterfinals at Sevier Valley Center.

Feb. 23 — semifinals at Sevier Valley Center.

Feb. 24 — championship at Sevier Valley Center.

1A boys basketball

Feb. 25 — first round, home sites.

Feb. 27 — second round, home sites.

March 4 — quarterfinals at Sevier Valley Center.

March 5 — semifinals at Sevier Valley Center.

March 6 — championship at Sevier Valley Center.


6A girls basketball

Feb. 23 — first round, home sites.

Feb. 25 — second round, home sites.

March 2 — quarterfinals, home sites.

March 4 — semifinals at SLCC.

March 6 — championship at SLCC.

5A girls basketball

Feb. 23 — first round, home sites.

Feb. 25 — second round, home sites.

March 3 — quarterfinals, home sites.

March 5 — semifinals at SLCC.

March 6 — championship at SLCC.

4A girls basketball

Feb. 24 — first round, home sites.

Feb. 26 — second round, home sites.

March 1 — quarterfinals at Sevier Valley Center.

March 2 — semifinals at Sevier Valley Center.

March 3 — championship at Sevier Valley Center.

3A girls basketball

Feb. 17 — first round, home sites.

Feb. 20 — second round, home sites.

Feb. 25 — quarterfinals at Sevier Valley Center.

Feb. 26 — semifinals at Sevier Valley Center.

Feb. 27 — championship at Sevier Valley Center.

2A girls basketball

Feb. 17 — first round, home sites.

Feb. 19 — second round, home sites.

Feb. 22 — quarterfinals at Sevier Valley Center.

Feb. 23 — semifinals at Sevier Valley Center.

Feb. 24 — championship at Sevier Valley Center.

1A girls basketball

Feb. 27 — first round, home sites.

March 4 — quarterfinals at Sevier Valley Center.

March 5 — semifinals at Sevier Valley Center.

March 6 — championship at Sevier Valley Center.


6A boys wrestling

Feb. 19 — All day at Corner Canyon High School.

6A girls wrestling

Feb. 15 — all day at Westlake High School.

5A boys wrestling

Feb. 18 — all day at Wasatch High School.

4A boys/girls wrestling

Feb. 20 — all day at Sevier Valley Center.

3A boys wrestling

Feb. 19 — all day at Sevier Valley Center.

2A boys wrestling.

Feb. 13 — all day at Sevier Valley Center.

1A boys wrestling

Feb. 12 — all day at Sevier Valley Center.

5A/3A/2A/1A girls wrestling

Feb. 18 — all day at Wasatch Junior High.


6A boys/girls swimming

Feb. 19-20 — Day 1 and Day 2 at BYU.

5A boys/girls swimming

Feb. 19-20 — Day 1 and Day 2 at BYU.

4A boys/girls swimming

Feb. 12-13 — Day 1 and Day 2 at BYU.

3A boys/girls swimming

Feb. 12-13 — Day 1 and Day 2 at BYU.


6A drill team

Feb. 2 — semifinals at UVU.

Feb. 4 — championships at UVU.

5A drill team

Feb. 3 — semifinals at UVU.

Feb. 4 — championships at UVU.

4A drill team

Feb. 9 — semifinals at UVU.

Feb. 10 — championships at UVU.

3A drill team

Feb. 9 — semifinals at UVU.

Feb. 10 — championships at UVU.

2A drill team

Feb. 6 — championships at Sevier Valley Center.