MHSA Announces Changes to Post Season Competition

Cross country, volleyball state competitions to be divided; winter sport guidelines forthcoming

By Micah Drew

The Montana High School Association at their board meeting on Sept. 21 approved new formats for some post season athletic competitions.

“These formats attempt to reduce the possibility of transmission of coronavirus for our student activity participants and for coaches, officials and fans of MHSA activities,” MHSA wrote in a press release. “The Board believe that the safety and well-being of our student activity participants is paramount.”

The most post season changes will be implemented for volleyball. The District and Divisional tournament hosts must receive approval from county health departments prior to hosting the events. The district and division will have two options for play. Either a single elimination playoff bracket or a tournament format bracket which may still allow for double-elimination. Bracket play will take place at two separate gyms, and only two teams will be allowed to enter the site with a break following the games in order to clean and sanitize the sites.

For the state tournament, each classification will again have  the option to conduct either a playoff bracket or tournament bracket. MHSA is still looking into options for various hosts for on-site tournaments. Previously, all classes have competed at Montana State University in Bozeman.

The cross country state meet at Rebecca Farms in Kalispell has been expanded to a two-day event. On Friday, Oct. 23 Class A and B will compete while Class AA and Class C will run on Saturday, Oct. 24. A single start will be allowed for for the state meet which will be the first time more than 28 athletes will be allowed on a single starting line. The state meet features up to seven runners from each qualified team, which includes 16 AA teams, 23 B teams and 33 C teams.

Football, golf and soccer will not have further changes to their post season for coronavirus, but MHSA did approve the Class AA football championship bracket with just 12 teams. For all championship competitions, host sites must allow for a minimum of two tickets per player for both home and visiting teams.

The MHSA board is set to provide winter sport and activity guidelines in early October. In addition, speech, debate and drama is set to begin on Oct. 1 and run through December.

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