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NJSIAA delays start of winter sports due to coronavirus pandemic

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body for high school sports in the state, will delay the start of the 2020-21 winter sports season as  coronavirus cases continue to surge in the Garden State.

Winter high school sports were expected to start in two weeks.

On Nov. 19, the NJSIAA announced that the winter sports season will be divided into three groups: Season 2, Season 3 and a newly added Season 2A.

Ice hockey is the only winter sport that will be allowed to start preseason practices for the 2020-21 season prior to the end of 2020. Teams may begin preseason practice on Dec. 14 and may begin playing games on Jan. 4, according to a press release.

Fencing, bowling, and girls and boys basketball teams will be permitted to start practices on Jan. 11 and begin regular season play on Jan. 26.

The new Season 2A will consist of swimming and winter track and field. Student-athletes who participate in those sports may begin practicing on Feb. 1 and may start participating in meets on Feb. 16.

Wrestling has been pushed back to Season 3, joining gymnastics and girls volleyball in Season 3. Practices for Season 3 sports can start on March 1 and matches, games and competitions are allowed to begin on March 16, according to the press release.

NJSIAA administrators said postseason competition is still under consideration for all Season 3 sports (wrestling, gymnastics, girls volleyball), however, the association said it will not sponsor postseason competition for any of the other winter sports.

Conferences around the state can hold postseason play at their own discretion, according to the press release.

“We remain keenly focused on providing New Jersey’s student-athletes with the opportunity to participate in sports, and given current health data and modeling, we believe pushing the schedules back ensures the best opportunity for our kids,” NJSIAA Chief Operating Office Colleen Maguire said.

“The staggered winter schedule is based on feedback from health officials, anticipated capacity limitations, as well as the availability of facilities which are used by many of our winter sports.

“The hockey schedule remains unchanged due to contractual obligations with rinks and the potential for significant financial repercussions associated with rescheduling ice time,” Maguire said.

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