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New state guidelines are good news, bad news for higher-risk high school sports

Phase 2 now easier to reach, but that won't happen in Southwest Region until at least Feb. 15

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published:

High school athletes got some good news and bad news Thursday.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced that regions now only need to meet three of four metric thresholds to move to Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington reopening plan. Previously, a region needed to hit all four metric thresholds.

That’s the good news.

Thursday’s announcement will allow the Puget Sound and West Regions to move into Phase 2 on Monday. The Southwest Region, which includes Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, Klickitat and Wahkiakum counties, only met one of four metrics and will remain in Phase 1.

For prep athletes, higher-risk sports like football, volleyball, girls soccer and slowpitch softball need the region to be in Phase 2 to begin competitions. Low-risk sports of cross country, boys tennis and boys golf in Southwest Washington will formally begin their seasons in Phase 1 on Monday, with the first competitions scheduled for the week of Feb. 8.

Now the bad news.

Inslee also said the state Department of Health now will evaluate the metrics every two weeks instead of weekly. That means the earliest the Southwest Region could move into Phase 2 would be Feb. 15.

Camas athletic director Rory Oster said that while current practices and workouts for the 4A/3A Greater St. Helens League teams would continue next week in Phase 1, teams in the higher-risk sports would not be holding tryouts or making roster decision until the region moved to Phase 2.

The league would need at least one week of practices in Phase 2 before beginning competition, Oster said. That means if the region moves to Phase 2 on Feb. 15, the earliest competition could begin in higher-risk sports in the 4A/3A GSHL would be the week of Feb. 22.

If that were to happen, the league has stated that the season for higher-risk sports would be extended to April 3, causing a two-week overlap with Season 2 consisting of traditional spring sports.

Practices in the 2A GSHL and 1A Trico League for Season 1 will start Monday for all sports, as Phase 1 restrictions allow. But those leagues have not released Season 1 schedules or potential season outlines.

The Central 2B League unveiled its Season 1 schedule with games slated to start for all sports the week of Feb. 8. That can happen for seven of the 11 league schools that are in the West Region. But it leaves schools in the Southwest Region — Kalama, Stevenson, Toutle Lake and Wahkiakum — in limbo for its higher-risk sports.

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