State tournament approved for winter sports

MSHSL approves COVID-19 safe plan

Senior+Erin+Brousseau+passes+the+puck+to+a+teammate+in+a+Jan.+30+game.+The+girls%27+hockey%27s+State+Tournament+is+currently+scheduled+to+start+Mar.+26+at+the+Xcel+Energy+Center.

Jane Pupeza

Senior Erin Brousseau passes the puck to a teammate in a Jan. 30 game. The girls’ hockey’s State Tournament is currently scheduled to start Mar. 26 at the Xcel Energy Center.

Tobias Khabie and Kate Schneider

After hearing her team would have the opportunity to compete in the State tournament, senior girls’ basketball captain Sadie Yarosh said she was thrilled, as in the fall, her soccer team didn’t get the chance to compete in State.

“It’s exciting. During (the) fall season I play soccer and we didn’t get a chance to have a State tournament there,” Yarosh said. “It’s exciting because we’ll get to play teams that we wouldn’t normally play.”

According to athletic director Andy Ewald, the plan approved by the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Feb. 4 will heavily contrast previous State Tournaments.

“Every single winter sport is going to look different in some capacity, whether it’s the venue, whether it’s how many schools or athletes are at a venue, obviously, whether they’re spectators, so the State Tournaments that will happen this winter will not look anything like they have in the past,” Ewald said. 

According to MSHSL swimming official Randi Graves, specifically for boys’ swimming, the state meet will need to be split up in order to follow COVID-19 guidelines. This means athletes will not be able to compete head to head with everyone.

“They can’t have all of the athletes at the facility at the same time to compete in the state meet. And between the sessions, they have to do a thorough cleaning of the facility so everyone has to be out for an hour or so to clean it completely. So they have to change the way they run the state meet, they’re going to break it into two sessions,” Graves said.

As a team, we’re all aware of how dangerous this virus is, so we definitely take all the precautions needed to be safe. But I know we just love our sports so much and so I think getting to continue that is awesome.”

— Sadie Yarosh

Junior Lili Jampsa, who competes on the gymnastics team, said while she is excited to have the opportunity to compete at State, she doesn’t feel like this decision will impact the season too much.

“When we’re in the gym every day we don’t necessarily think in the back of our head, ‘we’re going to make it to State,’ that’s not a priority for us, because we just want to have fun,” Jampsa said.

Boys’ basketball head coach David Breitenbucher said he doesn’t anticipate the possibility of going to State changing the team’s mindset, as they are already working to be the greatest they can be. 

“I don’t think it will affect us much because we’re always shooting to be the best team that we can in March, and we want to be playing our best basketball,” Breitenbucher said. “State Tournament or not, we were still going to have Sections so I don’t think it changes anything with our training.”

According to Ewald, he hopes having State will give athletes a necessary sense of normalcy.

“It’s important to have those types of opportunities,” Ewald said. “What I’m focused on is just trying to offer the best experience we can, and doing everything we can collectively to avoid losing contests because of people either testing positive or having to quarantine because of contact tracing,” Ewald said.

Graves said the opportunity to compete in State will allow athletes who want to play in college a chance to further prove themselves.

“When you’re doing any type of competition there’s always an end goal, which is qualifying for State,” Graves said. “For some of the athletes, this is their chance to be seen by college coaches.”

Yarosh said she trusts that her team will take all necessary measures to stay safe in order to play the sport they love.

“As a team, we’re all aware of how dangerous this virus is, so we definitely take all the precautions needed to be safe. But I know we just love our sports so much and so I think getting to continue that is awesome,” Yarosh said. “Getting to watch other sports and other teams compete in the State Tournament is also really fun as well.”

According to Breitenbucher, as long as athletes are staying safe, he is glad they will have the opportunity to compete further into the season.

“It’s the same way I feel about the season. We have to do everything in our power to make it as safe as possible. I’m also really happy that the high school players who put a lot of time into their activities over the years get to participate,” Breitenbucher said. “So I’m happy as long as everyone’s taking as much precaution as possible.”