MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Winter high school sports in Pennsylvania could once again feel the pinch of the Coronavirus pandemic for the third straight year. As Omicron cases surge in the Midstate, parents and athletes wonder if winter sports will bear the brunt of rule changes and shutdowns.
In 2020, the PIAA state championships for winter sports were canceled mid-competition with swimmers left confused in the warm up lanes and basketball teams sent home on buses. In 2021, those same winter sports were affected by the Coronavirus pandemic once again; the state tournament fields were slashed and district champions were the only ones participating.
With winter championships just around the corner, abc27’s Allie Berube asked PIAA Associate Executive Director Melissa Mertz if those competitions will be altered in any way. The full conversation is in the video above.
What you need to know
At this point, the PIAA will not have a universal mask mandate for its state championships this winter. In early December, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam’s school mask mandate does not pass constitutional muster.
The high court agreed with an earlier Commonwealth Court ruling that Beam did not follow proper procedures in instituting the mask mandate in August. It vacated the mandate, meaning it is now up to local school districts to decide on masks for students, faculty, and staff.
The PIAA says it will not require proof of vaccination to attend events, and will follow local rules and regulations for venues.
As of January 13, the PIAA is not anticipating any venue changes. In 2021, the PIAA had to move swim & dive state championships from Bucknell University to Cumberland Valley HS due to regulations and limitations in crowd size on Bucknell’s campus.
Playoff brackets in 2022
Despite limitations in 2021, the PIAA playoff fields have all been re-expanded to their normal size. Last winter, the PIAA had to limit the competition fields to District Champions only for all sports including Swim & Dive.
In Central PA, the District III tournaments begin next week, before state tournaments begin in February. More information for each sports is below.
- Boys Basketball: The Championships begin on Monday, Feb. 21 and run through the finals, which will be held on Thursday, March 3, and Saturday, March 5 at GIANT Center in Hershey. There will be three boys basketball championship games on each of those two dates. More information on the District III Boys Basketball tournament can be found here.
- Girls Basketball: The Championships begin on Monday, Feb. 21 and run through the finals, which will be held on Thursday, March 3, and Saturday, March 5 at GIANT Center in Hershey. There will be three girls basketball championship games on each of those two dates. More information on the District III Girls Basketball tournament can be found here.
- Bowling: The 2021-2022 championships will be held at ABC North in Harrisburg on Saturday, Feb. 26.
- Swim & Dive (Boys/Girls): District III Class 2A Diving Championships are on Wed., Feb. 23 at Big Spring HS; Class 3A Diving Championships are on Sat., Feb 26 at Governor Mifflin HS. District III Swimming Championships for both classes are on March 4 and 5 at Cumberland Valley HS. More information on the District III Girls Swim & Dive click here. For more information on the District III Boys Swim & Dive click here.
- Team Wrestling: The format will be the same as was used in 2019-20 before the pandemic, which forced the district to dramatically trim the tournament field. Class 2A tournament begins on Monday, January 31; Class 3A begins on Tuesday, February 1. Both events conclude on Saturday, Feb. 5. For more information on the District III Team Wrestling click here.
- Individual Wrestling: The Wrestling Championship for District III will be a one-day tournament on Saturday, Feb. 26. The PIAA Wrestling Championships will be on March 10-12 at GIANT Center in Hershey. More information on the District III Individual Wrestling click here.
The PIAA’s next board meeting is on January 26; it will explore any changes that need to be made to these policies at that point.