January 19, 2021

Stevens County Times

Your spot for community news in Stevens County, Minnesota

Winter sports update for UMN Morris and prep sports

The Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Council of Presidents and Chancellors supported a recommendation from the UMAC Council of Athletics Directors to continue pursuing conference competition in the sports of baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field and beginning UMAC competition no earlier than Jan. 30, 2021.

Beginning Jan. 1, UMAC member schools may compete against non-UMAC opponents in any sport for non-conference competition at the discretion of each school. At this time, the University of Minnesota Morris has zero non-conference competitions scheduled for winter sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, track and field and women’s swimming and diving.

“We do not have any planned competitions outside of our conference schedule. We will continue to explore all competitions after the holiday break,” UMN Morris Athletic Director Matt Johnson said of the plan for Cougar sports this winter.

Student-athletes will return to campus to begin practicing in the middle of January.

“When they return, we will be following the NCAA SSI guidelines and will be testing as required,” Johnson added.

Prep winter sports update

Winter sports contests and competitions under sponsorship of the Minnesota State High School League may resume beginning Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, after updated information within COVID-19 Youth and Adult Sports was announced Dec. 28 by the Minnesota Department of Health.

This new guidance and information is an important step as the League continues forward with a winter season model approved by the Board of Directors. This flexible model will be adapted to include the start of practice on Jan. 4 and the start of competitions on Jan. 14. The League continues to work with member schools to provide leadership and support to ensure the safest possible return to sports and activities.

The MDH updated youth sports document requires mask usage by all participants during practices and competitions with a few exceptions. Exceptions are made for those sports where wearing a mask may cause additional safety concerns and include gymnastics, cheerleading, wrestling and swimming and diving.

“We have little choice but to follow the guidelines,” Morris/C-A boys basketball coach Mark Torgerson said. “We are glad that we get the opportunity to practice and eventually play games, so we will do what is necessary to follow the guidelines across the board…It will take some time to get used to wearing masks while playing. The players are used to wearing masks, so now we have to see how things go while wearing them while competing. Other states are doing it, Wisconsin is one, so we will have to adapt too.”

Brooke Kern