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No change for winter sports

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association announced its intention to begin the winter sports season on time at its board meeting Wednesday afternoon.

“As we stand today, we anticipate starting the winter sports season on time,” PIAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Lombardi said. “The first practice would be on Nov. 20 and our first winter competitions would be on Dec. 11. We have a long way to go to get there.

“Our sports steering committees for basketball, wrestling and swimming are going to meet and review the guidelines much like we did with our fall sports. We’ll include our coaches’ association, officials and our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and bring guidelines to the board for approval.”

The winter start date for practices is a week before the state championship weekend for high school football is scheduled to take place at HersheyPark Stadium.

The tentative plan for the championship games is to play the Class 1A, 3A and 5A title games on Friday and the 2A, 4A and 6A finals on Saturday.

Lombardi said the official capacity size of HersheyPark Stadium has yet to be determined by stadium officials, so the number of spectators under Gov. Tom Wolf’s new gathering orders is still unknown.

The PIAA also commented on the new order, expressing relief gathering numbers have been relaxed.

“The biggest part of it that I think it solved was the issue with girls volleyball inside as well as water polo,” Lombardi said. “Going forward, schools are flexible enough to take advantage of the size and capacity of their facilities so people can get fans, cheerleaders and most importantly parents into these games. It was helpful across the board.

“I have heard some grumbling about how some of the numbers work out, but there is an FAQ out there that suggests schools can be somewhat flexible on the capacities of their facilities. Everyone is appreciative of the change.”

The PIAA also confirmed that high school football teams can continue with the regular season after being eliminated from the postseason, however playoff games count toward the total number of 10 games allowed.

District 11 and District 8 have announced their intention not to take part in the fall sports postseason, allowing a change in the amount of cross country runners advancing to states from other districts. District 6 will get an extra runner in both boys and girls in Class 1A.

“We expanded the individual qualifiers as if we had a full field of all 12 districts represented,” PIAA Chief Operating Officer Mark Byers said. “Those districts deserving more of five due to proportional representation, we allocated additional qualifiers.”

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