State tournaments could be larger in future years

As the PIAA prepares for its shortened, district champions-only state tournaments, it reiterated the desire to return to a normal field, or even larger than before, in the future Wednesday at its board meeting.

“Reducing all of our qualifiers from an organizational standpoint was painful, because we’re limited opportunities for young people,” PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi said. “We’re also possibly limiting successes. Next year, if we can get back to semi-normal, we will take as many as possible for as long as possible. Expansion of the brackets would be great. Unfortunately, we had to do what we did this year. It was important to take that action to expand the regular season.”

Perhaps the most impacted field in this year’s District 6 basketball playoffs will be the Class 4A boys field, which includes four teams that all have the potential to be a force at the state level and possibly beat each other on any given day.

Just recently, the Bellwood-Antis girls won the 2018 Class 2A girls championship as a third-place finisher in District 6 and avenged a loss to district champion Blairsville along the way.

That type of redemption won’t be possible this season, in basketball at least.

The PIAA said a decision on whether or not the spring sports state field will be champions-only has yet to be decided and may not be until mid-April.

The board also discussed what the increased percentage of fans allowed at indoor events means for this year’s wrestling and basketball state tournaments.

“We have allowed for the team on the top of the pairing to host,” PIAA Assistant Executive Director Jennifer Grassel said. “That doesn’t mean that if the opportunity exists and there are other sites within the district that we can’t go there. With the movement on spectator limits, we know it might be better to host the game at another venue. It’s not a requirement that it’s at the site of the home team, but it’s definitely an option as it was in the fall.”

For instance, if the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic boys win the District 6 Class 3A championship, the Marauders would be the top team in the quarterfinal round against the District 10 champion, but rather than hold that game at Pleasant Valley Gymnasium, BG could possibly host the game at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse to allow for a larger crowd.

It was also announced Wednesday that wrestlers qualifying for the state championships will receive six tickets each. That number had been two before the percentage of indoor allowance was increased, but there will be no public ticket sales.

Meeting notes

n During spring sports competitions, if athletes are able to be six feet apart, they are not required to wear masks, according to the PIAA.

n The PIAA is expecting to allow attendance of somewhere between 600-700 at the Giant Center for the PIAA basketball championships.

n Softball pitchers will be barred from wearing yellow masks due to the color of the ball being yellow.

n The PIAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee found that there was no team-to-team transmission of COVID-19 in any competition.

n It’s unlikely schools will host any double or tripleheaders during the PIAA basketball playoffs. Single games are expected, and if doubleheaders must take place, there will likely be three hours between games.

n When there are two or more umpires working a baseball or softball game, one will still be required to do the game from behind home plate.

n The PIAA expects the high school baseball championship games to still be played in State College, because Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is privately owned. The softball championships are still planned for State College, but that could be changed.

n The use of Shippensburg for the PIAA track and field championships is still to be determined. Lombardi said the PIAA will be in discussions with Shippensburg about the event the next couple of weeks.

n The next PIAA meeting is scheduled for March 24, one day before the PIAA basketball finals begin.


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