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Routt County athletic directors grateful for return of athletics

Steamboat Springs junior Jaydon Fryer fights for position during the start of the Colorado high school 4A boys state cross country championship on Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Norris Penrose Event Center.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After an entire spring and summer with no sports, local high school athletic directors are thrilled and relieved that sports have been approved for the 2020-21 seasons. 

On Tuesday, Aug. 4, the Colorado High School Activities Association announced the return-to-play plan that was approved by the state. The new plan features four sports seasons, rather than three, and pushes fall contact sports such as volleyball, soccer and football to March. 

“I’m just happy we get the opportunity to play,” said Soroco Athletic Director Jo Parker. “We will jump all the hurdles and go through all the hoops for our kids, as long as they get the opportunity.”

In Season A, which runs from now until the middle of October, Colorado athletes will compete in cross country, boys tennis, boys golf and girls softball. Of course, only the first three apply to Routt County schools. 

Steamboat Springs will have tennis, golf and cross country, while Soroco will just have cross country and Hayden is left empty handed in the fall sports department.

Cross country runners from Hayden travel to run for Moffat County. Hayden Athletic Director Bryan Richards has already discussed the possibility of fielding a Hayden team, but not only would that require a new coach and funding, but it would also disrupt the norm for the runners who have been traveling to Moffat County for years. 

“We’re exploring our options right now with CHSAA,” Richards said. “It’s a big decision from a cost standpoint, and also, those kids who have invested years at Moffat County. There’s a lot of voices that need to be heard on that.”

Meanwhile, there will be offseason workouts for any athletes not participating in Season A sports. 

For those taking part in Season A sports, things will look a little different, as detailed in CHSAA bulletins. Cross country might see a surge in participation with no football, volleyball or soccer, but only so many people can officially compete in each race. The number of runners on a cross country course will be limited to 50 per gender in regular-season races, so there are no alternate runners. Additionally, the races will start in waves of no more than 25 people.

The number of matches in the tennis season has decreased, and the postseason will feature single-elimination brackets at the regional and state levels.

While golf looks the same, since the sport has been permitted despite the pandemic for months, the schedule will be different in one major way. Overnight trips or trips out of state have not and probably will not be banned by CHSAA, as the association doesn’t want to micromanage schedule building. However, overnight trips aren’t necessarily the safest, so Steamboat head golf coach Andrew Donner did his best to avoid them while building the 2020 schedule. 

Avoiding overnight trips on the rural Western Slope is difficult, but Steamboat Springs Athletic Director Luke DeWolfe hopes his coaches can do so as often as possible. 

“If we can minimize the number of overnight trips that we do take, or not take overnight trips, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “If it comes down to a point in time, especially when it comes to things like regionals, or state competitions, which are two-day competitions, we might have to look at doing overnight trips and how that works and what we can do to minimize the risk to our coaches and athletes.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.


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