Cross country is officially a Season 3 sports for Wesco schools. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Cross country is officially a Season 3 sports for Wesco schools. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Wesco schools opt to delay start of prep sports until Season 2

The 21 schools in conference won’t participate in any of the WIAA’s alternative seasons in the fall.

The wait for the resumption of sports at many local high schools has officially been extended.

With coronavirus cases once again surging and many local school districts turning to distance learning to start the 2020-2021 school year, athletics directors from the county’s largest high school athletics conference have opted to not offer any sports programs in the fall.

Wesco, the Class 2A-4A conference that is home to 18 Snohomish County high schools and 21 schools in total, announced Friday that its programs won’t be participating in Season 1 of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Board’s recently updated proposed plan for prep sports this school year.

“The primary driver is a handful of our districts in Wesco have already decided to go online when we open up the school year in September,” said Robert Polk, athletics director of the Everett School District and director of District 1. “And with all the moving parts around online learning and decisions we need to make about whether or not to allow kids on campuses at this time, it was just in the best interest to take advantage of the new WIAA calendar.”

On Wednesday, the Everett, Edmonds, Mukilteo and Stanwood Camano districts announced they’re going to distance learning in the fall.

The WIAA’s current plan breaks up the school year into four seasons, with Season 1 beginning Sept. 7 and ending Nov. 2.

The four sports offered in Season 1 — cross country, slowpitch softball, golf and tennis — are being offered as alternative seasons. An alternative season gives schools the option to participate in a regular season for a sport before the season state championships are held for that activity.

The WIAA has traditionally offered alternative seasons for golf and tennis in the fall with state championships being held at the end of the spring season. Wesco programs have traditionally competed in the alternative season for boys tennis.

“One good reason to delay having anything in Season 1 is just to give us more time to do our work and be very deliberate in our planning and do the best job we can so we’re ready for the kids in January,” Polk said.

Under current plans, cross country and slowpitch softball will take place during Season 3 — March 1 through May 2 — and tennis and golf are slated for Season 4 — April 26 through June 27.

Season 2, which includes basketball, wrestling, girls bowling, gymnastics and boys swim and dive, starts Dec. 28.

“Right now we’re, as a league, pretty much in a holding pattern as far as making any changes,” Polk said.

Polk said there are a lot of variables that are still “up in the air,” including postseason structures when competition resumes.

Local schools not part of Wesco that offer the sports the WIAA is allowing in Season 1 include Lakewood of the Northwest Conference, and Granite Falls, Sultan, King’s and South Whidbey of the Emerald Sound Conference. As of Saturday afternoon, neither of those conferences had provided an update on whether they plan to move forward with the alternative fall sports or not.

The WIAA Executive Board, a 13-person committee with representatives from schools across the state, is scheduled to meet again in August, when more guidance on prep sports could be released.

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