Minnesota prep sports are hitting the pause button as community spread of COVID-19 continues its reach around the state. Prep sports will officially cease after games played Friday, Nov. 20.
Boys’ basketball and hockey were scheduled to begin practicing Monday but will now wait until at least Dec. 21 to begin organized activity, as will all other winter sports. The order, given by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday evening also means the end of fall sports.
For many area schools, the football season had already ended. Red Wing played its last game Tuesday, as did Goodhue. Zumbrota-Mazeppa made the decision to end its season over a week ago, while Cannon Falls and Lake City will shift their section playoff games originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon to Friday night to beat the break.
Volleyball, the other fall sport impacted by the decision, was slated to end its regular season next week but will now end seven days early. The key difference for volleyball however, is the cancellation of the remaining season means no postseason, whereas football had at least a portion of one.
"While our student-athletes, families and coaches are hurting right now, we are hopeful for a return to normal, much of which is contingent on local and state metrics," Red Wing Activities Director Paul Hartmann said. "We're extremely proud of our athletes, coaches and fans for how they followed our COVID protocols for the two fall seasons. On behalf of our athletes and coaches, we continue to ask Red Wing to mask up. Our kids look forward to, most importantly, coming back to school and also being involved in co-curricular activities."
With football and volleyball being cut short, it decreases the length of an already shortened season due to a delayed start for both sports. The Minnesota State High School League scheduled for a six-game football and 14-game volleyball season, with postseason play after.
While many area football teams reached that baseline for scheduled games, volleyball teams fell short. Red Wing has played 11 games as of Wednesday, while Lake City finished with 10 and Z-M only seven.
For Red Wing head volleyball coach Nikki Roschen, that means a missed opportunity to finish the season with an above .500 winning percentage. Currently sitting at 5-6, the Wingers will have an opportunity to even out their wins and losses with a trip to Austin on Thursday, but that will be their final game unless schedules are shifted around at the last minute.
After the Wingers’ win against Albert Lea on Tuesday, Roschen said she was hopeful the team would get to play Owatonna with a chance to finish the year with a 7-6 conference record. Had Red Wing been able to get to that point, it would have been the first time in five years that the team won seven or more conference games.
Remaining area schedule
THURSDAY, NOV. 19
- Red Wing at Austin, 7:15 p.m.
- Cannon Falls vs. Stewartville, 7:15 p.m.
FRIDAY, NOV. 20
- Cannon Falls vs. St. Croix Lutheran, 7 p.m. (Section 4AAA championship)
- Lake City at Breck, 7 p.m. (Section 4AAA third-place game)
- Lake City at Stewartville, 7:15 p.m.