The KHSAA Board of Control conducted a virtual meeting this week in light of the state of emergency declared for Kentucky due to severe weather conditions, during which time staff outlined postseason options for the upcoming winter championships.
The state bowling championships will be adjusted to a three-day format to allow for facility cleaning and appropriate ingress/egress. Gender-specific competition will be contested on the same day (the boys team and single competition on one day, the girls events on the next day, followed by the unified/adapted championships) to help alleviate travel concerns. The 2021 state tournament will tentatively be held March 22-24 and will follow attendance restrictions per state guidelines.
The continued attendance restrictions in place statewide for aquatic centers necessitate a change for the 2021 swimming and diving postseason. Of the nine sites selected to host regional competition, only one site is currently allowing fan attendance, but even that facility’s current policy is not high enough to allow all parents to attend with a full complement of entrants. Any form of overall state championship meet would face similar obstacles, as the current limits at the University of Kentucky would allow only 225 people at a time (65 spectators, 160 people on deck), which would eliminate fan attendance when also factoring in coaches, officials and event management personnel.
With those restrictions in mind, the board approved a recommendation from staff to establish three geographically based state sites, where advancers will come from the region results, and then their results from those state sites will be aggregated to score the state championship and issue awards accordingly, as opposed to having a culminating event at a single location. The semi-state sites will be grouped in sets of three regions, with 40 entries per event from the regional meets (top two from each region, plus the seven best at-large from the three regions will advance to semi-state sites). The one additional top remaining at-large performer statewide will advance to their appropriate semi-state site. In addition, timed finals will be implemented at both the regional and semi-state events for 2021.
Region swim meets will be scheduled for the Week of April 5, and the semi-states will be conducted the week of April 19.
“Despite everybody’s efforts, including all our facilities throughout the state, there’s not an opportunity to try to conduct a swimming championship this year like it normally is,” KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said. “It’s not a problem that is unique to Kentucky. There are several states that have actually canceled their swimming, and the majority of states are doing some kind of modification for one year.”
Wrestling faces similar challenges, as the number of qualifiers that advance to the state championship would eliminate any opportunity for spectators if conducted under its regular format. With that in mind, the board approved a recommendation to move regions to the week of March 8, followed by four first-round state events the week of March 15. Four wrestlers from each weight class (no alternates) will advance from the region to the state first round, as has been the case for many years. Regions would be paired for the first rounds of state competitions with two regions competing at each site (1/2, 3/4, 5/6, and 7/8).
The first-round sites will be conducted as a full-wrestleback (consolation) format in each weight class, as seeded by TrackWrestling data and criteria following regions. The top two from each weight class at each first-round state site will then advance to a final state round, to be held the week of March 22. The final state site will be seeded using TrackWrestling/FloSports data, and each school will carry its team points acquired during the first round forward to factor into the team standings, keeping the overall format similar to what it has been traditionally, just spread out over multiple weekends. Due to the reduction of participants the final weekend, a limited number of spectators may be permitted.
“Our staff has worked for many months with various state associations and with representatives of the coaches association and reviewed many alternatives,” Tackett said. “Our board felt strongly that it did not want to reduce the state tournament qualifying field and wanted opportunities for at least the parents of each competitor to attend. Unfortunately during the pandemic, it just isn’t possible to have things the way they have always been. It is everyone’s hope that 2022 looks more like how things have been traditionally, but we are very pleased to have the opportunity for a full 32-person bracket in each weight class and to allow for the full complement of medalists along with fan attendance.”
In each of these three championships, staff will be communicating with the membership with ongoing arrangements and logistics, including the acquisition of the semi-state or first-round state sites, in the coming days.
In other action Wednesday, the board:
- Selected Kirby Smith (superintendent, Campbellsville Independent Schools) as the president-elect for the 2021-22 academic year
- Requested staff conduct a survey (one school, one vote) of the football-playing member schools to fully determine (per Bylaw 1) the membership’s preference in regards to the bracketing of the first two rounds of the football playoffs, with the results to be reviewed at the May meeting
For 2021 only, approved that the two-week tryout window for the 2021-22 school year for the sport-activities of archery, bowling, competitive cheer and dance may begin the Monday following the state championship in each activity if desired by the member schools.