Osseo Schools winter sports teams, coaches preparing without answers

Maple Grove sophomore wrester Max Johnson returns as one of the top performers for the Crimson this season. High school athletes in Minnesota started practice on Monday, and competition is set to begin on Thursday, Jan. 14. (File photo, Richard Moll Photography)

Though the calendar has flipped to 2021, change is likely going to be a constant for high school athletes in Minnesota for the near-future. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to student athletes wondering what their season will look like or if they have a season.

The latest mandates from the Minnesota State High School League hasn’t changed that attitude. There are different rules for different sports, and while questions remain about the mandates, coaches and athletes are simply happy for the opportunity to participate.

Practices for high school activities were scheduled to begin on Monday, Jan. 4, with games set to begin on Thursday, Jan. 14. Most athletes and coaches will be required to wear face coverings during competition, though sports such as wrestling and competitive cheerleading will not.

But, as coaches are saying, the fact there is a plan in place is – at the least – a start.

“Obviously, we are excited to get going on a season. With all the changes, there is a little anxiety in regards to how everything will go,” Maple Grove wrestling coach Troy Seubert said. “We want to make sure we are taking every reasonable precaution to keep everyone safe. We want to be perfect in this way — and perfection is always a tall ask. But at the end of the day, I believe getting these kids the opportunity to participate in sports and lead a healthy lifestyle (physically and mentally) is very important to their short- and long-term well-being.”

Gymnasts, wrestlers and those in water sports will not be required to wear face coverings in competitions due to choking hazards.

The status of section and state tournaments has yet to be decided. In the fall, Minnesota had section tournaments but no state competitions.

For now, it’s game on.

“I’m happy for the seniors,” Seubert said. “I’m happy for the kids that need an outlet. I’m happy for anyone who has the drive that it takes to dedicate their team and energy the way they will need to in order to participate in sports and specifically in wrestling. The character-building that is set to begin is not easily duplicated, and we are celebrating this opportunity.

“We are glad to have competitions back. Without competitions we don’t have the opportunity to test ourselves — which limits excitement and drive. A season with no competition is not a season.”

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