The Winter season of the Michigan High School Athletic Association finally got under way for a better part of the state, but not all of the sports will begin their competitions until February.

The latest epidemic order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has allowed for non-contact sports to get begin on Saturday, January 16th. For the MHSAA, the non-contact sports are Girls Gymnastics, Boys (Lower Peninsula) and Girls (Upper Peninsula) Swimming, and Boys and Girls Bowling. Another sport, Boys and Girls Skiing, was able to begin without a hitch in December due to practices and competitions being held outdoors. The three indoor, non-contact sports can begin their competitions as soon as January 22nd.

The sports that remain off for competition are Boys and Girls Basketball, Wrestling, Ice Hockey and Competitive Cheer due to close contact. These sports are allowed to practice, but must maintain social distancing and wearing masks. For these sports, the stop-start process of conditioning and practices had been taking place since mid-November, but was stalled after the initial three-week pause was put in place for the remaining Fall sports that just recently returned to play to complete their postseasons.

The MHSAA announced the new timeline for the five sport seasons that are expected to commence on February 1st, a day after the current epidemic order ends. Here are the snap shots -

Ice Hockey - Schools with hockey teams return to the ice January 16th for non-contact practice. Not only will February 1st be the first day for contact practices, it is also the first date that schools are allowed to compete under the new timeline. There are just a few schools involved in Southwest Michigan including Gull Lake, who made it to the State Quarterfinals in last season's playoffs in their first year in the postseason. Other schools include Portage Northern, Portage Central, Loy Norrix (Kalamazoo United) and Mattawan. As for the postseason, the Regionals will take place March 15-20, with the State Quarterfinals March 23rd. The State Semifinals are scheduled for March 25th and 26th and the Finals on March 27th. Locations for the postseason are still being determined.

Boys & Girls Basketball - The next set of sports that are expected to begin competition would be both Boys and Girls Basketball, slated for their first contact practices February 1st and competition just three days later. These two sports also have the deepest and longest timeline in the new schedule. District competition, normally slated for the final week of February into March for the Girls and the first full week of March for the Boys, will hold their postseason simultaneously in the same week. Districts will be held the week of March 22nd with the Girls Quarters, Semis and Finals being played Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Boys District games will be Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Regionals will take place the following week of March 29th with the Girls Semifinals and Finals on Monday and Wednesday. The Boys Regional Semis and Finals will be on Tuesday and Thursday. State playoffs week will begin April 5th (during most Spring Breaks). The State Quarterfinals for the Girls will takes place on Monday, April 5th with Semifinals Wednesday, April 7th and the Finals Friday, April 9th. The Boys will hold their same rounds on the following Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday schedule.

So far, just the district assignments and some of the high schools that will host have been announced.

Competitive Cheer - The good news is that during the during the non-contact portion of practice, competitive cheer teams can start hammering down the timing of their chants and mimic what can be done once contact occurs. The first contact practices will be allowed February 1st with the potential first meets on February 8th. It's a rather short season beyond that with Districts during the week of March 15th. Regionals the following week and the State Finals the weekend of March 26th and 27th. Overall, it is just a five-week sprint before their postseason begins. Just the District sites have been announced so far for the 36 Southwest Michigan schools that participate.

Wrestling - The most contact sport in the winter gets its first contact practice February 1st but will go just one week further than both Ice Hockey and Competitive Cheer. The first meets can take place on or after February 8th with the Districts and Regionals the same week as cheer. The difference? Team finals are scheduled for Wednesday, March 31st and the Individual Finals are the following weekend of April 2nd and 3rd. All schools have been placed in Districts for team and individual dates, but host sites have not been determined thus far.

As we continue to wait for most of the sports to take place this winter, the MHSAA announced that Spring sports should not expect a delay.

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