The IHSA board of directors voted on Wednesday to expand its postseason series for golf and cross country by adding a sectional round of competition.
The board held a special meeting to specifically address the possibility of sectionals for both sports and announced its result early in the afternoon.
The IHSA approved competition for four sports during the COVID-19 pandemic – boys and girls golf, boys and girls cross country, girls tennis and girls swimming – all of which were considered lower risk by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Initially, the seasons for golf and cross country were to culminate with regional competition and no state finals. Now, a sectional round will be added. Tennis and swimming begin their postseasons at the sectional level, so there were no changes made in those sports.
“Despite the challenges of this school year, our board has remained committed to providing the most rewarding postseason experiences possible,” IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said. “Given the relative success we have had safely conducting cross country and golf this fall, the board asked our staff during the September board meeting (on Sept. 14) to explore the possibility of expanding beyond regionals to conduct sectionals as well.”
In golf, the top two teams and top four individuals in each regional will advance to the sectional. In cross country, five teams will advance to the sectional, along with the top five individuals.
The IHSA staff attempted to maintain the state's 11 COVID regions and keep participant levels as low as possible when making assignments, but in some cases, schools were assigned to a tournament or meet outside of their COVID region.
“Given the timing, our greatest challenge will be finding hosts, especially in cross country,” Anderson said. “We have been granted exemptions to compete outside the COVID regions in instances, for example, where assigning schools on or near a region border creates better balance in the number or participants at a site. Based on the feedback we have received, we expect some schools will choose not to participate beyond regionals. We respect those decisions, but still want to provide as many opportunities as possible.”
The board also created an exemption to the season limitation rule to allow for participation in cross country sectionals and temporarily modified the terms and conditions in both sports to allow greater flexibility in scheduling the respective meets. Golf sectionals are slated for the week of Oct. 12-17, while cross country sectionals will run Oct. 29-31.
Host sites and meet dates will be announced soon on ihsa.org.