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MHSAA tweaks cross country and swimming/diving tournaments to minimize number of participants, reverts girls golf to traditional field

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, October 2, 2020, 4:20 pm

While crowds of spectators are soon to be increasing, the Michigan High School Athletic Association is still trying to keep crowds of participants to a minimum.

To comply with the most recent guidance and executive orders from the governor’s office, the MHSAA announced on Friday some tweaks for the upcoming girls golf, cross country and swimming/diving postseason tournaments.

The changes were approved at Wednesday’s meeting of the MHSAA’s executive council. 

To limit field sizes for cross country finals, the MHSAA will:

• Add a pre-regional round, dividing traditional regionals into smaller groups at each site. The top four teams and top seven remaining individuals (not on a qualifying team) will move on from the 18 pre-regional tournaments to 19 regional competitions. From regionals, the top three teams and top seven remaining individuals (not on a qualifying team) will move on to the finals, which will be held over two days (Nov. 6-7) at Michigan International Speedway.

• Each division of the finals will be split into two races, with teams that qualified third and all individual qualifiers in one heat, and teams that qualified first or second in the other. This will create four girls and boys races each day, with Division 1 and 2 held on Friday, Nov. 6, and Division 3 and 4 on Saturday, Nov. 7.

• The three divisions in the Upper Peninsula will be split up to separate sites on Oct. 24, with Division 1 running at Marquette’s Presque Isle Park, D2 at Iron River’s George Young Recreational Complex and D3 at Munising’s Pictured Rocks Golf Course. 

To limit the number of participants at the swimming and diving finals — which will be held on Nov. 20-21 at three yet-to-be-determined sites — the MHSAA will:

• Split diving off to a stand-alone competition on Friday, Nov. 20. Qualifiers will perform five dives, with the top 20 advancing to the next round of three more dives. The top 16 advance to the finals for the final three dives of the competition.

• All swimming events will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21, with timed championship races in each event, rather than the normal preliminary and finals races.

• Scores from the two days will be combined to determine team finish.

With the most recent EO (No. 183) allowing for the expansion of the maximum number of people allowed in an outdoor gathering, the Lower Peninsula girls golf finals will expand back to their traditional sizes — they had been previously downsized by the executive committee to comply with the earlier limits.

• The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams will advance from regionals to the finals, which will remain one 18-hole round (to eliminate the necessity of overnight stays). The finals will be played Oct. 16-17 at the Forest Akers courses at Michigan State University. 

Earlier this week, the MHSAA announced that, with the latest EO, the size of crowds of spectators at both outdoor and indoor sporting events could be increased, as of Friday, Oct. 9.