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For now, school sports won't go on

With schools closing for two weeks, area sports have been suspended


March 16, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre High's Sylvia Wilting hits a shot during the 2019 Havre Invitational tennis tournament. Spring sports began last Monday, but, with schools closing due to COVID-19, they, along with many other sports, are on hold.

It started last Friday night with the Montana High School Association's decision to cancel the remainder of the State AA, A, B and C boys basketball tournaments.

But, it certainly didn't end there.

With more and more being shut down temporarily in America, sports haven't been immune to the COVID-19 crisis, and that includes Montana.

And so, with Governor Bullock's decision to close all Montana public schools for two weeks, starting today, the spring sports season, which was just one week old, came to a grinding halt as well.

Track and field, tennis, softball and Class B and C golf became the newest casualties of the growing health crisis around the globe. Those seasons officially began last Monday in Montana, and competitions were set to begin this weekend, though weather, as per normal this time of year, might of had something to say about that anyway.

Still, with the winter sports season officially ending last Friday night with the end of the state basketball tournaments, spring sports were set to kick into high gear, but, for now, that won't happen.

"Right now, all activities, including sports are suspended," Havre High Activities Director Dennis Murphy said. "And all of our athletic facilities are closed. The health and safety of our students, staff and community is our primary concern at this point."

MHSA spring sports aren't the only sports shutting down that will affect Montana. Before last weekend, the National AAU made the decision to suspend all its sponsored sporting events for 30 days. In Montana, that includes big youth wrestling tournaments, including a state tournament that was to be held last weekend in Great Falls, as well as all AAU sanctioned travel basketball and volleyball, among other activities.

Closer to home, Havre Northstars American Legion head coach Patch Wirtzberger released the following statement to the Havre Daily News:

"We have decided to close "the dugout" which is our indoor training facility until further notice. This is to protect the health of our players and their families and the community as a whole. We haven't received any direction from American Legion but I would expect that is coming soon. For any more updates please follow our Facebook page."

The Northstars season wasn't set to begin until the end of the month, and their first games aren't scheduled until April, so, there's still time to see how that plays out.

As of late last week, Montana State University-Northern head football coach Andrew Rolin said that Northern's spring ball was still a go, but, he also noted that, circumstances could change. The Lights are slated to begin practicing March 30.

The University of Montana football team, which started spring drills all the way back on March 2, was continuing on with its spring ball, but, the practices are closed to the public and to the media. While the Griz' spring game on April 10 in Hamilton hasn't been officially cancelled, with a directive of gatherings of no more than 50 people now in place in Montana, that is likely to be lost as well. No official word on Montana State University Bobcat spring ball has come down as of press time.


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