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List of local sports, sporting events being canceled due to COVID-19 keeps growing

 

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Since the beginning of March, the coronavirus pandemic has been bringing sports, including on the local level, to a halt. Montana high school spring sports, as well as all NCAA and NAIA spring sports have been canceled for the year. Now, sports that are still a couple of months off, like high school football all-star games, are also being canceled, including the Six-Man All-Star Game, the East-West Shrine Game and more.

It has been almost a couple months since the world of sports stopped due to the COVID-19 concern. It feels like it has been forever since the day sports halted, but in reality, it has not been too long. Regardless, the lack of sports has been harsh for many across the state of Montana.

And since that day, many local and state events have been canceled.

The first event to fall at the hands of COVID-19 was the Montana High School Association State basketball tournaments. The full tournament was not canceled, but the last day, where championships and consolations would have been played, was dropped due to the virus's presence in the state, leading the MHSA to crown co-champions for the 2019-2020 season.

The collegiate level basketball tournaments joined in around the same time. The NAIA and Big Sky Conference tournaments ended before they got started. In the case of the NAIA, the farthest it got to the national tournament was the selection process, as the tournament fell under. Meanwhile, the Big Sky was just about to wrap up, but like the high school tournaments, teams like the Montana State University women's basketball team did not get to even play for a championship title.

That same time was when the spring sports season came under fire by COVID-19. At first, there was a temporary cancellation to see if the virus would pass in time to have a semblance of a season by May 4, as per the MHSA's policy, but that never came to fruition, with high school spring sports officially over for the 2020 season last week.

Sports like tennis, track and softball never got to play a game, let alone have an entire season. The Havre High tennis and softball teams where going to compete in the new Northeastern A conference this season against new rivals Glendive, Miles City and Sidney, with an always exciting rival in Lewistown on the schedule, too. The Blue Ponies will not get to have their home meets and games either, which means a lot to the players, especially the seniors.

The Hi-Line took a big hit, too. Track and field is a big thing across the Hi-Line, with Harlem, Rocky Boy and the District 9C all ready to get back out on the track to compete. With the track and field season gone, though, big meets like the Cal Wearley Invitational, and the Lions Havre Invitational, where Havre, Harlem, Rocky Boy and the 9C all meet at the Havre Middle School track to face off, are not going to happen. The Class B and C golf seasons never got started, as well.

For college sports, the spring means a lot, too. Montana State University-Northern especially would be working hard during this time. Normally, the Lights football team, Skylights volleyball team and the other fall sports would be undergoing spring training, while the Northern basketball programs would be having college visits for recruits. But now, training and recruiting are remote, nearly non-existent. Luckily for the basketball programs, recruiting has been moved online to continue some semblance of the normal process. Meanwhile, all NAIA and NAIA spring sports were canceled, meaning no MSU-N rodeo or golf. The College National Finals Rodeo, set for June has also been canceled.

In general, other sporting events have been canceled, too. Montana's All-star Basketball circuit, the Hi-Line Invitational Tournament (HIT), the last part of the bowling season, the Badlands Bowl, the Montana East-West Shrine game, The Six-Man All-Star Game and the Bear Paw Marathon are all out and out due to COVID-19, and more all-star games are likely to follow suit as summer nears. Even Montana eSports, including online gaming competitions like the Teemo Cup, have been canceled.

Of course, baseball is a summer sport in Montana and it has been struck, too, but not as harsh as the spring season.

Originally, the American Legion baseball and HYBA youth baseball seasons were in jeopardy, but as of recent, the American Legion board gave the green light for the teams, like the Havre Northstars, to practice with permission from the local health board. Those like Northstars head coach Patch Wirtzberger and HYBA head Brian Jenkins have been working to help construct a plan to present to the Hill County Health Board, hoping that they can practice.

With Gov. Steve Bullock's re-opening, kicking off with Phase I currently in motion, there may be a chance that the summer baseball scene may have a chance to play games. But that can only happen if Phase II is declared, which allows gatherings of up to 50 people to be held. That at least will sllow games to be played, but without fans in attendance.

The PRCA recently announced it also plans to return this month, so, the summer rodeo season, which has not been officially canceled, might have a chance to go on, in some capacity.

Stay tuned to the Havre Daily News for continuing updates on local sports being affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

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