Clearance given for three more approved fall sports to proceed in RFSD next week

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Glenwood Springs High School freshman Sophia Connerton-Nevin competes in the Longhorn Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, at Crown Mountain Park.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Boys and girls cross country will be the premier fall sport at Glenwood Springs High School this coming season.

The Roaring Fork Schools on Thursday announced that — following a review of the Colorado High School Activities Association safety regulations by tri-county public health officials — cross country, softball and boys tennis will be allowed to begin practice as scheduled next week.

Clearance had already previously been given by state and school district officials for boys golf to begin practices and competition this week. Basalt High School hosts the district’s only boys golf team, but students from Glenwood Springs and Roaring Fork high schools are permitted to participate.

The district also sponsors combined high school softball and boys tennis teams at Basalt, while Glenwood Springs and Basalt both have their own cross country teams. Roaring Fork in Carbondale will not be host to any fall sports under CHSAA’s modified four-season sports schedule.

“The board was excited to hear CHSAA’s COVID plan that provides access for student-athletes in this unpredictable environment,” Roaring Fork Schools Board President Jen Rupert said in a press release. “While we all agree that a return to normal activity would be ideal, the rearranging and shortening of seasons to be able to offer sports in a safe way provides a really important opportunity for our students at a time when so many options are limited.”

Glenwood Springs coed cross country coach Justin Baum said his athletes are excited to be able to compete, but the public health safety rules for meets will make for some tricky decisions come race day, he said.

“It is awesome that we do get to have a season. I think the runners need it,” Baum said.

There will be a parent/athlete meeting on Monday to explain things, and practice will officially begin on Wednesday.

“We don’t have to limit team size, but we are only allowed to run seven runners at a regular season meet,” Baum said.

The season is also just eight weeks long.

Other rules include:

— Limit of 50 runners per gender on the course allowed on regular meet days

— Limit of 75 runners allowed on the course for regionals

— Limit of 100 runners allowed on the course for the state meet

— Only six runners will be allowed per team for regionals

“It’s going to be tricky to get everyone to run a race,” Baum said. “There will be no (junior varsity) or open races, and only seven regular season meets are allowed.”

Glenwood’s only home meet, which had been scheduled for Aug. 22, will either be moved or canceled, same as other meets in the region, he said.

“I’m still processing and thinking of ideas, so I’m not sure how we will approach that moving forward,” Baum said.

Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein explained the decision to allow the limited fall sports that have been approved to proceed, even though the district is starting the school year with distance learning and won’t have in-person instruction.

“While the decision to allow our athletes to participate in these CHSAA-approved sports may feel inconsistent with our more cautious approach to opening the school year with distance learning, both decisions are based on the guidance of the respective governing authorities,” Stein said in the district news release.

“We are eager to give our kids opportunities to resume normal activities safely such as playing outdoor sports with minimal contact and many safety protocols in place, and we hope that these early opportunities will pave the way to more in-person interaction with our students as the fall unfolds.”

Sports safety regulations also include a daily COVID-19 screening, social distancing during practices and contests when possible, mask requirements except during active play, and no locker room use.

Any student who chooses to participate in district athletic activities must complete a CHSAA waiver.

CHSAA on Tuesday announced a revised athletics and activities calendar for the 2020-21 school year that splits sports into four seasons and moves all contact sports, including football, boys soccer and volleyball, later in the school year calendar.