Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz officially ordered a four-week pause of prep sports starting Saturday due to the ongoing battle with the coronavirus pandemic.
The emergency executive order essentially shuts down the high school football and volleyball seasons, although many football programs spent Wednesday trying to move Saturday playoff football games to Friday to beat the deadline. The order is in effect from 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20 through Friday, Dec. 18.
Section 8-4A flipped football games with the seeds playing in numerical order to end the season in what would be the semifinals. DL was scheduled to play at Grand Rapids Saturday afternoon.
No. 1 ROCORI will now host No. 2 Grand Rapids Friday at 5 p.m. No. 3 Detroit Lakes will host No. 4 Willmar at Mollberg Field with a kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m.
Detroit Lakes has won three of the last four matchups dating back to 2016 defeating Willmar in the regular season opener in 2019 and in the section semifinals most recently, both at Mollberg Field.
Willmar's last win in the series was the 2018 section championship game at Alexandria high school.
The high school football season was scheduled to end Nov. 28, while the volleyball season was slated to end Dec. 12.
The Detroit Lakes volleyball team was already in COVID quarantine but planning a return for section play after the mandatory two-week period. The Lakers end the season with a record of 8-2 overall and a second place in the Mid-State Conference at 4-2 behind only Pequot Lakes.
There are eight seniors on head coach Lynnsey Machakaire's team: Faith Keller, Jordyn Johnson, Gabby Fredrickson, Madison Foster, Alexis Lundeen, Autumn Kulik, Laken Weaver and Ava Gilbert.
The order also delays the start of the winter sports schedule. Boys hockey and boys basketball were set to begin practice Monday.
Dance, in its second week of the season after beginning Nov. 9, will stop in-person practice and competitions, effective late Friday.
Boys swim & dive, Nordic ski, wrestling and girls hockey were scheduled to start after Thanksgiving; gymnastics and girls basketball were slated for Dec. 7.
"We recognize the recent rise in positive cases and the impacts on communities and schools. Our schools have been addressing positive cases and close contacts, adjusting learning models and making difficult decisions regarding programs,” Minnesota State High School League Executive Director Erich Martens said.
“We all know how important these programs are to students and to their mental and physical health and we all want students to participate. We believe League programs offered by our member schools provide the safest and most effective experiences and yet, at this time, we are required to take a pause. We look forward to returning to in-person participation in our winter sports and fine arts activities when these restrictions are lifted.”
The League will provide additional guidance to member schools by the end the week regarding winter sports and fine arts activities. In addition, League Staff will continue to work with others to study options for the remaining winter seasons as well as those scheduled to begin in the spring.
“The League will continue to study options to build a revised calendar of activities that meets our goals of providing the greatest possible experience in every one of the activities provided by the League,” Martens said. “We appreciate the excellent work of our schools and staff in following the guidance provided and implementing protocols that keep students, coaches, officials and others safe and we are confident that they will continue to do so when programs return."