Fall sports underway at Natrona schools, with modifications due to COVID-19 - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Fall sports underway at Natrona schools, with modifications due to COVID-19

KW’s Brock Spiegelberg runs the ball during their semifinal game against NCHS on Friday, Oct. 26, at NCHS in Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo — Football, tennis, golf and cheerleading practices began midnight Monday for Natrona County high school students. Middle and high school volleyball, football, cross country, and swimming will begin next Monday, August 17.

The absence of post-game handshakes is just one of the modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic outlined by Steve Elbogen, director of business services for the Natrona County School District, at at the districts board of trustees meeting Monday, August 10.

Ellbogen said they were using guidance from the Wyoming High School Activities Association (WHSSA) to modify the fall sports. Teams will practice in “pods” and have “staggered starts,” to practices to minimize mixing. Pre- and post- practice gatherings gatherings will be discouraged, and scorekeepers and officials will socially distance or wear masks under the guidelines.

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Spectators are limited to 250 at both indoor and outdoor events, not including the players, coaches and officials. Ellbogen said the district was seeking to work with county health officials to allow more spectators, adding the the high school gyms have capacities near 1,900. He added that ticketing options for admittance were being considered to prioritize parents of athletes and seniors.

Ellbogen said the High School Activities Association guidelines called for teams to limit overnight events.

Casper will still host the 4A cross country state championship meet, but other divisions will meet in other towns. Because of the shutdown of the University of Wyoming’s fall football program, the state high school football championship will take place in the town with the highest-seeded team. 

The state volleyball tournament will be a 4-day event with each division having its entire tournament in one day. 1A will start on a Wednesday and 4A will play on a Saturday.

Four teams maximum will participate in swim and golf events, and duals will be encouraged.

Trustee member Kevin Christopherson said some parents of cheerleaders had contacted him about the cheerleaders being required to wear masks at a practice. Ellbogen said that was not part of the WHSAA guidance, but that the circumstances of the practice necessitated the masks.

Trustee Clark Jensen members asked how the “pod” system would work with football players in a scrimmage scenario. Ellbogen replied that the pods would be as separated as possible up until “those few seconds of contact.”

Students enrolled virtually will participate for the school they attended last academic year, or the school of their choice as the case dictates.

NCSD’s Return to School Plan can be viewed here. Classes begin September 2.