A storm that has already been labeled as “one of the greatest snow events in decades” hit Western Washington on Friday afternoon.
As many as 8 inches of snow could coat the South Sound, which has prompted the West Central District, Southwest District and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to postpone or cancel several weekend high school athletic events.
WIAA announced Friday it was canceling all boys and girls regional wrestling tournaments a week ahead of the annual Mat Classic tournament, which is scheduled to run Feb. 15-16 in the Tacoma Dome.
Each of the 14 weight brackets across the six classifications, which generally include 16 wrestlers competing for a state title, will now have 32 entrants.
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“Due to the weather conditions, the WIAA has canceled all boys and girls regional wrestling tournaments in the best interest of safety and equal opportunity for all participants,” the statement says.
“To address these cancellations, the WIAA staff and event managers are developing a 32-entry WIAA Mat Classic tournament that will begin on Friday morning, Feb. 15, 2019. The details of that schedule will be released by early Monday, Feb. 11.
“Participants, parents and coaches are advised to work through their school administration with any further questions.”
Five South Sound schools — Decatur, Emerald Ridge, Olympia, Todd Beamer and Yelm — were set to host regional tournaments that are now canceled.
WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese said the unprecedented decision to cancel regionals and expand the Mat Classic brackets was made early Friday morning, and tournament managers are discussing how the state tournament could take shape.
“Once we determined about 6:30 this morning that we could do it at the (Tacoma) Dome, and started doing all of our necessary communication, that group was able to start hunkering down to look at logistics,” Colbrese said.
Tumwater athletic director Tim Graham, who is one of the eight tournament managers, said several options are being considered, such as earlier weigh-ins and start times.
Meanwhile, Colbrese said state swimming and diving, which is set to begin Feb. 15 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, could also be impacted depending on how long the snowstorm lasts.
State gymnastics schedules, which begin Feb. 21 in Bellevue, are not expected to be altered at this time.
Across the South Sound, district basketball tournaments have had games postponed — including some that were rescheduled earlier in the week when the first snowstorm hit.
WCD athletic director Joe Keller confirmed Friday morning that all boys and girls games for the 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict, 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict, 2A West Central District and 1A West Central District tournaments have been postponed.
Several of the smaller school tournaments in the Southwest District have also been postponed.
Keller said the earliest games involving WCD schools could resume would be Tuesday. Most postponements were announced Thursday.
“We got the tournament managers and tournament site managers together and decided, looking at the forecast, it would be good to let people know early on versus scrambling at the end — especially people who might have to travel today early,” Keller said.
“You can’t take that chance. The safety of our fans and our teams and our school (officials) and our student athletes has to be foremost.”
Keller said the basketball tournament managers are considering several options to finish out each bracket, including playing games on back-to-back days — most tournaments have a day built in between for alternating boys and girls games — to finish before WIAA’s planned regional seeding selection on Sunday, Feb. 17.
“What we’d like to do, obviously, is play the bracket and just play every day,” Keller said. “We built a day in between (games). Now, what we’re looking at, if we can depending on the weather, is we’d like to play the bracket out as it is and squish things down.”
Keller said how the tournaments are completed is dependent on the weather, and any plan could change early next week, depending on conditions.
He said other, less desirable plans could include trying to play the necessary games — primarily from the consolation brackets — to decide which teams will advance to the state regionals, and seed from there.
In most brackets, teams that win in the quarterfinals are guaranteed a spot in the regionals. The 4A, 3A and 2A brackets have reached the quarterfinals round, but have yet to reschedule those games.
The least favorable option, Keller said, would be relying on WIAA’s RPI rankings to decide which teams advance to the regionals.
“That’s what we do not want to have happen,” he said.
Colbrese confirmed the regional basketball seeding date is still planned for Feb. 17, but WIAA will be flexible with the date.
WIAA has no involvement in how district tournaments are scheduled, but Colbrese noted the association needs to know qualified teams before it can seed the regional brackets.
“At this time it’s a wait and see,” Colbrese said. “It’s the date at this point. Stay tuned.”