CIF-Southern Section announces return of high school cross-country competition

Valencia's girls cross-country runner Hailey Kirsch, middle, will join the Saugus girls cross-country team at the CIF State Meet at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday.
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Nearly two weeks after announcing its decision to cancel its fall sports championships, California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section officials announced Monday the return of high school cross-country competitions. 

Boys and girls cross-country competitions returned last week, officials announced in an update to CIF-Southern Section principals and athletic directors. 

“For the first time since mid-March, student-athletes were engaged in interscholastic athletic competition and those first steps were significant for all of us moving forward,” Rod Wigod, commissioner of Athletics, said in a prepared statement.

The move comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted last week the COVID-19 regional stay-at-home order, leaving counties back into the state’s colored, four-tiered system. Los Angeles County remains a purple-tiered area, meaning the virus remains widespread and several restrictions are still necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The latest state guidelines on youth sports, as of Dec. 14, reflect that competition was granted Jan. 25 — the day the order was lifted — and lists sports that are allowed within each tier. Under the purple tier, cross-country is on the list, as well as track and field, tennis, and other activities such as biking, golf and no-contact martial arts, as these are considered low-contact outdoor sports. 

Southern Section officials had announced on Jan. 19 the cancellation of fall sports championships for football, volleyball and water polo. 

“There has not been enough progress made from the purple tier toward the orange tier for football, girls volleyball and boys and girls water polo to even begin competition this season,” Wigod said in a previous statement. 

Competitive cheer championships canceled 

Wigod also announced that competitive cheer championships scheduled for April 3 were canceled due to COVID-10 health restrictions that currently do not allow its traditional championships to be conducted “in the manner they deserve.” 

“Current California Department of Public Health Guidelines for Youth Sports significantly limit our cheer programs being able to adequately prepare for our championships and/or participate in competitions leading up to our championships,” said Wigod. 

Other reasons included that hosting the championships in one location with student-athletes from all seven counties “is not realistic.” A virtual option was considered but later determined it “would not meet the standards” of the event. 

At upcoming Southern Section council meetings, officials are expected to discuss the proposal to add beach volleyball to the list of CIF-approved sports and 28 maximum allowable contests for baseball and softball. 

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