At least at the outset, the prep track season may look quite different in West Virginia.
The Secondary School Activities Commission released guidelines Thursday that limit participants in any session of a meet to a total of 250 participants because of COVID-19 protocols. That could impact some of the larger regular-season meets, such as the Gazette-Mail Relays, which have traditionally been held three weeks prior to the state meet.
Spring sports events are due to open on April 12. The state track meet has been split into three days this year (June 10-12), with boys and girls in one class participating each day.
“Just like cross country [last fall], we’ll continue to monitor the situation as the season goes on,’’ said Bernie Dolan, executive director of the SSAC. “In cross country, the conditions got better, people understood, people handled things better and we were able to expand. That’s still a possibility moving forward.’’
Dolan acknowledged that some large early-season meets, such as the Dick Dei Classic at Wheeling Park, might have to compete with a reduced field. The Dei Classic is usually held about the third or fourth weekend of track season.
“For this year,’’ Dolan said, “people are going to have to be creative and lessen the numbers that come. We’re hoping that as we get later in the season that we can revisit [the guidelines], not only for teams and participants, but also for attendance.’’
The SSAC hasn’t put out attendance policies yet for track, but Dolan expects it to be similar to current winter sports guidelines, which permit only parents, household members and grandparents to attend.
Among other track guidelines put out by the SSAC on Thursday — everyone must wear a face covering at all times “except when performing vigorous activity;’’ teams should have assigned seating and social distance should be maintained; batons, shot puts and discuses should be cleaned after each use; and no handshaking.