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Junior high sports back, new restrictions will limit 2020 fall season

There are a lot of happy 7th and 8th grade athletes in Illinois now that junior high sports is back.

After canceling the fall activities of golf, softball, baseball, and cross-country for 2020 season during their meeting on July 23, the Illinois Elementary School Association board of directors reversed that decision a week later. Following in the footsteps of the Illinois High School Association, who announced a major schedule change of sports seasons in response to the strict parameters set by the governor and Illinois' public health department, the IESA approved a plan for the return of regular-season contests in these three sports with a limited post-season championship.

Baseball, softball and cross-country teams are cleared to start practice on August 3 and can play in their first game or contest on starting on August 15. All meets and games previously schedule on or before the 15th must be canceled or rescheduled. The new plan also limits team to a maximum of two contests per week with no tournaments or events with more than three teams. Baseball can play three games a week if one contest is a doubleheader.

In its official release, the association stressed that "It is a very fluid plan and circumstances/guidelines/mandates may change any part of the plan at any time."

The board also approved a modified plan for for all remaining junior high sports and activities. The plan is a blueprint providing schools, administrators, coaches, parents, and officials with information to plan for the remainder of the athletic and academic year.

Incorporated into the changes, winter sports will run from January through March. Competition for boys basketball, girls volleyball, wrestling, and cheerleading would be played during this period.

Spring sports, which will include girls basketball, boys and girls bowling, and boys and girls track and field, will start in February and end in May.

The fall post-season will include a regional-only level of the state series for softball and baseball to be held the week of September 21 and a sectional-only for cross-country sometime between October 10-17. Golf will have a sectional tournament on Wednesday, September 9.

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