What Alaska high school state tournaments may look like this year
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Of the Alaska high school fall sports that competed in 2020, only tennis and cross-country running were able to crown a champion, while football, swim and dive, volleyball and rifle had their state competitions canceled prior to the end of their seasons. As the Alaska School Activities Association, the regulating body for high school sports in the state, closed the book on fall sports, attentions turned toward winter sports. Boys and girls basketball, hockey and Nordic skiing have opened their seasons with practice and will begin competition within the next few weeks. Although there has been no tip-off, puck drop or sound of the starting horn for these sports yet, the logistics of their state championship events are in the works.
“March Madness Alaska” is one of the most participated and attended state championship events that Alaska high school sports has to offer. It features the best teams from Class 1A-4A from all corners of the Last Frontier’s map. Historically held at the largest indoor venues in the state (previously Sullivan Arena, now the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage), ASAA is planning for a scaled down version of the anticipated event. Their intent is to host a state basketball tournament if at least half of the conferences indicate they will be able to fill their berths. Conferences must notify ASAA approximately one month prior to the tournament.
“We are anticipating basketball [state tournament] to be held in a high school venue with limited to no fans being able to attend,” said ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland. “If we get into where it is limited, we would want that to be the parents of the participants being the first group that we would allow in.”
As of publishing, the 1A state tournament is scheduled for March 31-April 3, while the 2A championships are set for April 1-3. The 3A and 4A state tournaments are to be held March 25-27 with locations to be determined.
In December, the Anchorage School District elected to push their hockey season to the spring, competing from March 15-May 3 and will not participate in the DI state tournament. As ASD is one of just two conferences within Division I, Strickland says “the handwriting is on the wall that there will not be a Division I hockey tournament this year.”
“For Division II, we think there is still a likely hood it can happen,” Strickland said of the state tournament. “We have reserved and have commitments to use the Menard Center in Wasilla and that is where we would anticipate it being.”
ASAA has set the high school hockey Division I state championships for February 25-27, while DII is scheduled for February 18-20.
While the cross-country runners saw a champion named, cross-country, or Nordic, skiers are hoping the same can be said for their sport.
“The Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage is ready to host it for us,” he said of the state meet. “We do need to get the assurances from the Mayor that non-municipality schools could attend, but we believe that will be the case. If not, then we will either be moving the Nordic Ski tournament to a Fairbanks, or Mat-Su (Matanuska-Susitna) or a Kenai location.”
The Nordic ski state meet is scheduled for February 25-27 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage.
Wrestling, typically a fall sport, has been moved to the spring
• Wasilla football has been moved from the Division I classification to Division II based on enrollment. They will compete in the Railbelt Conference with West Valley, Lathrop, North Pole and Eagle River.
• Chugiak football also moves down to DII. Soldotna, winners of eight straight Division II championships, was in discussion to move up to DI. Based on the number of athletes who compete on both offense and defense, it was deemed unsafe for them to jump a classification.
• The World Language Declamation is scheduled for April 23-24. ASAA is still exploring whether the event can be held virtually.
• ASAA has suspended the “dual participation rule” for hockey this year, which previously permitted athletes from competing in both high school and comp hockey.
“We were concerned that was going to put a lot of pressure on the high school skaters in Region VI and Region III who also may want to be on those comp programs.” said Strickland
• ASAA’s next board meeting is scheduled for February 22-23.
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