IHSA expands golf and cross country postseason

Darren Kinnard

BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois High School Association is adding a second round of postseason play for a pair of sports–boys and girls golf as well as boys and girls cross country. The IHSA Board of Directors voted on the expanded postseason during a special meeting called specifically to address sectionals for the two sports.

“Despite the challenges of this school year, our Board has remained committed to providing the most rewarding postseason experiences possible,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Given the relative success we have had safely conducting cross country and golf this fall, the Board asked our staff during the September Board meeting (September 14) to explore the possibility of expanding beyond Regionals to conduct Sectionals as well.”

The IHSA originally announced the fall seasons were slated to end with regional meets. Now a sectional round will be added for golf and cross country. The top two teams and four individuals from each golf regional will advance to a sectional. The top five teams and five individuals from each cross country regional will advance to a sectional.

Under the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Sport Safety Guidelines, low risk sports are allowed competitions, but only if opponents are in the same conference or COVID region. The golf regional assignments raised some eyebrows when teams were sent out of their COVID region for the postseason. In the release, the IHSA said staff attempted to maintain COVID regions and keep participant levels as low as possible when making assignments, but in some cases, generally those involving schools on or near a COVID border, schools were assigned to a tournament outside of their COVID region.

“Given the timing, our greatest challenge will be finding hosts, especially in cross country,” said Anderson. “We have been granted exemptions to compete outside the COVID Regions in instances, for example, where assigning schools on or near a region border creates better balance in the number of participants at a site. Based on the feedback we have received, we expect some schools will choose not to participate beyond Regionals. We respect those decisions, but still want to provide as many opportunities as possible.”

Golf regionals are set for October 6-7 with the sectionals added in the week of October 12-17. Cross country regionals are set for October 24, with the Board creating an exemption to the season limitation rule to allow the sectionals to be run October 29-31.

There were no changes made to the postseason girls tennis or girls swimming and diving, as the postseason starts at the sectional level in both of those sports.