By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
District 2 placed its track and field championships and part of its boys tennis tournament at North Pocono and acknowledged the need to move its baseball championships from PNC Field when the committee that oversees local schools in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association held its latest virtual meeting April 8.
On the state level, the PIAA decided earlier to try to go ahead with full state tournaments and championships. It had reduced the size of events in the fall and winter after canceling the spring 2020 season and shortening some winter 2020 championships, all because of the impact of the coronavirus.
The only COVID-19 pandemic adjustments on the local level for the spring come in terms of venue changes and the continued threat that some teams or athletes may have to drop out of events depending on positive tests and quarantines.
North Pocono was selected to return to its earlier role of hosting track and field after District 2 was informed that the Scranton School District would not be making Memorial Stadium available for this year’s championships.
The district’s track and field steering committee will meet to determine the various adjustments needed to conduct the championships on a six-lane, rather than eight-lane track. That changes the number of finalists in events that involve qualifying from eight to six and changes the number of athletes scoring points accordingly so that all events are treated equally.
District 2 chairman Frank Majikes also informed the committee that he has received word that Major League Baseball is currently handling the scheduling at PNC Field in Moosic, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, top farm team of the New York Yankees. MLB is not making May 30 and 31, Memorial Day weekend, available to the district for this year’s baseball championships.
Earlier dates may have been able to be worked out, but that would have created other issues. The district would have been forced to hurry the baseball championships in a year when it might need every available date for the regular season and the earlier finish would have meant a long layoff for District 2 champions as they prepared state playoffs.
The district is likely to simply use home fields of the higher seeds on all championships, although a final check with local colleges is also a consideration as the district also determines the status of its softball championship sites.
Host sites have become an issue throughout the pandemic. It has been more difficult to find non-high school sites or even to get high schools to serve as hosts for events other than their own. Neutral site events and occasions where two or more outside schools are coming in for multiple-school competitions have been particularly tough to place.
Unless a college or colleges agree to serve as host, the softball championships are also likely to end up played on home fields.
As District 2 finalizes its baseball and softball championships, it will try to avoid having games in the same classification at the same date at time. Most, but not all, schools are in the same classification in both sports.
Early rounds of Class 2A boys tennis singles and doubles will remain at Kirby Park, but North Pocono will be used for the Class 3A early rounds to reduce crowding at the Wilkes-Barre site.
Boys volleyball will use home courts for its Class 3A tournament and a Class 2A subregional that also involves teams from Districts 1 and 11.
During the meeting, plans to continue discussions with the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza about holding future district wrestling championships there were revealed.
The arena, home of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins American Hockey League franchise, has hosted the last six years of district basketball championships. It served as a late solution in wrestling when the district was seeking a site.