CAL gives golf, tennis and cross country green light to compete

Students express excitement over the return of some high school sports now that the county stay-at-home order has been lifted.

The+varsity+boy+%28left%29+and+girls+%28right%29+cross+country+team+do+mile+repeats+at+Willow+Hills+Reservoir+in+preparation+for+their+first+race+in+February.

Photo By Anton Escay

The varsity boy (left) and girls (right) cross country team do mile repeats at Willow Hills Reservoir in preparation for their first race in February.

Katelyn Newton, Mirada Staff

Girls golf and tennis as well as cross country athletes are marking their calendars for the highly anticipated return of high school sports. The Capital Athletic League (CAL) convened yesterday, announcing projected dates for certain sport seasons.

Girls golf and girls tennis are planning on officially beginning their season as soon as Feb. 15, and cross country has their first race scheduled for Feb. 13 at Willow Hills Reservoir in Folsom. 

The CAL meeting occurred shortly after the CIF collapsed Season 1 and Season 2 into a singular season. Athletic director Malaya Cabrera explained that the league is now working to create schedules and guidelines on an individual sport basis.

“CAL came together, using the color tiers, given dates, and number of teams in our league, to determine a schedule that works for our sports,” Cabrera said.

Coaches of each sport convene to create schedules for their specific season and get approval from the director of CAL for competition. 

The cross country team has been training five days a week in anticipation of their first race. Senior Jalen Naran is thankful to have one last chance to run cross country, despite the fact that it will be a short season.

“I’m excited about cross country starting but I’m sad it’s going to be my last season,” Naran said. “I was excited to hear that they finally went through with starting the season after lots of talk but no action.”

Several recommendations have been made in the CIF’s COVID-19 Sports Modifications as to keep student-athletes safe while running, and masks must be worn at all times except while racing. Cross country meets are also encouraged to stagger the start of races, widen the course if possible and enlarge the finish line to allow for distancing.

Girls golf will start official practices Feb. 15, anticipating a month-long season from March 1 to April 1. Sophomore Kiersten Bjork is looking forward to being back on the course.

“I’m super excited to get to do something that feels even just a little bit normal and get back with the team,” Bjork said. “I expect this season to look really different with new precautions and virtual school, but even if that’s the case I’m still very excited.”

Some of the CIF’s modifications and guidelines for golf includes wearing a mask at all times, requiring players to use solely their own equipment and limiting those allowed on the course to athletes, coaches and officials.

Similar precautions are outlined for tennis. Senior Emma Chally has faith that their tennis season will be safe with the rules in place and is thankful for the opportunity to play some matches her senior year. 

“I am really excited that we’re going to be able to have a tennis season this year,” Chally said. “I am also confident that COVID precautions will be taken and that we will be safe while playing and practicing.”

COVID-19 precautions for tennis include wearing masks at all times, social distancing at all times except while engaged in competition and using new tennis balls as often as possible.

Once Sacramento County reaches the red tier, baseball, softball, field hockey and girls lacrosse would be allowed to take to the field, requiring less than 7.0 daily new cases per 100 thousand citizens. The orange tier requires a daily case rate less than 4.0, but once achieved football, soccer, boys lacrosse, volleyball and water polo could return. 

Currently Sacramento County’s current adjusted case rate is 43.5 per 100 thousand citizens, according to the LA Times, deep within the purple tier, leaving many athletes waiting for infection rates to improve. For now, golf, tennis and cross country will be California’s first attempt at reintroducing prep sports in the pandemic.

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