Questions remain, but McHenry County teams eager to get winter sports season started

Woodstock North co-op's Quinn Cynor swims the 200-yard freestyle during the IHSA Boys Swimming and Diving Championships on Feb. 29 at Evanston High School.

While there still remain a multitude of questions, IHSA member schools received the best news they have heard in months Tuesday: lower-risk winter sports can proceed with practices in preparation of a season.

The COVID-19 pandemic had completely shut down the winter sports season, initially scheduled to start with practices in mid-November.

Coronavirus cases spiked around that time, but on Monday, the Illinois Department of Public Health moved Region 9 (McHenry and Lake Counties) to Tier 2. Under those mitigations, high school athletic teams can again practice and some, depending on the sport’s risk level, can compete.

“It’s a good thing,” Woodstock North athletic director Robert Mickey said. “I hope for the kids we can make a plan and get everybody competing. We have two (swimming meets) next week and maybe a couple more. If we get clearance, later this week, we’ll try to plan for more.”

The IHSA’s winter season was set to finish on Feb. 13, so at this point there is not much of a season remaining. Schools will find out later Jan. 27 if the IHSA will adjust the schedule to make the winter season longer.

Boys and girls bowling, girls gymnastics, cheerleading and dance are all lower-risk sports. After seven days of practices, those sports can now compete.

Boys swimming is medium-risk and can practice only at this point, but if Region 9 reaches Tier 1, medium-risk sports can compete in meets.

Mickey hopes Woodstock, a co-op team of Woodstock and Woodstock North swimmers that competes as North, can be in the pool at North this week. The pool was undergoing some tile and painting work.

“I still have to talk to our superintendent (Dr. Mike Moan) and make sure everything’s good,” Mickey said.

Marengo AD Nate Wright hopes his school’s bowling teams are competing next Wednesday.

“We have two weeks left in the bowling schedule,” Wright said. “The (IHSA) didn’t say whether they were going to look into a postseason, I’m assuming they will work on that. Even with two weeks, you could put together a regional and sectional.”

Prairie Ridge’s co-op girls gymnastics team is the only one in the area and is the defending team state champion. The Wolves, who draw girls from Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge, have been practicing at Crystal Lake Gymnastics Training Center, where they compete in club gymnastics.

The unpredictable season left Prairie Ridge with no meets currently, but assistant coach Lisa Rumford said the Wolves will try to organize a virtual meet with DeKalb’s co-op team and an in-person meet at CLGTC with the Antioch-Lakes co-op team.

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