WPIAL considers changes to swimming championships, other winter sports

Monday, November 16, 2020 | 7:14 PM

The WPIAL might hold its swimming and basketball championships somewhere other than Pitt’s facilities this winter. Of course, that’s assuming there are winter sports championships.

The WPIAL board met online Monday and discussed adjustments that need to be made this winter. Among them, the board approved a plan to potentially reduce the number of swimmers who will qualify for the WPIAL championship meet.

Indoor gatherings are limited to a percentage of capacity under statewide covid-19 restrictions. To meet those requirements, the WPIAL will make qualifying times “more difficult to obtain,” executive director Amy Scheuneman said.

The new qualifying standards will be ready sometime in January, once the swimming steering committee sets them. The standards will be based on last year’s times and early-season marks this year.

“If everybody’s times are slower because they’re not able to practice as much, they may not need to tighten them up as much,” she said.

The WPIAL board also temporarily suspended the 10-meet minimum previously required for teams to be eligible for championship competition.

North Allegheny will host the Class AA and AAA diving championships Feb. 26-27. However, the WPIAL doesn’t have a site for the swimming championships, which traditionally are held at Pitt’s Trees Pool. If the meet needs a new host site, a high school natatorium won’t accommodate nearly as many athletes.

“Pitt is not allowing anybody in right now, so we’re back to that scenario of (determining) what’s going to be allowed and what’s not going to be allowed and when will we know?” Scheuneman said. “We’re going to look to other venues, potentially. But not knowing what the climate is going to be in two or three months, it’s hard to give certainties on anything.”

That also would impact the WPIAL basketball championships, which Petersen Events Center has hosted for six seasons. The WPIAL currently has no contract with Pitt to host, Scheuneman said.

Among other decisions, the WPIAL board supported a plan to let rifle teams compete remotely in the regular season, if preferred. Each team could shoot at its own range and then score the targets. The WPIAL rifle championship would be an in-person event.

Practice for winter sports starts Friday. The WPIAL and PIAA have supported starting the season on time. However, the final hurdle comes Wednesday when the PIAA board meets online.

Scheuneman said she wasn’t anticipating any surprise announcement from the PIAA.

“This is my opinion, but I don’t feel that the PIAA is looking to change anything,” she said. “If there is a change to come, it’s going to be from a government organization like the (Pennsylvania Department of Education) or from the governor himself.”

In other board business, the WPIAL accepted Southmoreland’s decision to forfeit football games against South Park, South Allegheny, Mount Pleasant and Derry for using an ineligible player. Only the South Allegheny and Derry games were victories.

The ineligible player was a Geibel Catholic student who played football at Southmoreland through a co-op, according to the school’s letter. He did not participate in Southmoreland’s victory over Yough in Week 5.

The team’s record falls from 3-3 overall and 2-3 in the Interstate Conference to 1-5, 1-4.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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