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California Preps Find Ways Around State Restrictions

Paul Steinbach

A high school cross country meet was held Saturday at Talbert Regional Park in Costa Mesa, Calif., despite the fact the California Department of Public Health prohibits youth sports competition in the state until at least Jan. 25.

As reported by The Orange County Register, team scores and individual times were tallied in the meet that brought together the boys and girls teams from Calvary Chapel of Downey, Calvary Chapel of Santa Ana and host school Pacifica Christian.

Pacifica Christian athletic director Brandon Gonzalez said the meet was a “fun run” and not an official meet. Some runners wore shirts or other gear identifying their schools, others did not.

“Technically it was just a fun run with two other schools that wanted a trail run,” Gonzalez said, using terminology often applied to all-covers distance runs for charity. “We tried to keep it as safe as possible.”

Gonzalez said Costa Mesa police officers attended the event, and that safety protocols were followed.

“Everybody wore masks up until race time,” Gonzalez said.

The California Department of Public Heath announced Dec. 14 that “inter-team competitions (i.e. between two teams) will not be allowed in California until Jan. 25, 2021, at the earliest" because of the high level of COVID-19 cases in the area. But the meet at Talbert Regional was not the only youth sports event in Southern California in recent weeks.

The OCR found online video evidence of girls' basketball games being played this past weekend at The Map sports facility in Garden Grove, and highlights of club football games played at Winner Circle Athletics in Corona are readily available on Instagram.

The West Coast Winter Classic baseball tournament, featuring high school-aged players, was played this past weekend at San Manuel Stadium in downtown San Bernardino. Orange County club organizations O.C. Ducks and Trombly Tribe had teams in that event. A 7-on-7 football event for high school-aged players was played in Fresno this past weekend, as well.

California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section assistant commissioner and spokesman Thom Simmons said the section office has no jurisdiction regarding what high school school teams do until the official start of their season.

“Since March 16 (when high school sports were stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic), Commissioner Rob Wigod has consistently stated that the ‘all clear’ will not be sounded by the CIF Southern Section to return to competition,” Simmons said. “That ‘all clear’ will come first from the governor’s office and from the state of California. And second, that will be based on what the California Department of Health allows. And third, the seven individual counties within the CIF Southern Section will make their determination regarding the viability of returning to competition. And fourth, local municipalities will make their own determinations based upon their own health departments. And last, most importantly, the individual high schools will decide when to reconstitute their sports programs and teams on their individual campuses.”

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