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Hawaii high school sports to go on break starting Monday due to coronavirus fears

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Punahou outside hitter Christian “Kawai” Hong (14), Jack Deuchar (10), and Jordan-Deshawn Hepting (15) celebrated after beating ‘Iolani in a match on Thursday at Punahou’s Hemmeter Field House. Punahou won 25-18, 26-24.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Punahou outside hitter Christian “Kawai” Hong (14), Jack Deuchar (10), and Jordan-Deshawn Hepting (15) celebrated after beating ‘Iolani in a match on Thursday at Punahou’s Hemmeter Field House. Punahou won 25-18, 26-24.

Hawaii high school athletes are going on an elongated spring sports break due to the fear of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting Monday, all sports activities — games as well as practices — will be on hold.

For most athletes it will be an unwelcome period of time, especially seniors who were planning to compete in their final sports season.

The announcement came early Friday afternoon via news release by the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, which, although it oversees all Hawaii’s state tournaments, does not govern the operations of its five member leagues. All leagues, however, communicated with the HHSAA, allowing it to get the message out.

“It was a smart move, knowing that the virus is here and can spread,” Mid-Pacific Institute athletic director Scott Wagner said after the Interscholastic League of Honolulu earlier Friday tweeted it would be suspending athletics. “It’s good for everybody to take some time and hopefully this will pass quickly. If that happens, seniors who have been working for their final high school moment might at least be able to finish their careers.

“That would be great if we can continue (at some point) if it’s safe to do at that time. If you’ve been watching all the pro and college sports getting canceled all across the country, though, this wasn’t really a surprise.”

Spring sports affected are baseball, golf, judo, softball, tennis, track and field, boys volleyball and girls water polo. Many of those sports in the ILH, Big Island Interscholastic Federation, Kauai Interscholastic Federation, Maui Interscholastic League and Oahu Interscholastic Association started their competitive seasons last week.

On Twitter, before the HHSAA’s announcement, the ILH tweeted that it was suspending play from Monday through April 13. The four other leagues are suspended indefinitely.

According to the HHSAA, the five leagues will not continue with spring sports without first getting a go-ahead from the Hawaii Department of Health and Lt. Gov. Josh Green’s office.

No decision has been made on the HHSAA’s spring sports tournaments in May. Chris Chun, the HHSAA executive director and his staff, will continue to monitor the situation.

“The priority of the HHSAA continues to be the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and members of the community,” Chun said in the release. “We hope that play can resume before the school year ends, but must be mindful not to jeopardize the health of our community in doing so. This decision was not made lightly and is supported unanimously by our member leagues.”

ILH judo tournaments scheduled for Friday and Saturday are the only known cancellations for this weekend.

On Thursday night, the Punahou boys volleyball team had an impromptu senior night celebration after a win over ‘Iolani.

“We really had no idea this would be our senior night until about noon,” Buffanblu senior Jack Deuchar told the Star-Advertiser. “So to see all the people in the crowd, and those signs, on such short notice, it feels very special. Out of all the negatives that have come out of this, one thing good is it’s made me a lot more grateful realizing that this a privilege to play for a school like Punahou, and not to take it for granted.”

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For more Hawaii high school sports, visit the Hawaii Prep World.

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