PIERRE — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Dakota high school state track and field meet will be held at three separate locations in the Black Hills in late May.
Each class will compete at their own sites for both days of the state meet. That means the entire Class AA meet will be held in Sturgis, the Class A meet will be at Lyle Hare Stadium at Black Hills State in Spearfish and O'Harra Stadium in Rapid City for the Class B meet.
The track meet is scheduled for May 28-29, 2021. Traditionally, the first day of competition is held at three stadiums, one for each class, for preliminary races and some field events. The second day of competition is usually held at the largest venue of those three, at O'Harra Stadium when the state meet is in Rapid City and Howard Wood Field when the meet is in Sioux Falls.
“This change is being done after consulting with our Site Hosts, Coaches and Administrators from across the state to formulate a meet that will allow us to hold a full, championship competition” said John Krogstrand, the SDHSAA's Assistant Executive Director. “Our hope is these changes, both in terms of sites and schedule, will allow us to host a successful State Meet while also maintaining social distancing guidelines and health precautions.”
No state meet was held in 2020 due to the pandemic, the first time since 1919 that South Dakota did not have a state championship competition. The state track meet is slated to move to a three-day format in 2022 to allow the competition to be held at one large stadium under normal circumstances. The 2022 and 2023 meets are scheduled to take place in Sioux Falls.
The practice day for the state meet, generally scheduled for the Thursday before competition starts, has also been canceled. Competition will begin at 3 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday at all sites, with some sprinting and relay events held as a multi-heat final.
The SDHSAA said it is requesting that all fans were masks and remain socially distant from each other during the event. Teams and school personnel will be asked to space out in the facility to assist with social distancing.
The 2021 South Dakota track season is underway, with practices allowed starting March 1, with the only notable change related to COVID-19 being the elimination of award ceremonies at meets and restricting the track area to athletes only.