Back in February, the Oregon School Activities Association decided to forgo state championship games and allow schools to organize their own tournaments. With the pandemic continuing, the organization cited reasons including district-adopted travel restrictions and county gathering-size restrictions, as well as wanting to establish equitable qualifying procedures.
“The board has spent a lot of time on this over the last couple months,” OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber said in a news release. “The realities of trying to conduct large events, given where things stand right now, didn’t seem advisable in their minds. A lot of different issues come into play.”
In response, all 4A classification schools gathered and organized a plan for what is called culmination week. Spearheaded by Greg Mulkey, athletic director at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, the plan gives high school athletes a chance to play in some sort of championship match and have a little sense of normalcy.
Mulkey explained the uncertainty of how the OSAA could handle state championships led to the organization of the culminating week plan back in October.
“A lot of us are in rural communities, and we had to do something, plan for and be prepared for it,” Mulkey said. “I’m really excited this is coming to fruition. I feel good for the kids, coaches and fans.”
This will be one of his highlights in his education career, Mulkey said.
In an email, Mulkey explained the procedures for culminating week to 4A athletic directors, coaches and administrators. It follows:
This information outlines the 4A classification Culminating Week procedures for the OSAA season two. With the uncertainty of OSAA taking over during seasons three and four, we are moving forward with this plan for said seasons and allow our student-athletes the best experience possible.
Each of the six 4A classification leagues have selected their representatives for the ranking committees along with the committee chair.
Team sports procedure/Bracket of eight
For all team sports except football, the six leagues will submit their league champion and second place team to the 4A ranking committees. Each league champion will automatically be ranked in a bracket of eight along with two second place teams. The league champions will be seeded one through six based on the ranking committees’ decision. The six second place teams will be ranked seven through 12 with the top two being seeded in the seventh and eighth spots of the bracket. The four remaining second place teams will be alternates in case one or more of the teams are forced to back out of the bracket play. The volleyball, boys and girls soccer committees have a deadline of Saturday, April 3, by 8 p.m. to have the brackets complete. As soon as Greg Mulkey receives the brackets, they will be sent to the 4A classification athletic directors.
With only one week during Culminating Week it is impossible for football to play out in a bracket. Therefore, it is our plan to have two bowl games for the four top-ranked teams. The 12 committee members will place their vote each week starting Sunday, March 21. The top two ranked teams will play for a state championship with the third and fourth ranked teams playing for the third and fourth trophies. The teams involved in the final four will be responsible to find the venue at a neutral site that is agreed upon between the two schools involved. For those not playing in one of two bowl games, the 4A classification schools will have the option to play another 4A school, play local or not play at all during culmination week.
Picking league champions
With the uncertain times, it will not be necessary to play all contests or a full league schedule or determine your league representative. It will be the responsibility of each leagues’ athletic directors and coaches to determine the league representative for each of the team sports. How leagues do that is up to them.
In order to save funds, it is our plan for all team and individual sports to be held at 4A or other designated high school venues. For all sports except football, the highest ranked team will host the contest during the eight-team bracket competition unless the travel exceeds 360 miles round trip. If this is the case, the two schools will need to find a neutral site “halfway” between the two schools involved. For all team sports except football, the semifinal and/or at least the state championship game shall be scheduled at a neutral site that works best for traveling arrangements for the schools involved.
For individual sports, 4A schools or other high schools will host one or possibly a two-day event for the student-athletes. Golf is the only site to be scheduled outside of our 4A classification venues. Several of our 4A schools have been contacted and committed to hosting an individual sport state event during culminating week.
This plan is expected to return for season three, Mulkey said.