In case you didn’t notice by the snow that stuck to the ground last week, winter is coming.

In preparation, the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union issued their COVID-19-related guidelines for the upcoming seasons.

The general guidelines for winter sports are similar to what was used to navigate through the summer and fall seasons. The IHSAA and IGHSAU guidelines can be superseded by federal, state or local government agencies and local school districts.

The guidelines basically emphasize the importance of social distancing, hand sanitizing and equipment sanitizing. And they stress the idea that if a fan, coach, player or administrator is not feeling well they should stay home. Any symptoms or a temperature of 100.4 or higher? Stay home.

The rules for basketball are similar to what has been used in volleyball season. There are few rule changes that people watching the game might notice. There may be an official who chooses to stand a bit farther away on a throw-in and players and coaches will sanitize their hands at every opportunity.

Wrestling is a little bit of a different animal as a sport that requires close contact between competitors.

In practices, coaches are asked to consider assigning pods of no more than four or five wrestlers for daily workouts to help with contact tracing. They also are encouraged to consider breaks every 15 minutes to sanitize, hand wash and social distance. They are asked to consider multiple practices with the team split into smaller groups, or even every-other-day practices separated by groups.

For dual meets the IHSAA recommends considering keeping each competition to three teams or less. It urges teams to consider distancing during weight-ins by splitting them by team, using multiple scales and/or holding them in a large area such as a gym or a wrestling room.

Schools are asked to consider a reduction of teams or restrictions regarding out-of-state teams for tournaments.

They also are asked to consider using just one coach in each corner rather than two, although two are still allowed. If a coach asks for a conference with an official at the head table, they are asked to wear a mask, keep six feet of social distancing or both.

The considerations can be adjusted as each school sees fit.

NCC completes season

The Northwest Iowa Community College sports shooting team completed the fall portion of its season on Oct. 17 with a 488-406 loss to Iowa Western Community College.

Levi Hammelrick had the top score for the Thunder with a 90. Carmen Vermeer shot an 83, Chase Williams an 80, Alex Wilson a 77 and Caden Berte a 76. Iowa Western had two athletes, Weston Zolck and Tevin Statzer, shoot scores of 99.

“The weather made it a challenge for our final competition, but the athletes kept positive during the event,” said NCC coach Brian Lauck. “That can be a battle when you have high expectations of yourself.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the entire fall season was completed on a virtual basis. Each team recorded its scores from its home range.

“The virtual season was interesting,” Lauck said. “Overall, our scores were down because a competition looked a lot like practice.”

The Thunder will have at least two meets in April.

“We have plans for strength and mental training over the winter,” Lauck said. “And if the weather will allow us, we will visit the range.” 

Kieft scores his first TD

The opening of the Big Ten Conference football season last week meant the start of Sioux Center High School graduate Ko Kieft’s senior season at the University of Minnesota.

The 6-foot-5-inch, 265-pound tight end certainly made the day memorable. Kieft scored Minnesota’s first touchdown of the season, and the first TD of his career, when he hauled in a 14-yard scoring pass from Tanner Morgan in the first quarter of the Gophers’ 49-24 loss to the University of Michigan.

Kieft had two catches for 29 yards and one rush that lost 2 yards.

He has lettered in each of the past three seasons for Minnesota, but most of the action in his 38 career games has seen him featured as a blocker and a special teams ace. Kieft has five career catches for 65 yards.