The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association has denied reports that the Massachusetts Sectional swimming tournaments have been rescheduled.
"Right now there are no plans to reschedule," MIAA spokesman Paul Wetzel said in a phone interview Friday afternoon. "We have explored all the ways we thought of that we might be able to hold the meets and have exhausted those options.
"The main consideration is the safety of the student-athletes and all of those involved. Thought was given to postponing sectionals by a week, and states by a week. We could have done sectionals, but none of the three sites were available for two weeks away."
There will be an unofficial meet, however. Minnechaug Regional High School Athletic Director Mike Roy confirmed to New England Newspapers on Friday evening that the MIAA has allowed unofficial Western Mass. meets to take place. The girls meet will be held Monday at 4:30 p.m. at Westfield High School, with the boys meet Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Chicopee High School.
Right now, spectators are not allowed at the meet, due to space concerns. Organizers are looking into the possibility of opening an area at the schools for streaming closed-circuit video of the meets, but they're not sure if that's feasible.
"I've been at this since yesterday, since the decision to not allow any sectionals," Roy said. "I have my superintendent and principal on this with us, contacting the MIAA. We understand fully that any time will not qualify a kid for the state tournament. ... So that's the unfortunate part. But those seniors who have been working so hard for four years just to qualify for Western Mass. will at least have the opportunity there."
The official Western Mass. event was scheduled to be held at Springfield College. The event will not be held Sunday due to parking restrictions at the college.
If one sectional event is going to be held all three must be held. Wetzel said the venues were not available for Sunday.
"We don't have a backup plan because there is no opportunity for a backup plan," Wetzel said.
Because colleges are also in the midst of preparing for their tournaments, holding the event during the week is not an option.
"I just thought how crazy that it is to think of all the people who didn't make the state cuts," Hoosac Valley's Liz Bernardy said. "I really feel for all the seniors who just had their last meet swept away from them."
It's not just Berkshire County swimmers that are upset with the cancellation of the Massachusetts sectional meets.
It even expands past the rest of the state's swimmers. Olympic swimmers even chimed to show their support for the Massachusetts sectional swimming events.
Olympians like Ryan Lochte, Garrett Weber-Gale and Missy Franklin all wrote tweets showing their support for Western Massachusetts swimming.
The announcement was made Thursday night, and within hours, swimmers took to Twitter to plead their case with the hashtag #BringBackWesternMass.
The tag took off.
"#BringBackWesternMass thank you so much!! It would help us swimmers a lot," Lochte tweeted to Hoosac Valley swimmer Julia Whitney.
For more on the story see the Transcript's story in the weekend edition.