COWLITZ COUNTY, Wash. — It's been over a year since student-athletes have been able to play basketball or wrestle at the middle or high school level.
The winter sports season was delayed until late spring because of the coronavirus pandemic and the season was also shortened.
"I was just holding on to having that one basketball season," said Woodland High School sophomore Olivia Swanson. "Then I hear this and I'm like are we not going to have one?"
On Monday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced that Pierce, Whitman and Cowlitz counties drop down to Phase 2 of Washington's Roadmap to Recovery plan starting Friday, April 16, which means school sports will take another step back towards competing.
"I got sad because I'd been waiting for almost a year now to play basketball," said Woodland sophomore Kenzi Bunger.
Under Phase 2, students cannot compete in high-risk sports like basketball, wrestling, and competitive cheerleading and dance. Teams can still practice and play scrimmages against their own team.
Kelso High School was slated to open their season against Camas next week in Clark County, a Phase 3 county, and now won't be able to play their first couple games.
"The other issue with going back is you can't go into a Phase 3 county and compete, they won't allow us to do that," said Mick Hoffman, executive director of the Washington Interscholastic and Activities Association.
Monday's announcement was the latest hit to school sports, some were just starting to feel like things were slowly getting back to normal.
"We started our first basketball practice yesterday for middle school," said Neil Williamson, athletic director for Castle Rock Middle and High Shool. "That was kind of a punch in the gut for the coaches and kids there knowing that."
Medium-risk sports like softball and baseball require players on both teams to wear masks even if that school is traveling to a Phase 3 county.
"They're requiring us to go to the lowest common denominator regardless of location," Hoffman said.
Some teams don't start playing games until the first week of May, so there's still hope they can play.
"First game's scheduled for May 4, so we'll keep our fingers crossed and hopefully numbers go down," Williamson said.
In three weeks the state will reassess and determine if Cowlitz County will be able to move up to Phase 3.