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Big West officially postpones fall season

In addition to fall sports, fall events for other sports also called off

Justin Ngan of the University of Hawaii chips during the first round of the Kaanapali Classic Collegiate Invitational on Nov. 1 at the Royal Kaanapali Course. The Big West Conference announced Wednesday it was postponing the fall season due to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to fall sports, sports with fall seasons such as golf and tennis were also affected. Kaanapali Golf Courses photo

While University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine volleyball was the headline act impacted by the Big West Conference announcement on Wednesday that fall sports will be postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the news also directly affected Maui.

University of Hawaii men’s golf coach Ronn Miyashiro confirmed that the Kaanapali Classic Collegiate Invitational, which has been held in November for each of the last six years, has been canceled with the hope of being rescheduled in the spring, according to both Miyashiro and Kaanapali officials.

“I’m not going to say it’s too much of a surprise,” Miyashiro said via phone from Oahu. “I think we’ve seen some conferences across the country do the same thing. I think at the end of the day it’s got to be health and safety.”

Hawaii men’s golf is led by Baldwin High School graduates Justin Ngan and Justin Arcano, who are both entering their senior seasons.

“I just heard about it this morning, coach texted us,” Ngan said. “He pretty much said we’re not going to have a fall season.”

The postponement of competition in conference-sponsored fall sports affects UH women’s cross country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball, according to a statement on the school’s athletic website. The fall competitive schedules for men’s and women’s golf, and men’s and women’s tennis — all of which have their championships in the spring — will also be postponed.

“While we are heartbroken for our student-athletes, coaches, and fans we fully support this decision,” UH athletic director David Matlin said in the statement. “This is an extremely challenging time. However, by showing aloha and support for each other, I am confident that we will get through this together.”

This decision does not impact football — UH competes in the Mountain West Conference in that sport — nor the Big West winter sports of men’s and women’s basketball.

The UH website also said that decisions on “whether fall sport competition would be feasible in the spring will be determined by the Board of Directors at a later date and be based on conditions and circumstances that are in the best interests of the student-athletes.”

Ngan, who has been home on Maui since March, admitted, “I’m pretty bummed out. I was ready to go back and get back at it, but I guess this gives us time to, like, practice for spring if we do have it.”

There were some questions as to what will happen to the Wahine volleyball schedule — the team finished 26-4 last year. UH coach Robyn Ah Mow is hopeful of having a season in the spring, but that may depend on what other conferences do with the sport this fall.

“Obviously, they’re all bummed,” Ah Mow told KHON2 TV. “The seniors are heartbroken. They are thinking that they might not have one (season), but postponed, does it really mean canceled? I told them just keep praying, maybe something good might happen, something might happen later. They’re kind of all bummed right now, but they’re relieved that there’s actually an answer.”

Ah Mow added, “I’m relieved, too, because I was actually trying to figure out how this was going to get done, how the sanitizing and all of that was going to get done. They’re kind of relieved in some sort that there’s actually an answer as to where the season is going.”

When asked if Big West fall sports could be played after Jan. 1, 2021, Matlin told KHON2, “I want to be an optimist. I don’t have enough information right now. The good thing is I support the Big West decision to postpone. … We have a lot of time between now and then for a lot of different things to happen, but obviously for sports to play we have to do them in a healthy and safe manner. And we need to work on some logistics if we’re going to have a lot of sports at the same time. I’m not pessimistic about it, but I’m glad we have some time to work through that.”

Where the golf season appears to be headed is a very busy spring. The UH team usually hosts four events in an academic calendar year — two in the fall and two in the spring. Hawaii was set to play seven times in the spring of 2020 before the final five events were wiped out by COVID-19.

The NCAA requires that teams play eight events to be considered for a postseason regional, but Miyashiro thinks that number will be reduced, possibly to six. With budget restrictions likely due to projected shortfalls, that will make playing the four home state events in the spring paramount for UH and a roster that appears ready to make a run.

Miyashiro must now figure out what to do with his players, especially if it is determined that school will be held online this fall.

“Well, it’s unfortunate because it is their senior year,” Miyashiro said. “You’re looking at on our roster, we’ve got five seniors on this roster and it’s affecting all five of them.”

Miyashiro added that this announcement “feels a little different” than the spring shutdown.

“I think for the two Justins, with Hawaii, yes they did open the golf courses, but they’re really not playing in events,” he said. “Everybody has canceled events all summer, so you really wouldn’t have any competition, whereas the guys in California, where they have so many cases, they’ve been playing events.

“So there’s going to be some rust. Not necessarily rust golf-wise, because they can play now and practice, but competition-wise … We’re just going to have to be creative, we’re going to have to figure some things out.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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