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Eisenhower players run on to the field before a 2019 game against Davis at Zaepfel Stadium. (Evan Abell, Yakima Herald-Republic file)

High school sports in the Valley took a step closer toward starting a modified fall season on Thursday.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced an adjustment for moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2, requiring only three of the four COVID-19 metrics to move forward in the state's "Roadmap to Recovery" plan launched on Jan. 6.

With this change, two of the state's eight regions — Puget Sound and west — will advance to Phase 2 on Monday and will be allowed to start practices for all fall sports. The WIAA established earlier this month that Feb. 1 to March 21 would be the parameters of the modified fall season, but the Executive Board also allowed individual leagues to set their own timelines.

As of Thursday, our southcentral region, which includes Yakima, Kittitas, Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla and Columbia counties, is meeting two of the four metrics and is close in a third. Unfortunately it was also announced on Thursday that the state's Department of Health would calculate the metrics for each region every two weeks rather than weekly.

That means the next chance for the state's other six regions to move up would be Feb. 15.

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Not unexpectedly, the CWAC and SCAC will have to delay the start of its moderate- and high-risk fall sports, which can only move forward in Phase 2. This includes football, volleyball, boys soccer, slowpitch softball and girls swimming. The CWAC had hoped to start Monday while the SCAC set Feb. 8 for its start date.

As a low-risk outdoor sport, cross country can start in Phase 1 and the five CWAC schools in the southcentral region are beginning practices on Monday. The first league competitions are scheduled for Feb. 13.

Counties that are moving into Phase 2 on Monday include Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific and Thurston in the West region and King, Pierce and Snohomish in the Puget Sound region.