TAHOE/TRUCKEE — The massive smoke plume from the Rim and American fires in California has put a halt on the start of the prep season in western Nevada.
Much of the pollution is courtesy of the Rim fire in and around Yosemite National Park, which was roughly 30 percent contained on Thursday and had burned more than 192,000 acres, according to reports. The wafting smoke from the fire has caused the air quality to reach dangerous levels around Northern Nevada and California.
Throughout the affected area, preparation for the upcoming fall seasons has taken a hit due to the smoke, as practices have been mostly held indoors. On Wednesday, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association canceled all of Thursday’s action.
A day later the NIAA announced that all of Friday and Saturday’s high school sporting events are canceled in the following counties — Washoe, Douglas, Carson, Lyon, Storey, Churchill, Mono (Calif.) and El Dorado (Calif.). Schools in those counties may relocate games to counties not on the list, “with appropriate authorization from school district personnel,” according to the NIAA.
Impact on Truckee, Tahoe
Truckee — which has been on the fringe of the smoke, with some days far worse than others — is not scheduled to host any sporting events this weekend, although its soccer teams were supposed to compete in the now-canceled Howell Memorial Tournament in Galena on Friday and Saturday.
At North Tahoe, the football team is scheduled to host Pyramid Lake on Saturday at 1 p.m., and the volleyball team is hosting a tournament Friday and Saturday. North Tahoe Athletic Director John Neary said the volleyball tournament is on for sure. Lakers football coach Scott Everist said a final decision about their game will be made by Friday afternoon.
Incline moved its football opener from Sierra Ridge in San Andreas (Calif.), which is close to the Rim fire, to a neutral site in the Sacramento area.
Schools in eastern Nevada, meanwhile, are in the clear. Between the Northern Division I-A and Division III, Lowry, Elko, Spring Creek, Battle Mountain, Pershing County and West Wendover do not have the restrictions like their counterparts, which frees up time and space for games to be juggled.
The Division I, with schools in Reno, Carson City and Douglas, is a different animal. Those schools will likely have to find neutral site locations to compete.
One of those scenarios has already played out, as McQueen moved its season-opening football game against Nevada Union from Reno to Grass Valley. Other opening-weekend games are canceled if no suitable option can be found.
While the scheduling is yet to be totally overwhelmed, postseason implications are starting to surface.
In a Wednesday meeting, NIAA Director Eddie Bonine faced questions regarding the postseason and said if the smoke conditions continue into next week, the NIAA and school districts statewide will have to determine an appropriate course of action.
“We are not there yet,” Bonine responded.
In addition, Bonine discussed the conditioning of athletes, especially those in football, who have not been allowed to participate in full-contact drills for nearly one week. Cross-country and soccer teams have also been hindered.
The concern, Bonine said, is that clubs from the affected areas will not be properly conditioned to the nature of each sport. For example, the Truckee and Sparks football teams travel to Lowry and Elko, respectively, on Sept. 6.
“Elko hasn’t missed a beat,” Bonine said. “So now we are concerned about the competitive balance.”