NIAA to determine STHS’s level of play |

NIAA to determine STHS’s level of play

Steve Yingling

Should they stay, or should they go. That is the hot topic confronting the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Board of Control when it meets today to determine whether five Northern 4A League high schools will be dropped to Class 3A.

South Tahoe, Elko, Fallon, Wooster and Hug could all wind up in the 3A after this morning’s meeting at the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno.

Some STHS coaches are already braced for the change.

“The realignment is a done deal,” said Dan Wilvers, who has led the Vikings to two state cross country titles in the past three yers. “We’ll make the best of it and still catch all the big California and national races. “

In February, Lake Tahoe Unified School District voted to keep STHS in the 4A ranks, but the NIAA had other ideas at its March meeting in Las Vegas. The Board of Control appeared ready to send STHS, Fallon and Elko to the 3A, but new executive director Eddie Bonine asked that representatives from each school be present before making such a move. Consequently, a final realignment decision was delayed until today’s meeting.

Last year, a realignment committee recommended to the Board of Control a proposal to switch five 4A schools, including South Tahoe, to the 3A for its next four-year cycle that begins with the 2008-09 school year. As an incentive to dropping to the 3A, the proposal suggested giving the schools the opportunity to petition to play some sports at the 4A level. The latter proposal caused an immediate wave of contention and the NIAA eliminated that option in November.

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“I have my bias,” said James Tarwarter, LTUSD superintendent. “If you have competitive teams – soccer, for instance – I wish you could do more picking and choosing. If you are competitive and you can do it, let’s go for it.”

After Hug and Wooster balked at the proposal, Fallon, South Tahoe and Elko were asked by the NIAA to research the possibility of changing classifications. STHS Athletic Director Don Borges polled parents and coaches to gage their opinions, finding that nearly all parents desired to remain in the 4A while coaches were split.

Some of the concerns of going to the 3A are increased transportation costs due to longer road trips and missed classroom time.

Many of the students athlete wish to remain in the 4A.

“It gives us better competition. Even if our teams don’t win a lot, the athletes get better,” said freshman Alexis Holmes, a basketball player and golfer. “If we should go to 3A, some parents wouldn’t let their kids play sports because school is important.”

Holmes also pointed out how ridiculous it would be to travel six or seven hours to play golf in Elko when there are many lush courses in the surrounding area.

The 3A, however, would give the Vikings a chance to have more success in sports like football, baseball, softball and basketball. The school’s baseball and softball teams have yet to record a winning season in Nevada, although the Vikings were 11-11 and qualified for the baseball playoffs in 1994.

In February, the three schools informed the NIAA which classification they preferred. Only Fallon wished to drop to the 3A – but only if South Tahoe and Elko left the 4A as well.

If STHS, Fallon and Elko are forced to go to the 3A, the new 3A league would also consist of Fernley, Lowry, Spring Creek, Truckee, Dayton and Sparks.

However, if Hug and Wooster are also moved to the 3A, the league could include two divisions. The East Division would include Fallon, Dayton, Elko, Fernley, Lowry and Spring Creek, while the West would include South Tahoe, Truckee, Hug, Sparks, and Wooster.

With North Tahoe, Incline and Yerington all dropping from the 3A to the 2A, Whittell will be able to renew some old rivalries and save some travel money. Regular trips to Battle Mountain and Independence will no longer be necessary.

The projected Class 2A Northwest League will include Whittell, Incline, Hawthorne, Lovelock, North Tahoe, Rite of Passage, Silver Stage and Yerington.

If schools are switched to a classification against their wishes, they will have an opportunity to petition that decision in September, according to NIAA assistant director Donnie Nelson.

“I honestly have no idea what the board will want to do … (it) could act on the realignment committee’s recommendation, go a different way with a few schools, (or) could go strictly by numbers,” Nelson said.