STHS to stay in the 4A |

STHS to stay in the 4A

Steve Yingling

RENO – In the end, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association decided against varying from its traditional enrollment formula for aligning high schools.

Hence, South Tahoe High will remain a member of the Nevada 4A League for athletics at least through the 2011-2012 school year.

The NIAA Board of Control’s near unanimous decision on Wednesday at the Atlantis Resort Casino removed concern among at least seven schools that they would be switched to a classification against their wishes.

“Our community wanted to be in the 4A, so it worked out for South Lake Tahoe,” said STHS Athletic Director Don Borges. “It appears that Mr. (Eddie) Bonine looked at the criteria, and the No. 1 criterion is black and white and people can deal with that.”

A nine-member realignment committee had been hatching a new plan for classifying schools for the past 18 months. In addition to enrollment, the committee wanted the board to consider geographic location and competitive balance.

Borges felt that South Tahoe met all of the criteria to remain in the 4A, even though Bonine, the NIAA’s first-year executive director, indicated at a March meeting that schools could be moved to a classification in spite of their preference. Based on the enrollment numbers Borges presented to the board on Wednesday, STHS ranked eighth out of the 15 Northern 4A League schools with 1,525 students.

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“There is no perfect way to do this. They really bent over backward to accommodate the schools, and I like that,” said STHS Vice Principal Jack Stafford. “They have to look at their (enrollment) numbers and adjust them.”

Only Daniel Phillips and Nat Lommori opposed Bonine’s recommendation that the board base the next realignment cycle on enrollment.

“Having sat on three of these and sitting where I do now, it seems as though it doesn’t comes back to something other than the numbers,” Bonine said. “We’ve heard we’re under the numbers, we’re not gonna have the numbers or we’re flat and everybody else is growing. Whether those numbers are right or wrong, we can always take a look at that. “

Enrollment ranges for all four classifications include 0-169 for the 1A, 170-460 for the 2A, 461-1,200 for the 3A and 1,201 and above for the 4A.

STHS has been part of Nevada’s highest classification since leaving the California Interscholastic Federation in 1982-83.

Wooster, Hug, Fallon and Elko were also being considered with STHS as 3A candidates. Hug was the lone 4A school that didn’t have a representative make a presentation in front of the board on Wednesday.

Elko Athletic Director Lynette Davis said her school lost interest in the 3A proposal when it appeared that Wooster and Hug were excluded from being realigned. Fallon was only interested in moving to the 3A if South Tahoe and Elko also did so.

“From a competitive standpoint, the 3A is the best fit for a majority of our sports. We’re not committed to moving to the 3A if only one school is going there,” said Fallon Athletic Director Brad Daum, whose school is moving closer to a 3A enrollment number with 1,253 students. “Winning state and regional championships aren’t the most important things. However, competing for regional and state championships are.”

Bonine sent a letter to both Hug and Wooster in April, informing the schools that they were still being considered for the 3A.

Interestingly, several schools may be surprised to learn that they will need to petition the NIAA to remain in the 4A or 3A. Bishop Manogue in Reno and Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas fall short of the 4A enrollment cutoff based on this year’s numbers. Bonine said he sees no reason why those schools won’t remain in the 4A. Pahrump will need to petition to remain in the 3A after next year since its enrollment has climbed above 1,200 students.

STHS will have an opportunity to petition down in a sport, but Borges doesn’t see that happening – at least not before the 2007-08 school year.

“Let’s see what happens next year in football,” Borges said.

The Vikings last had a winning season in 2003 and have won only one game in each of the past two seasons.

Only Yerington and Laughlin didn’t receive their preferences. Yerington, which was designated to compete in the Northern 2A League in the latest realignment committee’s proposal, still has an enrollment that exceeds the 2A cap, while current 1A member Laughlin’s enrollment falls in the 2A classification. Those schools can petition the board in September.

Impassioned pleas were made by school officials from Tonopah, Carlin and Laughlin as those schools hoped to remain in the 1A to keep their students interested in sports by remaining competitive and preventing an already taxing travel log from increasing.

Lomorri suggested that the NIAA examine expanding the enrollment ranges of each classification at some point.

“We may need to look at these numbers because they may be part of the problem,” he said.