Pro-Nevada groups may threaten 4A status quo |

Pro-Nevada groups may threaten 4A status quo

Survey says, … stay? Or go?

South Tahoe High’s athletic glitterati are anxiously awaiting the results of an informal poll of Nevada’s 3A athletic programs that may determine whether the California-based Vikings can continue to compete for the Silver State’s championship hardware.

The Nevada Interscholatic Activities Association is one of several high school sports governing body in the country that allows non-state schools to vie for state championships. But if some Nevadans have their way, it may not be for long.

Enter the Nevada Coalition for Nevada High School Athletes, an organization headed by Moapa Valley football coach Jeff Knutson. The group’s mission is to retain the integrity of the state’s high school athletics by allowing only state schools to compete for Nevada’s championships. Knutson’s surveys are currently in the hands of 3A schools (three administrators and 15 coaches) and are expected to be completed within the next weeks.

“The schools that want to keep the California schools in are so dead-set that they have raised the level of Nevada schools,” said Knutson in a telephone interview Wednesday. “It’s hypocritical to have a Nevada state champion from California. There are border towns in every state in America, and none of them are playing for other state’s championships.”

If a consensus appears to have formed in the NCNHSA’s favor, the first targets will likely be North Shore schools North Tahoe and Truckee, who often field dominant football and soccer teams and who have accounted for 54 Nevada titles, Knutson said. The probable route for dismissal would be through a NIAA vote or possible litigation. If the North Shore schools leave, does South Tahoe get the boot as well?

“I’m not real sure just yet,” Knuston said. “We’re not speculating on it at the moment. It may end up that South Tahoe gets dragged into it down the road. Right now, though, the two leagues that are most affected are the 2A and the 3A (California) schools.”

None of this talk sits too well with representatives of South Tahoe athletics. Leaving the 4A’s Division II would return the Vikings to the

California Interscholastic Federation, where they last competed during the 1982-83 school year. STHS would likely play in the CIF’s Sac-Joaquin section as a member of the 12-team Golden Empire League. Having to travel to and from the Sacramento Valley poses obvious problems, coaches say.

“More than anything, we have to consider the health and safety of the student athletes,” said STHS football and girls basketball coach Tim Jaureguito. “Going over Echo Summit instead of Spooner is a big difference in the winter. It’s a very difficult and dangerous road to travel on. Plus, more travel time is more time out of school, and we have to remember the priority here is education.”

A return to California would likely mean an end to the regional rivalries South Tahoe has developed with Reno-area schools.

“We’re a small-town school and our heritage is definitely closer to the schools in Nevada,” said Vikings wrestling coach Tom Barnes. “Our community is 50 percent Nevadan and some people have failed to note that.”

“I don’t think we would have any regional rivalries (anymore) unless you consider El Dorado a type of a regional rivalry,” STHS athletic director Frank Kovacs said. “It really just defies reason to me. I have a really hard time thinking this through and calculating what it will mean (for us) because it just seems so ridiculous.”

But perhaps the strongest criticisms levied by South Tahoe officials have been questions surrounding the NCNHSA’s motives.

“It’s pretty simple. They lost a football game and it doesn’t really go any deeper than that,” Jaureguito said. “Rather than sucking it up, working harder, and trying to build a program to the level of Truckee, they’re trying to kick them out of the league. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a lazy man’s way out.”

Barnes echoed his fellow coach’s sentiments.

“It strikes me as quite provincial,” Barnes said. “If someone were to state some financial reason, I might understand it, but nobody at this point has maintained or directed that criteria at me. It sounds like there is something more emotional going on here. And at that level, I don’t necessarily condone it.”

Knutson disagreed.

“The arrogance of some of the schools in California is that they think just because they won’t be in the state championship would mean that (the state title) is watered down. That’s bogus, but I think that’s the opinion of a lot of people.”

And the beat goes on …

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