Realignment could bring big changes
The South Tahoe boys’ soccer team, which has won two of the past three Class 4A state titles, will soon compete for 3A state championships. The Vikings’ football team will establish an annual Tahoe rivalry with Truckee.
The South Tahoe girls’ cross country team – the two-time defending 4A state champion – will battle the likes of Dayton, Lowry and Spring Creek for the 3A state title. The Vikings’ basketball team will challenge for its first state title since 1992.
These are just some of the scenarios that South Tahoe High School athletics could experience if a recent NIAA realignment proposal is approved. Nevadaprep.com first reported the agency’s revealing of the proposal during its Board of Control fall meeting on Sept. 28 in Reno.
“The only opposition I’ve heard to the plan is coming from the Southern 3A,” said Nevadaprep.com Editor Chuck Hildebrand. “I thought there would be some dissent from Elko and maybe Fallon, but I haven’t heard any so far. I think this is an excellent plan and I hope they pass it pretty much as it has been presented.”
Under the new alignment, South Tahoe would drop from the Northern 4A to the 3A Northwest League that would include Hug, Sparks, Truckee and Wooster. Along with the Vikings, Hug, Wooster, Fallon and Elko would also drop from the 4A to the 3A, which would also have a six-member Northeast League.
The Web site reported the proposal will be on the agenda as a discussion item at the next BOC meeting, scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Las Vegas. The proposal would then be voted on during one of the next two meetings (March 7-8 and June 13-14 in Reno).
“I think it’s the right move,” said STHS Athletic Director Don Borges. “We are in a group of schools (Wooster, Hug and Sparks) that have about 1,000 to 1,400 kids. It’s tough to compete with schools that have 2,000 kids. We can compete in the 4A in a number of sports, but we aren’t winning many state championships. That would hopefully change in the 3A.”
If approved, the realignment proposal would take effect starting in the fall of 2008 and would be locked in for four years. The second contingency is where the proposal meets its most dissenters.
The proposal allows for all schools – regardless of classification – to petition to move up or down in a specific sport. That part of the proposal will likely stay the same, but many coaches want to be able to petition every two years.
“As long as you can petition up, I think it’s a great plan,” said Dan Wilvers, STHS girls’ cross country coach. “How do we go from being a two-time 4A state champion, competing against 40 high schools with more than 1,300 students, to competing against 14 schools in the 3A with populations of 1,200 or less? We would destroy those teams.
“I don’t like the locked in for four years part of it. I think it should be more like two years. But if we had to, dropping to the 3A wouldn’t be a death blow to our program. We’re still going to go the big races like the Stanford and Woodbridge invitationals. At the state meet, it would just be depressing to watch the 4A schools race and then go race the 3A schools.”
Wilvers wouldn’t have to worry about not having that option since it’s possible the NIAA will lower the year requirement. But he would have to worry that petitioning to stay in the 4A is ultimately an administrative decision – not a coach’s decision. Borges said he would consider a coach’s plea to move up in a specific sport, but he doesn’t think he will be persuaded.
“My first thought is we would compete in the 3A in all sports,” Borges said. “But we would do what the Whittell volleyball team does. They compete at the 2A level and win state championships, but they go out of their league and walk the dog on the 4A teams.
“My feeling is you are put in a league to compete in that league. If South Tahoe starts winning state championships in the 3A, then that’s a great thing. I would certainly listen to any coach who wants to petition. But it’s really an administrative decision as to what’s best for an athletic program, and that decision would be about more than just winning or losing.”
When the South Tahoe football team played at Elko two years ago, it cost the athletic department $10,000 to charter three busses. Since the 3A Northeast League would consist of Fallon, Dayton, Elko, Fernley, Lowry and Spring Creek, the Vikings could play several crossover games each year against rural Nevada opponents.
“The league schedule we would play is fine, but the crossover games scare me,” said Borges, who has an annual athletic budget of $60,000. “I would like to know who would be in charge of scheduling those games. In just football alone, if we had to go out to Spring Creek one week, then to Elko the next week, that would wipe out two-thirds of my athletic budget in two weeks. That’s my biggest concern.”
If Borges plans to schedule nonleague games against 4A teams, Whittell volleyball coach Dan McLaughlin said he will encounter scheduling difficulties that go beyond budgetary concerns. It wasn’t until the Warriors won three consecutive 2A state championships that the majority of 3A and 4A schools would schedule Whittell.
“But I still can’t get games against Galena or McQueen,” McLaughlin said. “They won’t play me. For years, Gary Hankoff (former STHS volleyball coach) didn’t want to play me for the same reasons. The 4A coaches think it’s a lose-lose deal for them because they don’t want to lose to a 2A school. And if they win, everybody thinks they should’ve won. I understand the reasoning behind it, but it’s very frustrating as a coach from a smaller school.”
There wouldn’t be any classification moves involving current 2A member schools, so the realignment proposal wouldn’t have a major affect on Whittell’s athletic program. The 2A Northwest League would include Incline, North Tahoe, Rite of Passage, Silver Stage, Whittell and Yerington. The 2A Northeast League would consist of Battle Mountain, Carlin, Independence, Lovelock, West Wendover and White Pine.
While it’s playing an independent schedule this season, North Tahoe was already scheduled to drop to the 2A for the 2007-08 school year. The proposal would move West Wendover and White Pine – previous members of the Northern 2A – from the Southern 2A to the 2A Northeast League.
Except for the Whittell soccer programs, the Warriors compete in the 2A in all other sports. Since there aren’t enough teams to support 2A soccer in Nevada, the Warriors compete in the 3A with traditional powerhouses such as North Tahoe, Truckee and Incline.
It’s unclear whether the realignment proposal would include a newly established 2A soccer league or if Whittell would compete in a beefed up 3A Northwest League that – in addition to the north shore schools – would also include three former 4A programs.
NIAA Realignment Proposal
Northern Region: Bishop Manogue, Carson, Douglas, Damonte Ranch, Galena, McQueen, North Valleys, Reed, Reno, Spanish Springs
Sunrise Region: Basic, Canyon Springs, Chaparral, Coronado, Del Sol, Desert Pines, Eldorado, Foothill, Green Valley, Las Vegas, Liberty, Rancho, Silverado, Valley, Vo. Tech
Sunset Region: Arbor View, Bishop Gorman, Bonanza, Centennial, Cheyenne, Cimarron-Memorial, Clark, Durango, Mojave, Palo Verde, Shadow Ridge, Sierra Vista, Spring Valley, Western
Northeast League: Fallon, Dayton, Elko, Fernley, Lowry, Spring Creek
Northwest League: Hug, South Tahoe, Sparks, Truckee, Wooster
Southern League: Boulder City, Faith Lutheran, Moapa Valley, Pahrump Valley, Virgin Valley
Northeast League: Battle Mountain, Carlin, Independence, Lovelock, West Wendover, White Pine
Northwest League: Incline, North Tahoe, Rite of Passage, Silver Stage, Whittell, Yerington
Southern League: Lake Mead, Laughlin, Lincoln County, The Meadows, Mountain View, Needles, Tonopah
Northeast League: Austin, Eureka, Jackpot, Lund, McDermitt, Owyhee, Round Mountain, Wells
Northwest League: Coleville, Gabbs, Gerlach, Pyramid Lake, Sage Ridge, Sierra Lutheran, Smith Valley, Virginia City
Southern League: Beatty, Calvary Chapel, Indian Springs, Keystone Academy, Pahranagat Valley, Spring Mountain, Trinity, Warren-Walker
Note: Proposal will be voted on during either the March 7-8 or June 13-14 NIAA Board of Control meeting in Reno. Realignment wouldn’t be enacted until fall of 2008.