State of the state events

With the University of Nevada continuing to expand its athletic facilities, it only makes sense that the college could be used for more high school state championships in the near future.

So it makes sense that Nevada Interscholastic Activities Assocation officials who govern high school sports in the state will meet today with Wolf Pack athletic officials to talk about the possibility of the school hosting more state events.

NIAA assistant director Donnie Nelson described whatever has been proposed heading into today's meeting as being "very unofficial," but was hopeful that something could be announced today as far as Nevada hosting state championships in sports other than football and basketball.

With the development of such properties as the former Manogue campus, which sits right across from Peccole Park on the Nevada campus, obvious state events that could be hosted by Nevada in the future include soccer and softball.

In recent years, Nevada has made more of an effort to reach out to local high school athletes, so it's not surprising that the school is interested in hosting more state events.

Another intriguing possibility is that Peccole Park could be used to host the NIAA 4A State Baseball Championships as soon as 2006. The only obstacle that has prevented Peccole from hosting the state event is it doesn't have lights.

"Coach Powers is wonderful to work with," said Nelson, commenting on Nevada baseball coach Gary Powers when he's been approached with the idea of Peccole hosting the state event if and when it has lights.

But the independent Golden Baseball League and Nevada has been in negotiations to place a GBL franchise in Reno as soon as 2006, with the team playing at Peccole. If that happens, the GBL could move to install lights at Peccole in time for the 2006 season.

If that's the case, then Nelson said holding the state event at Peccole is a definite possibility. If there are still no lights at Peccole, the other choices to host the state event would likely be Reno High, Manogue and Carson's Ron McNutt Field, which hosted state in 2004.

For the first time in a long time, McNutt Field will not be a host site for the 2006 Northern 4A Baseball Championship as that event will be held at Reno High and Manogue. But Carson will still be the host site for the zone and state softball championships as it was in 2004. Carson will also be a host for this year's zone soccer event and will host this year's NIAA 4A Boys Soccer Championship as it did in 2004.

This year's NIAA 4A State Football Championship is set for Mackay Stadium on Dec. 3. But only the Northern 4A champion will advance to the state semifinals this year and must travel to face the Sunset champion. If the Northern 4A champ doesn't advance to the state title game, it will be held in Southern Nevada.

The NIAA has yet to select a site if two Southern 4A teams meet for the crown, but the obvious choice would be Sam Boyd Stadium. "That's next on the agenda," Nelson said.

As part of a budget-cutting move to cut down on travel, the NIAA went to its current format in which only four teams advance to the state tournament with the North and South rotating as host sites in each sport every other year.

It's the North's turn to host this year's state basketball tournament and once again the state title games on all levels will be held at Lawlor Events Center.

So once again, there's the definite possibility that two Southern 4A boys teams will meet for the state title in a nearly empty Lawlor, a huge contrast from last year's state 4A event that drew 6,200 fans at the Orleans Arena.

But Nelson said there's been no talk about having the 4A state event being played permanently at the Orleans, which would guarantee a large crowd and a financial windfall for the NIAA if two Southern teams advance to the title game.

"We're not about making a bunch of money," said Nelson, adding the NIAA is concerned about doing what's most fair for its student-athletes and schools.

Which brings up the topic that has been talked about for several years: Will and when will the large Southern schools form their own 5A division.

While some think it's inevitable, Nelson said he doesn't see it happening at least in the near future.

"If people want to lose the North-South high school championship, then the answer is to go to 4A-5A," Nelson said.

There are those who say that the Northern 4A champ could play the Southern 5A champ if the South forms a 5A division, but Nelson noted, "That's what we're doing right now."

Nelson also noted that essentially a two-team state tournament in which the North and South champs would always play for the state title was proposed, but hardly anyoned liked the idea and that the current format was much more well-received.

"I think what we've got right now is the best solution," Nelson said.


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