High school realignment to impact small schools
Nevada’s Class 1A athletic landscape will have a new look that impacts the Sierra Lutheran, Whittell and Coleville high school programs starting this fall.
While the Sierra Lutheran Falcons and Whittell Warriors will remain in their Western 1A Division, the Coleville Wolves will move to a new Central Division, according to the 2018-20 realignment plan approved by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Board of Control at its Jan. 18 meeting in Reno.
Coleville will join Smith Valley, Mineral County (Hawthorne), Round Mountain and Tonopah to comprise the 8-man football Central Division. Oasis Academy (Fallon), Gabbs and Sierra Sage/Rite of Passage will participate in the Central volleyball and basketball leagues.
The Western 1A will consist of two Douglas County schools, Sierra Lutheran and Whittell, as well as Excel Christian (Sparks), Pyramid Lake and Virginia City.
Coleville Athletic Director Will Sandy expressed mixed feelings about the realignment plan. With the addition of Oasis Academy this year, the West would have had too many teams to continue home-and-away scheduling in volleyball and basketball, he pointed out.
“There have been some equity issues building over the years with the number of teams in the West compared to the East and the number of teams allowed to participate in the postseason,” explained Sandy, who coaches football and girls basketball at Coleville. “As of now, the East has only four girls basketball teams and they will all participate in the North Regional Tournament. The West with leave five teams out of the tournament.”
Sierra Lutheran Athletic Director Michael Nelson echoed that.
“This was a tough situation. We have a great relationship with our current league members, but the size of the West was proving to be problematic with the schedule,” Nelson said. “Something had to be done and I think this new alignment does a good job in re balancing the number of teams in the leagues.”
He went on to note that inequality issues exist in regard to the number of teams in the North compared to the South especially when it comes to playoff structure.
“Something had to be done to make it more equitable and four divisions helps with some of those issues,” Sandy said. “It will add some travel but not as much as the good old days when we used to go to Owyhee and Jackpot for basketball, football and volleyball.”
Because the four divisions are small, Sandy pointed out that Coleville will continue to compete against most of the teams it does at the current time, except those will become nonleague games.
“I think it was important to keep the Smith Valley-Coleville rivalry intact and it is under this model,” Sandy explained. “I hope that the playoff structure includes a rotation so that the Central and South aren’t always together.”
Sandy added that he is unsure what may be in store for the baseball and softball playoff format.
Nelson added that scheduling benefits are expected to come from the realignment.
“This helps our athletic department in being able to find more teams to play to help match the level of competition for our football, volleyball, basketball, and baseball teams,” he said. “It’s a new system and we are looking forward to seeing what kind of success it provides for our student-athletes.”