Although Yerington High School athletic director John Dibble was pulling for the school to be granted 2A status during a Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Board of Control vote on Tuesday in Las Vegas, he said there will be no lingering ill will toward the NIAA after the 5-2 ruling which left Yerington in the 3A league.
"There will be no sour grapes," said Dibble, who up until this season also served as the Lions' wrestling coach. "We will play the game by the rules. We did our best to convince the board, but they made the call and we'll respect their decision.
"We did what we thought best for our students and community. We did our homework and made a petition according to procedure and made our case. (The board) also had its own background information and had a difficult decision to make."
Yerington petitioned the NIAA to allow it to drop from 3A to 2A next year because, at its current enrollment of 465 students, it was just above the 2A ceiling of 460 students. With its borderline enrollment numbers, the Yerington administration felt the Lions would be more competitive, especially in football, playing 2A schools like Incline, Whittell and Mineral County (all current 3A schools which will drop to 2A next year), rather than larger 3A schools like Tahoe-Truckee, Bishop Manogue and Lowry (a 4A school which will drop to 3A next year).
"No question about it, with our numbers it will be tough (in football)," said Dibble, who noted the Lions had a combined number of about 44 football players for both the varsity and junior varsity teams at the conclusion of the season. "We explained to the Board of Control it will be tough for us. We're only about .500 - 13-11 - against the (future) 2A schools of Lovelock, Incline and Hawthorne.
"But we've got tradition and we'll take them (the 3A schools) on. We'll have to step it up a notch and get more of the athletes playing three sports and get them into the weight room."
Yerington football coach Eric Bobrick declined to talk about the situation.
Although admittedly disappointed with the decision, Lion basketball coach Daron Wildermuth said the basketball team wouldn't be affected as much as the football team and "would be OK."
"We've got a strong basketball tradition - both the boys and girls teams will be fine," Wildermuth said. "We like to compete with those teams anyway. Regardless of our size, we like to play the bigger schools."
Wildermuth did point out that Yerington will be at a distinct disadvantage in basketball because the school is unlikely to have enough players to field a freshman team in upcoming years. Last year's Lion freshman basketball team was disbanded midseason and there were never enough players for a team this year. Most of the 3A schools Yerington will be playing will have freshman teams.
"For sheer numbers, it will give their players more opportunities to play," Wildermuth said. "We'll be the only school without a freshman team."
What likely hurt Yerington in the vote was the fact that on "head count day" early in the academic year, Yerington had 478 students. And with a current 5th-8th grade school enrollment 458, the Yerington administration could not - with certainty-predict the school's enrollment would drop below 460 within the next few years.
Although the new alignment is supposed to remain in effect through 2004, both Dibble and Donnie Nelson of the NIAA staff said it would be possible for Yerington to petition to drop to 2A once again in the future when the school's enrollment drops permanently below the 460 student barrier. That's unlikely to happen before the 2002-2003 season, however, meaning that Yerington is likely to compete at the 3A level for at least two years.
The two votes for Yerington to move to 2A were cast by Michele Lewis of the Douglas County School Board of Trustees and Nat Lommori, the Superintendent of the Lyon County School District. Two board members were not present for the vote.
Notes: In other news from the NIAA Board of Control meeting, the 4A football season will be begin with one week earlier in August than in the past, and the state semifinals will be played the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The state final will be played on the weekend of Dec. 1-2, 2000 Mammoth (Calif.) High's bid to join the NIAA Class 2A was rejected by a 4-3 vote Bowling, alpine skiing, and boys volleyball were granted state championship status by the NIAA. Bowling and boys volleyball are not contested in the Northern 4A Zone In an 8-0 vote, the board agreed that all state finals must be played within Nevada state lines.