Dayton athletics to stay in Division 1A

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Dayton High’s athletic programs will stay in Division 1A for at least another two years.

The Dust Devils’ administration recently talked with members of the Northern Division III, which includes Lovelock, Yerington, Silver Stage, Rite of Passage, West Wendover and Battle Mountain about possibly moving down a level.

Despite Dayton’s athletic struggles in recent years, especially in football, boys basketball, girls basketball, cross country and softball, the schools turned Dayton down flat. In the official vote, Lovelock and Yerington abstained and the rest voted no.

“We looked at it from all possibilities,” Dayton athletic director Cory Sanford said earlier this week. “We had meetings with coaches, parents and players to give us some feedback and decided to stay where we’re at.”

Donnie Nelson, assistant director at the NIAA, said Dayton could have went a step further and petitioned the NIAA.

“The board can’t do something that the school doesn’t want to do,” Nelson said. “Dayton has not petitioned, and they have to do that before anything can be considered. The NIAA won’t move schools just because. It’s not just about the numbers. The schools that petitioned in September, they were almost all approved because of competitive balance and not numbers. The realignment committee really did a good job in my humble opinion.”

Nelson said the matter can be brought up at any time, but it couldn’t be voted on for two years.

Most of the recent vote seemed aimed at school population and not competitive equity. According to, Dayton has more than 700 students. Yerington is at 370, Battle Mountain 339, Incline 316, West Wendover 314, Silver Stage 306, Lovelock 205 and Rite of Passage 165.

Obviously Dayton would have a significant numbers edge if it moved down, but the Dust Devils are at the opposite end of the spectrum in 1A. Only Truckee is smaller than Dayton. Elko is at 1392, Fallon 1263, Sparks 1133, South Tahoe 1001, Lowry 960, Fernley 943 and Spring Creek 902.

“Lovelock is not against Dayton coming in,” said Lovelock athletic director Mike Brooks. “Going into the meeting, I was sure Lovelock would vote yes as a no brainer. However, all the schools in the league did not feel the same as us. Many of the schools were against saying yes because they were already having trouble competing. Lovelock is willing to play Dayton in any sport (and does).”

“Lovelock and Yerington wouldn’t mind them coming down,” Yerington athletic director Daron Wildermuth said. “The smaller schools were against it. Most of them were looking at it from a enrollment point of view.”

That was the case for Paul Tremayne, athletic director at Battle Mountain.

“Size of school population,” he said in an email over Christmas break. “If you allow them, who else may join. Possibly Moapa Valley. Their numbers are similar. If allowed in, at what point do they (Dayton) move back up? Why move back up?”

Any movement is only for a two-year realignment cycle and then re-evaluated. One big difference between Moapa Valley and Dayton is Moapa Valley, despite having just 562 students, is considered competitive.

“Most schools expressed a safety issue, especially in football,” Brooks said. “There was concern about Dayton coming down and rebuilding their program to a point where it was dominant against everybody. Dayton is down right now, but it wasn’t that long ago they were beating Lovelock even during Lovelock’s state championship seasons.

“Many people suggested that Dayton attempt the independent route, at least in football, which they ultimately decided not to do.”

Dayton went 0-10 this season in football, and didn’t score a point until its final drive of the season.

“We put it out there,” Sanford said about the Dust Devils turning down becoming an independent. “The reception at the meting was overwhelming against it.”

The feel was that going independent was a bad idea for the Dust Devils because the football team wouldn’t be able participate in the postseason as an independent.

Since 2004, the Dust Devils are a combined 57-65 at the varsity level. The team has had just four winning seasons in that span — 6-5 in 2004, 6-5 in 2005, 10-1 in 2006 and 6-4 in 2009. In that span, Dayton is 4-2 against Lovelock, according to MaxPreps, 2-0 against Battle Mountain (14-12 and 12-6) and 2-0 versus Yerington. Dayton hasn’t fielded a freshman team for at least eight years.

Several times this year Dayton suited up less than 20 players for a varsity game, and Sanford said injuries forced the Dust Devils to cancel three junior varsity games.

It gets even worse in other sports.

The girls basketball program is 66-138 since 2006. Its only winning season came in 2005 when Shari Andreasen coached the Dust Devils to a 20-5 mark. Since 2006 Dayton has had just three double-digit win seasons. Unofficially, because some seasons were incomplete on MaxPreps, Dayton is 0-11 versus Lovelock, 5-7 against Yerington and 6-2 vs. Incline.

On the boys side, Dayton is 141-116 in the last 10 years, but are 33-51 in the last four seasons. In that span, Dayton is 9-2 against Silver Stage, 4-4 against ROP, 4-5 against Lovelock and 5-7 against Yerington.

Dayton failed to have enough interest to field either a boys or girls freshman team.


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