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Guiding principles for high school sports

Staff Report
Moderate risk sports like tennis, including Shilo Pequeno from last year’s Lady Wave team, that could be reclassified as low risk if precautions are in place could compete this fall under the current state restrictions resulting from the pandemic. High risk sports, like football and wrestling, are in jeopardy of not competing this season.
Thomas Ranson

The NIAA released an update last week regarding the fall high school season, which includes guiding principles about competition, adjustments in sites for the state tournaments and the first girls wrestling tournament.

The guiding principles serve as a blueprint for allowing schools to compete in the upcoming school year after the pandemic halted the spring season in mid-March. The season was never resumed, ending only two weeks into the regular season.

Among the principles, which were designed with input from the presidents of various regions and/or leagues in all classes in the Silver State disclosed in the release, the NIAA said the goal is to conduct competition in as many sports, and as safely, as possible.

“The Board of Control granted to the NIAA staff the authority to make and implement policies and scheduling adjustments necessary to deal with issues rising from the COVID-19 pandemic related to NIAA member schools and their participation in NIAA sanctioned sports and activities,” the release said. “The staff, in exercising this authority, is to consult, whenever possible, with the presidents(s) of the affected classification(s), the president of the NIAA Board of Control and the superintendent liaison to the NIAA Board of Control prior to implementing such scheduling adjustments and/or policy.”

Which recovery phase the state is in will help determine which sports will be allowed to function. Phase 3 allows moderate risk sports to compete while high risk sports have to wait until Phase 4. Low risk sports are allowed to compete under Phase 2, which Nevada currently sits and will be until the end of the month after Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive last week.

Low risk sports include: Individual running events, throwing events (javelin, shot put, discus), individual swimming, golf, weightlifting, alpine skiing, sideline cheer, single sculling, cross country running.

Moderate risk sports: Basketball, soccer, girls’ lacrosse, 7 on 7 football, swimming relays, volleyball*, baseball*, softball*, gymnastics* (if equipment can’t be sufficiently cleaned between competitors), tennis*, pole vault*, high jump*, long jump*.

* = if the equipment can be cleaned sufficiently, it’s labeled as low risk.

High risk sports: Wrestling, football, boys’ lacrosse, competitive cheer, dance

Fortunately for students, competition will still happen in lower risk sports even if higher risk sports cannot play. Other principles outlined include playing in geographic areas where possible and continuing competition even if some schools cannot continue or are temporarily suspended (i.e., a positive case results in the team suspending activities for two weeks). Seasons will not be extended past the date of the state tournament to avoid overlap of a subsequent season. Just like the spring, if a school is closed to in-person instruction, then that school cannot compete in NIAA-sanctioned sports.

Playoffs are subject to being altered or canceled in order to provide opportunities for participation of as many schools and students as safely as possible. The remaining guiding principles include the inherent competitive disparities of conducting competition where possible are overshadowed given the circumstances of the pandemic, returning students to school-based athletics and activities, where it can be done safely, takes precedence over the temporary competitive inequities that may arise, and universal contest limits should not be reduced. Schools are not required to compete in the maximum number of contests allowed, and local districts and/or schools may impose game, contest and meet limits that are more restrictive than the limits set forth in NAC Chapter 385B.

State tournament changes

Changes to the location of the state tournaments for the next two school years were also outlined.

This year will be the debut of the 5A, which includes most previous 4A schools in Northern Nevada and the larger Clark County schools. The 4A is exclusively represented by schools in the South while the 3A, 2A and 1A saw subtle changes. Fallon competes in the 3A and Oasis Academy enters its second year in the 1A.

In football, the North will host this fall the 5A and 2A championships, while the South will host the 4A, 3A and 1A. Next year, the North will host the 3A and 1A, the South will host the remaining three divisions. If both teams are from one region in the 1A, 2A or 3A, then the location will be moved to that region, which happened in 2018 when Fallon and Truckee advanced to the championship.

In boys and girls soccer, the state tournament will be held in the North for 3A and 2A this year and the 5A and 2A next year. The South will host the 4A and 5A this year and the 4A and 3A next year.

In tennis, the North will host the 5A and 3A state championships while the South will host the 4A. The South will host all divisions next year. In girls volleyball, the North will host the 5A and 2A this year and 3A and 1A next year, while the South will host the 4A, 3A and 1A this year and 5A, 4A and 2A next year.

All classes for cross country will compete in the South this fall for state while the North will get the 5A, 3A and 2A next year (South will have just the 4A). The girls golf state tournaments will be in the North this fall, except for the 4A, while the South will host all classes next year.

The basketball season sees one of the biggest changes with the 3A and 1A staying in the North for the second year in a row. The 5A, 4A and 2A will be in the South this year and the 4A, 3A and 1A next year. The North will host the 5A and 2A next season.

The 5A, 3A and 2A wrestling tournaments will be in the North this season with the South hosting the 4A. All divisions will be hosted by the South the following year. An end-of-season wrestling tournament for the girls was approved last month and will be held in conjunction with the state tournaments.

In the spring, the baseball and softball state tournaments will be hosted by the North for the 5A and 2A in 2021 while the South hosts the 4A, 3A and 1A. In 2022, the North will host the 3A and 1A and the South gets the 5A, 4A and 2A.

All but the 4A will be hosted by the North in boys golf while all divisions will be in the South the following year. In swimming, the 5A and 3A meets will be in the North this school year with the 4A being in the South, which will host all classes in 2022. All track meets will be in the South this year and all but the 4A will be in the North in 2022.