PIERRE -- The South Dakota High School Activities Association moved one step closer to splitting the state track and field meet into three days at one location on Tuesday.
The SDHSAA Board of Directors unanimously approved the first reading of a proposal that called for all three classes to be joined at one location for the state meet, beginning in 2022.
The rationale centered around having a late start on the first day of the meet in order to avoid additional costs for teams traveling and to provide more adequate recovery time in a longer schedule.
SDHSAA Executive Director John Krogstrand cited athletes like White River’s Caelyn Valandra-Prue and McCook Central/Montrose’s Jacy Pulse, who won multiple state championships last season, but could have added another with more rest. He also noted that states such as Kansas and Nebraska both held state championship meets in one location.
“The timing of how quick the turnaround was on that final day and the rest and recovery, she just wasn’t able to physically do it,” Krogstrand said. “The biggest thing for me is allowing the athletes that little bit of rest time. Maybe it helps enhance their performance.”
Other track and field first readings that were approved included Class AA implementing the javelin next season on a trial basis, with a chance to make it a state event in 2022. Allowing officials to flip the start of the 200-meter dash in cases of high wind was also approved.
All proposals can be approved at the June 11 board meeting.
SDHSAA to schedule SoDak 16 games closer to higher seed if needed
Another proposal approved for a second reading allows the SDHSAA staff to schedule Class A and Class B SoDak 16 games at a neutral site closer to the higher seed.
Currently, sites are based at sites halfway between opposing schools, but staff has regularly struggled to accommodate both schools with adequate travel requirements.
Currently, there is no rule in the state handbook that specifies how and where to schedule games and it has gotten increasingly difficult to accommodate both teams. Krogstrand also believes the higher seed earned a shorter trip based on its performance throughout the season.
“There should be a little bit of bias,” Krogstrand said. “If you have a Sioux Falls team and Rapid City team, maybe that game is in Mitchell if Sioux Falls is the higher seed. It’s not going to be in someone’s backyard or home gym, but if you’re the No. 1 seed overall, you probably should have the advantage of traveling 40 or 50 miles as opposed to 200 just to get to the middle.”
Board member and Winner activities director Dan Aaker expressed concern that some teams may be required to travel significant distances for a game scheduled during a school night.
“I’m asking for some assurance that one team won’t have to travel 200 miles,” Aaker said. “I understand that the farther west, including our area, there’s not many (sites) there. It’s something that needs to fall schools to host some of those. The discrepancy should not be a lot.”
Krogstrand assured Aaker that the goal would still be to provide each team with a reasonable distance, but to have guidance in the rulebook if needed.
“It’s not automatic that we’re going to have two games in Pierre and two games in Chamberlain every single time because it’s East versus West and there’s nowhere else to put them,” Krogstrand said. “We’re going to be fair and equitable as best we can, but if there is a bias, it should be toward the higher seed.”
The girls basketball state tournaments are scheduled the week before the boys basketball tournaments next season, so a proposal that moves the first allowable contest to Thursday, Dec. 3, while the boys to Dec. 10 was approved.
Another proposal passed that would put the Class B girls state tournament in Watertown, Class A girls in Brookings, Class A boys and Class AA girls in Rapid City and Class AA boys in Sioux Falls in 2022, while Huron would host Class B girls, Sioux Falls would host Class A girls and Class A boys, Class AA girls would be held in Brookings and Class AA boys in Rapid City for 2023.
Girls division on the verge of being added to state wrestling meet
Adding girls wrestling to the state meet also appears to be on the horizon as the board approved the first reading that would include a female division next season.
Nearly 40 females participated in wrestling last season, while more than 100 competed at the club level, according to the SDHSAA. There were also tournaments around the state that featured girls divisions with strong participation numbers.
Another wrestling proposal passed would increase the number of duals needed to be eligible for the state dual tournament from eight to 10, while another limited new duals to be scheduled prior to Dec. 1 next season.
Dual rankings will continue to use the current point system, but at the end of the season, the top 10 teams will be evaluated for eight state spots based on head-to-head results, common opponents, point average, last year’s placement at the state meet, individual results at the previous state meet, and if needed, a coin flip.
New handbook language would also require a minimum of five wrestlers to be seeded in each weight class at region meets.