4A North expected to vote to remain at 4A level, many possibilities remain
The Nevada prep athletic landscape is on the cusp of a massive renovation.
On Wednesday, at the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Board of Control spring meeting, the board for the state’s prep athletic governing body will vote whether to establish a 5A classification to counter the exponential growth of the Clark County School District in Las Vegas.
If approved, the 25 schools that compete at the 4A level down south will be split starting in the fall of 2018, not necessarily evenly, based on past athletic performance. Comparatively, the 4A North houses 12 schools – 11 when discounting Wooster, which plays football at the 3A level.
The 4A North was presented the option to move up to the hypothetical 5A classification, or stay down at 4A, when the recommendations were approved last month by the realignment committee. The region’s commissioner, Ron McNutt, will disclose the 4A North’s preference at the meeting.
In early February, the 4A North’s athletic directors leaned heavily towards opting up to the 5A. That opinion has since swayed and the 4A North is now expected to stay at the 4A level.
Spanish Springs Athletic Director Art Anderson, one of the 4A North’s two longest tenured athletic directors (along with Reno’s Jim Pace), prefers Northern Nevada move up to the 5A level. He admits that he is one of the few 4A North athletic directors with this mindset.
“We don’t win everything, but we compete,” he said. “And we especially compete in state tournaments where we only have one team … It just seems like we’re giving a prize to everybody.”
Reed Athletic Director Ryan Sims also disagrees with the 4A North potentially avoiding the 5A classification.
“We feel like our athletes do complete with the best athletes in Vegas,” he said. “Sometimes the state championships don’t reflect that, however.”
The Raiders’ softball team finished third at state last spring after winning the title the year prior. The Bishop Manogue girls basketball team won its state semifinal game last month in Las Vegas before falling to nationally ranked Centennial in the title game. Spanish Springs won a state softball title last year, and boys cross country title in the fall.
“I feel the North can definitely compete in some sports,” Anderson added. “What I feel might happen I guess, if we stay at 4A, it could turn into Gorman dominating 5A, Faith Lutheran and Bishop Manogue competing for everything in 4A. Faith Lutheran is not going away, they’re becoming competitive in a lot of sports.”
It is unknown how drastic the changes will be, however, if there are any to be made at all.
Once McNutt presents, the BOC will determine if it is to establish a 5A classification – which wouldn’t start until the fall of 2018, if there will be a separate realignment for football only, if any 3A schools in Las Vegas would move up the 4A, etc.
The significance of the 4A North remaining at the 4A classification with a 5A level in place would not be lost upon the state’s casual prep sports fan.
For the large schools in Northern Nevada, it would mean avoiding the likes of Bishop Gorman in state tournaments. The Gaels have won the last eight state football titles and the last six state boys basketball championships. Both streaks tie state records.
Over the last 10 years (excluding state titles already decided in the 2016-17 school year) the 4A North has won just 44 of 190 (23 percent) state titles in team sports. That figure sinks to 19 percent when discounting Northern Nevada’s 11 cross country state titles – the most of any sport. The statistics do not factor in six unavailable years for girls soccer.
Anderson believes those numbers are misleading.
“That doesn’t give all information. It doesn’t show all the second places we had,” he said. “The information shocked a lot of people for whatever reason, apparently they weren’t paying attention the last 10 years.”
McQueen (2008) is the only Northern Nevada football state champion over the last decade. Boys basketball has been shut out. Girls basketball has three: Reed in 2012 and Reno in the two subsequent seasons.
Wrestling has also been blanked, as has baseball.
Volleyball, boys cross country, girls cross country, boys track and field, girls track and field, and softball are the only Northern Nevada sports to win more than three state titles since 2006.
The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Silver Legacy in the Silver Baron Rooms, starting at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Realignment is the first agenda item of consequence.