Sunday, June 20, 2021
June 20, 2021

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Martinez: Local administrators propose rule changes to WIAA

High School Sports

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

Ten proposed amendments for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association handbook were presented Monday at the WIAA’s Winter Coalition.

Three of those proposals were presented by administrators from Southwest Washington, dealing with transfer students as well as the seasons for basketball and wrestling.

Jason Castro, the athletic director at Prairie High School, presented a proposal that would declare a student ineligible for varsity play for one year if the student transfers to a new school after playing for a club team or other non-school program that was coached by someone who also coaches at the school to which the student transfers. The same would be true if the student received personal instruction or training from the coach who was at the new school.

“A huge growing issue that we are seeing (in Clark County) is the amount of high school coaches who are doubling as athletic trainers, 7-on-7 coaches, whatever it is, the skill development outside of (the school program),” said Castro, speaking on behalf of the 4A/3A Greater St. Helens League. “And one of the byproducts of doing both is the inevitable transfer of students.”

A similar proposal was made last year that not only dealt with coaches, but also teammates at the new school who were also teammates in the club program. The new proposal is more focused, said Tom Adams, who co-presented the proposal with Castro.

“This is an amendment that was kind of on the table for last year, and it spoke to student to student,” said Adams, director of student services for Battle Ground Schools. “We felt that would be way too hard to manage. But the coach one could be managed.”

The Winter Coalition offers presenters of proposed amendments the opportunity to explain their proposal in front of the Representative Assembly and take questions. If necessary, the amendment is clarified before being sent to the full Representative Assembly for vote later in the spring.

Another proposal, presented by Heritage athletic director and wrestling coach Erik Gonzalez, regards two-day tournaments with brackets of larger than 16 wrestlers. An individual wrestler is currently allowed to wrestle no more than 45 matches on 16 team dates prior to any state qualifying tournament. The change would count such two-day tournaments as just one of the 16 dates instead of two.

“This all came up through the reclassification process, which caused many leagues such as ours down here in the GSHL 3A and 4A to combine (into one league),” Gonzalez said. “And once we combined, we’re a nine-team league now. And now our wrestling coaches are frustrated, wondering how are we going to compete against all eight teams in our league and maintain our tournament schedule as well.”

The proposal would be applied to tournaments like the Pacific Coast Championships, a local tournament hosted by Mountain View that brings in competitors from around the Pacific Northwest. Events like these exposes wrestlers to top-flight competition as well as gives them an opportunity to be seen by college coaches.

Gonzalez said the proposal would allow teams to maintain their dual-meet schedule, better prepare athletes for the postseason, while still adhering to the 45-match season limit for individual wrestlers.

Onalaska athletic director Dennis Bower presented a proposal that would allow basketball teams to replace one of the 20 regular-season games with a two-game, three-game or four-game tournament, potentially extending the team’s regular season to 23 games.

“This amendment has been before the Representative Assembly several times,” Bower said. “But now it’s got a little unique twist with a little bit of flexibility here. We’re kind of borrowing the concept from volleyball, where you can take one game and trade it for up to a four-game tournament.” 

Bower added that increasing the opportunity for tournaments will allow teams to build a more diverse schedule, promote team bonding through overnight travel and give seeding committee members more opportunity to see more teams.

The next stage for all 10 proposed amendments comes when the WIAA offers them up for public comment before sending them to the Representative Assembly for a vote from April 29 to May 7.

The Representative Assembly is made up of 53 members – 18 middle school and 35 high school members. A 60% vote is needed to adopt an amendment. High school-only amendments require 21 yes votes from high school members to pass.