Still support: Region 3 favors districts over super-region idea
Don’t expect Region 3 to embrace the super region. Not yet, anyway.
District 5 chair Matt Herman of Ellendale and Linton-HMB’s Dan Imdieke, a longtime athletic director in District 6, both said this past week that Region 3’s schools support keeping district tournaments.
“Neither of our districts want to see us lose district tournaments,” Imdieke said. “It’s a nice income for the communities and the schools. It brings people to these small towns.”
Last week, the North Dakota High School Activities Association’s Board of Directors passed a proposal by Region 1 to use the super-region format, which features a single play-in round versus getting to regionals by way of district tournaments. Advocates say the new format puts more emphasis on the regular season.
Region 7 used the format this past season and Region 2 has also implemented it. Outgoing NDHSAA Executive Secretary Sherm Sylling has said he envisions district tournaments being gone by 2017. His successor, Matt Fetsch, has said he would like to drop district tournaments statewide.
With three of eight regions on board, Imdieke said it seems inevitable, despite reservations from schools in his region.
“Everybody says it’s up-and-coming, and that it’s something that’s gonna happen,” Imdieke said. “It seems the high school activities association is more or less pushing for it. We think it’s something they want to happen.”
Profit from district tournaments is typically split among participating schools, but lack of significant profit led Region 7 to adopt the super region.
For the school year 2011-12, the District 5 boys basketball tournament at the Jamestown Civic Center paid out $10,204.01 to its five member schools. The payout ranked third in the state behind District 2 at the Fargo Civic Center and District 12 at the Minot Municipal Auditorium, both of which annually have the best showings in the state for attendance and profit. The boys district numbers for 2012-2013 were not updated correctly in the latest NDHSAA yearbook.
District 6 doesn’t fare near as well, though small-school venues tend to feature smaller attendance numbers. Bigger venues charge more for rent, however.
Wishek hosted the District 6 boys tournament in 2011-12. The event paid out $4,140.55 to six schools, which ranked 15th among the 16 districts.
The District 6 girls basketball tournament for 2012-13 was in LaMoure, and it brought in $2,730 in profit, which was eighth in the state. The District 6 tournament in Wishek was 14th in the state at $1,988.46.
Volleyball often deals with far less profit, perhaps making the most sense for a super region. The District 5 tournament in Ellendale during the 2012-2013 season brought in $631.78, which was 11th. District 6 outdid its region counterpart, as the event in Linton made $1,542.58. That placed it fifth among the state’s districts.
Region 3’s athletic directors came up with an idea a few years ago they felt would solve the problem.
Last season, there were only five teams in each district, meaning full tournaments were played to get rid of one team.
But the idea of making district tournaments more competitive was thought to have been figured out by Region 3 officials.
Their idea would have sent just three from each district tournament to the region tournament, with the district champion getting a bye in the first round. It would have meant just two games the first day of regionals, cutting down on athletes missing school and creating more incentive for district champions.
However, the NDHSAA appears to like the current region-tournament format, which starts with eight teams the first day.
“Instead of eliminating the district tournament, we thought we could make it more important by allowing only six teams into the regional,” Imdieke said. “We didn’t get much attention from (the NDHSAA). They more or less ignored us. They didn’t hardly consider the idea.”
Herman, Ellendale’s athletic director and girls basketball coach, said many in the district feel “Class B events ought to be held in Class B towns.”
“There’s been significant changes in District 5, where now we have three venues that are capable of hosting the district tournament,” he said. “One of the things that could be a roadblock for a super region is that there is no great central location to host a super regional. We just don’t have that geographically.”
This fall, Region 3 will look a bit different.
Oakes is moving in from Region 1, while Carrington and Midkota-Kensal are coming over from Region 4. All three teams will be put in District 5, with Medina-Pingree-Buchanan moving to District 6.
That puts seven teams in District 5 and six in District 7 for basketball. Volleyball, however, will have eight teams in District 5, because LaMoure and Litchville-Marion field separate squads.
Herman said he has yet to gauge the feelings of a super region in the “new” district.
“The district has changed quite a bit and we’ve not had that conversation,” Herman said.
The District 5 tournaments for girls and boys basketball are set for the Jamestown Civic Center. The regionals are also scheduled for the Civic Center, while the volleyball regional will be played at Jamestown High School. The location makes it easier for District 5’s new schools, travel-wise.
Imdieke said his district understands the popularity of the Region 3 boys basketball tournament and that it needs a big venue like the Civic Center. However, he still expects the other two region tournaments to rotate with a District 6 site, often Hazelton because it has the biggest gym.
“Unless we get overruled, we still want to host the girls regional every other year,” Imdieke said. “Unless there’s been something done I don’t know about, our district would fight the idea of moving the girls (permanently to Jamestown).”
Both Herman and Imdieke like what district tournaments bring to the region, but they’re also realistic.
“I think there’s some that believe it’s inevitable,” Herman said.
Said Imdieke: “It seems like it’s what’s gonna happen. Districts are gonna disappear.”
Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or firstname.lastname@example.org