PIERRE – In the future the South Dakota High School Activities Association may seek some consistency in the way that the state’s golfers qualify for state tournaments.
That suggestion was made last week when SDHSAA board members approved the annual changes to the organization’s Athletic Handbook.
Prior to last year, 60% of Class A Golfers qualified for the state tournament. Last April, the board approved a rule change reducing the field to 50%. At the time, SDHSAA staff said tournament days were taking longer than six hours with some golfers on the course who didn’t belong in a state tournament.
This year, a request from Class A Athletic directors sought a return to the 60% number or, barring that, a redistribution of Athletes if a region doesn’t send a full complement of Golfers to the state tournament.
SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos cautioned the board against approving the return to the 60% Qualifying field since there was not yet a full year of data on the change. The A and AA boys’ golf tournaments took place in October while the B boys and girls and the A and AA girls will play theirs in June.
“We’re not even through the first year of this,” Swartos said.
Board member Terry Rotert of Huron said the coaches were upset because the Class A field of golfers at the state tournament was “significantly smaller than it could have been.”
Swartos said last year’s change was approved by athletic directors, but golf coaches didn’t like it. “Once the coaches got the wind of it this fall, all the heck broke loose.”
Rotert explained that if the field isn’t increased to 60% of golfers, the athletic directors would like to be able to add golfers to their region if one of the regions doesn’t send all 50% of its golfers. Rotert said a region with 100 golfers would be allowed to send 50 to the state tournament. If it didn’t send them all, the other regions would add Golfers equally among themselves in order to send as many Golfers as possible to the state tournament.
That change was approved by the board on a 7-1 vote with the dissent coming from Marty Weismantel of Groton.
During the discussion, board member Derek Barrios of Elk Point-Jefferson asked if there was any way to get continuity across classes. He asked if the association could look at “how golf is run in our state as a whole.”
Swartos said that each class uses a different formula. Class B takes 40% of Golfers. AA calculates those Golfers that are within 75% of the average state tournament score to determine tournament Qualifiers.
In the area of track and field, the board approved using fully automatic timing at all AA state Qualifying track meets. The vote by AA Athletic directors was 16-3 on this change. SDHSAA Assistant Activities Director Randy Soma said the schools that voted against the change were likely concerned about hiring more people to run the meet and the expense of the FAT system.
“There’s so much inconsistency with handheld time,” said board chairman Tom Culver of Avon, noting that his school district rents out its FAT system for $ 600. “I know there’s others that charge a lot more.”
Board member Kelly Messmer of Harding County said he has used a handheld device to time Races at track meets. “It’s a disservice to the kids,” Messmer said. “I’m not very good at it.”
SDHSAA will do more research on the automatic timing systems.
“We need to find out how many systems we have across the state,” said SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director Jo Auch.
At the urging of Swartos, the board tabled a request from Athletic directors to change the out-of-bounds rule in wrestling. Under the proposed rule, if any part of the Wrestler is within the Circle, the Wrestler would be considered in-bounds.
Swartos received the proposed rule deviates from the rules set by the National Federation of State High School Associations. The NFHS is considering the change in its rules review process. Swartos said the proposed rule would be back on the board’s agenda for its June meeting.