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NDHSAA Board approves super region tournament for Region 1

Last September, the North Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors gave its blessing for Region 2 to transition from district tournament play to a super region format. Monday, the board unanimously approved a similar proposal brought forth by Region 1, which will introduce its Super Region tournament format in 2015-16.

Add Region 7 – the trailblazers of the super region structure – to the conversation, and three of the state’s eight regions in Class B are now committed to Super Region postseason formats.

It’s a trend that outgoing NDHSAA Executive Secretary Sherm Sylling said will likely be the route the whole state moves toward.

“I’m guessing, but I think by 2016-17 the option (of district tournaments) will be gone,” said Sylling, who is retiring June 30. “The super regions will be the format that we use. We have had no discussions about a date (of a statewide adoption), but in the conversations we have had in the office, I think by 2016-17 a decision made for sure.”

Chris Swenson, Superintendent of Wyndmere Public School, brought forth the Region 1 proposal that differs slightly from the format that has been approved for Region 2 and Region 7.

“It is the first formal step,” Swenson said. “The vote was encouraging. We’re now moving forward to 2015-16. There is a lot of work ahead of us still.”

Region 1, which currently includes teams from Districts 1 and 2, will be made up of 13 teams in 2015-16.

Approved Class B realignment begins in 2014-15 with District 1 being comprised of Fairmount-Campbell-Tintah, Lisbon, Wyndmere-Lidgerwood, Sargent Central, Hankinson, and Milnor-North Sargent. District 2 will be made up of Central Cass, Enderlin, Kindred, Maple Valley, Northern Cass, Fargo Oak Grove and Richland.

The double-elimination district tournaments that qualify four teams from Districts 1 and 2 for region play will be played in 2014-15, but as the number of teams in each district across the state has decreased, the viability of district tournaments has come into question.

“We are trying to add a little more excitement back to these tournaments,” said Kindred Superintendent and NDHSAA board member Steve Hall said. “We have watched what has happened with some of the other regions who formed super region formats, and we thought maybe this is something we should be moving toward.”

Region 1’s super region format calls for each school to play each other in the regular season for seeding purposes. Once seeds for the 13 teams are determined, seeds 1 through 3 would receive first round byes with seeds 4 through 13 playing four first-round games to set the eight-team portion of the tournament.

The proposal allows for one additional regular-season contest. It also calls for every game of the tournament to be played at one venue and that the money from the first round be split among Region 1 schools. Both items differ from the formats of Region 2 and 7, which from an NDHSAA isn’t exactly ideal.

Sylling and Matt Fetsch – who is taking over as Executive Secretary on July 1 – both said they are concerned that the formats are operating different financially in regards to how the profits of the first round are handled.

These concerns were addressed by the board, which approved the issue of super region tournaments be sent to the realignment committee for further state-wide discussion. The board also granted Fetsch the option to create an ad hoc committee with representation from the eight regions for the purpose of exploring the adoption of Super Region formats across the state in Class B.

“There will be several meetings next school year, and we’ll analyze the data we have on hand and ultimately make a recommendation to the board,” Fetsch said.

Board notes

Hall was appointed board president, replacing Fargo Public Schools activities director Todd Olson. … Devils Lake activities director Jason Wiberg was appointed vice president. Ben Auch of Mott, N.D., officially resigned his spot on the board as a representative of the North Dakota School Board Association and announced that West Fargo School Board member Patti Stedman has been appointed as his replacement. The appointment of Stedman was accepted, and her four-year term begins July 1.

The board unanimously approved a district chair recommendation to seed the 2015 Class B state wrestling team dual tournament. The seeding procedure will follow the NDHSAA’s current seeding procedure in place for volleyball, baseball and boys and girls basketball.

Starting next year in boys and girls hockey, an overtime win will count for three points and an overtime loss will count for zero points, replacing the 2-1 points structure for overtime.

The board also approved adding a three-foot charge arc in Class A basketball for the 2014-15 season.

The NDHSAA extended its premiere sponsor partnership contract agreement with Farmer’s Union Insurance through 2020-21.

Tom Mix

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high school sports reporter. He's worked at The Forum for five years. He was the 2013 North Dakota sportswriter of the year, an award that is sponsored by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to  

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