Sanctioned high school soccer will become a reality in South Dakota this fall.
There will be 16 school-sponsored teams for the first season under the umbrella of the South Dakota High School Activities Association. This fall's season will end with a four-team state tourney Oct. 4-5 in Aberdeen with one class for boys and one for girls.
The Aberdeen Central girls are the defending State AA champions on the girls' side.
Based on a points formula, the top two boys' and two girls' teams will qualify for the state tourney. There will be two play-in games in both divisions, with the third-ranked team hosting the sixth-ranked team and the fourth-ranked team hosting the fifth-ranked team. The play-in winners will fill out the state tournament.
The nine boys' teams will be Aberdeen Central/Aberdeen Roncalli, Freeman Academy, Groton, James Valley Christian, Mitchell, Mitchell Christian/Mt. Vernon, Sioux Falls O'Gorman, St. Thomas More and Sioux Falls Christian. The seven girls' teams will be Aberdeen Central/Roncalli, Groton, Mitchell, O'Gorman, St. Thomas More/Douglas, Sioux Falls Christian and Sunshine Bible Academy.
There will also be a club state tourney for teams that are not school-sponsored. That tourney will be Oct. 11-13 in Rapid City.
Last season on the club level, there were 13 Class AA boys teams, 13 Class AA girls' teams, 17 Class A boys' teams and 10 Class A girls' teams. If there are similar numbers of teams overall this fall as last fall, that would leave 16 high school teams playing sanctioned soccer and about 25 playing the sport at the club level. Various officials recently told the Rapid City Journal that many schools are strapped for cash and can't afford to sponsor soccer as of now, but they hope the numbers for sanctioned soccer will continue to grow in the future.
Lend a helping hand
The Aberdeen Central track and field computerized timing system, FinishLynx, has been making the rounds in the Eastern South Dakota Conference.
When new Swisher Field opened, the high school purchased the automatic timing system and has been using it at home outdoor meets ever since. Last Saturday, the system and the Central personnel to operate the system made a trip to Mitchell for the Corn Palace Relays.
Athletic director Gene Brownell was accompanied by Mark Anderson, Bruce Kleinsasser, Josh Jensen and Mona Smith. They have all worked with the timing system before.
The camera is about the size of a shoe box, but the setup includes three computers, tripods and cords. Work on setting up the equipment began around 6:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. meet.
There was a little glitch, but once we got it going, everything was fine, said Anderson, administrative assistant to the athletic director at Central. It was a long day and we were tired, but it was fun.
The Golden Eagle crew will also be traveling to Yankton with the timing system on May 12 for the Eastern South Dakota Conference Meet. The Central timing system has also been used in Huron, Pierre, Mitchell and Watertown.
Gene is big on helping out other schools in the conference if we can, said Anderson. We were fortunate to get the equipment. If we are going to have it, let's use it. It not only benefits other schools, but it benefits our kids because they are competing in those meets. It takes the guesswork out of finishes. We have a picture of the finishes and coaches can take a look at it.
Sports writer Deb Smith
Class A districts
Class A volleyball and girls' and boys' basketball district tournaments have become things of the past.
In resolutions passed by the South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors meetings this week the Class A districts have been eliminated. Two districts have been joined to form a region. The 16 districts have now become eight regions with the region champion advancing to the State A tournament much like in the past. There will be no district tournaments.