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Changes sought for state berths

If Bob Wagner had his way, there would no longer be an automatic berth for any team that is the only participant in its league’s division.

The former University of Hawaii football coach and current Kamehameha-Hawaii athletic director is spearheading a proposal that would require a minimum of three teams to achieve one state tournament berth for a league.

The same proposal passed the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association conference last year, but was rejected at the ensuing Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive board meeting.

At least one Interscholastic League of Honolulu AD maintains that passage of this proposal—discussion began yesterday at this year’s conference on the grounds of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Hotel—would deviate from the tried-and-true numerical formula used by the HHSAA.

However, Wagner insisted that in the ILH’s case, when a single Division II participant, or even just two, are permitted to battle for a state berth, it’s unfair to other leagues. When there’s just one team, such as Maryknoll’s baseball squad in the 2008-09 season, the ratio of league participants to berths is disproportionate.

Further discussion in committee last night and today, plus league caucuses could alter the direction of the proposal. The Oahu Interscholastic Association sided with Wagner and the Big Island Interscholastic Federation in last year’s voting, he said.

At the HHSAA level, however, Wagner claims that the OIA and ILH negotiated a trade in voting. The OIA, he said, switched sides and voted with the ILH against the proposal, and in turn, the ILH voted with the OIA in reducing Division II state tournament fields from 12 teams to just eight—a move that incurred the wrath of many neighbor island fans because, in most sports, their teams paid their own way to Oahu, where a majority of state championships are hosted.

The single-team scenario worked in 2008-09 when Maryknoll won the D-II state baseball tourney. This past fall, Mid-Pacific took the state boys soccer crown after the ILH got a state berth with just two D-II teams.

Football is not part of the equation in the proposal, he said.

Other proposals under discussion included one from the Maui Interscholastic League to establish a standard criteria for classification across the state’s five leagues. Currently, each league has its own autonomous criteria.

The BIIF set boundaries for Division I and II this past year. Public schools with more than 900 students and private schools with more than 600 were required to play in D-I.

A measure to give teams one extra game at eight-team state tournaments—usually D-II—was met with resistance, Kamehameha-Maui AD Kurt Ginoza said. Currently, teams that lose two games in a row at a state tournament are done.

"Playing three games would make your trip more effective since you’re there for the whole tournament anyway," he said. "(Today) is when we’ll go back and find answers for the questions that came up."

Wagner is also supporting a proposal that would give team-championship recognition to Division II schools in cross country, track and field, paddling, judo and wrestling. He said there is no desire to have a separate state championship entirely.

"Waimea’s track team would’ve won a D-II state title and Ka’u would’ve been the runner-up," he said. "This would be strictly to recognize a team D-II champion, not a D-II individual champion."

Other items for discussion out of the dozens on the agenda include a ban of composite bats in baseball, and a limit of 15 hours per week for practices and games.

There are also proposals to increase the number of state championship participants in individual sports such as cross country.


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