The Big Island Interscholastic Federation might have won two of the off-season’s most important in-state contests.
BIIF leaders got approval for two issues that they sought from the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association, as the Big Island will host regional contests in Division I girls soccer and boys volleyball for the 2014-15 season and eventually will be home to the Division II girls and boys basketball championships.
Lyle Crozier, the league’s executive director, said that executive board voted Monday on Oahu to pass the measures that came out of the athletic directors’ meeting in Waikoloa on Saturday. The board also approved an increase in the number of air rifle, bowling and cross country competitors who will advance to their respective Hawaii High School Athletic Association championship events.
The double regional approach to soccer and volleyball championships should benefit BIIF schools, according to Crozier.
“The main thing on our part was kids missing school,” he said of the previous format, in which the top teams in the state traveled to Oahu for the state playoffs. “Sometimes our kids would leave on a Tuesday and return Saturday, so they’d miss four days of school. Also, the travel, you can spread it out. You have to give our parents a chance to see their kids play. Sometimes they can’t make it to Oahu to watch their kids play.”
The Division I BIIF champion will get a bye in hosting the girls soccer and boys volleyball events while the Maui Interscholastic League winners will receive a bye as they host the boys soccer and girls volleyball regionals. The winners from each will move on to play for the state title the following weekend on Oahu.
The HHSAA experimented with the regional format in basketball and volleyball in the recently concluded school year but opted to try it with soccer in the coming year.
Stephen Perry, athletic director for Hawaii Preparatory Academy as well as the girls soccer coach at the school, said using the regional approach makes more sense.
“I think so, especially for soccer,” he said. “It eliminates the four-games-in-four-days set-up that many teams have to go through. Soccer can be a taxing sport for back-to-back games, let alone four in a row. I think you’ll get better teams that are better rested, better prepared and you’ll get better play.”
Perry was pleased that the state leaders were willing to level the playing field a bit.
“That’s all we really asked for,” he said. “We just want some help — we being neighbor islands. Maui was a big push for this. The finals will be on Oahu; we understand that. They have a great facility for soccer. If we make it that far, we’ll play there, but the first weekend, let us save some school time and some money.”
An added bonus, Crozier said, is that teams competing for the Division II state title on Oahu will now be able to play in the 4,000-seat stadium at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex. Previously, only the Division II title game was played there while other matches were contested on outlying fields.
The Big Island’s Division II schools also got good news concerning the state basketball championships. Crozier said that Oahu will host the games in 2015, but they will be held on the Big Island in 2016 and return to Oahu in 2017. The three-year cycle will repeat after that, giving the Big Island the championships two out of every six years.
Crozier said that young players on the Big Island can benefit from seeing such a high level of basketball.
“We don’t have any universities at the next level, so any kind of upper level our kids can see to motivate them will help out,” he said.
The bowling championship, which will be a three-day event held at KBXtreme in Kailua-Kona, will feature an expanded field. One hundred bowlers will compete for the title — 20 more than last year. The move restores the field to the size it was before 2008 budget cuts. The cross country event will again have 200 runners as opposed to 160 while the rifle competition will see its field restored from 42 to 60.