The Front Row with MARK NELKE June 28, 2012

Preps, track confusion and a sad loss

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There has been a request to the Idaho High School Activities Association to return the state softball tournaments to a double-elimination format next year.

The request will be discussed at the IHSAA’s August board meeting.

State softball (and state volleyball) tournaments were scaled back to single-elimination with a consolation bracket as a cost-saving move by the IHSAA on a trial basis for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.

Volleyball people have already successfully pushed for a return to the old format, and the IHSAA voted this spring to return to double-elimination beginning this fall.

Though Coeur d’Alene, which upset defending champion Lake City in the 5A softball title game, probably didn’t mind the single-elimination format this year, nearly everyone else grumbled about it.

State softball was trimmed from three days to two the past two years to save money, but they can play a double-elimination tourney in two days as well.

The concern with the two-day volleyball tourney was play sometimes ran too long on both nights. But it looks like they’ll use two nets on Friday to speed things up.

Other nuggets from June’s IHSAA board meeting:

• After having to hold the five state track and field meets at five separate sites in the Treasure Valley this year because Bronco Stadium is no longer available, the meets will be held together again next year, this time at the new Dona Larsen Park, just down the road from Boise State.

While the good news is fans can watch all five meets again, the bad news is there are fewer than 100 parking spaces at the new park, so getting there could be an adventure.

• The Inland Empire League has requested a qualifying standard to state golf, based on the previous three years’ state tournament results. This year, Lewiston’s boys stayed home despite shooting a 304, because the Bengals finished third and only the top two qualified for state.

Years ago, each district/region got a certain number of team berths to state, and any other teams who beat the qualifying score also advanced. But the IHSAA took away the qualifying standard a few years back, because it felt too many teams were qualifying for state and the state meet was getting too crowded.

• It used to be so simple, watching the Olympic Trials — top three in each event advance to the Olympics, and that was it.

Now, it’s not so simple.

There’s this thing called the “A” standard — a time or a mark — that an athlete also has to reach during the year to qualify for the London Games.

In the men’s discus, where former Post Falls High standout Ian Waltz throws in the finals today in Eugene, four Americans — Waltz, Jarred Rome, former University of Idaho standout Russ Winger and Jason Young — have eclipsed the “A” standard.

Only three can still go to the Olympics — and all must have reached the “A” standard — so at least one person who has reached the “A” standard will not go to London.

Lance Brooks, who leads the competition after Monday’s prelims, threw 212 feet, 7 inches — short of the “A” standard of 213 feet, 3 inches. So his throw could stand up and win the Trials, but not qualify him for the Olympics.

Heading into today’s finals, Winger is in second at 205-5, followed by Rome at 202-10, Jason Young at 201-3 and Waltz is in fifth at 201-1.

• Those of you who have been around here for two decades or more may remember reading sports stories and columns by Rick Alvord, a talented sports writer at the Coeur d’Alene Press in the late 1980s.

Alvord died Tuesday at age 50, following a 1 1/2-year battle with colon cancer.

After leaving the Press, he worked at a newspaper in Coos Bay, covered the Mariners and Seahawks for the Eastside Journal in Seattle, and wrote for Mariners Magazine.

From 1998-2010, he worked at The Daily News in Longview, Wash., the last 11 years as sports editor. In 2010, Alvord tied for first place in column writing in the Associated Press Sports Editors national contest in the 40,000-and-under circulation category.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter at CdAPressSports.

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