ELLIOTT: Some changes on the horizon for area preps

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It will be an interesting year on the area high school sports scene, with football and volleyball joining the soccer programs in getting going a little later this week.

If you’re into preview articles on said teams, then we’ve got a treat for you really, really soon.

And while the sport of swimming will be sanctioned by the Idaho High School Activities Association for the first time this year, that news hasn’t been welcomed as openly around the state.

THE IHSAA is allowing club coaches to coach their high school teams as well this year, though that will not be allowed in future years.

That rule is something that Lake City High coach Bob Wood, who also coaches the Coeur d’Alene Area Swim Team, can see a few issues with.

“It’s hard for the sport of swimming because those kind of rules are written that have their own basketball, soccer and baseball field,” Wood said. “Unfortunately, we’ve only got one pool and four schools (Coeur d’Alene, Lake City, Lakeland and Post Falls) that practice. It’s going to create a conflict and hopefully we’ll be able to have some exceptions.”

Wood added that it could result in some athletes opting to focus on club swimming instead of high school as it could affect scholarship money for college.

“We have a group that swims year-round at some high level meets,” Wood said. “Every swimmer that has came through the CAST squad and wanted to swim in college has received a scholarship to do that. We know what we’re doing with CAST. A lot of the high school coaches have the best of intentions, but they don’t know the kids like we do. It’s creating a problem for us club coaches, maybe not this year or next year, but are going to have some kids that don’t swim because it’s going to affect their scholarship money. And the difference between a 50 percent and 80 percent scholarship at some of these schools is massive.”

It’s also something that is happening statewide.

“There’s a lot of club coaches that have been coaching high school for years, and a lot of them, even this year, have been told you can’t coach,” Wood said. “It’s happened to 8 to 10 teams. I know almost every coach in the state, and a lot of good coaches aren’t going to be able to coach next year.”

IT HAS been a few years — the last race was in 2012 — since high school athletes have been turned loose on Silverwood Theme Park for a cross country race.

Athletes still get the chance to go the theme park now, but first, they’ve got to run through the wilderness of Farragut State Park.

Timberlake High will host the Farragut Invitational on Sept. 9.

Varsity races will be race at 10:10 a.m. (girls) and 10:40 (boys), for good reason.

“Right now, we’ve got 21 schools coming and a lot of the 5A schools from southern Idaho,” Timberlake coach Shawn Lawler said. “A lot of them go to Silverwood afterward. That’s why we do it in the morning so they can go play in the afternoon.”

Timberlake opens the season with a dual against Sandpoint on Saturday at the University of Idaho extension campus in Sandpoint.

“We’d gone to Libby the last few years to open the season,” Lawler said. “We got to talking to (Sandpoint coaches) Matt and Angie (Brass) and they said we should do a dual. We had a dual with them a few years ago, and everyone had a lot of fun with it. So we’ll get a chance to go run that race and play at the City Beach afterward.”

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at (208) 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at jelliott@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @JEPressSports.

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