MIKE NIETO: March Madness or Hoosier Hysteria?

2014-03-20T18:00:00Z 2014-04-15T19:44:20Z MIKE NIETO: March Madness or Hoosier Hysteria?Mike Nieto Prep Beat nwitimes.com
March 20, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

Will Illiana Christian High School athletics start a new tradition and move from March Madness to Hoosier Hysteria?

A decision on whether or not to relocate from Lansing to Indiana will be put to voters by the Illiana Christian School Board on Monday, according to Thursday's Times. The information came from a letter from the high school's board of directors posted on the school's website.

If the school does move to a site in Lake County, Ind., it will change the sports landscape of the school, which has built a pretty good athletic as well as academic tradition. A good deal, if not more than half of the school's enrollment is from Indiana.

According to the Indiana High School Athletic Association by-laws, Illiana would have to wait four years before it would be eligible for postseason play, but the school is petitioning, according to several coaches, to have the requirement waived. It's a possibility, since Illiana is an established school.

Illiana athletic director Lance Davids said he is aware of the IHSAA by-laws, but did not wish to comment.

"We want to respect the vote," Davids said of Monday's vote. "We do not want to put the cart before the horse."

He did says the Vikings could keep some of their Illinois rivalries if the school move. Davids said it is too early to make a comment as to whether or not the school would be independent or try to join a conference.

Another thing to consider is that seasons are different in Illinois and Indiana. Boys and girls golf run concurrently in the fall in Illinois, while girls golf is a fall sport in Indiana and boys golf is in the spring. Girls soccer is a spring sport in Illinois and if Illiana moved across the state line, it could have an impact on the girls cross country program.

"We have four girls on our (cross country) team who also play soccer," Illiana girls cross country and track coach Deb Top said. "If that were this year, they would have had to choose between sports."

Boys cross country and track coach Jeff White said the Vikings would finally get a track.

"When we get on T.F. South's track for a few weeks when they are on spring break, we can tell the difference," White said. "As for rivalries, there are not that many in track and we would still go to the Chicago Christian Invitational and the big meet (of Christian schools) in Michigan."

The new digs would be an improvement for all athletic teams, which are land-locked. The track team has a straightaway with a fence over the top so runners cannot get hit by baseballs as the track and tennis courts abut baseball's left field.

White's cross country team was second in Class 2A. In Indiana, it would be in a single-class format and the school of 543 students would be competing against schools with over 3,000 students. It would be the same in golf, wrestling, track and tennis. Soccer is a two-class sport, but three in Illinois. One thing that would benefit Illiana is Indiana has no true multiplier like in Illinois.

Basketball, baseball, girls volleyball and softball are four classes in both states, but Indiana does not offer boys volleyball as a varsity sport, so that would be a dilemna for Illiana Christian, which offers the spring sport.

What Illiana will have to do is find a conference or compete as an independent. The Greater South Shore Conference would be the best fit as far as enrollment, but would the GSSC want to add another school? It can keep some Illinois rivalries, but will have to play more Indiana schools because that is what it will face in the postseason. Softball plays Munster and Andrean and baseball plays Andrean. In the past baseball has also played Crown Point (when weather permitted).

The school lost some rivalries when the Private School League disbanded, and Illiana has formed new rivalries with an almost all-public school Metro Suburban Conference. The conference is adding schools, including longtime rival Chicago Christian.

Now, the Vikings may be looking for new rivals again.

This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at mike.nieto@nwi.com.

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