Jo Auch Explains the Sweet 16 Format

Posted by Heather Benson on

Lori Walsh:

State volleyball fans face a change with the introduction of Sweet 16 style tournament play. Jo Auch is the Assistant Executive Director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association. Now right before we get to post-season high school volleyball, talk a little bit about the regular season. How did things go?

Jo Auch:

Well I think the regular season panned out very well. Not a lot of real changes with the regular season. The only thing that really changed was our cutoff date as to when Seed Points were going to be allowed to be calculated through. We had to move that up to this last week of Tuesday, October 24th as opposed to what normally was the Thursday prior to All State, All Chorus and Orchestra. So not a real big change there because not many contests went on on the 26th anyway but so yeah. Regular season wrapped up this last week on Tuesday and we are ready to start sub-state play and region play beginning on Monday. We're excited.

Lori Walsh:

All right, so take us back testing this out, sort of the Sweet 16 format. Maybe you first better describe exactly what that is, to just catch everybody up. What's Sweet 16 format?

Jo Auch:

All right, well basically the Sweet 16, we started it last year in the Class A ranks. And the Class A decided that there were looking for a change to try and find a way to in their minds get what we call the best 16 teams or the best eight teams in realization, to the State Tournament. And sometimes we've always been based on region representation as we had districts and then we had regions, and then we went onto our state play. And each of the eight regions was represented at the State Tournament. Now with the Sweet 16 format, basically all of the schools, I'm talking Class A and B now because the AA's just a little bit different, Class A and B will have eight regions. So there are no longer any districts. They're all divided into eight regions and basically what we did is we just put the two districts together to form District One and Two formed Region One.

From those 10 or 11 teams now in Class B, we're going to continue play through, just like we would have in districts. And once we get to the final two teams in each region, those two teams are going to advance to the next contest so with the eight regions, we'll have two teams that makes up our 16 team format and we will reseed those one through 16, so one will play 16, two will play 15, and so on. That now brings all of region representation with two teams from each of the eight regions giving our geographic locations. But now when we get to the Sweet 16, the best eight teams or the winners of that contest on that night basically, will end up being in the State Tournament.

Lori Walsh:

Right, the best that night.

Jo Auch:

The best that night, exactly.

So yeah we're excited about that. It's a new formula for Class B and it's gonna be a new format for Class AA. Class A already did that last year. The reports were really good. Based on our volleyball tournament and our basketball tournaments, it provided a lot of excitement in the field. And for the most part, we had a lot of regions represented. Some did not get represented and I think that's the scare for everybody is now we no longer have that region representation and not everybody gets to go, so to speak.

Lori Walsh:

All right, so did you get that kind of feedback where maybe from the regions who didn't make it, any further, where they felt that sting of disappointment a little bit more or were they still supportive and understanding the big picture?

Jo Auch:

I think for the most part, it's really too soon to tell yet. We've had it for one year in the Class A and this like I said, this will be the first year for the other two classes. But I think the big thing here is that the overall message that our office got is we would like to see a State Tournament in which it's very competitive and the best way to do that probably is to try and find out whether it shouldn't matter if you're from East River or West River. If you're one of the better teams that night so to speak, those are the teams that should advance to the tournament. Is there some disappointment? Yeah. I mean I would be a fool to say that there are people that are disappointed that there isn't going to be geographic representation across the state. There still could be. They just have to earn that spot.

Lori Walsh:

All right, so let's talk a little bit about the excitement of the tournament then. What does that bring from a positive standpoint to the fans and to the players?

Jo Auch:

Well I think the competitive advantage and the competitive area in which you're gonna hopefully have your teams that have been seeded well throughout the course of the year. There's always that chance for the upset or things of that nature as well, but I think for the most part the tournament format, what I heard from, I didn't go to the Class A tournament last year as I was at a different site, but the Sweet 16 format in the Class A, everybody thought it was absolutely exciting. I mean the contests were close, we had a lot of four or five set matches in volleyball. The same way in basketball, the games appeared to be a little bit closer. They were more competitive match-ups throughout the course of the tournament. So that's exciting for the fans. That's exciting for the teams competing and I think all around, I think all in all, I think everything was what we had hoped it would be.

Lori Walsh:

Does it make a difference in the big picture for an athlete who wants to go on to play at the collegiate level? Does that make a difference? Do colleges look at that? Are they gonna be seen different if the final tournament has a little more of that excitement or competitiveness?

Jo Auch:

You know I don't know that I can really, truly answer that question 'cause the colleges are always looking ... they're gonna get to the matches and the contests that they want to get to to see the athletes that they want to see. Whether they're involved in the Sweet 16 or whether they're involved in the State Tournament, whatever that means, we have a lot of players that probably have never made it to a state tournament that still go on and play college ball and things of that nature as well. So I don't know. That's not a goal of ours is to try and make sure that the colleges are all in the loop and in the picture, but yeah, I think it gives them an opportunity to see a lot of players, a lot of good players at a competition if they do come to our state event. They might see somebody that they weren't really recruiting and see some hidden talents along the way.

Lori Walsh:

What's the potential impact on program development throughout the state? Do you think that it could years down the road, sort of change how people prepare and work their teams up for state level play?

Jo Auch:

Well sure. I think every team is gonna start to look at how can I make myself better. The seeding format that we have, that's one of the potential things as well and one of our concerns is we hope that everyone is still gonna continue to play everyone on their schedules. The conference affiliations and things like that, we always want to try and get the most seed points that we can in that process, so that we are one of the higher seeds when it comes time for region play and we might be able to host as opposed to have to travel somewhere else and those types of things. But I think coaches, yeah, they are going to set the stage for, "Hey, how can we make ourselves better? How can we be a better team? How can we compete?" And I think the excitement that's there is excitement for everyone. It's just a matter of how you're going to deal with it and how you're going to accept what the role is and how I need to get there. And that'll be up to the coaches to decide how in tune they want to be with that.

 

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