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Thursday, June 2, 2016: Transgender sprinter sparks protest in Alaska

   Leading off today: The issue of transgender students competing in high school sports resurfaced over the weekend when a senior sprinter made state history by competing in Alaska's high school championships.

   Haines High senior Nattaphon Wangyot became the first transgender student to compete individually for a high school state championship, according to the Alaska Dispatch News. Wangyot, a Thai native who was born male and identifies as female, qualified and competed in the girls Class 3A sprints, finishing third in the 200-meter dash (27.3 seconds) and fifth in the 100 (13.36).

   Wangyot, 18, also played for the girls volleyball and basketball teams at Haines as a senior.

   Jim Minnery, president of the conservative Alaska Family Action group, and a dozen supporters gathered near the meet to protest Wangyot's participation.

   The Alaska School Activities Association ruled in May 2015 that the decision on a transgender athlete's eligibility rests with the respective school district.

   Wangyot, who Wangyot, who moved from Thailand to Haines in the summer of 2014, told reporters she takes female hormones and other drugs to suppress testosterone levels.

   Scrambling for sites: It's been fairly common over the years for NYSPHSAA sectional officials and those from other organizations to schedule events at college facilities but have to accept a clause in the paperwork that specifies that the college can back out if it's selected to host NCAA or ECAC competitions that create a conflict.

   The high school officials typically monitor the progress of the college teams during the season and usually have an inkling a couple weeks ahead of time that they need to go to Plan B -- either a local high school facility or another college.

   But what happened this week may have been unprecedented. It's not often that a college goes belly-up at the end of a semester, but that's what happened with Dowling College in Brookhaven.

   The private liberal arts college on Long Island, originally a branch of Adelphi University until going independent in 1968, officially shuts down Friday, the victim of plunging enrollment and rising debt. Dowling has had seven presidents in 12 years during its death spiral.

   Newsday reported the closure caused a scramble to find new sites for seven high school playoff games. Three NYSPHSAA girls lacrosse state quarterfinal games scheduled for Sunday have been moved to Stony Brook University and four baseball games were shifted to the Police Athletic League stadium in Holtsville.

   "It is a terrible situation that affects a lot of people," said Don Webster, executive director of Section 11. "It's a beautiful facility at Dowling that's being shut down. We were very lucky that some of our neighbors were helpful in rescheduling our championship events."

   Tournament post mortem: Could the Section 1 baseball tournament be better?

   Reporter Vincent Mercogliano of The Journal News asked the question in a column, and the stuff discussed actually


  • NYSPHSAA boys lacrosse
  • NYSPHSAA girls lacrosse
  • NYSPHSAA baseball
  • NYSPHSAA softball
  • Past years' brackets

  • applies to lots of sections as well as multiple sports.

       The first point of contention for some is not unique to the sports or the section. In Section 1, a Class AA team playing a Class B team that goes 10-10 earns a bonus point towards its seeding. But if that same team plays a powerhouse from outside the section that went 19-1, it's worth nothing. That can lead to soft scheduling rather than taking on quality programs like Iona Prep or any of half a dozen PSAL powers that would gladly accept the challenge.

       "I don't like the Section 1 format at all," Fox Lane coach Matt Hills said. "Our section rewards mediocrity."

       That could be mitigated somewhat by league realignments that force teams into playing largely similar schedules -- though that could ultimately penalize teams that currently choose to play more out-of-section competition.

       Another common question: What's the right size for the tournament field? The Section 1 Class AA and A tournaments had 20 and 21 teams, respectively.

       A 12- or 16-team bracket could allow for two innovations that have a degree of support from coaches -- a double-elimination final four and/or best-of-three series in the latter rounds. Instead of being able to get through the postseason using only two starting pitchers, Mercogliano notes, teams would need at least three and maybe four -- forcing teams to develop more depth.

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