By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/20/12
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) has held a state tournament for boys’ and girls’ for four years.
The tournaments have been heavily dominated by teams from the Philadelphia regions of District 1 (Suburban Philly) for the girls’ tourney and Districts 1 and 12 (Catholic League) for the boys’ tourney.
Melissa Mertz, the Tournament Director of the PIAA Lacrosse Tournament, gave an interview with Phillylacrosse.com and answered questions about the format for the state tourney.
Click here to see reaction from coaches around the Philly region and beyond about the tourney.
Question: How does the PIAA determine the number of teams from each district and why has District 1 lost berths in the both the boys’ and girls’ tourneys since its inception in 2009.
Mertz: We us a formula use for all championships and we do it based on proportional representation. We take the number of schools for each district and divide by the total to get a number percentage. District 1 has 70 (girls’) teams, but other districts are now sponsoring lacrosse and they have grown and District 1 has not. That’s the reason the District 1 berths have gone down.”
Question: Why do District 1 teams play each other so early in the tourney, sometimes in the first round?
Mertz: “There are a couple of factors. We try keep the champs playing teams with lower seeds. District 1 has so many qualifiers so sometimes it can’t be avoided. The other issue is travel. We get yelled at screamed at when we send teams across the state so if we can help them from facing teams out of the district we take that into consideration.”
Question: How can teams that feel the system does not best fulfill the goal of a state tournament ask for change?
Mertz: “It’s incumbent upon the district to take it back to us through their steering committee members. We provide three readings on the format of the tourney that begins in January every two year cycle and each reading must be approved. We feel it is a pretty fair process; there are six months for people to give input.
“We can look at small changes at these times and modifications can be recommended. District 1 does have two committee members that sit on our steering committee. But even if recommendations are made, administrators tell is that money (travel costs) is a big factor.
“We try to keep matchups somewhat close. Remember Pennsylvania is a big state. We are not looking to stick it to schools and send them 3 hours away; we have to look at geographics.”