At its spring meeting in April, the Wyoming High School Activities Association Board of Directors Meeting voted to reclassify Wyoming schools in basketball, volleyball, outdoor track and field and soccer. While Powell appears set to stay in Class 3A, its competition is set to change, starting with the 2018-19 school year. The other sports, including football, are not affected.
The WHSAA voted to split basketball, volleyball and outdoor track and field into a new alignment that enlarges Class 4A. Currently, the 12 largest schools in the state make up Class 4A; under the new classification system, Class 4A will include the 16 largest schools. (As before, the next 16 largest schools will make up Class 3A, the 16 after that are Class 2A and the rest are placed in 1A.)
“I think the reason this got passed is because people like the quadrant idea and thought it would cut down on travel. And in some cases it does — for a lot of schools it will cut down on travel,” said Powell High School Athletic Director Tim Wormald. However, “for a lot of schools, it’s going to really increase their travel,” Wormald said.
PHS, he said, should be among the school that will have to travel less — especially if conferences within the class are split into four-team “quadrants.”
Based on current enrollment figures, Cody, Riverton and Star Valley all stand to move up from 3A to 4A in basketball, volleyball and outdoor track and field — joined by the new Thunder Basin High School in Gillette. Lovell, Big Piney, Burns and Newcastle are tentatively set to be moved up from Class 2A to 3A.
Class 4A is also being expanded in soccer, from 12 to 14 teams. Under current enrollment numbers, Thunder Basin and Riverton would join the upper soccer class.
Wormald said the change to the soccer classification is not terrible, but he noted it’s already hard to compile a complete schedule because of travel, as not all schools have a soccer program.
Wormald added that the predictions of which teams will move up “is all in theory — that is if that took effect today. It’s going to be based on the ADMs — average daily membership — that comes out next year.”
To determine a school’s classification, the WHSAA takes a two-year average of the school’s enrollment. The ADMs are released in September.
Once the ADM numbers come out, the WHSAA will vote on which schools will be in which classifications, then the schools will decide how they want to set up their conferences.
“It needs to be decided by [this] November which schools are going to be where, so that we can schedule for the following year,” Wormald said.
Currently, schools are using a quadrant system for basketball and volleyball to determine seeding for regional tournaments. Going forward, Wormald said schools will have to see what works best for everybody. He said it’s possible schools could do away with quadrants and simply have east/west or north/south conferences.
Wormald sees winners and losers in the reclassification.
“I think the current 4A schools were the winners in this,” he said. The larger schools, Wormald said, will get more options for conference games and probably be able to host a traditional regional tournament — something they haven’t been able to do for a long time.
“With the 3A schools, I’m not sure; it kind of depends on the school with their travel whether they determine themselves a winner or a loser,” he said.
Some schools, such as Cody and Burns, will likely face increased traveling and costs.
Amid budgets cuts and various requirements, the amount of travel will play a large role in scheduling. Currently, student athletes in Powell must pay for their first meal out, but any subsequent meals and all of the lodging are covered by the school. Under the current set-up, schools are only supposed to have one overnight trip per season outside of the regional and state competitions. As another example of the factors that come into play, federal laws limit the number of hours a person can drive a bus.
The schools will have a scheduling meeting for the 2018-2019 school year in November with a pre-scheduling meeting most likely in September.
“Stay tuned — I don’t know how it is all going to shake out,” Wormald said. “... I am one voice of many and what works best for Powell might not work best for the other schools. But we’ll try to help each other out.”
“One good thing about 3A, we’re all good about trying to help each other out,” he added.
The WHSAA board rejected an alternate proposal to split the state into five classes and another one that would have condensed wrestling from three classes to two.
The wrestling proposal would have placed the top 20 schools in 4A and the rest in 3A; Powell would have been bumped up into the top class and, with the elimination of Class 2A — the number of state medalists would have been cut by a third.
Wormald said he thinks the main reason it failed was because it would have taken opportunities away from student athletes.
In other changes, the WHSAA board decided that golfers will now only need two days of practice before the start of the season. Also, if weather is an issue at the state golf tournament, the Thursday set aside for practice rounds can be turned into a competition day; tournament organizers will also continue to have the option of pushing the event back by a week. Additionally, the WHSAA decided that marching band students must now undergo a physical examination.