Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Reclassification to take effect in 2018-2019 school year


November 28, 2017

WORLAND - During the spring the Wyoming High School Athletic Association (WHSAA) voted 13-4 to reclassify to a 16-16-16-rest format, with the top 16 schools, based on student population, placed in 4A, the next 16 in 3A, followed by another 16 in 2A and the rest in 1A, for basketball, outdoor track and volleyball; taking effect for the 2018-19 school year.

The switch to the 16-16-16-rest format will keep Worland in Class 3A, but rather than be in the East conference, WHS will move to the West for said sports.

While WHS is staying put in 3A, Cody, Riverton and Star Valley are moving up to compete at the 4A level, and sliding in their place in 3A will be Big Piney, Burns and Lovell who move up from 2A.

Losing Cody, Riverton and Star Valley to 4A has its positives and negatives, in one hand this allows WHS programs to expand their dominance, but in the other, they lose top-tier competition, and rivals in Cody and Riverton, who are nearby, according to WHS Activities Director Mark Mortimer.

"Cody and Riverton have always been about the same with our talent, you take them out of the mix, I think that takes a lot of the quality out of 3A. It does give us a little bit of an advantage where we are one of the bigger schools now. Lately, we've been not dominant, but kind of a force in those sports. I definitely think it is an advantage for us," said Mortimer.

The average daily membership (ADM) numbers were released this fall, which finalized where each school fell in the new format. ADMs are put together by each school's principal and given to the Wyoming Department of Education who hands them to WHSAA to determine which schools belong in what class for each sport,

Worland High School's ADM put them solidly in the 3A range. Meaning, Worland won't need to worry about jumping back and forth every two years when WHSAA takes a look at the ADMs to move a school up or down a class.

"Cody, Riverton are right on that bubble where they're going back and forth. Then you have Lander, Douglas, Rawlins and Powell who have more than us. Powell is right on the verge where they might be going back and forth soon," said Mortimer.


Just as it is now, there will be two conferences in 3A, an East and West, and each conference will have two divisions, north and south.

Making up the 3A West in the Northwest division are Lander, Lovell, Powell and Worland; in the Southwest are Big Piney, Mountain View, Lyman and Pinedale.

As for the 3A East, in the Northeast division are Buffalo, Douglas, Newcastle and Thermopolis; in the Southeast are Burns, Rawlins, Torrington and Wheatland.


WHSAA shifting to a 16-16-16-rest format was part of a move to balance each class, create more competitiveness at the 4A level and keep travel cost down.

"The main reason was for the ease of scheduling, having even numbers in the quads or regions. In 4A, as far as basketball and volleyball, teams will have to play more games that are regional to get to state. I think it brings more equity as far as what they have to accomplish to get to a state tournament, as opposed to getting a bye in the first-round and being a lock for state. I think that is part of the driving force, wanting more teams in 4A.

"It's also going to help with regional scheduling, making things less expensive, with mileage and bus trips, by putting teams together who are close by," said Mortimer.

Unfortunately for Worland, two teams that are close by, Cody and Riverton, make the jump to 4A and may not have the room to get Worland on the schedule.

"That impacts us because instead of playing two home-and-aways, with Cody and Riverton, now we're kind of scrambling. They won't have that availability in their schedules, they have to match up their 4A schedule and only have a certain amount of games left for non-conference," said Mortimer. "Riverton, we couldn't get a game at all, but Cody we had a few options to still include them in our schedule."

Overall, Worland will benefit from the shakeup by moving over to the West. Lander, Lovell and Powell are closer drives, which will help the district save on travel expenses.

"Now we're able to schedule those non-conference games a little bit different than we have in the past. Just having a home-and-away with Lander, Lovell and Powell frees us up to play Thermopolis, Buffalo and some of those closer games in the region, as opposed to going to Newcastle. It did get rid of our longest trips and I think that's a big benefit for the district," Mortimer.

The 16-16-16-rest format will more than likely stick around for the foreseeable future with Worland firmly in 3A, although, their opponents may change every two years.

"Every two years when they redo that reclassification based on the ADMs, I don't see a whole lot switching, but I feel bad for schools like Lovell who are right on the bubble and they're moving every two years. Big Piney and Burns getting thrown into 3A, it's going to be different. For those bubble schools it has to be tough going against teams you've seen for years to all the sudden going against 4A schools with twice the population," said Mortimer.


There was a five-class proposal put forward, which was defeated, with the ambition to make things better for classes 3A and down. The proposed five-classes were meant to create better balance and competitiveness among the lower classes, while also opening up easier scheduling.

"I think it would have especially helped the lower classes," said Mortimer, "3A on down, scheduling would have been pretty easy because it was broken into even numbers and play cross-quad and not have to worry about missing games and other scheduling issues that happen. At the same time, you look at 4A and you want more teams in your conference and everyone wants the same thing with games and a good product at the end of the year. I don't think anyone was being selfish, everyone just wanted the same thing, to be competitive, said Mortimer.


Other changes on the way are the 3A conference swimming meets being turned from two-day events to one-day. The purpose behind the change was to help lower the cost of running a conference meet as each school is facing tightening budgets due to the education budget shortfall.

Since these meets are conference meets and not regional, which fall under WHSAA rules, the ADs from each school were free to vote on the changes.

"Talking with the other ADs about the expenses to run a meet with officials, hotels and time out of school for the kids, we thought this could help save on cost. It's unfortunate, but the way the budgets are statewide it's going to hit other programs and probably sooner rather than later," said Mortimer.


WHS football will be moving to the 3A East to balance out the conference in 2018 with Buffalo leaving to go to 2A. This season the 3A West was unbalanced with Evanston moving down due to Thunder Basin (Gillette) joining 4A. Buffalo was given the option to drop down to 2A for the 2017 season but chose to stay in 3A.

Worland's football schedule for 2018 is as follows, Powell (non-conference), at Cody (non-conference), Jackson (non-conference), Riverton, at Rawlins, at Douglas, Torrington and at Lander.


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