By Kurt Johnson
Editor’s Note – The TOSH Top 30 is our countdown of the top 30 stories from the 2015-16 school sports year, beginning with No. 30 and counting down, one story a day, to No. 1. The 2015-2016 high school sports year was filled with big performances, both team and individual. The act of narrowing down our initial list of top stories for our TOSH Top 30 stories of the year to just 30 was a difficult task. We asked people all over the state for input into our final list and beginning June 22, we are counting them down in reverse, from story No. 30 to story No. 1. Hopefully your favorite story of the past school year made our list.
#30 – UHSAA changes for next realignment (plus new schools hiring coaches)
It seems there is no break to the realignment discussions in Utah high school athletes, so even though this was the first year of the current alignment, the Utah High School Activities Association was still in the news in March when it set the parameters for its next realignment. The new plan will not become final until late 2016 and will not take effect until the 2017-18 school year, but based on decisions made at that March meeting, it will have a different look.
The UHSAA executive committee elected to study further a proposal that would have changed the way private and charter schools are classified, but it did act on a couple of other significant changes.
While some sports will still operate in five, or even four classifications, football and six other sports (basketball, volleyball, track and field, cross country, wrestling and baseball) will be further diluted out into six classifications starting in 2017-18. The goal of adding a classification is to “create parity” and cut down on travel distances in some of the more remote rural areas.
A second significant step taken by UHSAA will allow schools with a high percentage students on free or reduced lunch programs to petition to move down one classification at the time of realignment. The proposal was brought to the board by Ogden High, with the contention that poverty impacts participation numbers, offseason training, coach retention and the development and experience of the student athletes.
New Schools Coming in 2016
A related item that is also part of our No. 30 story has to do with two new schools that will open for the 2016-2017 school year. Skyridge High in Lehi and Ridgeline High in Millville will impact the region structure for the upcoming school year, with Skyridge playing as a 4A school in Region 7 and Ridgeline as a 3A school in Region 11.
The reason this story is of note for our 2015-16 countdown is the number of coaches who announced during the current school year that they would be moving on to those new schools. Former Brighton High boys basketball coach led the Bengals this year knowing that he would be moving on to Skyridge and long-time Lone Peak coaches (Lyle Mangum, wrestling and Deanna Meyer, volleyball) will also be making the jump.
The Falcons will also bring over Jaime Alvizo (cross country) and Jerry Preisendorf (soccer) from Lehi, two other head coaches they will be bring on board who were head coaches at other schools. Skyridge will share its swimming coach, Dennis Meyring, with the Pioneers.
In the North, where Ridgeline is preparing to begin operation, athletic director Jim Crosbie is moving over from Mountain Crest and he is bringing at least five head coaches with him – Mary Kirby (cross country), Graydon Buchmiller (boys basketball), Katrina Parker (track and field), Alex Hansen (baseball) and Mike Anderson (softball).
The other news associated with the two new schools has been the decisions by some prominent athletes to either stay where they are or move to the newcomer. Athletes like Levani Damuni, Jaxon Brenchley and Bailie Crosbie announced their decision to move from Mountain Crest to Ridgeline for their senior seasons, and in Brenchley’s case, he had some fun with it by staging a LeBron James-like announcement with hats on the table and the works.
Basketball star Marcus Draney took to Twitter to announce his decision to finish his high school career at Skyridge instead of Lehi and other former Pioneers have followed suit. It will be an interesting start to each season in trying to figure out who’s playing where.