As the state high school softball championships get underway this week, it looks like a good mix of old and new themes will be present.

The `old' included Box Elder as the team to beat in Class 4A with another undefeated Region 5 season under its belt, while Manti once again appears headed to the state championship game in the 2A ranks.On the `new' side, the class 5A tournament looks to be a wide open race for the first time ever. Also, the 5A and 4A tournaments will be experiencing a new, all-inclusive format which invites every team.

The old and new make their appearance Widnesday when inter-region play for the 5A and 4A tournaments begins. The 3A and 2A tourneys get underway on Thursday.

Here is a brief look at each tournament:

Class 5A

As a general consensus, any team that reaches the final eight has a good shot at claiming the state title. While Bingham was ranked No. 1 in the final poll, the Miners enter the tournament as Region 3's second seed, losing a coin flip to Taylorsville.

"I've been trying to decide if there's a stronger bracket and a weaker bracket but it's very even," said Bingham head coach mikki Jackson. "We've been calling this `the schizophrenic year'."

Much like the previous few years, second-ranked Roy and Fremont led the contingent from Region 1. Combined the teams lost just three region games.

Annual contenders Alta and Hillcrest finished third and fourth, respectively, in Region 4 this year behind co-champs Mountain View and Jordan. But don't let that be perceived as a `down year' in the region as both teams have strong pitching and hitting.

While it may be the weakest of the regions in Class 5A, Region 2 is hoping to pull a few surprises. Skyline claimed the region title and also won the prestigious Polar Bear tournament this year.

Class 4A

Nothing new here as Box Elder is one again ranked No. 1 heading into the state tournament. Bear River is the second-best team in Region 5 but has been blown out in each meeting with the Bees this season.

Teams from Region 6/7 that have the best chance of knocking off the Bees include second-ranked Murray, fifth-ranked Tooele and West. Murray has been the most consistent team this season, losing just one region game with one left to play on Tuesday.

Top teams coming out of Region 8 include co-champs Springville and Payson. The Red Devils finished the season strong, winning their last six region games. Springville then won the coin toss to gain the region's top seed in the tournament.

Because Region 6/7 still had games to be played on Tuesday, most of Wednesday's first round matchups were yet to be determined as of press time.

Class 3A

Barring any big suprirses, a new champion will be crowned this season. Defending champion Union is in the field of eight but is not as strong as last year as evidenced by its thrid place finish in Region 10.

The cougars open the tournament at Snow College against Cedar City. The Lady Reds finished the season on a roll to tie Snow Canyon for the Region 9 title.

Tournament favorites include top-ranked Richfield and second-ranked Lehi. The Wildcats breezed through Region 11 to finish with an 8-0 mark, while the Pioneers performed the same feat in Region 10.

Class 2A

A new state champion is a given in this tournament as 1996 winner Monticello faild to make the field.

Manti and Grantsville look to make the biggest noist out of Region 12. The teams were ranked 1-2 all season long and split their region doubleheader.

San Juan and Grand tied for the Region 13 championship with 7-1 records, while South Sevier was right behind at 6-2. Grand finished up as the hottest team in the region, winning seven straight after dropping its opening region game.