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More than 20 schools object to realignment

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MIDVALE — The first draft of a realignment proposal adopted by the Utah High School Activities Association's board of trustees in January wasn't a big hit with schools that were slated to change leagues and classifications.

Representatives from more than 20 high schools voiced their concerns at realignment hearings at the UHSAA's office on Tuesday. Their issues ranged from increased travel and the cost that goes along with it, loss of natural rivalries and being unsure about how competitive they'll be in higher classifications.

They'll find out how successful they were when the board of trustees meets to draft a second realignment proposal on April 3.

A look at Tuesday's proceedings:

5A: Davis and Viewmont want to stay put.

In the first draft proposal, the two schools were moved from an all-north Region 1 to a north/central region that would also include Cyprus, Granger, Kearns and West. The Darts and Vikings are mostly concerned with losing rivalries with nearby schools, as well as travel.

"I'm asking, begging, groveling, whatever term you want to use, for us to stay in Region 1," said Davis principal Rulon Homer, who added that he'd be willing to compete in an all-north nine-team league.

4A: Representatives from current 4A schools Cyprus, Granger and West each expressed their desire to avoid moving up to 5A. They all said the enrollment numbers used by the board of trustees while drafting the realignment proposal were misleading for various reasons.

They're also unsure that they would be competitive in 5A.

Granger, for example, raised issues such as having 42 total players left in its football program by the time last season ended. Lancers principal Art Cox said his athletic programs are in the process of rebuilding, and they should be ready to move up to 5A by the time realignment occurs again in 2013.

Also in 4A, Dixie principal Larry Bergeson represented the St. George schools and said Dixie, Snow Canyon and Pine View do not want to compete in a three-team league, as they began doing at the start of the school year. Bergeson said they are willing to travel and be included in the same region as southern Utah County schools.

"I could use many adjectives to tell you how a three-team league works," Bergeson said. "It doesn't work."

3A: Ogden, Logan and Uintah wish to remain in their current classification.

Moving Ogden up to 4A was perhaps the most startling sight on the board of trustees' proposal. The Tigers are struggling in just about all major sports, and they say they aren't ready for 4A. Ogden had to cancel its freshman football and freshman baseball seasons this school year because it didn't have enough athletes come out for the sports.

Uintah cited travel costs as its main reason for wanting to stay in 3A. The Utes were about $16,000 in the red in travel costs last year, and they say that number could rise to more than $40,000 if they are placed in 4A's Utah Valley South region as they were in the proposal.

Logan also wishes to remain in 3A and even drafted its own realignment plan for the entire state. Board of trustees members will look at the plan and discuss it when they reconvene on April 3.

2A: Manti, Richfield and Juab were included in 3A when the proposal was drafted. Predictably, all three want to remain in 2A, they confirmed on Tuesday.

Their desires, however, weren't met with empathy from the smaller 2A schools. Gunnison football coach Rhett Jackson was at the hearings to voice his support for the first draft.

"For the smaller 2A schools, we see a ray of hope," Jackson said. "This is by far the most equitable plan we've had."

1A: This classification is the only one that saw any action on Tuesday. The board of trustees voted to scrap the two-division plan it drafted in its first realignment proposal and will instead have five regions in 1A.

The board also seemed likely to make the following changes to its first draft after listening to presentations from the respective schools: Milford will probably continue to compete in Region 15, rather than move to a league that includes Dugway, Wendover and Tintic; Wasatch Academy and Duchesne will most likely remain in 1A, rather than move up to 2A as they were slated to do in the first proposal.


E-mail: aaragon@desnews.com