The 2022 high school sports calendar year was another outstanding one with 119 state championships determined in 23 sports by the Utah High School Activities Association.
Here’s a look at 10 of the top storylines from the high school sports landscape in 2022.
Shot clock era begins in basketball
When the boys and girls basketball season tipped off in November, it marked the beginning of a new era on the hardcourt in Utah.
For the first time in state history a 35-second shot clock is being used after the UHSAA board of trustees unanimously approved the proposal back in January to begin with the 2022-23 school year.
It was a change that most players and coaches believe was a long time coming.
“We think it is something that players, fans and most coaches wanted to see for several years. Most teams will not see much of a change in how they play. However, it will make the end of quarters and games more exciting as teams will not be able to hold the ball if they have a lead,” Layton coach Kelby Miller said about the change. “The shot clock will obviously help teams defensively. Players will only have to lock in on the defensive side for 35 seconds instead of over a minute against certain teams.”
The implementation of the shot clock was in direct correlation to the National Federation of High Schools announcing that state associations could start adopting a shot clock for the 2022-23 school year. The UHSAA traditionally opts to follow the recommendations of the basketball rules committee of the NFHS.
Not all schools have installed their shot clocks yet as suppliers haven’t been able to fulfill all orders yet, but most are hoping to have them for the start of region play early in 2023.
Tournament normalcy returns in 2022
The 2022 calendar year for high school athletes was realistically a return to normal in relation to restrictions due to COVID-19, specifically for spring sports athletes.
For 2022 fall sports it was their second season competing under normal postseason circumstances, but for winter and spring sports, 2022 represented their return to normal after major adjustments from the UHSAA in 2021 related to COVID-19.
In 2021 the state track meets were held at Davis High, but in 2022 the meet returned to its traditional site at BYU, where it’s been staged for decades. The same was true of the state swimming meet, which in 2021 was held at three smaller pool locations along the Wasatch Front, but returned to BYU in 2022.
The basketball state tournaments for the state’s two largest classifications returned to major college venues for the last three rounds after 2021 threw a major wrinkle in the UHSAA’s traditional setup. All playoff games were held at home sites in 6A and 5A in 2021, with the semifinals and finals taking place at SLCC.
In 2022 the quarterfinals and semifinals were held at the University of Utah, with the championships taking place at BYU. Big crowds were back at the larger venues as the players also got to experience the full-blown college venue experience after the one-year hiatus.
Boys volleyball gets UHSAA approval
Girls volleyball has been an official high school sport in Utah for 49 years, and beginning with the 2023-24 school year boys volleyball will become an official sanctioned sport, too.
The UHSAA board of trustees approved boys volleyball becoming a sanctioned sport by a 10-4 vote back in March, paving the way for boys volleyball athletes to finally step into the spotlight like their peers.
“This legitimizes and integrates them into the school community as an athlete,” said Jill Davis, an instrumental figure over the past seven years in helping boys volleyball reach this point.
Boys volleyball has been a club sport for high school teams for decades and continues to grow in popularity. There are currently three high school leagues — Salt Lake, Northern and Utah Valley — and they all play their own independent seasons with their own formats. Between those teams 38 teams participated in the 2022 spring high club league. Wasatch coach Duke Mossman hopes that number continues to grow as the excitement builds toward the 2024 spring season. There were 140 schools that participated in girls volleyball this fall, so the infrastructure and equipment is already in place for the sport to grow rapidly.
Last year the board of trustees voted against approving volleyball by a 9-5 vote, but the timing was right this time around for the UHSAA.
UHSAA sets realignment beginning in 2023-24
In mid-December, the UHSAA board of trustees approved the association’s new realignment for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years.
It officially means the end is in sight for the current two-year alignment, which many agree has been a mess with five regions in 5A and just two in 4A.
The new realignment will now feature three 6A regions, four 5A regions, four 4A regions, three 3A regions, four 2A regions and four 1A regions.
It’s generally regarded as a very favorable alignment that will go a long way in indirectly fixing some of the problems that the previous alignment created when it came to RPI seeding for the state tournament.
A change in how the UHSAA handles enrollment numbers for bubble schools gave the board of trustees much more flexibility in creating the newest realignment. The UHSAA handbook stats that “any school with a classification enrollment plus or minus 10% of the school with the highest enrollment in a classification shall be considered tied in enrollment for the purposes of classification assignment.”
Previously that number was 7%, but that modest 3% change opened things up for much more flexibility by the UHSAA — specifically moving the old Region 2 out of 6A and moving the smallest 5A schools back down to 4A.
Lone Peak boys golf obliterates state record
Lone Peak’s boys golf team has been an absolute juggernaut the past decade with nine state titles in the past 10 years. But what the Knights pulled off in the spring of 2022 trumped all the previous 11 titles in school history.
Led by absolute course mastery from sophomore Kihei Akina and then seniors Cooper Jones and Quin Abbott, Lone Peak shattered the two-day state record in May as it shot a 43-under team score during the 6A state tournament at TalonsCove Golf Club. Lone Peak’s 533 team score beat Skyline’s previous record of 541.
“That’s awesome about the state record,” Lone Peak coach Derek Farr said. “That’s an awesome thing for the kids. That’s a record that they earned and is well deserved.”
Akina won 6A medalist honors finishing at 16 under, while teammate Jones was right behind with a 15 under. Akina’s round is tied for the best 36-hole score in state tournament history.
Abbott’s 11-under score is tied for the fifth-best 36-hole mark in state history, while Luke Seaquist also shot in the red finishing at 1 under.
Judge’s Teya Sidberry shatters scoring record
Judge Memorial’s Teya Sidberry etched her name into the state record books in dominant fashion in 2022, and it’s hard to imagine her records will ever be broken.
Sidberry set a new state career scoring record, single-season state scoring record and single-game state record.
Sidberry scored 868 points in leading the Bulldogs to an undefeated 3A state championship, which vaulted her career total to a staggering 2,534 career points. She eclipsed the previous state scoring record by American Fork’s Julie Krommenhoek (1990 to 1994) by 150 points.
“Game inspires game, and I hope someday another girl will break my record,” said Sidberry, who’s currently playing at the University of Utah.
Sidberry’s 868 points this past season broke the previous single-season scoring record by 135 points. She also set a new single-game scoring record when she scored 56 points in a game earlier in her senior year.
Riverton High enjoys sweep on the diamond
For the first time in 16 years, there was a baseball-softball state championship sweep by the same school in the state’s largest classification.
The last school to pull off the swing sweep in the state’s largest classification was Spanish Fork back in 2006. Impressively, it’s something Spanish Fork has done three other times in lower classifications during the past 15 years (2011, 2015 and 2021).
The spring sweep on the diamond by the same school has actually been fairly common over the past 21 years, as it has happened 10 times. Alta did it in 2001 and 2004 — both in state’s largest classification, while Juan Diego did it in 2003. Salem Hills pulled off the baseball-softball double in 2013, while Grantsville did the same in 2021.
Corner Canyon lacrosse sets early standard in Utah
In the first two years of boys lacrosse as a sanctioned sport by the UHSAA, Corner Canyon showed the entire state of Utah what elite lacrosse looks like and gained national recognition in the process.
A year after winning the 6A state championship in 2021 with a 22-0 record and finishing the season ranked No. 10 in the MaxPreps national rankings, the Chargers took it one step further in 2022.
Corner Canyon repeated as 6A state champs with a 19-1 record and ended the season ranked No. 9, according to MaxPreps.
A whopping 11 seniors from last year’s team signed to go on and play college lacrosse.
After Corner Canyon’s state championship triumph, coach Aaron Ika summed up the season like this.
“I honestly feel relieved,” said Ika with a laugh. “I feel like I coach a team of bona fide All-Americans, so I felt like my job this year was just to not screw anything up.”
New fastest athletes in Utah
On the track and in the pool, sprinting state records fell in 2022 as some of the best sprinters in state history etched their names in the state record books.
In the pool, Olympus Evan VanBrocklin — who’s currently swimming at the University of Utah as a freshman — set new state records in both the 50 freestyle (20.53 seconds) and 100 freestyle (45.13).
“I’m sure like a lot of other seniors I’m just trying to go out with a bang. Our whole team is. Trying to get the most out of this last high school event I’ll ever do,” said VanBrocklin.
VanBrocklin wasn’t even alive when the previous 50 free state record was set back in 1997, while the 100 free record he broke dated back to 2013.
On the track, Fremont junior Amare Harlan chased down the coveted record as the fastest athlete in Utah, and she still has another year to break more records.
Harlan set a new 100-meter state record by posting a time of 11.58 seconds at the BYU Invitational. It broke the previous record of 11.68 that dated back to 2014.
At the same meet, she just barely missed out on breaking the 200-meter state record. She posted a time of 23.70, which would’ve beat the state record time of 23.75, but it wasn’t a wind legal time as the gauges recorded a tailwind of +2.1. Had it been +2.0 it would’ve been a wind-legal time.
Dynasties keep adding to their trophy case
Sustaining success year after year and then decade after decade is very difficult in high school sports. With demographics and enrollment numbers gradually changing each school year, not to mention new high schools opening seemingly every two to three years across the state, the landscape of competitiveness is continually shifting.
For five particular high school programs in 2022, even though their success has ebbed and flowed through the decades as well, they added to their legacy as the best ever.
Morgan volleyball, Mountain View boys cross-country, Manti softball and North Summit girls track each won their respective state title in 2022 as they extended their lead as the most dominant program in state history.
Morgan volleyball won its 20th state title in 2022, Mountain View boys cross-country won No. 17, Manti softball won No. 11 and North Summit girls track and field won No. 21.
Alta boys soccer won its ninth state championship in school history in 2022, which ties it with Bountiful for the most in state history.