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High school sports: Highland's move to 3A highlights realignment debate

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 10 2010 11:19 p.m. MST

Highland High School vs. Bountiful High School football played in Bountiful, Utah, Friday, Oct. 9, 2009. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Highland High School vs. Bountiful High School football played in Bountiful, Utah, Friday, Oct. 9, 2009. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

MIDVALE — The new realignment procedure might have reduced the number of debates, but not the intensity of the decisions.

With six teams on the bubble of 4A and 5A — Lehi, Mountain Crest, Sky View, West, Murray, Cyprus — none of the schools wanted to be in the larger classification. Conversely, of the four schools on the bubble of 4A and 3A, three of the four wanted to be in the larger classification. While Uintah agreed to go to 3A, Highland, Orem and Springville wanted to stay in 4A. After finding all other factors equal — including geographical and time out of school concerns — the Board of Trustees voted to put Springville in 4A and Highland in 3A.

That means the Salt Lake School District will have a 5A school in West, a 4A school in East and a 3A school in Highland. Meanwhile, Orem will have three high schools — Mountain View, Orem and Timpanogos — in three different regions and two different classifications.

Highland principal Paul Schulte argued that the 4A principals voted to keep Highland in 4A while moving Springville to 3A. But the 3A principals wanted Highland and argued that the mileage travelled to and from the two schools was essentially the same when aligned in their respective 3A regions.

Despite his disappointment with being moved to 3A, Highland principal Paul Schulte, who is one of the architects of the new system, said he still believes this new system is superior to the old.

"I'm not a happy camper right now, but I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bath water," said Schulte. "I will live with it because I believe in the process."

Lehi and West will be the two schools moving to 5A next year, while Mountain Crest, Sky View, Murray and Cyprus move to 4A regions.

The 5A regions approved are:

Region 1: Davis, Fremont, Layton, Northridge, Syracuse, Weber

Region 2: Granger, Hunter, Kearns, Taylorsville, Viewmont, West

Region 3: Alta, Brighton, Copper Hills, Cottonwood, Jordan, West Jordan

Region 4: American Fork, Bingham, Lone Peak, Pleasant Grove, Riverton, Lehi

When it came to deciding which schools two schools to put in 5A, principals agreed that only two had geographical issues, which is one of the tie-break criteria.

"I can see that SV and MC have an issue with travel," said Cyprus principal John Welburn. "It's all sixes for the others. If you want to take emotion out of the equation, you simply go back to numbers."

In referring to numbers, he meant looking at the schools with the additional sophomore populations. Using all three grades, Lehi and West had the most students and were moved into 5A.

And while there was some discussion, initiated by BOT members from the northern regions, to take Sky View and Mountain Crest into 5A and move Clearfield from 4A to 5A in creating a northern Utah 5A region, it was abandoned without much discussion.

While Lehi and West were clearly disappointed, the more difficult decision was choosing between Springville, Orem and Highland when it came to the final spot in 4A.

Both Springville and Highland are successful in 4A and wanted desperately to stay in the larger classification. Travel was essentially equal with a difference of about 20 miles per trip for Highland. Schulte said he didn't think that was "essentially the same" but the trustees voted that it was, and then based the decision using sophomore numbers. Using 10-12 numbers made Springville (1114) slightly larger than Highland (1097).

The 4A regions are:

Region 5: Bonneville, Box Elder, Logan, Roy, Mountain Crest, Sky View

Region 6: Bountiful, Clearfield, East, Woods Cross, Olympus, Skyline

Region 7: Herriman, Hillcrest, Westlake, Timpanogos, Murray, Cyprus

Region 8: Maple Mountain, Mountain View, Provo, Salem Hills, Springville, Timpview

The 3A regions are:

Region 9: Bear River, Ben Lomond, Grantsville, Morgan, Ogden, Stansbury, Tooele

Region 10: Juan Diego, Judge, Park City, Union, Wasatch, Highland, Uintah

Region 11: Carbon, Delta, Juab, North Sanpete, Payson, Spanish Fork, Orem

Region 12: Canyon View, Cedar, Desert Hills, Dixie, Hurricane, Pine View, Snow Canyon

The 2A regions are:

Region 13: Maeser, North Summit, Rowland Hall, South Summit, Waterford

Region 14: Emery, Grand, Richfield, San Juan, South Sevier

Region 15: ALA, Gunnison, Manti, North Sevier, Wasatch Academy

Region 16: Beaver, Enterprise, Kanab, Millard, Parowan

There would be a north and south region for football as not all 2A schools participate. In the 2A North, it would be: ALA, Emery, Gunnison, Manti, Millard, North Sevier, North Summit, South Summit. In the 2A south, it would be: Beaver, Enterprise, Grand, Kanab, Parowan, Richfield, San Juan, South Sevier.

2A principal Kent Larsen also said the classification changed from two 10-team regions to four 5-team regions because of contest limit concerns and the fact that all schools do not participate in all sanctioned sports and activities.

In 1A the regions are:

Region 17: Christian Heritage, ICS, Layton Christian, Mt. Vernon, St. Joseph, SL Lutheran, USDB, Westridge

Region 18: Altamont, Duchesne, Manila, Oakley, Rich, Tabiona, Uintah River

Region 19: Dugway, Liahona, Rockwell, Tintic, Wendover, West Desert

Region 20: Green River, Monticello, Mon. Valley, Navajo Mountain, Pinnacle, Whitehorse

Region 21: Bryce Valley, Cross Creek, Diamond Ranch, Escalante, Milford, Panguitch, Piute, Valley, Wayne.

There is a public hearing on the alignment Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the UHSAA office.

e-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com

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