Concerns about Thunder Basin HS enrollment numbers, figuring out how to reduce travel costs for teams, future reclassification issues, eliminating the football play-in game and seeding for regional wrestling were the topics of discussion at the Spring 2016 Wyoming High School Activities Association Board of Directors Meeting.

Thunder Basin HS: Since the city of Gillette (and the entire state) has taken a hit due to the recent coal mine layoffs and drop in energy prices, concerns have come up as to TB's enrollment numbers should the school open in August 2017. TB would come in at the start of the second half of the new 2-year reclassification cycle, and the original plan was to have the 'Bolts compete in Class 4A in every sport. If the enrollment numbers are not enough to put TB in Class 4A, a new plan has to be devised for when and if they have an athletic program. No official action was taken on this measure. It was discussion only.

Future Reclassification: The reclassification cycle for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 is mostly set with the exception of Thunder Basin in the 2017-2018 school year. The board discussed what to do once that cycle expires. Assuming TB joins 4A, should 4A stay with 12 teams? Or increase? When the 2018-2019 school year starts, if TB is in 4A, then Jackson would drop back to 3A, and conference alignment in 4A becomes an issue for volleyball, basketball and soccer. If it stays 6 in the East and 6 in the West, then Laramie would have to shift to the west, and travel partners is a bit messy. Laramie would be partnered with Rock Springs in the west, and Sheridan would be paired with Cheyenne South in the east. During the week that a team plays it's travel partner, they would also play one of the 2 distance partners as it has been termed. If 4A expands to 14 teams, then Laramie could stay in the East, Jackson would probably stay in 4A, and Riverton probably would move back up to 4A. A 14-team 4A would have 16 teams in 3A (unchanged), 20 teams in 2A (unchanged) and the rest in 1A (minus 2 teams). If 4A expands to 16 teams, then not only would Jackson and Riverton probably be in 4A, Star Valley and Cody would most likely join them. 3A would have 14 teams, 2A would have 20 teams, and 1A would have the rest. No official action was taken on this measure. It was discussion only.

Buffalo HS Football: If TB is in Class 4A Football in 2017, the plan is to put the school in 4A, and then bump Evanston down to 3A, Buffalo down to 2A, Big Horn down to 1A, and Lingle Ft. Laramie would be playoff eligible in 6-man for that season (Lingle-Ft. Laramie is not eligible in 2016, because the program is supposed to be at 1A, but opted down). If this plan comes to fruition, Buffalo has requested to opt up and stay in 3A. The board tabled this request until the next meeting in September. The reason was they wanted to have a better idea on what's going to happen with TB. If the request is approved, it would mean the 2017 season would have 13 teams each in both 3A and 2A, which would create some scheduling issues, due to an odd number of teams. Schools always have the option to opt up or opt down a class in each 2-year reclassification cycle, however opting down makes them ineligible for the post-season.

Transportation Costs: Since schools are getting less money from the legislature due to decreased revenue from falling energy prices, the board discussed ideas on how to help schools save energy costs. Some ideas tossed around was reducing or eliminating various regional tournaments depending on the sport. Another idea was changing the first round of the football playoffs. The current format has east teams vs. west teams in the first round with #4 seeds visiting #1's and #3's visiting #2. The idea has been suggested eliminate east vs. west in the first round, meaning teams would rematch a conference opponent in the first round. Cross regional matchups would happen in the semi-finals, under the assumption all of he better seeds win their first round matchups. Had this proposal happened during the recent 2015 football season, the Green River-Star Valley state championship game, would have been a first round matchup instead. The counter argument to that is what if one conference is better top to bottom than the other conference? An example would be the 2015 1A football playoffs, where the East swept the West in the first round. No official action was taken on this issue. It was discussion only.

Golf Coaching Rule: The board passed on second reading a change to paragraph 3 of rule 7.8.9. The new wording is that advice may be given at any time during the stipulated round of competition, and/or during any suspension of play. The advice shall not unduly delay play.

Drone Proposal: The board passed on second reading newly created rule 7.3.2. The use of drones, in any capacity, is not allowed during any "Association Contest." Member schools may make a local decision as to how they wish to utilize drones during practice. The rationale behind this was safety for the athletes and spectators, and to make sure drones don't become a hazard or interfere with a contest.

Football Play-In Proposal: The board on second reading, terminated the 3-way tie-breaker play-in game. In the past, if there was a 3-way tie, and Team A beat Team B, B beat C and C beat A, and all other tie-breakers fail, and at least one of the teams involved in the tie will miss the playoffs, then the 3 teams would gather at a neutral site on the Tuesday after week 8, and play 2 quarters vs. each other. The surviving team(s) would then have their first round playoff game on Saturday, but only 3 days to prepare, whereas the opponent had 1 week, but had to wait to find out who the opponent was. The reason for terminating this contest was to reduce risk of injury and eliminate missed class time. Starting with the 2016 season, if there's a 3-way tie and one or more teams will miss the playoffs, and all other tie-breakers fail, then a 3-way coin flip will be conducted. The odd flip of the coin in the loser. Revert back to head-to-head matchup during the regular season for the other 2 tied teams. Long story short...since the 3-way tie-breaker play-in game has been eliminated, it's possible that a coin flip could determine if a team does or does not make the playoffs.

Wrestling Seeding Criteria: The board on first reading, added a rule on how wrestlers are seeded for regional tournaments (rule 7.16.71). The first step is head-to-head competition. Then record vs. common opponents. The NEW third rule would be best overall record (minimum 10 varsity matches), then returning state placers at same weight in order of finish at previous state tournament. The rationale is that under the current format, freshmen and transfer students are not rewarded for the seasonal efforts. Wrestlers who placed in the state tournament in the prior year, have a definite advantage. This must undergo another reading to become official, and that would probably be done at the next board meeting in September.

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