Saratoga hosts Cokeville in 2009. Photo posted by user karasandlian to the Wyoming high school football photo pool on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/groups/wyoming-football/

Saratoga hosts Cokeville in 2009. Photo posted by user karasandlian to the Wyoming high school football photo pool on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/groups/wyoming-football/

This week, we’ve looked at the myriad options Wyoming schools have for reducing travel for ridiculously long road trips and we’ve examined how average travel distance has increased by more than 50 miles per game, one way, in the past 20 years. Today, we’re going to examine why schools have traded away short road trips for long ones.

In short, eight reasons explain why Wyoming schools are traveling more than 50 more miles per road game, one way, than they were 20 years ago:

1. Schools want competitive equity. This is BY FAR the most important of these reasons. Back in 1994, the state was in a bust cycle. Finances were a key concern for schools across the state. That meant keeping teams as close to home as possible, even if that meant playing a JV team or playing a game that was nearby but may result in a blowout.

Now, in 2014, the state is booming again. Finances still carry weight but, clearly, travel costs are less of a concern, and schools are more comfortable with traveling farther to play teams of similar skill level. All the other reasons listed below have their genesis in this reason.

2. The conferences are bigger. Competitive equity is not just tied to the regular season — there’s been a concerted effort to get “the best eight teams” into each playoff bracket. That means putting more teams into each conference to try to eliminate the possibility of an “undeserving” team with one upset to its name sneaking in to the playoffs, or having a second-place team in a small conference qualify for the playoffs even if it’s significantly worse than a third-place team in another conference that didn’t qualify. By far, the size of the conferences is the second-most important reason for increased travel, and it was directly spawned by competitive equity concerns.

For example, look at Tongue River’s 1998 season. The Eagles did not qualify for the playoffs, finishing 0-2 in the three-team Class 1A-Division I Northeast Conference. Meanwhile, Wright finished 1-1 in the Southeast Conference and qualified for the playoffs, despite losing to Tongue River 25-8 during the regular season. Of the six teams in the “East,” Tongue River was one of the four best but didn’t qualify for the playoffs for no other reason than its three-team conference was stronger than Wright’s three-team conference.

That was one of the drawbacks of small conferences — every once in a while, the conferences did not reflect an accurate dispersal of talent in the classification, and the best two (or four) teams in a conference qualified for the playoffs instead of the best eight in the state.

Consider this: Twenty years ago, the largest conferences in the state were six teams deep; some conferences were as small as three teams. In 2014, the SMALLEST conference in the state will be six teams; other conferences will be seven, eight, or in the case of Class 4A, 10 teams.

In theory, what happened to Tongue River in 1998 won’t happen with these larger regional conferences.

This is a small piece of a larger trend in Wyoming high school sports — the move from districts to regions. Just as other sports (specifically basketball and volleyball, and to a lesser extent track) changed from (northeast, southeast, southeast or southwest) district to (east or west) regional events starting in the late 1990s, football has moved from small district conferences of three to five schools to large regional conferences of six, seven or eight schools. The main reason why this has happened is simple: getting “the best eight” to state and competitive equity at the state tournament.

3. The regular season is longer. One of the biggest influences on Wyoming’s increased travel distances is its longer regular season. From 1993 to 2000, four of Wyoming’s five classifications had seven-game regular seasons (Class 3A had an eight-game regular season but a smaller playoff bracket). However, when the WHSAA took over football scheduling in 2001, schools in all classifications voted to expand to an eight-game regular season. By 2009, Class 4A schedules were officially expanded to nine games. Of course, with more weeks to fill, schools had to stray farther from home to find opponents.

4. Schools don’t play sub-varsity games anymore. Part of why the WHSAA took over football scheduling in 2001 was to help every school in the state complete a full schedule. Prior to 2001, many schools couldn’t fill out a seven-game regular season, much less an eight- or nine-game schedule. Schools that were most susceptible to this problem were the ones in far-flung places like Pinedale, Big Piney, Cokeville, Saratoga or Dubois. The WHSAA’s intervention was incredibly successful in helping schools fill out their schedules with quality varsity competition. The tradeoff, though, was that to fill those schedules with other varsity teams, teams had to travel farther (or teams had to travel farther to come to them).

5. Schools don’t play interclass games anymore. One of the fallouts of larger conferences is fewer nonconference opportunities. The trend, especially the last few years, has been for the WHSAA to fill those nonconference dates with teams from the same classification. For comparison’s sake: In 1994, there were 25 varsity-versus-varsity in-state interclass games. In 2014, there will be seven; they’re all in Week 1, and none of them involve Class 4A or Class 1A six-man schools.

6. The state has basically abandoned out-of-state scheduling. In 1994, Wyoming schools scheduled 24 out-of-state varsity football games. Those games had an average one-way distance of 121.2 miles — more than 20 miles shorter than the average game that year. In 2014, the WHSAA scheduled three out-of-state games. Three. Those other states, and the teams they contain, may as well not even exist. An easy way to get close, competitive games had been all but closed off.

7. Wyoming added six-man football. Six-man football’s resurrection in 2009 has definitely created some long road trips. But it’s important to note that six-man alone hasn’t thrown Wyoming’s travel stats out of whack. In fact, six-man’s anticipated travel in 2014 (average 190 miles per game, one way) is actually shorter than the state average (193 miles per game, one way) for the season. However, six-man’s influence has affected 11-man, too. Some schools’ move to six-man — particularly Guernsey, Hanna and Dubois — has eliminated some nearby games for regional competition, forcing those schools’ former opponents to travel farther for road games. Also, unlike their nine-man alter egos from the early 1990s, six-man programs can’t play 11-man teams in nonconference games.

8. Schools don’t want local control. Since power ratings were removed from the playoff qualifying equation after the 2008 season, the WHSAA has offered schools the chance to return to scheduling their own football games. Thus far, the schools have refused to retake local control. This way, schools’ schedules stay full — and the hassle of building a schedule stays with the WHSAA and away from the schools’ activities directors, who don’t mind the reduced workload — but opportunities for nearby out-of-state or sub-varsity games are greatly diminished.

The biggest reason why travel is as out of control as it is? Travel isn’t the priority in scheduling. Competitive equity is. Unless (or until) schools decide that travel, and travel costs, outweigh competitive equity, players will need to dedicate some extra time to squats to prepare their butt muscles for 50 extra miles sitting in the bus prior to kickoff….

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Still, the big question hanging over all of this has yet to be answered: Has the schools’ collective focus on competitive equity over travel really made a difference? Are games closer on the scoreboard now that competitive equity is the focus in scheduling?

In short, no. Actually, the focus on competitive equity in scheduling has made games MORE lopsided than before.

Here’s a look at the average and median margin of victory the past 26 regular seasons (no playoff games included) of Wyoming high school football — the 13 prior to the WHSAA taking over state scheduling and the 13 since. I’ve also included the standard deviation. Six-man results, which skew to larger margins of victory and which have only been around on a statewide basis since 2009, have been removed to allow for a comparison across all years:

Year
Average MOV
Median MOV
Std Dev
198819.81813.4
198920.61913.8
199019.61813.6
199118.91713.6
199220.41914.6
1993201813.5
199420.920.513.7
199518.71512.9
199620.71813.8
199720.42013.7
1998201813.7
199921.62015.1
200024.52414.8
200122.32114.2
200223.52016.5
200324.82315.1
200423.92115.4
200521.52114.4
200620.618.514.4
200719.81813.1
2008222015.1
200923.12016
201025.42417.8
201124.62216.1
2012272716.6
2013252315.5

A quick glance at this table tells us something immediately: The average margin of victory the past 13 years, since the WHSAA took over scheduling, is higher than it was the previous 13 years. But we need to dig deeper to see why.

It’s important to note that margin of victory was increasing before the state took over in 2001. The average MOVs in 1999 and 2000 were the highest they had been in more than a decade, and the WHSAA’s first schedule in 2001 actually reduced the average MOV from its 2000 peak. And even through 2008, MOVs stayed fairly stable and consistent — and not that much higher than the MOVs from the previous decade.

Then we hit 2009, and average and median MOVs exploded, all the way up to a one-season high of 27 (both average and median) in 2012. In fact, the four-year stretch from 2010-13 contains four of the five highest average margins of victory for the past 26 years.

Obviously, something changed. So what happened in 2009 that caused MOVs to explode? (Don’t say six-man. Remember, six-man results have been removed from this analysis.)

The answer is more straightforward than you think. And one simple change could address several of the problems Wyoming has seen the past few years. We’ll talk about it in the next blog post.

–patrick

Image courtesy FreeFoto.com.

Image courtesy FreeFoto.com.

Yesterday, we looked at the 449-mile one-way trip that Gillette will make this year to play Evanston.

But that game is an outlier, certainly. It’s the longest. Not the average. What can one outlying game tell us about travel, overall, in Wyoming high school football?

Well, the Gillette-Evanston trip is a small piece of a much larger problem the state has faced the past few years: Travel is increasing.

To get a baseline for where travel in Wyoming stands, I looked at all the games scheduled by the WHSAA for the 2014 season, and broke down the travel by type (conference, nonconference, out-of-state) and by classification. (Here’s some boring fine print on calculation methods; skip to the next paragraph if you want: Only games scheduled by the WHSAA are counted here. The mileages here use the shortest distance proposed by Google Maps directions that do not involve county or dirt roads. Trips go “through the park” when possible, if shorter. Distances were calculated using city centers, not school addresses (hence why the Kelly Walsh-Natrona game goes in as “0 miles”). Burns’ games were calculated from Burns, not from alternate sites. Upton-Sundance games were calculated using the actual host site for home games and the closer of the two schools for road games.)

In short, Wyoming high school football teams are going to be putting in a lot of windshield time. Here are the one-way distances Wyoming squads will have this fall:

All games: Average 192.9 miles; median 178 miles
Conference games: Average 187.8 miles; median 178 miles
Nonconference games: Average 212.5 miles, median 200 miles
4A games: Average 212.8 miles, median 226 miles
3A games (games involving two 3A teams only): Average 196.3 miles, median 183.5 miles
2A games (games involving two 2A teams only): Average 207.3 miles, median 192.5 miles
1A 11-man games (games involving two 1A 11-man teams only): Average 179.4 miles, median 177.5 miles
1A six-man games: Average 190.1 miles, median 178 miles
Interclass games (in-state only): Average 114.1 miles, median 121 miles
Out-of-state games: Average 64.3 miles, median 67 miles

I also decided to take a look at outliers. I counted the number of trips that were more than 325 miles (which is five hours at 65 mph with no stops). In all, 29 games involve trips of 325 miles or more:

Gillette at Evanston (449), Evanston at Sheridan (446), Lyman at Big Horn (408), Star Valley at Douglas (397), Pine Bluffs at Tongue River (389), Hulett at Dubois (385), Sheridan at Rock Springs (370), Big Piney at Wheatland (369), Lovell at Mountain View (361), Pinedale at Wright (361), Evanston at Cheyenne South (357), Cheyenne East at Evanston (357), Evanston at Cheyenne Central (357), Mountain View at Burns (355), Lyman at Lovell (355), Burns at Big Horn (354), Green River at Torrington (353), Rock Springs at Gillette (349), Cokeville at Rocky Mountain (346), Burns at Thermopolis (339), Burlington at Cokeville (337), Cokeville at Riverside (335), Lovell at Kemmerer (332), Wheatland at Lyman (329), Greybull at Mountain View (329), Rocky Mountain at Saratoga (328), Evanston at Natrona (326), Evanston at Kelly Walsh (326), Southeast at Tongue River (325).

I then looked at the number of trips that were fewer than 65 miles (one hour at 65 mph, no stops, duh). In all, 28 games involve trips of 65 miles or fewer:

Cheyenne South at Cheyenne Central (0), Cheyenne East at Cheyenne South (0), Cheyenne East at Cheyenne Central (0), Natrona at Kelly Walsh (0), Mountain View at Lyman (6), Greybull at Riverside (8), Wind River at Wyoming Indian (17), Burns at Pine Bluffs (19), Upton-Sundance at Moorcroft (20), Riverside at Burlington (22), Lingle at Southeast (23), Cody at Powell (24), Riverton at Lander (25), Jackson at Teton, Idaho (33), Midwest at Kaycee (33), Greybull at Lovell (33), Shoshoni at Wind River (35), Big Piney at Pinedale (37), Hanna at Rock River (39), Burlington at Rocky Mountain (41), Lyman at Kemmerer (43), Kemmerer at Mountain View (44), Rocky Mountain at Riverside (46), Wyoming Indian at Shoshoni (47), Lingle at Lusk (47), Cheyenne Central at Laramie (51), Laramie at Cheyenne East (51); Cheyenne South at Laramie (51).

In case you didn’t see it: This season, Wyoming high school football teams will have more trips of at least 325 miles than trips of 65 miles or fewer.

Something is wrong with this picture. But has it always been this way?

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To see if Wyoming’s high school football travel has always been this brutal, I took a look at 1994, which was 20 years ago this fall. Remember that in 1994, the landscape of Wyoming football was somewhat different — the state still had five classifications, but nine-man football only had six schools (and was in its final year of WHSAA sanctioning); Class 4A had 10 schools, just like now, but they were separated into two conferences; the state had 58 football programs, six fewer than today; Class 1A 11-man had four conferences instead of two; schools made their own schedules; not every school filled out a full schedule, so some schools had to supplement by playing JV or sophomore teams or out-of-state programs.

To be fair to the WHSAA, I removed the games schools scheduled against sub-varsity opponents. Then, just like I did for 2014, I calculated the distance for each game. Here’s what I found about the 1994 season:

All games: Average 144.7 miles; median 137 miles
Conference games: Average 135.4 miles; median 126 miles
Nonconference games: Average 155.7 miles, median 148 miles
4A games: Average 187.5 miles, median 178 miles
3A games (games involving two 3A teams only): Average 163.6 miles, median 165 miles
2A games (games involving two 2A teams only): Average 144.5 miles, median 135.5 miles
1A 11-man games (games involving two 1A 11-man teams only): Average 115.7 miles, median 98 miles
1A nine-man games (games involving two 1A nine-man teams only): Average 158.7 miles, median 155 miles
Interclass games (in-state only): Average 153.8 miles, median 161 miles
Out-of-state games: Average 121.2 miles, median 82 miles

The difference here is clear. The average one-way distance for a typical football game is almost 50 miles longer in 2014 than it was in 1994. And the average one-way distance for a conference game is more than 50 miles further than it was 20 years ago.

Throw in those sub-varsity games (which averaged only 75 miles in 1994), and the average road trip for a football game in 1994 was 138.9 miles — a full 54 miles shorter than the average game in 2014.

The outliers were fewer, as well. Unlike the 29 games of 325 miles or more we’ll see this fall, 1994 only had six games that had one-way trips of 325 miles or more — and two of them were neutral-site games: Regina Riffel, Saskatchewan, at Sheridan (528 miles); Gillette at Green River (364); Evanston at Cheyenne East (357); Hulett at Wyoming Indian (337); Kemmerer vs. Lovell (at Riverton, 332 for both); Kelly Walsh vs. Evanston (at Rawlins, 326 total for both).

On the flipside, 42 games in 1994 involved one-way trips of 65 miles or fewer – 15 more games than the 27 short-trip games scheduled for 2014. Throw in eight sub-varsity games that were within 65 miles, and Wyoming had 50 hour-or-less games in 1994.

(Keep in mind that only 208 regular-season varsity-versus-varsity games were scheduled in 1994; 2014 has 255.)

This shift is an economic problem, too: 54 more miles per game one way is 108 more miles per game. Over 255 games — the length of the WHSAA-scheduled regular season this year — and that’s 27,540 more miles that Wyoming high school football teams will travel this fall than they did 20 years ago.

The American School Bus Council assumes that a large-passenger diesel school bus gets about 7 miles per gallon. The average price of a gallon of diesel in Wyoming on July 21 was $3.897. That’s $15,331.91 more in gasoline that Wyoming schools will have to shell out this year than they did in 1994 to cover those 108 additional miles per trip — not to mention any hourly wage for bus drivers, increased wear on tires and bus equipment, and so on.

But why? Why are football teams going 54 more miles per game, one way, than they did 20 years ago? That’s what we’ll examine next.

–patrick

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 7.39.41 AM

In the second week of the Class 4A football season, Gillette will board a bus and travel 449 miles, one way, for a football game against Evanston.

As the largest school in Class 4A with an ADM (average daily membership, fancy term for enrollment) in grades 9-12 of 2,439, Gillette doesn’t have many in-state options for competition. Only 10 schools are classified in Wyoming’s big-school division for football; that includes Evanston, which, with an ADM of 918, is the state’s smallest 4A football school.

The fact that Gillette has to travel an estimated seven hours, one way, for a football game is nothing new for those familiar with football in the Equality State. Class 4A’s round-robin schedule, in which the 10 teams play each other, and no one else, in a nine-week regular season, helps fill out schedules but also creates trips like the ones the Camels will have to make this year.

Just how far is 449 miles? Well, here’s a list of places that are closer to Gillette than Evanston is:

Bismarck, N.D. (393 miles)

Pierre, S.D. (287 miles)

Mitchell, S.D. (414 miles)

Colorado Springs, Colo. (412 miles)

North Platte, Neb. (419 miles)

Bozeman, Mont. (373 miles)

Great Falls, Mont. (448 miles)

Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada (434 miles)

With all those places closer to Gillette than Evanston, it only stands to reason that the Camels’ football team would have some pretty decent competition with a shorter drive. Well, it does: In all, there are 100 schools larger than Evanston that are closer to Gillette than Evanston is:

6 in Montana: Bozeman (9-12 enrollment 1,961); Billings West (1,883); Billings Senior (1,730); Billings Skyview (1,557); Great Falls CMR (1,551); Great Falls (1,520).

2 in South Dakota: Rapid City Central (2,020); Rapid City Stevens (1,615).  (South Dakota calculates enrollments on three-year, not four-year, totals; these are calculated four-year totals.)

2 in North Dakota: Bismarck (1,592); Bismarck Century (1,554). (A third high school, Bismarck Legacy, will join this list when it opens fully in 2015.)

1 in Nebraska: North Platte (1,148). (Nebraska calculates enrollments on three-year, not four-year, totals; this is a calculated four-year total.)

89 in Colorado
16 north of Denver/Boulder Metro: Fort Collins (1,517); Fossil Ridge (2,090); Frederick (969); Greeley Central (1,407); Greeley West (1,518); Longmont (1,180); Loveland (1,521); Mountain View (1,180); Niwot (1,311); Northridge (1,046); Poudre (1,780); Rocky Mountain (1,934); Silver Creek (1,129); Skyline (1,352); Thompson Valley (1,238); Windsor (1,225).
54 in Denver/Boulder Metro: Abraham Lincoln (1,517); Adams City (1,768); Arapahoe (2,188); Arvada West (1,703); Aurora Central (2,084); Bear Creek (1,729); Boulder (1,939); Bright0n (1,841); Broomfield (1,428); Centaurus (1,017); Chaparral (2,105); Chatfield (1,805); Cherokee Trail (2,633); Cherry Creek (3,512); Columbine (1,660); Dakota Ridge (1,545); Denver East (2,433); Denver South (1,380); Eaglecrest (2,513); Evergreen (1,009); Fairview (2,128); Falcon (1,253); Gateway (1,680); George Washington (1,436); Golden (1,289); Grandview (2,588); Green Mountain (1,105); Heritage (1,668); Highlands Ranch (1,608); Hinkley (1,923); Horizon (1,917); John F. Kennedy (1,259); Lakewood (2,091); Legacy (2,178); Legend (1,978); Littleton (1,383); Monarch (1,624); Montbello (2,160); Mountain Range (1,964); Mountain Vista (2,100); Northglenn (1,796); Overland (2,282); Pomona (1,448); Prairie View (1,794); Ralston Valley (1,748); Rangeview (2,305); Rock Canyon (1,948); Smoky Hill (2,141); Standley Lake (1,344); Thomas Jefferson (1,075); Thornton (1,770); Thunderridge (2,019); Westminster (2,390); Wheat Ridge (1,307).
19 south of Denver/Boulder Metro: Castle View (1,850); Cheyenne Mountain (1,309); Coronado (1,498); Discovery Canyon (1,009); Doherty (2,064); Douglas County (1,824); Fountain-Fort Carson (1,714); Lewis-Palmer (1,033); Liberty (1,576); Mesa Ridge (1,330); Mitchell (1,215); Palmer (1,986); Palmer Ridge (1,095); Pine Creek (1,467); Ponderosa (1,161); Rampart (1,524); Sand Creek (1,231); Vista Ridge (1,239); Widefield (1,240).

(Update: 12:47 p.m. 7/21/14: Obviously, this list does not include Wyoming high schools. Sorry for not specifying that sooner.)

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But this isn’t just a problem for the Camels. The Red Devils will have to make the trip to Gillette in 2015 when the schedule flip-flops next season and home dates turn into road dates. Just like Gillette, Evanston has plenty of options available that are closer than the drive across the Three Sisters, the Red Desert, Muddy Gap, Wyoming’s Adventure Capital and the Thunder Basin National Grassland:

Durango, Colo. (448 miles)

Fort Collins, Colo. (372 miles)

Winnemucca, Nev. (434 miles)

Boise, Idaho (379 miles)

Ontario, Ore. (431 miles)

Butte, Mont. (420 miles)

Page, Ariz. (442 miles)

In fact, the Red Devils have more options than the Camels do for quality opposition. In all, there are 123 schools larger than Evanston’s 918 students that are closer to Evanston than Gillette:

67 in Utah (some schools count their enrollments in three-year increments, others in four): American Fork (2,086 in 3); Lehi (2,048 in 3); Lone Peak (2,334 in 3); Mountain View (1,291 in 3); Orem (1,126 in 3); Pleasant Grove (1,888 in 3); Timpanogos (1,344 in 3); Westlake (2,512 in 3); Bear River (888 in 3); Box Elder (1,400 in 3); Mountain Crest (1,669 in 3); Sky View (1,574 in 3); Bountiful (1,506 in 3); Clearfield (1,701 in 3); Davis (2,400 in 3); Layton (1,752 in 3); Northridge (18,57 in 3); Viewmont (1,755 in 3); Woods Cross (1,358 in 3); Syracuse (2,013 in 3); Cottonwood (1,624 in 3); Cyprus (1,612 in 3); Granger (1,704 in 3); Hunter (2,148 in 3); Kearns (1,623 in 3); Olympus (1,542 in 3); Skyline (1,483 in 3); Taylorsville (1,728 in 3); Cedar City (1,086 in 4); Canyon View (1,000 in 4); Copper Hills (2,424 in 3); Bingham (2,398 in 4); Herriman (2,177 in 3); Riverton (2,038 in 3); West Jordan (1,748 in 3); Maple Mountain (1,219 in 3); Payson (1,135 in 3); Salem Hills (1,240 in 3); Spanish Fork (1,156 in 3); Springville (1,355 in 3); Park City (1,083 in 3); Tooele (1,482 in 4); Stansbury (1,555 in 4); Uintah (1,106 in 3); Wasatch (1,662 in 4); Desert Hills (1,014 in 3); Dixie (1,050 in 3); Hurricane (852 in 3); Pine View (970 in 3); Snow Canyon (1,095 in 3); Bonneville (1,320 in 3); Weber (1,842 in 3); Fremont (1,838 in 3); Roy (1,553 in 3); East (1,986 in 4); Highland (1,539 in 4); West (2,386 in 4); Ben Lomond (1,084 in 3); Ogden (1,245 in 3); Provo (1,646 in 4); Timpview (1,952 in 4); Logan (1,712 in 4); Murray (1,452 in 3); Alta (2,414 in 3); Brighton (1,671 in 3); Hillcrest (1,695 in 3); Jordan (1,726 in 3). (NOTE: The Utah High School Activities Association does not post school enrollment numbers online; these are enrollments from the state’s department of education.)

2 in Nevada: Elko (1,340); Spring Creek (953). (Nevada, like Utah, doesn’t post school enrollments on the activities association’s website.)

31 in Idaho: Rocky Mountain (2,163); Mountain View (2,152); Borah (1,981); Boise (1,954); Capital (1,863); Vallivue (1,800); Centennial (1,800); Eagle (1,674); Nampa (1,555); Meridian (1,509); Timberline (1,500); Highland (1,379); Madison (1,373); Idaho Falls (1,371); Hillcrest (1,361); Skyline (1,348); Columbia (1,335); Bonneville (1,302); Kuna (1,282); Skyview (1,266); Caldwell (1,266); Rigby (1,238); Century (1,189); Canyon Ridge (1,129); Twin Falls (1,100); Pocatello (1,087); Blackfoot (1,082); Minico (995); Mountain Home (994); Middleton (993); Jerome (939).

2 in Montana: Bozeman (1,961); Butte (1,296).

21 in Colorado (In the front range, the cutoff is at about Boulder. To be generous, we’ll only count schools north of the Denver/Boulder metro): Fort Collins (1,517); Fossil Ridge (2,090); Frederick (969); Greeley Central (1,407); Greeley West (1,518); Longmont (1,180); Loveland (1,521); Mountain View (1,180); Niwot (1,311); Northridge (1,046); Poudre (1,780); Rocky Mountain (1,934); Silver Creek (1,129); Skyline (1,352); Thompson Valley (1,238); Windsor (1,225). (Others in Colorado outside the front range): Grand Junction Central (1,452); Durango (1,075); Fruita Monument (1,706); Montrose (1,361); Palisade (1,053).

(Update: 12:47 p.m. 7/21/14: Obviously, this list does not include Wyoming high schools. Sorry for not specifying that sooner.)

Keep in mind that this list doesn’t account for all the schools that are smaller but close in size to Evanston… only the ones that are larger.

The point? 449 miles is a long way for a football game, especially when 449 miles isn’t necessary to find quality competition.

Postscript: In the third week of the 4A season — one week after Gillette comes to Evanston — Evanston makes a road trip to Sheridan. And if you go through Casper instead of over the treacherous mountain passes of the Bighorns, Sheridan is actually further from Evanston (471 miles) than Gillette is.

–patrick

Powell coach Jim Stringer, shown here during the 2013 state championship, died Friday at 44. Photo courtesy Greg Wise.

Powell coach Jim Stringer, shown here during the 2013 state championship, died Friday at 44. Photo courtesy Greg Wise.

The Powell Tribune and others are reporting that Powell coach Jim Stringer died earlier today from a heart attack.

Numerous condolences had been posted to Stringer’s Facebook wall by mid-afternoon. This afternoon, Stringer’s son Riley — a senior at Powell — posted on Twitter:

Stringer, with his son Riley, celebrates the Panthers' victory in the 2013 Class 3A title game. Photo courtesy Greg Wise.

Stringer, with his son Riley, celebrates the Panthers’ victory in the 2013 Class 3A title game. Photo courtesy Greg Wise.

Stringer, 44, was originally from Strasburg, Colorado. He had led Powell to three consecutive Class 3A championships. Powell enters the 2014 season on a 27-game winning streak. He took over as Powell’s head coach in 2003. His first season, the Panthers went 0-8; by 2006, Powell was state champions. He was 70-42 in his 11 years as head coach and won four state championships (2006, 2011, 2012, 2013). He was the North’s head coach for the Shrine Bowl in 2007 and 2012 and was part of the coaching staff for the North team in this year’s Shrine Bowl.

Stringer is survived by his wife, Jill, and his three children, Riley, Kooper and Kody.

 

Stringer celebrates after Powell beat Green River to win the 3A West Conference title on Oct. 19, 2013, in Powell. Photo courtesy of Greg Wise.

Stringer celebrates after Powell beat Green River to win the 3A West Conference title on Oct. 19, 2013, in Powell. Photo courtesy of Greg Wise.

–patrick

Wyoming’s 100-victory club is exclusive. So far, only 23 coaches have won 100 games in their Equality State careers.

Glenrock’s Ray Kumpula could be the 24th with two victories in the 2014 season.

Kumpula, who coached the Herders from 1990-96 and since 2002, has a career record of 98-74, and is on the cusp of joining a club that only four other active coaches have joined. The coaches who have achieved the 100-victory mark are listed below:

Coaching victories

Rank
Coach
Wins
Losses
Ties
1Dayton, Todd282520
2Deti, John E.205948
3Deti, John R.1881022
4Fullmer, Jerry174820
5McDougall, John1561152
6Harshman, Steve154700
7tBlanchard, Okie148568
7tEskelsen, Joel148810
9Hoff, Dallas1461016
10Gray, Walter140870
11Moon, Mike136791
12Scherry, Rick133841
13Hill, Art132923
14Bailey, Harold128920
15Mirich, Carl1241011
16Julian, Don123390
17Bullington, Mark120320
18Keith, Bruce117820
19Petronovich, Pete1141025
20Fackrell, Kay111790
21Dinnel, Don109650
22Bartlett, Doug102730
23Smith, Ben101330
24Kumpula, Ray98740

Todd Dayton (Cokeville), Steve Harshman (Natrona), Don Julian (Sheridan) and Mark Bullington (Southeast) are the only other active coaches at 100 victories or more.

No other coaches have the chance to join Kumpula this season in the club. Gillette coach Vic Wilkerson, with 81 victories, is the next-closest active coach to reaching 100.

–patrick

A couple small updates:

I updated two games from Lusk’s 1929 season: Changed a game listed on Sept. 20 with Edgemont, S.D., from a loss (no score listed) to a 6-6 tie, and I found the score for Lusk’s 34-7 loss to Crawford, Neb., on Oct. 4.

I also updated Glendo’s losing streak from 1975-78 to 23 games; I had listed 22.

The updates are reflected on all the relevant pages.

–patrick

Note: This is the third of a three-part series examining what Wyoming’s high school sports scene might look like in nine years. For Part 1, click here; for Part 2, click here.

Scenario 1: Difficult days ahead

Welcome to 2023. Wyoming is struggling. Mineral prices are in a constant state of flux, leaving state funding uncertain. The state has responded to the fluctuation with a mandate for the education of its high school students: bigger is better.

With that in mind, the state legislature passed legislation that said any high school smaller than 200 students that has a high school within 30 miles (and within the same school district) must consolidate with that school. The state also passed legislation that said all high schools smaller than 25 students should close and consolidate.

Seven high schools are closed schools in this scenario: Pine Bluffs, Southeast, Lingle, Encampment, Chugwater, Rock River and Glendo. Enrollments of schools would be as follows:

1. Gillette, 2,938
2/3. Kelly Walsh/Natrona, 2,160
4. Rock Springs, 1,901
5/6/7. Cheyenne Central/East/South, 1,534
8. Laramie, 1,319 (with Rock River)
9. Sheridan, 1,136
10. Jackson, 969
11. Evanston, 920
12. Riverton, 911
13. Green River, 905
14. Star Valley, 769
15. Cody, 667
16. Rawlins, 607
17. Powell, 596
18. Douglas, 556
19. Goshen County, 495 (Torrington, Lingle, Southeast)
20. Worland, 454
21. Lander, 426
22. Buffalo, 363
23. West Platte, 344 (Wheatland, Glendo, Chugwater)
24. Pinedale, 343
25. East Laramie, 310 (Burns, Pine Bluffs)
26. Lyman, 255
27. Mountain View, 248
28. Newcastle, 244
29. Lovell, 237
30. Kemmerer, 234
31. Glenrock, 230
32. Big Piney, 206
33. Moorcroft, 196
34. Thermopolis, 179
35. Tongue River, 173
36. Greybull, 162
37. Wright, 161
38. Wyoming Indian, 156 (adjusted)
39. Saratoga, 143 (with Encampment)
40. Sundance, 120
41. Wind River, 119
42. Lusk, 118
43. Big Horn, 117
44. Shoshoni, 117
45. Rocky Mountain, 104
46. Riverside, 86
47. Upton, 80
48. NSI, 76 (exempt as private school)
49. Cokeville, 75
50. St. Stephens, 70
51. Burlington, 68
52. Hanna, 66
53. Guernsey, 64
54. Snake River, 62
55. Dubois, 50
56. Midwest, 49
57. Kaycee, 45
58. Farson, 44
59. Hulett, 38
60. Meeteetse, 29
61. Arvada-Clearmont, 26
62. Ten Sleep, 25

Seven closed high schools in the span of less than 10 years — Wyoming hasn’t seen consolidation at a rate that high since the 1950s. But desperate times called for those desperate measures, and now the WHSAA is stuck cleaning up the mess.

Even with all the changes, the WHSAA stands steadfast with its current alignments for football — an increasing number of medium-sized schools causes some significant reorganization but doesn’t drastically change things statewide.

Football conferences
Class 4A: Gillette, Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Rock Springs, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie, Sheridan, Jackson.
Class 3A East: Riverton, Rawlins, Douglas, Goshen County, Lander, Buffalo.
Class 3A West: Evanston, Green River, Star Valley, Cody, Powell, Worland.
Class 2A East: West Platte, East Laramie, Newcastle, Glenrock, Moorcroft, Thermopolis, Tongue River.
Class 2A West: Pinedale, Lyman, Mountain View, Lovell, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Greybull.
Class 1A 11-man East: Wright, Saratoga, Sundance, Lusk, Big Horn, Upton, NSI.
Class 1A 11-man West: Wyoming Indian, Wind River, Shoshoni, Rocky Mountain, Riverside, Cokeville, St. Stephens.
Class 1A six-man East: Hanna, Guernsey, Midwest, Kaycee, Hulett.
Class 1A six-man West: Burlington, Snake River, Dubois, Farson, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep.

For all other sports, with fewer schools, Class 3A and 2A go to eight-team conferences, as the WHSAA adjusts the number of 2A schools from 20 to 16 to account for the closure of numerous small schools.

Conferences for other sports
Class 4A East: Gillette, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie, Sheridan.
Class 4A West: Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Rock Springs, Jackson, Evanston, Riverton.
Class 3A East: Rawlins, Douglas, Goshen County, Lander, Buffalo, West Platte, East Laramie, Newcastle.
Class 3A West: Star Valley, Cody, Powell, Worland, Green River, Pinedale, Lyman, Mountain View.
Class 2A East: Glenrock, Moorcroft, Tongue River, Wright, Saratoga, Sundance, Lusk, Big Horn.
Class 2A West: Lovell, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Thermopolis, Greybull, Wyoming Indian, Wind River, Shoshoni.
Class 1A Northeast: Upton, NSI, Hulett, Arvada-Clearmont.
Class 1A Southeast: Hanna, Guernsey, Midwest, Kaycee.
Class 1A Northwest: Rocky Mountain, Riverside, Burlington, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep.
Class 1A Southwest: St. Stephens, Dubois, Cokeville, Snake River, Farson.

++++++

++++++

++++++

Scenario 2: What hath solar roadways wrought?

Welcome to 2023. Wyoming is fighting for relevance. Thanks to solar roadways, mineral prices are consistently down, leaving the state’s economic situation in a complete upheaval. The state has responded to the fluctuation with a mandate for the education of its high school students: close it if you can.

With that in mind, the state legislature passed the “3-2-1″ legislation. This legislation said any high school smaller than 100 students must close if it has another high school option within 30 miles, that schools smaller than 200 students must close if there’s another option within 20 miles, and that schools smaller than 300 students must close if there’s another option within 10 miles, even if they’re in separate school districts, up to a cap of 3,000 students in one school. The state also passed legislation that said all high schools smaller than 40 students must close.

In this scenario, 23 high schools close: Lyman (or Mountain View), Tongue River, Wyoming Indian, Wind River, Pine Bluffs (or Burns), Big Horn, Shoshoni, Rocky Mountain (or Lovell), Riverside and Burlington (or Greybull, two of the three will close), Upton, Lingle, Southeast, St. Stephens, Guernsey, Encampment, Hulett, Meeteetse, Arvada-Clearmont, Ten Sleep, Chugwater, Rock River, Glendo. (In this case, Wyoming Indian and Wind River could be combined under the “200″ section of the 3-2-1 legislation, but had to close under the “300″ section as their enrollment together was less than 300. They were then split to Lander and Riverton, respectively.) Ranked by enrollment, they are:

1. Gillette, 2,938
2/3. Kelly Walsh/Natrona, 2,160
4. Rock Springs, 1,901
5/6/7. Cheyenne Central/East/South, 1,534
8. Sheridan, 1,426 (with Tongue River, Big Horn)
9. Laramie, 1,319 (with Rock River)
10. Riverton, 1,217 (with St. Stephens, Shoshoni, Wind River)
11. Jackson, 969
12. Evanston, 920
13. Green River, 905
14. Star Valley, 769
15. Cody, 696 (with Meeteetse)
16. Rawlins, 607
17. Powell, 596
18. Lander, 582 (with Wyoming Indian)
19. Douglas, 556
20. Bridger Valley, 503 (Mountain View, Lyman)
21. Goshen County, 495 (Torrington, Lingle, Southeast)
22. Worland, 481 (with Ten Sleep)
23. Platte County, 408 (Wheatland, Guernsey, Glendo, Chugwater)
24. Buffalo, 389 (with Arvada-Clearmont)
25. Pinedale, 343
26. North Big Horn County, 341 (Lovell, Rocky Mountain)
27. Weston County, 324 (Newcastle, Upton)
28. South Big Horn County, 316 (Greybull, Riverside, Burlington)
29. East Laramie County, 310 (Burns, Pine Bluffs)
30. Kemmerer, 234
31. Glenrock, 230
32. Big Piney, 206
33. Moorcroft, 196
34. Thermopolis, 179
35. Wright, 161
36. Sundance, 158 (with Hulett)
37. Saratoga, 143 (with Encampment)
38. Lusk, 118
39. NSI, 76 (exempt as private school)
40. Cokeville, 75
41. Hanna, 66
42. Snake River, 62
43. Dubois, 50
44. Midwest, 49
45. Kaycee, 45
46. Farson, 44

Clearly, Wyoming has fallen into shambles by 2023. Obviously, if the state is desperate enough to close 21 high schools in an attempt to save enough money to get through the year, then bigger problems are afoot, too.

Yet, we soldier on with the things that matter. Like football.

The state realizes it can no longer justify five classifications of football, so it uses the same conference structure for all sports. And, of course, we’d continue on with other sports, too — even though Colorado has offered to annex Wyoming to keep Wyoming from dragging down the entire Rocky Mountain region with its struggles, we’re going to continue to play hoops and wrestle and host track meets…:

All-sports classification
Class 4A East: Gillette, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie, Sheridan.
Class 4A West: Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Rock Springs, Riverton, Jackson, Evanston.
Class 3A East: Rawlins, Lander, Douglas, Goshen County, Platte County, Buffalo.
Class 3A West: Green River, Star Valley, Cody, Powell, Bridger Valley, Washakie County.
Class 2A East: Weston County, East Laramie, Glenrock, Moorcroft, Wright, Sundance.
Class 2A West: Pinedale, North Big Horn County, South Big Horn County, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Thermopolis.
Class 1A East: Lusk, NSI, Hanna, Midwest, Kaycee.
Class 1A West: Saratoga, Cokeville, Snake River, Dubois, Farson.

++++++

++++++

++++++

Scenario 3: Complete destruction.

Welcome to 2023. Wyoming is nothing more than a memory now. The Yellowstone Supervolcano has erupted, and everything within 300 miles has been destroyed. The state has responded by ducking and covering.

The state legislature has ceased to exist, and the state capitol building has been taken over by force by a pseudo-government of survivalists, anarchists and Ted Nugent. They’ve passed no legislation, but they’ve pulled off an impressive number of martial-law killings.

Still, some localities outside the 300-mile kill zone have survived to form a one-classification, 15-school superconference for all high school sports, as you do. They’ve become self-governing, as the WHSAA office in Casper fell victim to the blast, but they can still have the state football championship at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie — if the wind is right:

Superconference:  Newcastle, Lusk, Glendo, Wheatland, Chugwater, Guernsey, Lingle, Torrington, Southeast, Pine Bluffs, Burns, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 2.59.21 PM

Hey — it could always be worse.

–patrick

Note: This is the second of a three-part series examining what Wyoming’s high school sports scene might look like in nine years. For Part 1, click here.

Welcome to 2023. Wyoming is booming. Mineral prices are steady and rising, giving the state a consistent flow of cash. The state has reinvested this cash flow into education, but with a certain mandate: smaller is better.

With that in mind, the state legislature passed legislation that said any community with an elementary school but without its own high school should have its own, as long as that school would support at least 25 students in 9-12. The state also passed legislation that said no community could have one high school have a 9-12 population larger than 2,000 students. In addition, all existing high schools are given the freedom to remain open no matter their student population.

In this dream scenario, every community that had the chance to build a high school took the opportunity. In all, 11 new high schools joined the state — and in the process, 11 new schools’ athletic programs came under the jurisdiction of the Wyoming High School Activities Association. Things are about to change for Wyoming’s high school sports landscape.

Bold schools are new; italicized schools had their enrollments affected by the new schools:

1. Rock Springs, 1,901
2/3/4. Cheyenne Central/East/South, 1,534
5/6. Gillette/Gillette Enzi, 1,457 (lost students to 4J)
7/8/9. Kelly Walsh/Natrona/Casper Mountain, 1,440
10. Laramie, 1,302
11. Sheridan, 1,136
12. Evanston, 920
13. Riverton, 911
14. Green River, 905
15. Jackson, 754 (lost students to Wilson, Alta, Kelly)
16. Cody, 667
17. Powell, 596
18. Rawlins, 582 (lost students to Sinclair)
19. Douglas, 556
20. Worland, 454
21. Lander, 426
22. Afton, 385 (lost students to Thayne)
23. Thayne, 384
24. Buffalo, 363
25. Pinedale, 343
26. Torrington, 339
27. Wheatland, 312
28. Lyman, 255
29. Mountain View, 248
30. Newcastle, 244
31. Lovell, 237
32. Kemmerer, 234
33. Glenrock, 230
34. Moorcroft, 196
35. Thermopolis, 179
36. Tongue River, 173
37. Big Piney, 169 (lost students to LaBarge)
38. Greybull, 162
39. Wright, 161
40. Wyoming Indian, 156
41. Wilson, 154
42. Burns, 132 (lost students to Carpenter)
43. Sundance, 120
44. Wind River, 119
45. Lusk, 118
46. Big Horn, 117
47. Shoshoni, 117
48. Rocky Mountain, 104
49. Saratoga, 90
50. Riverside, 86
51. Pine Bluffs, 81 (lost students to Albin)
52. Upton, 80
53. Lingle, 79
54. Southeast, 77
55. NSI, 76
56. Cokeville, 75
57. St. Stephens, 70
58. Burlington, 68
59. Hanna, 66
60. Guernsey, 64
61. Snake River, 62
62. Carpenter, 55
63. Encampment, 53
64. Dubois, 50
65. Midwest, 49
66. Kaycee, 45
67. Farson, 44
68. Albin, 42
69. Hulett, 38
70. LaBarge, 37
71. Alta, 34
72. Meeteetse, 29
73. Kelly, 27
74. Arvada-Clearmont, 26
75. Ten Sleep, 25
76. 4J, 25
77. Sinclair, 25
78. Chugwater, 20
79. Rock River, 17
80. Glendo, 12

In this scenario, two large schools — one in Gillette, one in Casper — open to meet the “fewer than 2,000″ mandate. Star Valley splits to form two smaller 3A schools, one in Afton and one in Thayne. A 2A-sized school opens in Wilson, west of Jackson, and small schools open (or re-open) in Carpenter, Albin, LaBarge, Alta, Kelly, Sinclair and at the 4J school southwest of Gillette.

With more large schools, the WHSAA expands Class 4A football from 10 to 12 schools and adds conference play, but the remaining classifications stay at their current numbers. These conferences are built on the assumption that schools with 40 or more students will add football and join into their respective classifications.

Football conferences
Class 4A North: Gillette, Gillette Enzi, Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Casper Mountain, Sheridan.
Class 4A South: Rock Springs, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie, Evanston.
Class 3A East: Riverton, Rawlins, Douglas, Worland, Lander, Buffalo.
Class 3A West: Green River, Jackson, Cody, Powell, Afton, Thayne.
(Or instead, a 3A North of Riverton, Cody, Powell, Douglas, Worland and Buffalo and a 3A South of Green River, Jackson, Rawlins, Lander, Afton and Thayne.)
Class 2A East: Torrington, Wheatland, Newcastle, Glenrock, Moorcroft, Thermopolis, Tongue River.
Class 2A West: Pinedale, Lyman, Mountain View, Lovell, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Greybull.
Class 1A 11-man Northeast: Wright, Sundance, Big Horn, Upton.
Class 1A 11-man Southeast: Burns, Lusk, Pine Bluffs, Lingle*, Southeast*.
Class 1A 11-man Northwest: Wind River, Shoshoni, Rocky Mountain, Riverside, Burlington*.
Class 1A 11-man Southwest: Wyoming Indian, Wilson, Saratoga, Cokeville*.
Class 1A six-man East: NSI, Guernsey, Carpenter, Midwest, Kaycee, Albin, Hulett, Rock River.
Class 1A six-man West: St. Stephens, Hanna, Snake River, Dubois, Farson, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep.

*-indicates schools opting up to 11-man from six-man.

Other sports see even more radical change. The WHSAA, realizing the large number of larger schools, expands 4A to 16 teams, but keeps 3A at 16 and 2A at 20. At 16 schools, 4A elects to go to quadrants, under the “smaller is better” mantra.

Conferences for other sports
Class 4A Northeast: Gillette, Gillette Enzi, Casper Mountain, Sheridan.
Class 4A Southeast: Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie.
Class 4A Northwest: Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Riverton, Cody.
Class 4A Southwest: Rock Springs, Evanston, Green River, Jackson.
Class 3A Northeast: Worland, Lander, Buffalo, Newcastle.
Class 3A Southeast: Rawlins, Douglas, Torrington, Wheatland.
Class 3A Northwest: Powell, Afton, Thayne, Lovell.
Class 3A Southwest: Pinedale, Lyman, Mountain View, Kemmerer.
Class 2A Northeast: Moorcroft, Tongue River, Sundance, Big Horn, Upton.
Class 2A Southeast: Glenrock, Wright, Burns, Lusk, Pine Bluffs.
Class 2A Northwest: Thermopolis, Greybull, Shoshoni, Rocky Mountain, Riverside.
Class 2A Southwest: Big Piney, Wyoming Indian, Wilson, Wind River, Saratoga.
Class 1A Northeast: NSI, Midwest, Kaycee, Hulett, Arvada-Clearmont, 4J.
Class 1A Southeast: Lingle, Southeast, Guernsey, Glendo, Carpenter, Albin, Rock River, Chugwater.
Class 1A Northwest: Burlington, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep, St. Stephens, Dubois, Alta, Kelly.
Class 1A Southwest: Cokeville, Hanna, Snake River, Encampment, Farson, LaBarge, Sinclair.

Even completely maxed out, Wyoming caps at 80 high schools. A couple more could be stretched out here — Rozet Elementary pulls from eastern reaches of Gillette and would be at 204 students, while Poison Spider tugs on western Casper and could be a high school with 98 students, including students from other rural western Natrona elementaries. Still, the state is still well short of the number of high schools seen in neighboring states.

But this comes about only with financial excess. What happens if Wyoming goes through a bust the next 10 years instead of a boom?

Tomorrow: What if: Wyoming reduces its high school options?

–patrick

Note: This is the first of a three-part series examining what Wyoming’s high school sports scene might look like in nine years.

Welcome to 2023. Wyoming is getting along fine. Mineral prices are consistent but not enough to give the state cause to expand its option. The state’s been careful with its money, and issued a mandate on high school construction: nothing brand new, but nothing shut down.

After all, Wyoming has entered an unprecedented level of stability for its high schools.

As of now, the last Wyoming high school to close was Albin in 2003. The 11-year gap since Wyoming’s last high school closure is the state’s longest such gap since at least World War II — and may be the state’s longest such streak, ever.

Since Wyoming’s last two-year high school closed in 1951, here’s when public high schools around the state have closed:

1954: Manville
1956: Ranchester/Dayton (to form Tongue River)
1958: Egbert, McFadden, Reliance, Rozet
1961: Elk Mountain
1962: Superior
1963: Sunrise
1966: Hawk Springs/Veteran/Yoder (to form Goshen Hole)
1969: Morton/Pavillion (to form Wind River), Hillsdale
1971: Carpenter
sometime in the 1970s (exact date unknown): Arvada, Fort Laramie
1980: Huntley/Goshen Hole (to form Southeast)
1983: Cowley/Deaver-Frannie/Byron (to form Rocky Mountain)
1987: Basin/Manderson (to form Riverside)
1992: LaGrange
1997: Jeffrey City
1998: Medicine Bow
2003: Albin

However, the state has by far closed more high schools than it has opened. In the same time period, five new public high schools have opened in Wyoming, and three of them (Cheyenne East in 1960, Cheyenne South in 2009 and Kelly Walsh in 1965) have been in the state’s population centers. The only other two public schools to open in that time were Wyoming Indian (1972) and Wright (1983). In short, it’s been 31 years since a small Wyoming town has opened its own high school, and none are on the horizon.

Now, the question: Can Wyoming reach an even 20 years (2023 in our dream scenario) without losing or adding another high school?

If so, this is how the state’s enrollments would look in 2023, based on this fall’s K-3 enrollment provided at the Wyoming Department of Education website.

Enrollments for Lusk and Rocky Mountain have been adjusted to account for virtual enrollment; enrollment for Wyoming Indian has been adjusted per the WHSAA’s standard WIHS allowance; enrollments for Casper and Cheyenne have been split evenly among those schools.

Keep in mind that elementary enrollment is usually quite a bit larger than eventual high school enrollment, due to dropouts and other factors.

1. Gillette, 2,938
2/3. Kelly Walsh/Natrona: 2,160
4. Rock Springs, 1,901
5/6/7. Cheyenne Central/East/South, 1,534
8. Laramie, 1,302
9. Sheridan, 1,136
10. Jackson, 969 (935 with Alta Elementary students removed)
11. Evanston, 920
12. Riverton, 911
13. Green River, 905
14. Star Valley, 769
15. Cody, 667
16. Rawlins, 607
17. Powell, 596
18. Douglas, 556
19. Worland, 454
20. Lander, 426
21. Buffalo, 363
22. Pinedale, 343
23. Torrington, 339
24. Wheatland, 312
25. Lyman, 255
26. Mountain View, 248
27. Newcastle, 244
28. Lovell, 237
29. Kemmerer, 234
30. Glenrock, 230
31. Big Piney, 206
32. Moorcroft, 196
33. Burns, 187
34. Thermopolis, 179
35. Tongue River, 173
36. Greybull, 162
37. Wright, 161
38. Wyoming Indian, 156 (adjusted per WHSAA guidelines)
39. Pine Bluffs, 123
40. Sundance, 120
41. Wind River, 119
42. Lusk, 118
43. Big Horn, 117
44. Shoshoni, 117
45. Rocky Mountain, 104
46. Saratoga, 90
47. Riverside, 86
48. Upton, 80
49. Lingle, 79
50. Southeast, 77
51. NSI, 76
52. Cokeville, 75
53. St. Stephens, 70
54. Burlington, 68
55. Hanna, 66
56. Guernsey, 64
57. Snake River, 62
58. Encampment, 53
59. Dubois, 50
60. Midwest, 49
61. Kaycee, 45
62. Farson, 44
63. Hulett, 38
64. Meeteetse, 29
65. Arvada-Clearmont, 26
66. Ten Sleep, 25
67. Chugwater, 20
68. Rock River, 17
69. Glendo, 12

+++

Using these enrollments as guidelines, we can take a peek into what the classifications and potential conferences for Wyoming might look like in 2023. With no changes in the number of schools, there wouldn’t be any reason to change the classification cutoffs…:

Football conferences
Class 4A: Gillette, Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Rock Springs, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie, Sheridan, Jackson.
Class 3A East: Riverton, Rawlins, Douglas, Lander, Buffalo, Worland.
Class 3A West: Evanston, Green River, Star Valley, Cody, Powell, Pinedale.
(Or a 3A North with Cody, Powell, Riverton, Douglas, Buffalo and Worland and a 3A South with Evanston, Green River, Star Valley, Pinedale, Rawlins and Lander.)
Class 2A East: Torrington, Wheatland, Newcastle, Glenrock, Moorcroft, Burns, Tongue River.
Class 2A West: Lyman, Mountain View, Lovell, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Thermopolis, Greybull.
Class 1A 11-man East: Wright, Pine Bluffs, Sundance, Lusk, Big Horn, Upton, Lingle, Southeast.
Class 1A 11-man West: Wyoming Indian, Wind River, Shoshoni, Rocky Mountain, Saratoga, Riverside, Cokeville, Burlington.
(Cokeville and Burlington opting up from six-man.)
Class 1A six-man East: NSI, Hanna, Guernsey, Midwest, Kaycee, Hulett, Rock River.
Class 1A six-man West: St. Stephens, Snake River, Dubois, Farson, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep.

Looks familiar… as Jackson and Evanston switch in 4A/3A and Torrington and Pinedale switch in 3A/2A, the conferences may see some minor adjustments, but nothing drastic.

Here’s what the conferences could look like for other sports:

Conferences for other sports
Class 4A East
: Gillette, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie, Sheridan.
Class 4A West: Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Rock Springs, Jackson, Evanston, Riverton.
Class 3A East: Rawlins, Douglas, Worland, Lander, Buffalo, Torrington, Wheatland, Newcastle.
Class 3A West: Green River, Star Valley, Cody, Powell, Pinedale, Lyman, Mountain View, Lovell.
Class 2A Northeast: Moorcroft, Tongue River, Sundance, Big Horn, Upton.
Class 2A Southeast: Glenrock, Burns, Wright, Pine Bluffs, Lusk.
Class 2A Northwest: Thermopolis, Greybull, Shoshoni, Rocky Mountain, Riverside.
Class 2A Southwest: Kemmerer, Big Piney, Wyoming Indian, Wind River, Saratoga.
Class 1A Northeast: NSI, Midwest, Kaycee, Hulett, Arvada-Clearmont.
Class 1A Southeast: Lingle, Southeast, Guernsey, Chugwater, Rock River, Glendo.
Class 1A Northwest: St. Stephens, Burlington, Dubois, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep.
Class 1A Southwest: Cokeville, Hanna, Snake River, Encampment, Farson.

The biggest changes here are Jackson to 4A, Green River to 3A, and Glenrock to 2A; the other changes between 3A/2A and 2A/1A have been seen before.

Based on the elementary enrollments, the biggest changes in the next 10 years appear to be coming in some expected places. The biggest jumps look to be in Jackson and Gillette, and that could cause some pretty dramatic shifts in the 4A and 3A classifications.

But what if Wyoming bucked its recent trend of closing schools and actually went the OTHER way — by opening some new schools?

Tomorrow: What if: Wyoming expands its high school options?

–patrick

Worland has hired Thor Ware to be its next football coach.

The school hired Ware in March. Ware will also teach math at Worland.

Prior to coming to Worland, Ware spent two years as the head coach at Sugar-Salem in Sugar City, Idaho, where he went 11-8. Before Sugar-Salem, he was the head coach for 11 years at Rainier High in Oregon. At Rainier, Ware compiled an overall record of 73-33, including a state championship in 2010. He was also an assistant coach in Oregon and Texas.

Ware is Worland’s fourth head coach in four years. He replaces the co-coaches Josh Garcia and Bryan Bailey, who led Worland for one season together after former coach Curt Mayer unexpectedly resigned shortly before the beginning of the season. Worland went 3-6 last year.

To see the list of all coaching changes statewide, click here.

–patrick

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