Note: This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as necessary with new information as it becomes available. Be sure to refresh your browser to see the latest version of the story.

Wyoming Indian High School became the second school on the Wind River Indian Reservation to cancel its fall sports schedule, WIHS activities director Keith Bauder said.

In an email to wyoming-football.com, Bauder said the school will start classes online. The school will reconsider moving back to in-person classes on Oct. 1, with the earliest move to face-to-face classes being Oct. 16.

“It is sad for our students but we have to look at the safety factor first for students and families in our area,” Bauder said via email.

Wyoming Indian’s Board of Trustees voted 5-0 Tuesday to continue classes online. The school announced the decision on Twitter.

Wyoming Indian joins St. Stephens as schools that have had to cancel fall sports and move classes online to start the semester. St. Stephens’ school board made a similar move last week.

Wyoming Indian plays in Class 1A nine-man football and Class 2A in cross country and volleyball. The Wyoming Indian boys cross country program has won 22 state championships, including 13 since 2003. The girls cross country team won its first state title last year.

In an interview with wyoming-football.com on Wednesday, Bauder said the decision from the Board of Trustees helped put first the safety not only of the students but of the community.

“It’s sad because you know how important it is to the kids,” Bauder said. “Out here, families are very close and big, and their culture is family (centered).”

Both Wyoming Indian and St. Stephens are on the Wind River Indian Reservation, where a stay-at-home order has been in place for several months.

“There were so many ‘ifs’ and no answers,” Bauder said. “You can do all the planning you want, but when you’re working with ‘ifs,’ you can have every precaution you want, and (there’s a chance) it still happens.”

Bauder said students from schools closed by COVID-19 could compete for other schools for the fall sports season. When the closed schools re-open, though, those students have to choose whether to stay at their new school or return to their old school. Once students make that choice, Bauder said, they have to stick with it or be subject to traditional transfer rules.

“We haven’t crossed that bridge, but I’m sure we will,” Bauder said. “It’s sad (to lose students), but it gives the kids the opportunity to compete, which is good. We just hope we can get them all back again.”

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

–patrick

This story was updated at 8:53 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, with comments from Bauder.

Note: This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as necessary with new information as it becomes available. Be sure to refresh your browser to see the latest version of the story.

St. Stephens Indian School has canceled all fall sports for 2020, including football, and will have students participate in remote learning until at least Oct. 16.

An announcement from St. Stephens Superintendent Frank No Runner announcing the changes was posted to the St. Stephens school’s Facebook page on Friday afternoon.

The post said the St. Stephens school board met Friday morning and decided to move forward with several changes to start the school year.

Those changes include no sports for high school or junior high students and online learning until at least Oct. 16.

In his post, No Runner said safety was the primary concern for the decision.

“It was hard to come to this decision, but we are thinking about student and staff safety, and for our elders, if we lose them we lose valuable cultural and traditional knowledge that cannot be replaced,” No Runner’s post said.

The full post is available here:

In an interview Friday afternoon with wyoming-football.com, St. Stephens football coach Billy Brost said he understood the decision but was also frustrated by it.

“I know they’re trying to do right by the kids and the teachers and the families, but it’s just heartbreaking to me that everyone else is going to be playing and we’re aren’t,” Brost said.

St. Stephens’ cross country and volleyball teams will also have their seasons canceled. The football team was scheduled to play in Class 1A nine-man, while volleyball was set to move from Class 1A to Class 2A this fall.

Per capita, Fremont County — where St. Stephens is located — has had more cases of COVID-19 and more COVID-related deaths than any other Wyoming county. Data from the Wyoming Department of Health shows, as of Friday, 411 laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease in the county. Of the 26 COVID-related deaths in Wyoming, 10 have been in Fremont County, the most of any Wyoming county.

Along with St. Stephens, three other high schools — Wyoming Indian, Fort Washakie and Arapaho Charter — also operate on the Wind River Reservation. Of those, Wyoming Indian is the only school to offer full varsity athletics. Other Fremont County schools, those off reservation land, include Lander, Riverton, Wind River, Shoshoni and Dubois.

Brost said while he will miss coaching, he will also miss teaching; he teaches social studies at the school.

“It’s not just about sports,” he said. “It’s so many things that high school kids should have the right to experience that they don’t now because of this pandemic. … My heart breaks for them because they so need that interaction.

“They’re being robbed of it, and fingers crossed that things calm down by the beginning of October so we can have kids in our classroom.”

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

–patrick

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified No Runner’s position with St. Stephens schools. He is the superintendent.

Wyoming’s fall sports schedule will start on time.

The Wyoming High School Activities Association made that announcement Tuesday on its website.

The WHSAA announcement said the decision to continue sports as scheduled in the fall was made in consultation with the Wyoming state departments of health and education.

Practices start Aug. 10 and Aug. 17 for various sports, including Aug. 10 for Class 4A football and Aug. 17 for other football classifications.

In an effort to reduce large gatherings of people, the WHSAA decided to move 2020 football championship games to host sites for each classification. War Memorial Stadium at the University of Wyoming has hosted championship games since 2009. The WHSAA football guidelines posted on its website said this was “with the hopes of returning to the University of Wyoming the following year.”

The WHSAA gave schools directives to create their own plans on how they will handle shared equipment tees, ball bags, footballs and so on for practices. Schools will also need to create their own standards for game days on how to handle ticket booths, bleacher seating, concession stands, locker rooms and restrooms.

WHSAA guidelines do specify the elimination of pregame and postgame events such as tailgating and barbecues. People working at events will also be required to wear face coverings, and gloves are recommended.

The WHSAA also suggested following guidelines from the National Federation of High Schools to limit contact and exposure. For football, those recommendations include the elimination of pregame/postgame handshakes and the extension of the team box to the 10-yard lines, among others.

See the WHSAA’s press release here and its specific football guidelines here. Other sport-specific considerations are here.

–patrick

A 24-point first quarter was the difference in Nebraska’s 52-25 victory against Wyoming in the Six-man Shootout all-star football game Thursday in Harrison, Neb.

Nebraska scored on its first three possessions in the first quarter and converted on all three two-point kicks to take a 24-0 lead. Wyoming never got closer than 14 points the rest of the game.

Hanna’s Conor McGraw scored all four Wyoming touchdowns.

His first came in the first minute of the second quarter, as he scored from 23 yards out to cut Nebraska’s lead to 24-6. But Nebraska scored late in the second quarter and led 32-6 at halftime.

Wyoming had some life in the third quarter. McGraw scored again on Wyoming’s first drive of the third quarter, trimming Nebraska’s lead to 32-12. After a Nebraska fumble on their next drive, McGraw scored again on a 74-yard run to make the score 32-18 midway through the third quarter.

However, Nebraska scored on its next drive to boost its lead to 38-18. Nebraska scored on its first drive of the fourth quarter and added another touchdown on its next drive to run the score to 52-18.

McGraw scored on a 65-yard run late in the fourth quarter for the final margin.

This year’s game was originally scheduled for Chadron, Nebraska, but was moved to Harrison after COVID-19 concerns for the campus of Chadron State College, where the game would have been played.

Wyoming leads the all-time series 5-4.

–patrick

The Riverside football program will have a new head coach for the 2020 season.

Greg Mendenhall, the Rebels’ junior high head football coach the past two years, will be recommended to be the high school program’s head coach when the Big Horn County School District No. 4 board meets on July 14.

Mendenhall takes over for Sam Buck, who resigned after seven seasons as head coach to take a special education teaching position in Cody.

In an interview Monday with wyoming-football.com, Mendenhall said his coaching experience is mostly with six-man football; he was the head coach in Terry, Mont., for three years before coming to Riverside three years ago. He also spent four years as an assistant coach at Terry and also coached track.

He teaches science at Riverside Middle School.

Buck took over as Riverside’s head coach midway through the 2013 season. Buck’s teams finished a combined 26-33, qualifying for the playoffs in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2016, the Rebels moved to six-man, but were ineligible for the playoffs each of the past four seasons.

Riverside finished 5-3 last season. Only one senior graduated from that team.

In an interview last week with wyoming-football.com, Buck said he also resigned his position as Riverside’s head girls basketball coach. Buck held that position position from 2011-13 and again from 2017-20. He said he will not be coaching in Cody but would like to return to coaching eventually.

Four Class 3A programs — Green RiverPowellRiverton and Worland — and Class 1A six-man Midwest have also hired new head coaches since the end of last season. If you know of other head coaching changes statewide, please email me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

–patrick

The Wyoming High School Activities Association has built several different schedules to accommodate varying start times for a 2020 football season.

Right now, games are scheduled to begin on Aug. 28. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic sparking postponements and cancellations of events across the country, and with schools themselves trying to figure out how to best accommodate students, an on-time start to the football season is not certain.

The different contingency plans established by the WHSAA, shared with wyoming-football.com by WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird, depend on when a safe start to the season can take place. For each week lost, the plans change.

Laird said Monday that each sport has its own potential contingencies set up for the fall if the start of the season is delayed or if time is lost during the middle of the season.

“We’re trying to play,” Laird said. “That’s the key. We want kids to be able to participate, and we’re going to do everything we can to make that happen.”

Football’s contingency plans

For football, the ramifications of late starts range widely. On one of the spectrum, a week or weeks of the schedule may be canceled. The later the start to the season, though, the more challenging the changes become, including eliminating playoff rounds, changing the date and location for championship games, and finding new ways to seed teams for playoffs.

The football season would start no later than Oct. 16. Scheduling championship games for the week of Friday, Nov. 20 — which would happen if the season starts any later than Sept. 18 — is also complicated by the University of Wyoming’s home football game scheduled with Boise State on Saturday, Nov. 21. In contingencies where championships are moved to the week of Nov. 20, the higher-seeded team will host the championship game. In Class 3A and 1A six-man, the East Conference champions will be the higher seeds, while in Class 2A and 1A nine-man, West Conference champions will be the higher seeds. However, if the two teams played each other during the regular season, the winner of the game will host the championship.

Class 4A could also move to a North-South conference schedule, with Sheridan, Campbell County, Thunder Basin, Natrona and Kelly Walsh in the North and Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie and Rock Springs in the South. However, a move to conference play for playoff seeding is the decision of the 4A schools, not of the WHSAA, and may not come until after the season starts, Laird said.

Playoff qualification; uneven cancellations

More broadly, Laird said, if chunks of the conference schedule are lost, and teams can’t complete the conference schedule, the coaches themselves will meet to decide which teams will qualify for the playoffs.

Laird said the WHSAA members looked at a variety of power-rating or RPI methods to seed teems, including the one Wyoming used in the 2000s. Ultimately, they decided a coach seeding meeting would work best, similar to what coaches do for seeding for regional wrestling meets.

Laird said some arguments may develop — most likely between teams tied for a playoff spot — but said the coaches “would know best the teams in their conferences.”

Laird also said teams may need to prepare for uneven cancellations affecting the schedule; one district, or one county, deciding to suspend school or activities due to an outbreak does not mean other schools would follow suit. Consequently, some teams may play more games than others.

“There’s a good chance we’re not going to have competitive equity this year,” he said.

If such cancellations happen, Laird said any scheduled games would be counted as no-contest games, not as forfeits. Playoff seeding would still remain with coaches.

“We don’t want to penalize the school over something they have no control over,” Laird said.

Rescheduling games in such circumstances could also be a possibility, Laird said.

Also, schools that don’t reach the playoffs in a shortened season can schedule games with other non-playoff teams during playoff weeks.

Other considerations: Midseason changes, UW

While the contingency plans outline what would happen with late starts to the season, Laird said the WHSAA is also looking into steps to take if one week or a group of weeks midseason is lost.

“We’ve tried to ‘what-if’ it as much as we could,” Laird said.

Laird also acknowledged that if the University of Wyoming can’t play its football season as scheduled, “it’s going to be pretty tough for us to play.”

Football is not alone

Other fall sports will also feel ramifications of contingency scheduling, Laird said. For volleyball, cross country, golf and swimming, he said schedules may need to be shifted to avoid large invitational meets, where large numbers of people could mean a higher likelihood of contagion transmission.

Moving fall sports to the spring also remains a possibility, but Laird said “it isn’t as clean as that sounds. … It is basically the last, last resort. It will be a trickle-down if we move that, and then we’ve got to move other things.”

Particularly, Laird said moving fall sports to the spring would affect track and soccer for a second consecutive year, something he said he wants to avoid.

Laird said the WHSAA’s overall goal was to return students to activities “and do it safely for everybody.”

A breakdown of football’s plan

The WHSAA’s full contingency plan for football is here. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the schedule changes with each week pushed back:

  • Season starts Week 1 (Sept. 4): Zero Week contests are canceled, no make-up.
  • Season starts Week 2 (Sept. 11): Zero Week contests and Week 1 games are canceled, no make-up.
  • Season starts Week 3 (Sept. 18):
  • For 4A and 3A, Zero Week, Week 1 and Week 2 games are canceled, no make-up.
  • For 2A, 1A nine-man and 1A six-man, Week 2 games are moved to the week of quarterfinal playoffs, and no quarterfinal playoff round is played.
  • Season starts Week 4 (Sept. 25):
  • For 4A and 3A, Week 3 games move to the original week of the quarterfinal playoffs (Oct. 30). Playoff games are all shifted back one week, with championships scheduled for Nov. 20.
  • For 2A, 1A nine-man and 1A six-man, Week 2 games are moved to the week of Oct. 30 and Week 3 games to Nov. 6. There would be no quarterfinal playoffs, with semifinals on Nov. 13 and championships Nov. 20.
  • Season starts Week 5 (Oct. 2):
  • For 4A and 3A, all games are pushed back one week and week 3 games are moved to the original week of semifinals. Quarterfinal playoffs are eliminated, and semifinal games would be played Nov. 13 (the original week of championships) and championships Nov. 20.
  • For 2A and 1A nine-man, a six-game regular season, as the schedule would go Week 5-Week 6-Week 7-Week 8-Week 2-Week 3, with Week 4 games eliminated. Again, there would be no quarterfinal playoffs, with semifinals on Nov. 13 and championships Nov. 20.
  • For 1A six-man, a six-game regular season, as the schedule would go Week 5-Week 6-Week 7-Week 8-Week 2-Week 4, with Week 3 games eliminated. Again, there would be no quarterfinal playoffs, with semifinals on Nov. 13 and championships Nov. 20.
  • Season starts Week 6 (Oct. 9):
  • For 4A and 3A, a five-week regular season (with possible rescheduling in 4A), with the schedule going Week 6-Week 7-Week 8-Week 4-Week 5. Semifinals would be Nov. 13 and championships Nov. 20.
  • For 2A and 1A nine-man, a six-week regular season with a schedule of Week 6-Week 7-Week 8-Week 2-Week 3-Week 5. No quarterfinal or semifinal playoffs; conference champions would meet in the state championship on Nov. 20.
  • For 1A six-man, a six-week regular season with with a schedule of Week 6-Week 7-Week 8-Week 5-Week 2-Week 4. No quarterfinal or semifinal playoffs; conference champions would meet in the state championship on Nov. 20.
  • Season starts Week 7 (Oct. 16):
  • For 4A and 3A, five-week regular season (with possible rescheduling in 4A), with the schedule going Week 7-Week 8-Week 4-Week 5-Week 6. No quarterfinals or semifinals; conference champions would meet in state championship games Nov. 20.
  • For 2A and 1A nine-man, a five-week regular season with the schedule going Week 7-Week 8-Week 2-Week 3-Week 5. Again, no quarterfinals or semifinals, with conference champs playing in the title game Nov. 20.
  • For 1A six-man, a five-week regular season with the schedule going Week 7-Week 8-Week 5-Week 6-Week 4. Again, no quarterfinals or semifinals, with conference champs playing in the title game Nov. 20.

–patrick

The 18 players and the coaching staff are set for Team Wyoming in its annual six-man all-star game against Nebraska this June.

The roster for Wyoming in the Six-man Shootout against Nebraska for the game on June 6 in Chadron, Neb., include:

BURLINGTON: Jarom Davidson.
GUERNSEY: Alex Delgado, Preston Elmore.
HANNA: Conor McGraw, Shane McGraw, Brendon Reeves.
HULETT: Dalton Butler, Dawson Butler, Jhett Letellier.
MEETEETSE: Asa Eldredge.
ST. STEPHENS: Salem Ynostrosa.
SARATOGA: Menphis Smith.
SNAKE RIVER: Wyatt Duncan, Tony Enriquez, Karter Evans, Oscar Herrera, Riggen Myers, Taylor Otte.

Jack Cobb, who led Snake River to an undefeated season and the 1A six-man state championship, will be Wyoming’s head coach. Snake River’s Sam Weeldreyer, Hanna’s Zack Scott and Clif Jones, and St. Stephens’ Billy Brost will comprise the Wyoming coaching staff.

Alternate players for the team are St. Stephens’ Trenton Friday, Hulett’s Logan Kromarek and Meeteetse’s Kaden Redding.

“I feel we will have a very athletic team,” Cobb said, “and (it) will be a lot of fun putting this team on the field and see what we can come up with.”

Team Wyoming won last year’s game 52-50 on a last-second hail-Mary touchdown. Wyoming leads the all-time series against Nebraska 5-3.

–patrick

Rosters were released Saturday for the 2020 Wyoming Shrine Bowl all-star football game, scheduled for June 13 in Casper.

Executive director Frank Selby released the rosters Saturday. The South team roster includes:

BIG PINEY: Teagan Elliott.
BURNS: Ben Banville, Boe Clayson, Kaden Lakin.
CHEYENNE CENTRAL: Dawson Macleary.
CHEYENNE EAST: Christian Anderton, Chance Aumiller, Ox Schroeder.
COKEVILLE: Garrett King.
DOUGLAS: Edel Diaz-Jaime, Cooper Gamble, A.J. Yeaman.
GREEN RIVER: Thomas Harvey, Payton Tucker.
HANNA: Conor McGraw, Shane McGraw.
LUSK: Damien Molzahn.
LYMAN: Hagen Lamoreaux.
MOUNTAIN VIEW: Breckin Barnes, Briggin Bluemel, Hunter Gross, Kimball Madsen, Braeden Walk.
PINE BLUFFS: Brian Steger, Kyle Thurin.
RAWLINS: Kadin Forney, Connor Mendez.
ROCK SPRINGS: Randon Gresham, Justis Reese, Carson Tyler.
SNAKE RIVER: Riggen Myers.
STAR VALLEY: R.J. Cazier, Branden McDonald, Chase Merrell, Dean Shaw.
TORRINGTON: Corbin Harris.
Student manager: Jesus Sanchez, Cheyenne East.
Student trainer: Dini Haberman, Douglas.
Athletic trainer: Paige Nolan, Riverton.

South Alternates: Janson Adair, Laramie; Trent Clark, Star Valley; Wyatt Duncan, Snake River; Hazen Erickson, Star Valley; James Erickson, Star Valley; Karter Evans, Snake River; Bryson Jenkins, Star Valley; Aiden Montoya, Big Piney; Chase Petty, Rock Springs; Cody Pinkerton, Douglas; Bryan Pluid, Big Piney; Kobey Preuit, Wheatland.

The North team roster includes:

BIG HORN: Cutler Bradshaw, Will Pelissier, Nolan Rader.
BUFFALO: Dawson Hatch, Hunter Pope, Rowen Ruby.
CODY: Keith Connor, Hunter Hays, Duncan Radakovich, Jeff Williams.
GILLETTE: Vijay Pitter.
JACKSON: Kevin Flores.
KELLY WALSH: Kevin Anderson.
LANDER: Ty Massey.
LOVELL: Coy Trainor.
MEETEETSE: Asa Eldredge.
NATRONA: Nick Frimml, Johnathon True, Phoenix Wilson.
POWELL: Ryan Good, Carson Olsen, Matt Seckman.
RIVERTON: Zane Taylor, Caden Werbelow.
SHERIDAN: Garrett Coon, Toby Jacobs, Ethan Johnson, Ryan Sessions.
THERMOPOLIS: Dustin Harvey.
THUNDER BASIN: Blaine Allen, Caleb Driskill, Mason Hamilton, Tanner Richards.
WORLAND: Devon Mercado, Luke Mortimer.
WRIGHT: Dax Yeradi.
Student manager: Alexa Bradshaw.
Student trainer: Iyanna Garcia.
Athletic trainer: Alan Hill, Powell.

North Alternates: Warren Carr, Thunder Basin; Jaydon Caylor, Upton-Sundance; Jevon Davis, Kelly Walsh; Dale Eliason, Gillette; John Fawson, Lander; Zeb Goodrich, Wright; Hunter Harris, Lovell; Jhett Letellier, Hulett; Jarron Mortimore, Thermopolis; Kyler Ostler, Big Horn; Rowdy Pfeil, Moorcroft; Dante Wallace, Natrona.

Coaching staffs for the teams were named in December.

The North leads the all-time series 25-18-3. The North has won the last seven Shrine Bowls, including last year 29-19.

–patrick

Post updated 12:33 p.m. Jan. 26 to include Seckman and Frimml on the North squad.

Mountain View’s Brent Walk and Powell’s Aaron Papich will be the head coaches for the 2020 Shrine Bowl all-star football game this June in Casper.

Shrine Bowl executive director Frank Selby announced the selection of Walk and Papich via an email release Saturday.

Walk’s Mountain View team won the Class 2A championship this year, while Papich’s Powell squad finished as Class 3A runners-up.

Walk was the South head coach in the 2015 Shrine Bowl. This will be Papich’s first opportunity to be a head coach for the Shrine Bowl. Assistant coaches, one from each classification, and players for each squad will likely be selected within the next couple months.

The North has won seven consecutive Shrine Bowls and leads the all-time series 25-18-3. The 47th edition of the game is June 13 in Casper.

–patrick

Midwest is looking for a new head football coach, a post from the school on Facebook said Wednesday:

Midwest finished 1-7 last season but had to forfeit its final four games due to low numbers.

Dean Kelly was Midwest’s coach for the 2019 season, taking on the responsibility shortly before the start of the season after former coach Ken Swieter joined the staff at Kelly Walsh.

Riverton is also seeking a new head coach for 2020. If you know of other head coaching changes statewide, please email me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

–patrick

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